GFCI circuit and other questions

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Old 11-05-13, 03:45 PM
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GFCI circuit and other questions

As an update and follow-on to my thread about an old panel - Does this panel need to be replaced? - the decision appears to have been made to replace the panel but keep it the same location. I'm not happy with that, but that's another story.

There are a number of questions within replacing the panel. One is the existing panel has a 20A (I think) GFCI breaker in it. That breaker supplies four receptacles: one in each bathroom and one on each balcony. In addition, each bathroom has a GFCI receptacle on that circuit.

My instinct is to install a regular breaker in the new panel to protect that circuit and install a GFCI receptacle and in-use cover on each balcony. I'm really hoping it's a 20A circuit or can be (12 AWG wiring). Splitting the circuit is an option only if there's a way to do it w/o opening walls or ceilings and it takes maybe 1 or 2 hours labor to do it.

A second question is this: I like Siemens equipment but don't know a lot about their residential line. I started with this 12 position/24 circuit panel, which is what the existing panel is. I'm pretty sure that will give me 5 free positions when I eliminate the GFCI breaker (4 if I add a second breaker to split the circuit). That's plenty.

But then I got to thinking about AFCI. Those breakers are full size and expensive. Now we've got a problem, Houston - at least potentially.

Any suggestions on a better panel/manufacturer choice?
 
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Old 11-05-13, 04:15 PM
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I have never used Siemens, but do like the CH and Square D panels with the neutral rail that use AFCI breakers without the pigtail.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 04:19 PM
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Bill, most all mfgrs of AFCI's are keeping their prices high, so one is as good as another. Not sure how your inspector will think about it, but with that changeout, he may REQUIRE AFCI's throughout (depending on code session), and may require splitting that circuit. I agree with individual GFCI's though, to keep from having to go down to the basement each time one trips....and which one tripped it??

Back when I remodeled our rental cabin, I installed a 150amp (overkill) panel, and the inspector required AFCI's in bedrooms only, so that was cool. I did protect the new bathroom with a GFCI breaker, but panel is in the bedroom adjacent to it.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 04:24 PM
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My instinct is to install a regular breaker in the new panel to protect that circuit and install a GFCI receptacle and in-use cover on each balcony. I'm really hoping it's a 20A circuit or can be (12 AWG wiring). Splitting the circuit is an option only if there's a way to do it w/o opening walls or ceilings and it takes maybe 1 or 2 hours labor to do it.
That is also what I would do.

A second question is this: I like Siemens equipment but don't know a lot about their residential line. I started with this 12 position/24 circuit panel, which is what the existing panel is. I'm pretty sure that will give me 5 free positions when I eliminate the GFCI breaker (4 if I add a second breaker to split the circuit). That's plenty.

But then I got to thinking about AFCI. Those breakers are full size and expensive. Now we've got a problem, Houston - at least potentially.
Why would replacing a panel require adding AFCI protection? This home is existing, I wouldn't do it. OR......I suppose you could add AFCI receptacles at the panel as the first receptacle on each circuit that needs AFCI protection. If you do want to go ahead with AFCI breakers, how many spaces would you need, 30 or so? Anyone's 30 circuit panel will be quite a bit larger, is that a problem. A 30-40 panel would surely give you plenty of space and everyone makes one, but do you have that much room? All I really recommend is that you choose a copper bus panel.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 04:44 PM
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Many have said the AFCI protection would only be required if the circuit was changed or new work was added. A straight panel change would not.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 04:50 PM
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Most Siemens residential are copper bus so that's good. Their tandem breakers are just a bit more expensive than two full size. 240v triplex/quads are sometimes available but you end up scratching your head figuring out the right combination.

Definitely go bigger than 12/24
 
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Old 11-05-13, 05:02 PM
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Most Siemens residential are copper bus so that's good.
My recollection is that Siemens loadcenters come standard with aluminum bus, but some models are also available with copper bus. Some contractors use exclusively aluminum bus loadcenters to be more competitive in their pricing. The copper bus panels will have a "C" at or near the end of the catalog number.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 06:44 PM
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Big box stores have mostly copper Siemens - CU part number. Value packs are aluminum as well as most Murray.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 07:05 PM
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Bill, most all mfgrs of AFCI's are keeping their prices high, so one is as good as another.
Oh well.

Not sure how your inspector will think about it, but with that changeout, he may REQUIRE AFCI's throughout (depending on code session), and may require splitting that circuit.
No permit and no inspection. I'm flabbergasted, but the building engineer has assured my clients that "that's how it's always been done" and that's not a hill I'm willing to die on.

I agree with individual GFCI's though, to keep from having to go down to the basement each time one trips....and which one tripped it??
I guess I wasn't clear, Larry. The panel location is on one wall of the kitchen. No trip to the basement. It's on the wall where they've decided to locate the range. The panel won't actually be over the range - it'll be over the countertop next to it. That's what I don't like about the location, at all.

Back when I remodeled our rental cabin, I installed a 150amp (overkill) panel, and the inspector required AFCI's in bedrooms only, so that was cool. I did protect the new bathroom with a GFCI breaker, but panel is in the bedroom adjacent to it.
I'm thinking I may have to go to a full-size panel to fit AFCIs in. They all seem to be full height, and the present setup relies on half-height breakers to fit everything in. That's one unintended(?) consequence of the AFCI revolution.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 07:07 PM
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I have never used Siemens, but do like the CH and Square D panels with the neutral rail that use AFCI breakers without the pigtail.
Thanks Jim. I'll be sure to look at those.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 08:26 PM
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That is also what I would do.
Thanks Joe.
Why would replacing a panel require adding AFCI protection? This home is existing, I wouldn't do it.
Interesting. I guess I figured that if you were replacing a panel you needed to make the new one fully compliant with currently adopted codes. Besides that, though, I'd just like to provide it. I think it's a good added level of protection. However, the word "grandfathered" did come up in the conversation between my clients and the building engineer. That's how keeping the panel where it is got justified.

That said, I'll sleep on it. Tomorrow I'll decide if I can keep sleeping with it. Not adding them would get us back to the 12x24 panel.

OR......I suppose you could add AFCI receptacles at the panel as the first receptacle on each circuit that needs AFCI protection.
in the kitchen wall where the range will be? No, I don't think so. Just GFCI there, I'm thinking.

If you do want to go ahead with AFCI breakers, how many spaces would you need, 30 or so?
Only if you're counting each one as a double. No more than 10 circuits, I'm pretty sure. The existing panel is a 12/24 with four of the 24 open. There are 4 or 5 240V circuits in it now - hey, I'm gonna gain the cooktop space! The existing oven circuit is enough for the range.

Anyone's 30 circuit panel will be quite a bit larger, is that a problem. A 30-40 panel would surely give you plenty of space and everyone makes one, but do you have that much room?
IDK. I can go up to a standard stud-bay box. Height should be as short as possible. The 12x24 panel is looking better.

All I really recommend is that you choose a copper bus panel.
Done. I've never really considered anything else.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 08:29 PM
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Many have said the AFCI protection would only be required if the circuit was changed or new work was added. A straight panel change would not.
Thanks Jim. Since you're a licensed Master in a neighboring jurisdiction, I'll take that as something I can go forward with.
 
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Old 11-05-13, 08:35 PM
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Most Siemens residential are copper bus so that's good.
Yep.

Their tandem breakers are just a bit more expensive than two full size.
That's what I'm seeing.

240v triplex/quads are sometimes available but you end up scratching your head figuring out the right combination.
I thought I was seeing those. Figuring out how to work those in is a puzzle I enjoy solving -- usually.

Definitely go bigger than 12/24
Why? Especially since I just realized I'm going to pick up full two spaces?
 
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Old 11-05-13, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Astuff
Most Siemens residential are copper bus so that's good.
My recollection is that Siemens loadcenters come standard with aluminum bus, but some models are also available with copper bus. ... The copper bus panels will have a "C" at or near the end of the catalog number.
It'll be the P1224L1125CU. See the CU at the end?
 
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Old 11-06-13, 03:59 AM
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Like you, I would not be happy installing a panel over the counter in obvious violation of the work space requirements.
 
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Old 11-06-13, 06:00 AM
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It'll be the P1224L1125CU. See the CU at the end?
Yep Another benefit I had forgotten about is that panel is lifetime warranted now.

Like you, I would not be happy installing a panel over the counter in obvious violation of the work space requirements.
I'll agree with that. What's on the other side of the wall, can the panel face the opposite side? If the location is automatically grandfathered, what would they do if the original panel had been in the bathroom?
 
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Old 11-06-13, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by pcboss
Like you, I would not be happy installing a panel over the counter in obvious violation of the work space requirements.
Right. I'm not thrilled about having it adjacent to all of the steam and grease that the range will produce either.

Originally Posted by CasualJoe
Another benefit I had forgotten about is that panel is lifetime warranted now.
Sweet!

What's on the other side of the wall, can the panel face the opposite side?
The other wall of the chase is a living room wall. I've been arguing for that. The husband is good with it but the wife is resisting.

The building engineer told them their panel was "tied into the units above and below yours," and virtually impossible to move, even by flipping it around. I don't believe that for a second. The units on each floor should be fed from electrical closets on each floor. I don't know whether this guy is just mistaken or blowing smoke, but I can't argue it without evidence. There'd better not be any power in that internal chase that isn't part of the service for this unit!

Right now my plan is to go in Friday to do some of the small stuff and detail what the panel needs. I'll go back on Saturday and do the changeout and new/relocated circuits with a partner. We'll see what the deal is when we get the chase open. Hmmmm... think I'll open it on Friday.

If the location is automatically grandfathered, what would they do if the original panel had been in the bathroom?
Got me buddy. My suspicion is that this place is too big and too rich to fail, or at least they think they are. Having worked directly with the inspectors in this jurisdiction for years, including two chief inspectors and some jobs that dwarf this complex, I don't believe that one either. But blowing a whistle is tricky. I'm not ready to do that. I might, of course, let the engineer think I would.
 
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Old 11-06-13, 08:20 AM
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I called the supply house. Their quote for the panelboard dropped after I pointed them to the commercial account I use, of course -- all the way down to $98.

I Don't Think So!
 
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Old 11-06-13, 01:04 PM
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The building engineer told them their panel was "tied into the units above and below yours," and virtually impossible to move, even by flipping it around. I don't believe that for a second. The units on each floor should be fed from electrical closets on each floor.
Uh ohhhh.....Is it possible this is a riser panel. Usually riser panels are just used in high rise apartments with one meter and all units have an identical stacked floor plan. Isn't this unit separately metered? When you go by next trip, open the panel and take a look. If the feed comes from below and feeds thru directly above and the feeders are rather large and just tapped to feed this panel in the wiring gutter, you may have a problem. You better take a long hard look and take some pictures. Please, let us know too.

http://www.hqs.sbt.siemens.com/gip/g...RPLC1-0608.pdf
 
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Old 11-06-13, 01:36 PM
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Isn't this unit separately metered?
I think so but IDK for sure.

open the panel and take a look. If the feed comes from below and feeds thru directly above and the feeders are rather large and just tapped to feed this panel in the wiring gutter, you may have a problem. You better take a long hard look and take some pictures.
I already did. The feeders are ordinary size for the amps and they just come on their own from the top. It doesn't look like any of the riser panels I've ever installed, that's for sure.

Remember, this is the old FPE Stab-Loc we're talking about here.

I'm in an exchange with the owners right now. I'll ask them about the metering.

They're pushing back about replacing the panel. I'm showing them the FPE hazards site you linked to earlier.
 
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Old 11-06-13, 02:49 PM
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Usually riser panels are just used in high rise apartments with one meter and all units have an identical stacked floor plan.
That fits, so I asked them to let me know.

The property is the Rotonda. Their unit is on the 9th floor at the end of one of the buildings. The floor plan is a 'J' Unit - well, it's the mirror image of the one shown. The electrical chase is the wide black wall between the kitchen and the living room, from the pantry to the dining room.

Yep, 2 balconies and 2 HVAC systems. What a PIT...joy!
 
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Old 11-06-13, 05:02 PM
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They should know if they have their own account with the power company I'd think, but if they aren't sure, try to find the management company for the building and talk to their maintenance superintendent. Ask where the disconnect for each unit is located. From your description, there should be multiple electrical equipment rooms on each floor, each with meters and disconnects for each apartment in that wing. If you can verify this, it is just a simple panel changeout. You'll need to find the disconnect sooner or later to changeout the panel anyway. If these are riser panels, there will probably be one disconnect for each riser.

If they absolutely say NO to the panel replacement, like I said earlier, don't lose any sleep over it. You have already done everything you could possibly do to convince them of the hazards.
 
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Old 11-06-13, 08:43 PM
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They should know if they have their own account with the power company I'd think, but if they aren't sure, try to find the management company for the building and talk to their maintenance superintendent.
They do have their own account, and they're going to ask the building engineer about riser panels. Cross-hairs on this one.

Ask where the disconnect for each unit is located. From your description, there should be multiple electrical equipment rooms on each floor, each with meters and disconnects for each apartment in that wing. If you can verify this, it is just a simple panel changeout.
ASAP. That's what I think, and hope, the setup is. They said they don't know where their meter is, just that they have one. But we'll find out.

If I had a dollar for every electrical closet I've... Oh wait. I did get paid for those, didn't I. This is like going home again Joe.

If they absolutely say NO to the panel replacement, like I said earlier, don't lose any sleep over it. You have already done everything you could possibly do to convince them of the hazards.
They're fully on board with the replacement now. I don't know if it was that link you gave me or just that I said that my thinking had changed or what, but we're there. I nudged a bit more for the 180[SUP]o[/SUP] relocation. Said something about steam, grease and electricity. Don't know if I can get that one or not.
 
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