Subpanels

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  #1  
Old 10-27-13, 07:52 PM
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Subpanels

I'm reviewing my electrical system and revamping some things. I've come across some situations that I'm not sure about. I've done some research, but often see conflicting or unclear answers. I'll try to be clear and correct in my descriptions.

I've got 3 subpanels in my basement being fed from my garage (everything is within the same structure). Let's call the panels H, I, and J.
H: Square D, 20 breakers, all used, fed from 60A breaker on 6 wire.
I: Bryant, 2 breakers, 1 used, fed from 30A breaker on 6 wire.
J: Siemens, 6 breakers, 3 used, fed from 50A breaker on 10 wire.
None of the panels have main breakers or local disconnects (is this referred to as "main lug only"?). Panel H has a knockout for a main. No breakers are tied together.

Before getting to my questions, I'll just mention that there's no typos on the descriptions for panels I and J. J has 10-3 on a 50A breaker. For more giggles, it's a Federal Pacific 50A breaker, so it probably wouldn't trip even if the wire didn't melt. Luckily, the actual load on the panel is so small it hasn't been a problem. That whole situation will be getting fixed soon. And panel I has 6-3 feeding two 15A breakers, of which one is being used. I guess they had a special on 6-3 that week.

My first question is: Do any of these panels need mains or local disconnects? I *think* the answer is no, but I'm not sure about panel H. Panels I and J have no more than 6 breakers, so I think they'd be okay regardless.

The one circuit in panel I is for the dishwasher. My second question is: Does the dishwasher require its own dedicated line? I think the answer is no. I have no problem leaving it that way, but it certainly doesn't need to be in a completely separate box, right? Since panels I and J violate the code's clearance rules, I'm planning to consolidate the dishwasher line into another box and to move J.

Panel H has a 20A GFCI breaker feeding a vent fan for a bathroom. The fan motor is in an unfinished part of the basement outside of the bathroom. This is wired with 14-2. My third question is: Does this line really require GFCI protection? No part of the circuit is even in or above the bathroom. Nothing else is on the circuit. I'm not likely to run 12 wire to it or buy a 15A GFCI, so I'm hoping I can simply switch to a standard 15A breaker.

I've actually resolved this next situation, but I'm curious about it. There were 4 kitchen receptacles on a 20A GFCI breaker. On a couple of rare occasions (cooking for the extended family with simultaneous use of electric griddles, toaster, coffee maker, and such) we tripped the circuit. Inside panel H, 2 separate lines were connected to 1 breaker. My fourth question is: Is this allowable? It's really no different than exiting the panel with 1 wire and separating into 2 lines in a junction box, but I'm curious if the code frowns on this configuration for some reason. As it is, I was able to separate the lines while continuing to have all appropriate GFCI coverage, so our breakfast ampacity is better than ever.

Since I'm on a roll, I'll throw in an unrelated question. When we had central air installed, they added a subpanel (panel G) for 2 breakers for the inside and outside units. They removed a 6-2 wire from a 60A breaker in panel E and fed the new panel from that spot. Besides the 2 A/C breakers, they put in a third 30A breaker for that original 6-2 line. They ran a wire from panel G back to panel E and connected this new wire to the original 6-2 wire (with huge, blue wire nuts). In effect, panel E is a junction box in regards to that circuit. The breaker is in panel G, but the wire going downstream still departs panel E as it used to. My fifth question is: Is there anything wrong with this setup? Can you splice wires inside a panel box? For now, this is just an academic exercise, since nothing is actually connected to that circuit.


I'd appreciate any help. I'd be happy to provide additional details or clarifications.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-27-13, 10:33 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
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Welcome to the forums!

My first question is: Do any of these panels need mains or local disconnects?
No.

The one circuit in panel I is for the dishwasher. My second question is: Does the dishwasher require its own dedicated line?
Sometimes. It depends on the load the dishwasher draws and what else you might think of having it share a circuit with.

Panel H has a 20A GFCI breaker feeding a vent fan for a bathroom. The fan motor is in an unfinished part of the basement outside of the bathroom. This is wired with 14-2. My third question is: Does this line really require GFCI protection?
No.

I'm hoping I can simply switch to a standard 15A breaker.
You can.

I've actually resolved this next situation, but I'm curious about it. There were 4 kitchen receptacles on a 20A GFCI breaker. On a couple of rare occasions (cooking for the extended family with simultaneous use of electric griddles, toaster, coffee maker, and such) we tripped the circuit. Inside panel H, 2 separate lines were connected to 1 breaker. My fourth question is: Is this allowable?
Only in rare cases where the breaker is rated to take two wires.

My fifth question is: Is there anything wrong with this setup? Can you splice wires inside a panel box?
A distribution panel may not be used as a splice box.
 
  #3  
Old 10-28-13, 06:09 AM
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J: Siemens, 6 breakers, 3 used, fed from 50A breaker on 10 wire.
Largest permissible breaker for #10 is 30 amp.

I: Bryant, 2 breakers, 1 used, fed from 30A breaker on 6 wire.
With #6 the breaker could be 50 amp.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 12:05 PM
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Thanks very much for the help!
 
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