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Moving main panel / load center to exterior wall of garage...

Moving main panel / load center to exterior wall of garage...

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  #1  
Old 08-05-13, 05:41 PM
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Moving main panel / load center to exterior wall of garage...

I've built a new bathroom in my garage and learned that the main electrical panel can NOT be located in a bathroom. I have spoken with the local L&I inspector and have pulled an electrical permit as the homeowner to move the panel to the exterior side of the wall that it is currently located on, in basically the exact same position.

I talked with the power company and they indicated a $37 charge for a "meter pull" so that I can do the change.

I'm looking for advice from experts and those that have done this before as to the basic steps and order of events that need to happen so that I can do this correctly, and to code. The inspector I spoke with said I do not have to pull 3 conductor wire to all the existing circuits as long as the 2 conductor wire is in good shape. Because I'm essentially locating it in the same place, but just outside the wall, all my existing wiring *should* reach.

Questions:
1.) Can I use my existing 225A load center panel and just build a waterproof cabinet around it? Or will I have to buy a waterproof panel designed to be outside?

2.) What is the order of events in a typical panel move? I can label every circuit and breaker ahead of time, but how long will the power company wait there with the meter pulled while I quickly try to relocate the panel? Sorry, maybe a dumb question but I'm trying to picture how this usually works...

3.) What are the acceptible ways to route all the romex and other various cables (range connection is a larger wire, and I have a sub-panel that goes to my shop for a 220v tablesaw). Most of the cables now come through holes drilled in the header above the panel, then are tacked to the studs before coming into the side of the panel. How many circuits / cables can I route through a hole in the wall? Are there premade cable channels just for this purpose?

4.) Will I have to re-do my ground? Is that a big job?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice. I'll upload a better pic with the outer panel removed later this evening.

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A little explanation on the photo:
The grey cable on the lower left goes to the sub-panel in my shop, 220v.
The metal conduit coming out the center bottom goes to my electric range.
The main connection from the meter outside comes through the top, back of the panel. (not visible without the outer cover removed)
 
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  #2  
Old 08-05-13, 07:01 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

I'm just passing thru but wanted to answer a few questions for you.

In no particular order.

You left a pic of your panel.....are you just turning it around ?

Here in NJ..... the power company will pull the meter for you. They will not wait for you..... they will leave. They will require a cut-in card from the electrical inspector before putting the meter back in. That's in NJ.... you need to check with the powers-to-be/inspector in your area.

You can use the same panel in your garage.

A few more pictures of the area would be really helpful too.
 
  #3  
Old 08-05-13, 07:36 PM
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1.) Can I use my existing 225A load center panel and just build a waterproof cabinet around it? Or will I have to buy a waterproof panel designed to be outside?
Even if you could I'd recommend a new panel. Install a complete panel with meter socket. Ask the power company to switch to the new panel when done. You then can take your time switching over to the new panel. You can even run your old panel off the new one while your making the change over This will save you the hassle of coordinating a meter pull and getting everything transfered in a short time. Use a outdoor rated panel that takes the same breakers as in your current panel to save money.
 
  #4  
Old 08-05-13, 09:44 PM
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Ahhhh....ok. You'll be putting the panel outside. Ray brought up some good ideas.
 
  #5  
Old 08-07-13, 12:34 PM
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Here are some more pictures of the project (or "what I'm up against").

It appears that there are several 50amp breakers acting as "mains" for other circuits that already have 30amp breaker protection. I'm wondering if this was done out of an abundance of safety or if it is required by code?

The house is all electric, including baseboard heating. The shop has a 220v outlet for a table saw.

My plan is to purchase a new 200A Square D 42 space panel with a master shutoff and mount it on the exterior wall next to the existing meter. Install 2 ground rods to update grounding. Have the new panel installation inspected. Have the POCO do a meter pull. Move the SEU cable from the old panel to the new outside panel. Have the POCO re-install the meter. Then move each circuit as I have time.

It appears that the neutral and grounds are all tied together in the existing panel. Am I seeing that correctly? My understanding is that this should not be done and can only be done at the meter enclosure now?

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  #6  
Old 08-07-13, 01:39 PM
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It appears that there are several 50amp breakers acting as "mains" for other circuits that already have 30amp breaker protection. I'm wondering if this was done out of an abundance of safety or if it is required by code?
This may be a split-bus panel. If so, one of the 2-pole breakers in the upper section would be the main for the single-breaker section below. But it doesn't matter, since your new panel won't be that type.

It appears that the neutral and grounds are all tied together in the existing panel. Am I seeing that correctly? My understanding is that this should not be done and can only be done at the meter enclosure now?
The bond that creates your Grounding Electrode Conductor needs to be made in or before the enclosure with the main overcurrent protection device in it. Since you're planning to install a panel "with a master shutoff," you'll do that in your new panel. In that panel, all neutrals and grounds are bonded together and to the panel enclosure.

I don't see a main breaker in your existing panel. There may be one. Regardless, that panel has so many problems that starting fresh is the best hope.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 02:11 PM
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It appears from the photo your meter is fed by a pole drop. If that is correct and you want to do it the way I suggested you would want to mount the new meter socket just below the existing meter socket just far enough right or left of the existing meter socket to run the new mast up through the roof. Your new breaker box would be mounted just below the new meter socket connected with a short nipple. (See: Post#3 http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...l#post21437850)
 
  #8  
Old 08-07-13, 03:48 PM
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I appreciate all the advice and answers so far! I was not planning on replacing the meter or the overhead pole and weather head.

Are you suggesting I do so because I'll have to anyway? (Because the old stuff won't pass a new inspection?) Or because that's the only way to cut over to new service? I can actually be without electricity for a few days if that matters.

And the statement "...this panel has so many problems, starting over is the best hope". While I realize that upon first looking at it, it appears to be a mess. Are there visible code violations? Sorry for being "new", but any specifics will help to educate me.

Thanks!
 
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Old 08-07-13, 05:18 PM
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I can actually be without electricity for a few days if that matters.
Yes that was my only reason for suggesting it.

A moot point on the panel since it is not an outdoor panel. No, no major code violations but no main breaker and split bus panels are no longer code. As people needed more breakers in their home a split bus wa a way around sticking to the six throw rule and avoiding using a main breaker. Six throw rule meaning all circuits could be shut down in six throws or less. In your panel there are spaces for no more then 5 240 breakers controlling 240 loads and a sixth 240 breaker to control all the 120 volt loads so the six throw rule is satisfied without a more expensive (especially then) breaker.

Note you appear to have 240 breakers in the 120 section. The pros will know if that is a violation but it probably puts a heavier then intended load on the breaker controlling that section and doesn't leave you room for new 120 breakers.
 
  #10  
Old 08-07-13, 05:44 PM
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While I realize that upon first looking at it, it appears to be a mess. Are there visible code violations? Sorry for being "new", but any specifics will help to educate me.
That was just a bit judgemental on my part, wasn't it? I regret that.

Besides having no visible main overcurrent protection device, there's the misaligned lugs at the top, several grounded conductors cut too short and pulled up tight against the ungrounded terminal of the lowest left breaker, wires run without a pattern, and at least a couple of cables that still have their jackets on inside the enclosure. Jackets should come off at the entrance - no more than 1/4" inside the box. The worst of these is the piece of MC that's stuffed inside with its current-carrying jacket still on and keeps it on until it reaches its destination.

That destination is the main lug where the incoming grounded conductor is terminated. The MC has no anti-short bushing. The wires just come out of the cut end of the jacket and are added in with the conductor strands for the POCO neutral. That's a huge violation.

Others may point out more.
 
  #11  
Old 08-07-13, 07:16 PM
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Thanks Nashcat and Ray!!! I appreciate all the feedback and information. I believe that small MC wire coming in the bottom of the panel is a ground tied to the water pipes but I'll have to check that when I get home.
 
  #12  
Old 08-07-13, 10:41 PM
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I believe that small MC wire coming in the bottom of the panel is a ground tied to the water pipes
That cable isn't approved for use as a bonding conductor - no cable is. The metal jacket of the cable should not be inside the cabinet - no cable jacket should be, and no conductive material not in use as a conductor should be. A bonding conductor installed as part of creating the Grounding Electrode Conductor should not be terminated in the same lug as a different conductor - no two conductors should be terminated in the same lug unless the lug is specifically designed to accept more than one conductor and the two conductors meet the specifications for the sizes allowed. That cable and all wiring inside the panel needs to be run in a relaxed shape, without any strain on the termination.

Shall I go on?
 
  #13  
Old 08-08-13, 07:44 AM
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Looks like armored ground wire not AC that was not properly installed. Common in panels that old.
 
  #14  
Old 08-08-13, 09:32 AM
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Looks like armored ground wire not AC that was not properly installed. Common in panels that old.
Interesting. Never saw it before.

Setting aside the issue of where and how it's terminated, it still doesn't seem proper to have the armored sheath come into the panel. Was that also commonly done?
 
  #15  
Old 08-08-13, 10:10 AM
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it still doesn't seem proper to have the armored sheath come into the panel. Was that also commonly done?
Not that I remember hence my writing:
that was not properly installed
Of course the box does at least have NM connectors so I'd expect the same for armored ground cable. In the old boxes around here all the cables just went through one large knockout at the top, often with no bushing.

Duraclad Type BAG Bare Armored Ground Cable
 
  #16  
Old 08-08-13, 10:24 AM
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I'll be hornswoggled! They're still making the stuff!

Yeah, I've seen some of those installations with all of the conductors running through one big opening. I didn't take a picture of any of them before starting the demo though.
 
  #17  
Old 07-15-14, 07:36 PM
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I'm revamping this thread as I'm finally back around to trying to finish this project.

To summarize, the project is to install a new main electrical panel on the outside of the wall in nearly the same location as the existing inside panel (the inside panel will be replaced with a junction box for any circuits that won't reach the new panel outside). I have purchased a Square D Nema 3R panel, 200A main breaker and room for 40 circuits.

My current questions are thus:

What are allowable ways to have the existing circuits (12 & 14 AWG) traverse the wall from inside to outside? I have about 18 circuits. The Nema 3R main panel has lots of knockouts on the bottom of the box, but can I just make a 2" hole with PVC or some kind of nipple? Will I need to use UF wire because it goes outside? Can I build a soffit below the outdoor panel so that the wires never actually are outside?

Any advice greatly appreciated...

I'm also wondering what my local L&I inspector will allow in regards to the steps I take for this project.

I guess I could call and ask... I'm hoping I can mount the new outdoor panel, drive in my new ground rods into the ground, connect the ground rods to the panel. Have the power company pull my meter. Connect a new Service Entrance Cable from my meter to my outdoor panel. Let L&I inspect the new panel and hopefully allow me to have the power meter re-installed. Then I can use the 200A main breaker to turn off power to add the additional circuits over the next few days as time allows....

Comments?

Thanks in advance...
 
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