Load Center recommendations

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  #1  
Old 09-08-11, 10:15 AM
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Load Center recommendations

I'm updating the wiring in my house from K&T to the latest code requirements and need to decide on what panel to buy. I was looking at purchasing a Square D QO 200-amp panel (no less than 30 spaces) from one of the local home improvement stores but would like to hear what other panels would be a good choice.

I was told by one of the electrical contractors at my work to stay away from the homeline products from Square D so thats why I went with the QO panel.


While I have you. I drew up a layout of the house and marked where I wanted receptacles and switches. I was originally thinking of getting a 30 space panel, but looking at the layouts I came up with, I'm already at 27 circuits so that would leave me with 3 spares for future circuits. The 30 space panel is $128 and comes with 3 20amp single pole breakers and 2 30amp double pole breakers. The 40 space panel (QO line) is $192 and comes with no breakers (except the main). Single pole breakers are about $6 a piece, single pole AFCI breakers are $36 a piece and I need 5 or 6 of them.
 
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  #2  
Old 09-08-11, 10:32 AM
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The QO is fine. You'll find electricians like whatever they can get a kickback on, so it's relative. You will also note if you are doing a complete rewire if you are under current code, all circuits not on GFCI will be AFCI, so check that out before buying the panel with all the unusable breakers. Your local building authority will be able to tell you which cycle of code they are on.
Not sure how big your house is, nor how you divided up the distribution, but 27 circuits is a bunch, especially for a house previously on k&t. If you can transfer that drawing to a picture and post it on a sharing site you can post it here so we can see what you see. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...your-post.html
 
  #3  
Old 09-08-11, 10:57 AM
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There really isn't anything wrong with any of the major brands. The biggest difference in features between the top and bottom tiers are copper bus vs. tin plated aluminum bus. The premium tier panels and breakers have very good warranty terms. There are also general construction differences like machining quality, thickness of metal, etc. It's also a good idea to go with a brand that your local supplier carries so you don't have to special order or take a road trip to get a breaker when you need one. Personally I use mostly Siemens panels with the copper bus option (they're available in Cu or Al).

Premium tier: SquareD QO, Cutler CH, Siemens Copper

Middle tier: Siemens Aluminum, Cutler BR

Economy tier: Murray, Homeline, GE

PS I would go with the 40 space panel.
 
  #4  
Old 09-08-11, 10:58 AM
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I like the Siemens brand of panels as they are a good balance of quality and price. Square D Homeline is very close to the same quality/price balance but with aluminum busses. My supply doesn't carry Square D products. You can get both at the big box stores. I think big Orange has a Siemens 40/40 value pack for $140 BTW: Siemens was the old ITE which also has been around a long time.

You cant go wrong with QO and they have been quality made and around for many years. Just a little more pricey.

I suggest getting a 30 space/ 40 circuit or a 40 space/40 circuit panel. You can never have enough spaces.

Only brand I would tend to stay away from is GE.

All 120 volt 15 & 20 circuits inside the home is required to be AFCI protected. Exceptions include Kitchen and bathrooms and they are required to be GFCI protected.
 
  #5  
Old 09-08-11, 11:57 AM
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Circuit rundown

1. Living room receptacles, ceiling light & porch light - 15amp AFCI
2. Dining room receptacles - 15amp AFCI
3. Kitchen (non countertop) receptacles - 15amp
4. Kitchen countertop receptacles, circuit 1 of 2, GFCI protected - 20amp
5. Kitchen countertop receptacles, circuit 2 of 2, GFCI protected - 20amp
6. Dedicated refrigerator receptacle - 20amp
7. Kitchen and dining room lights - 15amp ***AFCI????***
8. Laundry room/mud room receptacles, GFCI protected - 20amp
9. Laundry room light and porch light - 15amp
10. Dedicated washer receptacle - 20amp
11. Master bedroom receptacles and ceiling lights (includes walk in closet light) - 15amp AFCI
12. Bedroom 1 receptacles and ceiling light - 15amp AFCI
13. Bedroom 2 receptacles and ceiling light - 15amp AFCI
14. Bathroom countertop receptacles, GFCI protected - 20amp
15. Bathroom lighting - 15amp
16. Stairs/Hallway receptacle and celing lights - 15amp ***AFCI????***
17/18. Master bedroom electric baseboard heater - 220v 20amp
19/20. Bedroom 1 electric baseboard heater - 220v 20amp
21/22. Bedroom 2 electric baseboard heater - 220v 20amp
23/24. Electric clothes dryer - 220v 30amp
25. Shed receptacles, GFCI protected - 20amp
26. Smoke detectors - 15amp ***AFCI???*** can this be tied into the hallway receptacle and lights circuit?
27. Furnace - (have to look at what I have, might be 220v, not sure on amps)
28. Basement, GFCI protected - 20amp


I also have a 220v Mig welder that I may want to wire in, but for that I may install a sub panel in the Shed (or garage if/when I build one).

I have CAD drawings that I made that I will try to post later.
 
  #6  
Old 09-08-11, 12:10 PM
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My reply in red

1. Living room receptacles, ceiling light & porch light - 15amp AFCI OK
2. Dining room receptacles - 15amp AFCI No, 20 amp AFCI required
3. Kitchen (non countertop) receptacles 15 amp - requires AFCI and must be 20 amp
4. Kitchen countertop receptacles, circuit 1 of 2, GFCI protected - 20amp OK
5. Kitchen countertop receptacles, circuit 2 of 2, GFCI protected - 20amp OK
6. Dedicated refrigerator receptacle - 20amp OK
7. Kitchen and dining room lights - 15amp ***AFCI????*** AFCI required
8. Laundry room/mud room receptacles, GFCI protected - 20amp Laundery circuit that feeds washer/dryer dedicated only. GFCI required if within 6' of sink. Mud room receptacles separate from above mentioned circuit, AFCI required
9. Laundry room light and porch light - 15amp AFCI required
10. Dedicated washer receptacle - 20amp OK, see above.
11. Master bedroom receptacles and ceiling lights (includes walk in closet light) - 15amp AFCI OK
12. Bedroom 1 receptacles and ceiling light - 15amp AFCI OK
13. Bedroom 2 receptacles and ceiling light - 15amp AFCI OK
14. Bathroom countertop receptacles, GFCI protected - 20amp OK
15. Bathroom lighting - 15amp AFCI required
16. Stairs/Hallway receptacle and celing lights - 15amp ***AFCI????*** AFCI required
17/18. Master bedroom electric baseboard heater - 240v 20amp OK
19/20. Bedroom 1 electric baseboard heater - 240v 20amp OK
21/22. Bedroom 2 electric baseboard heater - 240v 20amp OK
23/24. Electric clothes dryer - 240v 30amp OK
25. Shed receptacles, GFCI protected - 20amp OK
26. Smoke detectors - 15amp ***AFCI???*** can this be tied into the hallway receptacle and lights circuit? Yes it can. AFCI required
27. Furnace - (have to look at what I have, might be 220v, not sure on amps) OK
28. Basement, GFCI protected - 20amp AFCI required
 

Last edited by Tolyn Ironhand; 09-08-11 at 01:44 PM.
  #7  
Old 09-08-11, 12:21 PM
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Could you let us know what state and perhaps city you're in and if you know it what NEC code version they enforce in your area? AFCI requirements have changed a lot over the last several code revisions, some states have modified with local amendments, and it's important for us to know which one to advise you on. Tolyn's post reflects the most strict version, however many areas do not require AFCI on all the circuits he listed. For example #3, 8, 9, 28 (if basement unfinished) would not be AFCI under some jurisdictions.
 
  #8  
Old 09-08-11, 12:22 PM
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I would definitely recommend getting the 40 space panel. My house was built with a 20/20 panel but after adding a couple of 240 receptacles for a welder and air compressor, a 240 for a heat pump, a 240 for a surge suppressor, a 240 for an auxiliary panel (for generator circuits) I found myself sorely lacking in spaces for 120 volt circuit breakers even when using the twin breakers. I ended up having to add another panel so now I have three panels.
 
  #9  
Old 09-08-11, 12:37 PM
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Location is Luzerne County, Freeland, Pennsylvania. I've read somewhere, maybe from someone here that PA follows 2011.


So I can get rid of circuit 26 and tie that into the hallway receptacle and light circuit, which will have a AFCI breaker.

And so the circuit for the basement will need a AFCI breaker, does it still require a GFCI receptacle to be first in line or does the AFCI breaker also protect again groud faults?

When I go apply for my building permit I will ask the guy what is required.

I'm hoping not all these AFCI breakers will be required. I have no issue installing them in bedrooms and such but for every circuit just seems crazy.
 
  #10  
Old 09-08-11, 12:42 PM
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The AFCI breaker does not provide GFCI protection. To get GFCI protection you will want to have a GFVI receptacle as the first one on the circuit.
 
  #11  
Old 09-08-11, 12:44 PM
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I would stick with the 40 space panel.
I think QO is best, and I have seen some very old panels locally, presumably from the late '50s. The breakers are available everywhere locally.

Siemens copper buss is also excellent quality. I have seen just one panel from them when they were ITE and it looks of excellent quality and not to have aged much since the 70's.
 
  #12  
Old 09-08-11, 01:09 PM
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I looked at Scotts comments to your list except for item #2, which I changed to 20 amp, I agree with his comments.

If it were me I would look at doing something like 1st flr lighting, 2nd floor lighting. IMO you have too many circuits dedicated for lighting that only have one or two lights.
 
  #13  
Old 09-08-11, 01:20 PM
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I would definitely NOT put all the lighting for a floor on a single circuit. The last thing you want is to be left in the dark because a circuit breaker tripped. It IS perfectly acceptable to mix lighting on different floors on the same circuit.
 
  #14  
Old 09-08-11, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Furd View Post
I would definitely NOT put all the lighting for a floor on a single circuit. The last thing you want is to be left in the dark because a circuit breaker tripped. It IS perfectly acceptable to mix lighting on different floors on the same circuit.
I was considering all the lighting circuits listed in this list and can safely be combined into fewer. Perhaps I was not clear enough that the expected load would need to be taken into consideration when designing the circuit.

9. Laundry room light and porch light - 15amp AFCI required
11. Master bedroom receptacles and ceiling lights (includes walk in closet light) - 15amp AFCI OK
12. Bedroom 1 receptacles and ceiling light - 15amp AFCI OK
13. Bedroom 2 receptacles and ceiling light - 15amp AFCI OK
15. Bathroom lighting - 15amp AFCI required
16. Stairs/Hallway receptacle and celing lights - 15amp ***AFCI????***
I would combine the hallway, bathroom and bedroom lighting together unless the layout did not make sense to do this. I would also combine the proposed ckt #9 into another circuit serving a lighting load.
 
  #15  
Old 09-08-11, 01:44 PM
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Good point pcboss. The lighting circuits can certainly be consolidated in the original plan.
 
  #16  
Old 09-08-11, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
I looked at Scotts comments to your list except for item #2, which I changed to 20 amp, I agree with his comments.
Missed that one. Thanks for the correction.
 
  #17  
Old 09-08-11, 01:52 PM
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Approximately 90% of the lighting in my house was on a single circuit. While it was acceptable from a load standpoint it was NOT acceptable in that tripping of that single circuit (either as a fault or intentionally) left almost the entire house in the dark. I would far prefer a few more circuit breakers, even AFCI models at approximately $35 each over a dark house.

By the same reasoning I like to break up receptacles and lighting in each room to different circuits. Nothing wrong in having both lighting and receptacles on the same circuit, just not in the same room.
 
  #18  
Old 09-08-11, 02:00 PM
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Certainly a good point Furd, but if the circuit is properly designed the chance of tripping should be almost zero.
 
  #19  
Old 09-08-11, 02:19 PM
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Tripping via fault, I agree. But what if you purposely trip the circuit because you want to change a lamp fixture or the like?
 
  #20  
Old 09-08-11, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Furd View Post
Tripping via fault, I agree. But what if you purposely trip the circuit because you want to change a lamp fixture or the like?
I don't even think that it happens enough to worry about.
 
  #21  
Old 09-08-11, 04:50 PM
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why a 20amp breaker in the dining room?

I will post pictures of the layout in a few....
 
  #22  
Old 09-08-11, 04:57 PM
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The code requires the 20 amp receptacle circuit in the dining room. It can be off one of the 20 amp small appliance branch circuits.
 
  #23  
Old 09-08-11, 06:10 PM
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The layouts as promised

Laundry Room (1st Floor)


Kitchen (1st Floor)


Dining Room (1st Floor)


Living Room (1st Floor)


2nd Bedroom, Bathroom and Hallway (2nd Floor)


Master Bedroom (2nd Floor)



This is the complete 1st Floor. (old wiring plan, don't follow)
 
  #24  
Old 09-08-11, 06:13 PM
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New Circuit Layout to go with the drawings

Load Center layout
SPACE(S) - DEVICE/CIRCUIT - VOLTAGE - AMP BREAKER
1 & 2. Dryer - 220v - 30a
3 & 4. Master Bedroom Electric Base Board Heater - 220v - 20a
5 & 6. Bedroom 1 Electric Base Board Heater - 220v - 20a
7 & 8. Bedroom 1 Electric Base Board Heater - 220v - 20a
9. Living Room Receptacles, Ceiling Light & Porch Light - 15amp AFCI
10. Dining Room Receptacles - 20amp AFCI
11. Kitchen Receptacles - 20amp AFCI
12. Kitchen Countertop Receptacles - 20amp GFCI
13. Kitchen Countertop Receptacles - 20amp GFCI
14. Refrigerator Receptacle - 20amp
15. Kitchen Light, Dining Room Light, Laundry Room Light & Porch Light - 15amp AFCI
16. Laundry Room Receptacles - 20amp GFCI
17. Washer Receptacle - 20amp
18. Master Bedroom Receptacles, Ceiling Light & Closet Light - 15amp AFCI
19. Bedroom 1 Receptacles and Ceiling Light - 15amp AFCI
20. Bedroom 2 Receptacles and Ceiling Light - 15amp AFCI
21. Bathroom Lights, Hallway & Stair Lights, Smoke Detectors - 15amp AFCI
22. Bathroom Receptacle(s) - 20amp GFCI
23. Shed Receptacles - 20amp GFCI
24. Furnace - 15amp
25. Basement - 20amp AFCI & GFCI
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
 
  #25  
Old 09-08-11, 07:40 PM
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There are a number of good quality copper bus loadcenters on the market and I agree with a lot of the other's recommendations. The Square D QO and Cutler Hammer CH series are both lifetime warranted along with their respective breakers, no other manufacturer makes that claim (ultra premium panels and you pay for it).

Siemens and Cutler Hammer BR series makes both aluminum and copper bus and I wouldn't be afriad to go with either brand with the copper bus (I am a bit partial to Siemens). I think they both warrant these breakers for 10 years.

Considering the number of AFCI breakers you will be needing, you'll have a real mess in your new panel. I just saw a catalog cut this week on a brand new Cutler Hammer CH series panel you may be interested in, it has the new plug on neutral bus and is supposed to eliminate that tangle of neutral pigtail wires from the AFCI breakers. I am assuming there may be a new AFCI breaker made just for this new panel, I'll have to check on that. The catalog cut I saw also had a 200 amp main breaker and a whopping 100 circuits! I haven't found much through Google, I think it's too new but I did find a new plug on neutral AFCI breaker (no pigtail neutral wires!).

CH115CAFPN - 1P 15A 120/240V COMBO ARC FAULT PLUG-ON NEUTRAL - Eaton Cutler-Hammer - Thermal Magnetic; 1 Pole; 120/240 Vac; 15 Ampere; Interrupting Rating 10000 Ampere; Box Lug Terminal; Wire Size (2) 14 to 10 Awg (Aluminum/Copper), (1) 14 to 8 Awg (

I found just a 42 circuit plug on neutral loadcenter.

Western Extralite Company - CH CH42BPN200K PLUG IN NEUTRAL LOAD CENTER WITH 200A MAIN BREAKER
 

Last edited by CasualJoe; 09-08-11 at 07:46 PM. Reason: add info
  #26  
Old 09-08-11, 07:50 PM
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I don't think you have enough lighting in the kitchen, but that would depend on the style you install. Have you considered undercabinet lighting?

I would not install a smoke alarm in the kitchen. By building codes you need one per floor, one per bedroom and one outside the sleepingt areas. You might need a CO detector also.

BTW, in the US the voltages are 120 and 240.
 
  #27  
Old 09-09-11, 03:36 AM
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I was thinking of more lightubg for the kitchen, mainly around the countertop/cabinets, I just don't know what to go with.
 
  #28  
Old 09-09-11, 10:41 AM
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The kitchen countertops will be heavily shadowed in your current plan. Add some undercabinet fluorescents and/or some recessed cans appx every 4' above work surfaces. Make sure to add a light directly above the sink or have the sink centered under two lights. You also might want a separately switched overhead light in the lower left area of the kitchen if you intend to put a small breakfast table there.

As for overhead lighting it depends a lot on what kind of fixtures and light you want (incandescent, track, fluorescent, etc). It's always better to put too much light in a kitchen and then reduce it down with smaller bulbs or dimmers than to not have enough. My best suggestion is just to go to a lighting store and see what appeals to you. There are all sorts of undercabinet lights.

Same issue in the 2nd floor bathroom. The narrow area with the toilet to one end and the vanity to the other will be shadowed. You may want to add more lighting in that area and consider a separately switched direct light source over the vanity mirror like a strip light so you can see to shave, do your hair, whatever.

Just a note that you will be limited in the type of fixture you can install in the master bedroom closet depending on how the rods or shelves are installed. Code has clearance requirements to prevent lighting cloths on fire. The safest option is an enclosed fluorescent.

You may want to locate a light over the 2nd floor landing at the top of the stairs.

Any provision for dishwasher or garbage disposal?
 
  #29  
Old 09-09-11, 12:33 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions on lighting, I will look into them and possibly stop off at lowes or homedepot this weekend to see what I can get. I'm going to have as hard of a time deciding what lighting to get as I am deciding on a color to paint the walls.

No dishwaser or garbage disposal plans at the moment.
 
  #30  
Old 09-09-11, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by drummin89 View Post
No dishwaser or garbage disposal plans at the moment.
I suggest pulling the circuit and putting the receptacle under the sink just in case. Beats making the mess twice.
 
  #31  
Old 09-11-11, 05:03 PM
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The upstairs hallway receptacle looks like it shouldn't be getting power from the switched overhead light. It looks like you'll run into trouble with that if you run it as drawn.

Some other less critical ideas:
- You don't need a 20A dedicated circuit for the washer. It can run off the 20A laundry circuit you already have there (since it runs about 5A). Of course, how you have it drawn is fine too.
- Where's your stove/oven? Don't you need an exhaust hood? I'm a big fan of microwave/hoods for smaller kitchens. It's a great space savings (but requires a dedicated 20A circuit)
- I'd personally install one of those magic light switches (door jamb mounted push button switch) in the master closet. Makes it easy to turn the light on and off!
- I'd consider installing fan boxes and 14/3 wire to each of the bedroom lights. Even if you don't want a fan today, you can then easily install one down the road. (not sure where in the US you are though)

Looks good though! Good luck!
 
  #32  
Old 09-11-11, 07:26 PM
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The receptacle in the hallway is not switched, its just on the same circuit.

The stove/oven is a gas stand alone unit that was going to go after the counter on the right, but I have since changed my plans and am putting the sink on the counter to the right and using a slide in gas range/oven in the back counter, about in the middle.

I actually had a question about this, what circuit can I use to supply power to the gas range? Can I use one of the countertop circuits or the kitchen (non-countertop) receptacle circuit or do I need to add a dedicated circuit.

Never heard of the door jamb switches. Ill have to look into them.
 
  #33  
Old 09-11-11, 07:32 PM
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Can I use one of the countertop circuits or the kitchen (non-countertop) receptacle circuit or do I need to add a dedicated circuit.
No dedicated circuit required.
 
  #34  
Old 09-11-11, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by drummin89 View Post
Can I use one of the countertop circuits or the kitchen (non-countertop) receptacle circuit or do I need to add a dedicated circuit.
You can use an existing circuit, but I believe it can not be one of the countertop circuits. It can be a lighting or other miscellaneous circuit though. It'll only draw a handful of watta.

Never heard of the door jamb switches. Ill have to look into them.
Find a Gardner Bender 10 Amp Push-Button Door Switch (420987) from The Home Depot
 
  #35  
Old 09-12-11, 06:54 AM
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The gas stove can share one of the 20 amp small appliance branch circuits.

The NEC now requires any location that could later be used for a ceiling fan to have a fan rated box installed regardless.
 
  #36  
Old 09-12-11, 09:36 AM
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thanks for the information guys, its been very helpful
 
  #37  
Old 09-12-11, 06:51 PM
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The NEC now requires any location that could later be used for a ceiling fan to have a fan rated box installed regardless.
Does that mean no more plastic nail-on ceiling boxes in bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchens or family rooms? It sounds as if this is another case of the code cycle panel getting involved in the design element again and not just safety.
 
  #38  
Old 09-13-11, 09:25 AM
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That's right Joe. I've heard different interpretations about whether this applies to off-center ceiling boxes too or just the main one you might expect someone to hang a fan on.
 
  #39  
Old 09-13-11, 09:36 AM
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I can understand the requirement as we purchased an older house were the previous owner had replaced most of the ceiling lights with ceiling fans/lights. In one of the rooms that are bellow the second floor the weight of the fan was pulling the box out of the ceiling. We since removed the fan and installed a normal ceiling light after bending the box back up into the ceiling. If this would have continued I could see the box pulling loss from the rafter and falling.
 
  #40  
Old 09-13-11, 09:49 AM
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Joe's point is that the code should be the minimum safety standard, not a "best practices" manual which forces everyone to buy more expensive fan boxes when there's a good chance they'll never be used.

Your previous owners could have installed fan boxes when they bought the fans, they just chose to do it wrong. It's no different than if they decided to hang a cabinet on a drywall anchor and ripped a hole in the wall.
 
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