Can Anyone Here Tell Me Why This is Like This?

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  #1  
Old 12-11-12, 09:11 AM
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Can Anyone Here Tell Me Why This is Like This?

The third pair of breakers (down) on the left side runs to the bottom of the panel. They’re 60A breakers. Any idea why?
 
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  #2  
Old 12-11-12, 09:40 AM
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Why it is 60A or why it goes down?

What is attached to the 60A breaker? A sub-pannel?

Edit:

Looking at the picture a bit closer, it looks like they are going back to the bus bar?
 
  #3  
Old 12-11-12, 10:13 AM
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Split bus panel???*

*Normally you don't have 240 loads on a split bus so I'm probably wrong.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 12-11-12 at 10:24 AM. Reason: Add aditional comment.
  #4  
Old 12-11-12, 10:15 AM
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Why these 60A breakers tie into the bus bar on that leg...
 
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Old 12-11-12, 10:22 AM
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If it shuts off every thing below it it is a split bus but normally you don't have 240 loads on a split bus so I'm probably wrong.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 10:41 AM
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I can add to that...those last 100A breakers go to a subpanel I had installed years ago. The electrician probably didn't notice it and just added where there was room. Is having a split bus advantageous and should I correct it?
 
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Old 12-11-12, 10:43 AM
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I'm not saying for sure it is a split bus. Wait for the pros. What is the make and model number?

I can add to that...those last 100A breakers go to a subpanel
Then you have 100 amp circuit on a 60 amp maximum section of the panel if it is split bus.
 
  #8  
Old 12-11-12, 10:52 AM
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It is definitely a split-bus panel. Having 240 volt loads on the lower bus is not common but neither is it prohibited.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 10:59 AM
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Okay that means you have 240 volt loads on the 60 amp max section of the panel that exceed 60 amps. Not ideal when you add in potential 120 volt loads. but so long as the 60 amp breaker for isn't tripping you're okay but again a long way from best practice. I'd plan on replacing the panel as soon as possible.
 
  #10  
Old 12-11-12, 11:06 AM
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Something else just hit me...I'm thinking the split bus configuration was used as a way to have a main disconnect in the panel but now I’m concerned about that 100A sub-panel running off a 60A circuit. Without hearing from you guys, I'm pretty sure I need to change that. It would be nice if I could just buy a Cutler Hammer panel that would fit my opening but had a main disconnect as well. Probably no way I could be that lucky...
 
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Old 12-11-12, 11:17 AM
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Definitely a split-bus panel, as Furd confirmed earlier. In addition, the 240V section should be the top 12 spaces, meaning that the only 240V load in the 120V section is the 100A feed for your subpanel.

Is having a split bus advantageous and should I correct it?
There's nothing inherently wrong with a split-bus panel, but it is limiting and outdated, as you may have gathered from the comments in this thread. In this case, the draw for the loads on your 100A subpanel could exceed the capacity of the 60A breaker that you first asked about. If that happens, everything supplied from the subpanel and from the 120V section of your main panel would lose power.

I concur with Ray:
I'd plan on replacing the panel as soon as possible.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 11:22 AM
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Something else just hit me...I'm thinking the split bus configuration was used as a way to have a main disconnect in the panel
The 60A breaker is only the disconnect for the lower 120V single-pole section. There is no disconnect in the panel for the upper 240V section.

There should be a main disconnect for your service between this panel and the meter. It may be outside, and may be included in the meter housing.
 
  #13  
Old 12-11-12, 11:35 AM
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So, what would be the chances of finding a Cutler Hammer panel with a main disconnect that would fit my box? Or would that be the best way to approach it?

The reason I discovered all this is because I'm adding a panel to power certain circuits from a generator. Our house was built in 1984 with underground utilities and the electricity has a very high failure rate. We're so tired of loosing food (2 refridgerators and 1 freezer) among other discomforts, I decided to go to all this expense as a way to cope with it. I've had to run all the alarm clocks on computer UPS's for years just so we could get to work on time.
Looks like it's going to be even more expensive than it already is...I'm sure we all know how much the cost of copper wire has skyrocketed. Oh well...
 
  #14  
Old 12-11-12, 12:33 PM
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Where I live there is seldom another disconnect.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 01:48 PM
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So, what would be the chances of finding a Cutler Hammer panel with a main disconnect that would fit my box? Or would that be the best way to approach it?
Residential panels are sold and installed as complete units. In order to replace or upgrade your panel, you need to determine what your service is, or what you would like it to be. If you have central air, you probably want a 200A service. The good news is that you can buy a Cutler-Hammer 200A main distribution panel with some of the breakers already in it for $160: Eaton 200 Amp 32 Spaces CH Type Main Breaker Loadcenter Value Pack Includes 6 Breakers. That's not going to be your main expense.

The reason I discovered all this is because I'm adding a panel to power certain circuits from a generator. Our house was built in 1984 with underground utilities and the electricity has a very high failure rate. We're so tired of loosing food (2 refridgerators and 1 freezer) among other discomforts, I decided to go to all this expense as a way to cope with it. I've had to run all the alarm clocks on computer UPS's for years just so we could get to work on time.
It sounds like you're planning to back up multiple circuits with a permanently installed generator. And now, you're contemplating replacing your outdated main distribution panel as part of that.

In your situation, I would put in a generator sized to back up my service, and connect it to the single main panel through an automatic transfer switch. Yes, transfer panels are cheaper to purchase, but they're more complicated to install and you always have the hassle of deciding which circuits to live without - and then the inconvenience of living without those. For just two quick examples, have you included the circuits that feed your sump pump and your smoke detectors on your list?

Ray said that
Originally Posted by ray2047
Where I live there is seldom another disconnect.
That got me thinking that I haven't seen them in every case either. Then, looking back at your panel, it looks like the neutrals and grounds share a bonded bus bar in it, so my guess is that you don't have a main overcurrent protective device (a main breaker, usually) ahead of your panel. If you did,the panel should have been wired as a subpanel, with the neutrals and grounds separated and only the grounds bonded.

How does all of this strike you so far?
 
  #16  
Old 12-11-12, 01:59 PM
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Depressing to say the least...
 
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Old 12-11-12, 02:03 PM
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By my reckoning so long as the top is restricted to 240v breakers it complies with the six throw rule so no other disconnect was required when installed.
 
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Old 12-11-12, 02:12 PM
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By my reckoning so long as the top is restricted to 240v breakers it complies with the six throw rule so no other disconnect was required when installed.
Wow, I hadn't thought about "Six throws and you're out (off)" in a looooong time!
 
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Old 12-11-12, 02:13 PM
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Depressing to say the least...
Sorry to hear that. What would make it feel better?
 
  #20  
Old 12-11-12, 03:25 PM
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You could swap that 100 ampere circuit breaker to the sub-panel with the circuit breaker in the top right position. You would, of course, need to splice additional wire to each circuit to reach the new CB location. The top right CB appears to be a 30 ampere and that would be better in the lower bus than the 100 ampere.

OR, it might be possible to increase the existing 60 ampere CB feeding the lower bus with a 100 ampere CB and new conductors. You need to look at the label for the panel (which should be inside the outer door) and see if it will allow such a change.
 
  #21  
Old 12-11-12, 06:07 PM
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Is having a split bus advantageous
The only advantage I can think of went to the original electrician who bought a cheap panel.
 
  #22  
Old 12-12-12, 06:39 PM
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Split bus panels allowed the use of cheaper two pole breakers instead of the more expensive main breakers. As Ray said these panels properly wired, fell under the 6 throw of the hand to be the disconnect means.
 
  #23  
Old 12-17-12, 12:00 PM
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**Sorry, I lost DSL from Friday morning until this morning**

Not sure if I mentioned this but the other side of this Cutler Hammer panel contains the meter from the power company. I've never understood why this panel didn't have a main breaker/breakers but perhaps you answered it...cheaper panel. I'm dealing with Eaton right now trying to figure out if they offer a panel the same physical size with mains. I sure wish I could have started this before copper prices went through the roof. As a matter of fact, I’m dealing with the same issue installing tank less water heaters right now also.
 
  #24  
Old 12-17-12, 12:14 PM
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I've never understood why this panel didn't have a main breaker/breakers but perhaps you answered...
But the reason isn't so much cheaper as it was within code. A main breaker was not needed because the panel could be shut down in six throws. There was a time when almost all residential panels had six breaker positions or less and no main breaker. The introduction of split bus for residential enabled adding more circuits without violating the six throw rule.
 
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Old 12-17-12, 12:20 PM
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the other side of this Cutler Hammer panel contains the meter from the power company.
What do you mean by "the other side?" In your picture, it appears that the power from the meter enters through a nipple or other fitting at the lower left corner of the mounting plate for the ungrounded buses.

I'm dealing with Eaton right now trying to figure out if they offer a panel the same physical size with mains.
Two questions:
  1. Why do you want or need it to be the same physical size?
  2. Where are you located; are you in the US? ("Mains" is a term usually used in Europe.)
 
  #26  
Old 12-17-12, 12:23 PM
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I've never understood why this panel didn't have a main breaker/breakers but perhaps you answered it...cheaper panel.
To add to what Ray said, split-bus panels were a transitional technology between the early, small panels and the large panels with 32 or more spaces that we install today.
 
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Old 12-17-12, 12:46 PM
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Even if you needed to changed the feeder into the panel you are not looking a a great cost. You could also use aluminum to cut the cost.
 
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