Panel swap from fuses to breakers question

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  #1  
Old 03-23-12, 11:25 AM
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Panel swap from fuses to breakers question

Hello all,
I just want to make sure I am not missing anything.

I am buying a house that has a fuse panel in it. It has a couple pony boxes on it, and some fuses are overfused. It is 100A service.
I'd like to clean it all up into a single new breaker box, still 100A service.

In my area, procedure is this:
-Call Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) to get permit
-Call utility to have them come disconnect power outside
-Swap out box
-Have ESA inspector come approve it
-ESA inspector calls utility to turn it back on

ESA says I can do all the work myself, and they will inspect/approve it. I do have a moderate amount of electrical background myself (running new outlets, troubleshooting, install GFI's, etc..) but am a computer guy by trade.
My father is a P.Eng electrical engineer, and uncle a retired electrician, so I should have help if I need it.

My question is if I am missing any hidden costs here.
A new panel is $175 (this one: Schneider Electric - Federal Pioneer | 100 Amp, 48 Spaces Stab-lok New Construction Arc Fault Panel Package with Breakers | Home Depot Canada)
I'll need a few more breakers, so $50 more
$166 fee for the permit/inspection
No fee from electric company
Some Misc fees if I need to lengthen any wires with junction boxes.

I believe I can get rid of the pony boxes and move it all inside the panel correct? One box is A/C, one is for a 2nd stove.
All wiring is copper.

Pic of current setup:


So am I thinking ok, or am I missing something?
 
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  #2  
Old 03-23-12, 11:50 AM
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Two questions:

If one of your loads is central A/C, do you think a 100A service will be sufficient? I consider a 200A service the minimum for residences with central A/C.

Is the existing grounding electrode system up to code, or do you need to upgrade it to protect the new service (and your house)?
 
  #3  
Old 03-23-12, 12:15 PM
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For #1, here the vast majority of homes have 100A service, only a small amount have 200 (our old house does actually). Almost all houses here have central air, so I don't see that as a problem.

For #2, I am not sure. I will check and see if it's using water pipes or something else, and see what code is here. I don't see any changes in that regard in the upcoming code revision that comes into effect May 1st in Ontario.
 
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Old 03-23-12, 12:35 PM
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Most of the electricians here are on the south side of of the maple leaf and will cringe because of the words Federal Pacific and Stablock because of the fact the American company of that name went out of bossiness due to unsafe breakers but from what I have read the Canadian version is very different and is safe.
 
  #5  
Old 03-23-12, 01:01 PM
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Thank you. Got it on the service capacity question. On the grounding electrode question, if the Canadian code is at all similar to the NEC used here in this regard - and I'm guessing it would be on this - then two ground rods driven at least six feet apart and bonded to each other and the service entrance by a single conductor is the likeliest requirement.

But you know who knows? The folks who will issue you the permit and come out to inspect the work. I'd ask them. Or your Dad.
 
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Old 03-23-12, 06:50 PM
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My question is if I am missing any hidden costs here.
Considering the age of the fuse panels and assuming the meter socket and service wiring is the same age, I'd change the complete service and not just install a new panel.

will cringe because of the words Federal Pacific and Stablock because of the fact the American company of that name went out of bossiness due to unsafe breakers but from what I have read the Canadian version is very different and is safe.
Is the Canadian version, Federal Pioneer, very different and safe? I don't know. I have asked that question many times and never gotten a good answer. Before I would use the Canadian FPE products, I would want assurance that their current product is substantially different from the old American FPE product. I recently met Dr. Jessie Aronstein, FPE expert, and even asked him this question and he couldn't say if the Canadian Federal Pioneer product was the same as or different than the old Federal Pacific product.
 
  #7  
Old 03-23-12, 07:36 PM
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I can certainly use a different brand panel if those ones have a bad rep, that one just seemed to be a good feature set for the price. There are others for about $20 from other brands.

I certainly would like to avoid replacing the whole service. If the inspector says there is a reason too I will, but that's a bigger project than I'd like to get in to.
 
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Old 03-23-12, 08:12 PM
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I know others have touched on this but I just want to add the disclaimer to my post that I live, and work, in the US. I do not know the codes of Canada and/or if they are different then the US NEC.

I am also no fan of the breakers or the panel you have listed for a couple of reasons. The size of the panel appears to be very small for wire bending space, and Stab-loc is a dirty word around here. Looking at the busses, and breakers in the picture, they look pretty much the same as the FPE that was sold here back in the day.

I would recommend going with a Square D QO, Siemens, or Cuttler Hammer panel. I see there are many good ones to choose from in stock on the HD Canada web page. Also 100 amps is plenty for many houses unless you have a lot of electric appliances or electric heat. 2nd stove? Maybe you should list your electric stuff you are running.

Now, about your project. Is that thing on the right your main disconnect? Is that 100 amps? Is it part of the fuse panel or is the fuse panel it own box?
 
  #9  
Old 03-23-12, 09:40 PM
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Is the panel you're looking at designed for surface mounting? It somehow looks like a flush mount design.
 
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Old 03-24-12, 04:31 AM
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Thanks guys, you are being very helpful.

Ok so other panels:
Schneider Electric - Square D | 100 Amp, 32 Spaces 54 Circuits Maximum QO QwikPak Panel Package with Breakers | Home Depot Canada

Siemens | X-Press Pack Service Entrance Loadcentre, 32/64 Circuits, 100A Main Breaker | Home Depot Canada

That second one says for new construction, does that mean I can't use that in my situation?


No price online for this one, but is it ok?
Siemens | X-Press Pack Service Entrance Loadcentre, 24/48 Circuits, 100A Main Breaker,15 breakers incl. | Home Depot Canada


Why is this one so cheap? Eaton Cutler-Hammer | 100A 30/60 Circuit Indoor Panel Package With Br Breakers | Home Depot Canada

Nash: I do believe that is the main disconnect, it is 100A. I'm not sure if it's a separate unit or attached. I don't have access to the house until May15. I suppose if it is a seperate box, I could cheapout and not call the electric company at all and do the swap, but I'd prefer to do the safe and legal way. No use risking your family's safety to save $166.

Thanks again for the help.
 
  #11  
Old 03-24-12, 05:18 AM
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Any of the other panels you have posted, even the "new construction" panels, are good. It is fine to install a panel with a flush mount cover on the surface. The panel cover will just overlap the can by about 1/2"

Cuttler Hammer BR is just a less expensive line of panels. I have used them and find nothing wrong with them.

If that switch on the side is a disconnect, and a separate part of the service, there is no reason to involve the power company. You would just turn off the service there and only work on the load side of the disconnect. The only time you need to get the power company out is when you are working on anything before the main breaker. You would still need a permit, and get an inspection, to do the job.

Side note: I wish these panels were available in the US at HD. I like the circuit/spaces numbers.
 
  #12  
Old 03-24-12, 05:50 AM
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The BR panel has an aluminum buss. The others may have a copper buss.
 
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Old 03-24-12, 05:54 AM
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I thought that too at first, but looking the the pictures in the links, they all appear to be aluminum.
 
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Old 03-24-12, 05:56 AM
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Ok one other question,
Is it permissable and possible to put a 200 amp load center on a 100 amp service, if you replace the 200 amp main breaker in the panel with a 100?

Just thinking of upgradability down the line. That way if we ever need 200 amp service, the panel is already done, so we'd just need to do the service side.
 
  #15  
Old 03-24-12, 06:16 AM
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I think you need to open up that main disconnect and see how it looks. If it's in good condition, you can flip the main breaker, do the panel swap, then turn it back on without involving the power company.

But... if it's old and looks like it needs to be replaced, then I would bite the bullet and have the power company do the disconnect at the meter and just replace the whole shebang. In my opinion, this would be the cleanest answer.
 
  #16  
Old 03-24-12, 06:54 AM
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The BR panel has an aluminum buss. The others may have a copper buss.
The Square D QO panel is the only one that comes with standard copper bus (tin plated). The Siemens and Cutler-Hammer BR panels are usually available with either aluminum or copper bus, at least in this country. Typically they will have a "C" suffix in the catalog number or very near the end of that number, I don't see a "C" in the Siemens and Cutler catalog numbers at all and that information isn't listed under "Specifications". I would assume those have aluminum bus. There are differences in total number of circuits because Canada allowed more than a maximum of 42 poles per panel quite a bit earlier than the NEC here did. There are panels available here that will provide 60 plus circuits per panel, but I don't know of a distributor who stocks them yet; they are still more expensive here so that explains why the big box stores don't stock them yet. The biggest difference I see between the panels posted by the OP and panels available here would be the dimensions. The Cutler-Hammer BR panel is a whopping 17" wide! The others were about 13.125" and 15.5" wide. The Cutler-Hammer BR and the Square D QO panels are both 5" deep too. Assuming Canadian wood studs measure 1 1/2 X 3 1/2 inches and are installed 16" on center, I am not sure how they install a residential loadcenter for a flush installation.
 
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Old 03-24-12, 06:58 AM
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Ok one other question,
Is it permissable and possible to put a 200 amp load center on a 100 amp service, if you replace the 200 amp main breaker in the panel with a 100?
According to the NEC that is permissible as long as the service disconnect is either 100 fuses or a 100 amp breaker, but I don't know about Canadian codes. I like the upgradability option.
 
  #18  
Old 03-24-12, 07:22 AM
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You would not need to change out the 200 amp main breaker in the panel. That breaker just becomes a disconnect for the panel. The 100 amp disconnect is your main overcurrent device.

I am not sure how they install a residential loadcenter for a flush installation.
Just attach them through the back of the panel.

I like big panels!
 
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