Different Service Panel


Old 10-13-11, 08:28 AM
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Different Service Panel

I want to change my service panel in my house. the location is fine, just the type of box is bothersome.
The current setup is this:
a Split Buss service panel box. 200 amp service. At the top I have 5 220 breakers. One for Heater, Dryer, Oven, etc... and one that acts as a shut off for the single pole breakers on the bottom half of the box.
I would like to get a new service panel that is not split buss. I want to leave the panel in the same location.
My plan:
Get the power to the house shut off.
Remove a circuit at a time, labeling the wires and noting what AMP breaker they were in.
Once all the circuits and wires have been removed and labeled, disconnect the panel from the wall
attach the new panel to the wall
route the wires into the box and connect them to new breakers that match the amp the wires were in.
connect the main service to the panel
get the power turned back on

I don't want to minimize the knowledge and expertise of a licensed electrician, but as I am not upgrading breakers, adding lines, or changing anything that would compromise the existing wiring in the house.
Do you see anything that is flawed in my plan?
(I do have to check the code of my township to see if they require a licensed electrician to perform the work. Also, I need to check my homeowners insurance to see what they will cover if work was done by a non licensed person). I also figured that if i did the work and got it inspected and it passed, it should be fine, no?

Old 10-13-11, 09:43 AM
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Most places will allow a homeowner to do that job with a permit and inspection, although enforcement varies on exactly what you have to do during a panel change.

Carefully examine the condition of the wires coming in from the meter. If they are very old, the insulation might have cracks which would mean replacement back to the meter, same with the conductors from the meter up to the weatherhead if you have an overhead service. Also examine for evidence of water damage or corrosion which also indicate conductor replacement. Old panels are also often smaller than the new replacement panel, so the service conductors won't necessarily reach the lugs in your new panel -- measure carefully (both for accuracy and safety).

Your jurisdiction may require you to upgrade the grounding of the panel when you do the panel change. That would entail running a #4 copper wire from the panel ground bar to your water service entrance if you have municipal water and metal piping. You would also need to drive two ground rods, 6' apart and bond them to the panel ground bar with acorn clamps and #6 copper wire.

Your jurisdiction may require AFCI breakers in the new panel for all 15A and 20A circuits serving living spaces.

Other than that: follow the lugs torque schedule on the new panel, one wire per screw, and one romex per clamp. Extensions with wirenuts are allowed inside the panel on copper wires that do not reach the new breakers or bars.
Old 10-13-11, 06:38 PM
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Assuming the power company will require a wiring approval from the AHJ (this is very common) before reconnecting the service, you probably will have no power for the first night. You may want to make other arrangements rather than spending the night with no power.
Old 10-13-11, 08:05 PM
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Before you get too far along in your plan, call the POCO. Around here, they charged somewhere in the neighborhood of $125 for a visit (to disconnect and reconnect). So that's $250 to start.

Instead of that, I ended up working with an electrician to do the panel upgrade. He did the service entry work and I did the panel work. It was a good deal, he got some work and I saved some $$. Granted, not all electricians would do that, but it's worth asking.

Whatever you do, do be sure to pull a permit and have it inspected.

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