DIY Replace main breaker panel questions

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  #1  
Old 07-26-12, 09:17 AM
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DIY Replace main breaker panel questions

Hi, I'm about to close on a foreclosed house (built in 1910) and will be doing a 203k loan to do some much needed improvements around the house. One thing the contractor put in there is an upgrade to my 1970/80s Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) breaker panel for the low cost of $2300. This seems unacceptably high.

There are two circuits that are double-tapped but that's easily fixed (I've had two inspectors both have said that FPE can cause issues but right now I do not need to upgrade if I don't want to). My basic load estimates say that I will be more than fine with a 100A panel and max load will be around 70A (930sq.ft house, gas heat/boiler, gas water heater, no AC just a swamp cooler). The wiring in the house was updated with the new FPE panel and all outlets are grounded. Is $2300 absurd to replace the main breaker panel? Looks as if I can purchase a new breaker panel for around $100 (GE Panel with bus bar) add the breakers for some small cost more and have everything installed by me for well under $1000 and have it reviewed by a licensed electrician before energizing the system.

Maybe it's $2300 for new panel, upgraded service and moving the panel indoors as opposed to on the side of the house as it is now?

Part of what I do for my job involves installing monitoring equipment on power systems (single/split and three phase systems, up to 800A so far) so I understand my way around electrical power systems and will be installing current transducers and voltage transformer in my own panel.

tl;dr electrician wants $2300 to replace FPE panel, feasible to do it myself and if so what's required?

Thank you
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 07-26-12 at 09:44 AM. Reason: to remove broken link.
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  #2  
Old 07-26-12, 10:04 AM
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You should replace the FPE panel. There's a reason FPE went out of business.

Maybe it's $2300 for new panel, upgraded service and moving the panel indoors as opposed to on the side of the house as it is now?
Could be. Ask them.

have everything installed by me for well under $1000 and have it reviewed by a licensed electrician before energizing the system.
You will need to have a permit pulled by a licensed master electrician before starting work. Then you need to kill the power from the meter and install the new panel in a fully code-compliant manner. After you've done that, you can have the master electrician check the work and close the permit. Either the electrician or the POCO can then restore the power. In the jurisdictions where I work, compensating the licensed master for his part of that can easily cost more than $1000, if you can find one willing to do it. He or she is putting their professional license and commercial bond on the line, and many are reluctant to do that for someone else's work.

You might be able to set your new panel and wire it and bond it, with an agreement with an electrician to check it out and swap the power over when you're done. That would more than likely require your convincing the electrician that you're able to do all of the steps required to make your new panel fully code-compliant. If you want to go that route, we can help you.
 
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Old 07-26-12, 11:40 AM
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You bring up some good points. I will talk with the contractor to see specifically what the electrical subs will be doing and how they will be doing it. So $2300 isn't unreasonable?
 
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Old 07-26-12, 05:19 PM
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You bring up some good points. I will talk with the contractor to see specifically what the electrical subs will be doing and how they will be doing it. So $2300 isn't unreasonable?
It may not be at all unreasonable when you consider the general contractor is coordinating and scheduling the work to fit in with the rest of his work. The general contractor also must make a reasonable profit from his subcontractor's work.

You will need to have a permit pulled by a licensed master electrician before starting work.
In my area, pulling a permit for a homeowner to do his own work could result in a $500 fine for the license holder and possibly loss of his electrical license.
 
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Old 07-27-12, 07:36 AM
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$2300 is a reasonable price for the scope of work you described. Relocating a panel means extending ALOT of wiring. The old panel location will probably be replaced by a large junction box containing all the spliced connections. This is very labor-intensive. Add the conduit piping (or SER-type cabling), wire, installation of 2 ground rods, possible upsizing of mast/weatherhead, labor to conduct inspections, etc.
 
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Old 07-30-12, 06:26 AM
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Where in the world do you live? You can get a $203K loan on a 930 square foot foreclosure that's over 100 years old??
 
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Old 07-30-12, 08:48 AM
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Not a $203,000 loan a 203k loan.

Rehab a Home W/Hud's 203k Rehab Program
 
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Old 08-21-12, 02:09 PM
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So, I've closed on the house and work should begin soon. Apparently I can pull a permit from the county to do the work myself since I own the house and will be living in it. I don't need a licensed electrician to sign off on it, though a county inspector will come look at it. Other than the permit all I have to do is talk with my utility to have them de-energize/energize the system and update their billing meter.

I like the boxes that combine the meter and the breaker panel, thoughts on a good one to go with? I'm looking at these two from home depot:

GE Power Mark
Power Mark Gold 100 Amp 16-Space 32-Circuit Meter Socket Load Center-TSM1610CSCUP at The Home Depot

Murray (never heard much of anything about them, seem too cheap)
100 Amp 12-Space 24-Circuit Combination Meter Socket Load Center-JA1224B1100SEC at The Home Depot

Or find a SD panel from a local distributor...
 
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Old 08-21-12, 02:32 PM
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Your power company will have a list of meter sockets or meter main combinations. You need to use equipment on their list.
 
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Old 08-21-12, 02:42 PM
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I like the boxes that combine the meter and the breaker panel,
You like having to go outside every time you need to check or reset a breaker?
 
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Old 08-21-12, 02:45 PM
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I couldn't tell you the last time I remember having to reset a breaker.
 
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Old 08-21-12, 02:52 PM
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I couldn't tell you the last time I remember having to reset a breaker.
It's been awhile for me too, at least at home. But I can tell you the last time I opened my panel to kill a circuit while I did some work.
 
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Old 08-21-12, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Nashkat1 View Post
You like having to go outside every time you need to check or reset a breaker?
Doesn't sound so bad.. Until the first time you have to do it in the rain.. It's a bit unnerving sticking your hand in there while standing in a puddle..

When I bought my house it had the breaker box outside under the meter. First thing I did when I rewired was put a new panel inside.

And Illegalsmile, Murray is one of Siemens brands. There's nothing wrong with them.
 
  #14  
Old 08-21-12, 04:50 PM
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I like the boxes that combine the meter and the breaker panel
I don't. I would always much rather have my panel in a dry environment inside the house. Unless you are required to have it outside, consider installing a good main breaker panel out of the damp/wet weather. A panel installed outside may be ok and it probably meets codes, but it definitely won't last as long as a panel installed in a totally dry environment with a reasonable humidity level.
 
  #15  
Old 08-21-12, 05:14 PM
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Thanks for the info... about murray. I will see what I can do as far as installing it inside. Right behind where it's currently installed outside is a cabinet inside that could work perfect to conceal access. I will be stucco'ing the outside anyways. The humidity outside here is generally on par with the driest days the rest of country sees (high desert) so I'm not too concerned if I have to leave it outside, nor do I really have a lot of heavy draw equipment. The quote from the electrician was simply to update the panel outside and NOT move it.
 
  #16  
Old 08-21-12, 05:59 PM
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The cabinet would have to be 30" wide and the door open to a full 30" if I'm interpreting code correctly and nothing could be stored in the cabinet. My guess is a false back about six inches from the front with the panel mounted in it would satisfy that.
 
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