Home panel replacement

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  #1  
Old 04-16-14, 09:38 AM
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Home panel replacement

Hi all

I have a wiring nightmare (pics will be posted) and am hoping to start to fix it by replacing the main panel located in the basement. I have purchased a 200 amp panel (Siemens P4040L1200CU) although I have 100 amp service since I am hoping at some point to upgrade. I have two questions at this point.

1) Can a 100 amp breaker accept 4/0 wire? The one I purchased is labeled 3-2/0, but I am unsure of the size of the wire from the meter, but it is definitely aluminum.

2) Do holes have to be drilled in the floor joists for the new wiring off of the panel? Currently, there are none, and in some cases, the wire is hanging and only supported by bent nails or staples every 2-3 joists. (nightmare, remember). Would installing new plastic wire staples at each joist be sufficient?

I am in a rual area in Ohio and have checked with the electric company. They said I can do this myself as long as it was existing service, but the upgrade to 200 amps would require a licensed electrician to sign off. I am hoping to do most of this myself as I have had a hard time getting an electrician to call me back.

Thanks in advance
 
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Old 04-16-14, 10:19 AM
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A few points to clarify - maybe I'm just reading your post wrong, but wanted to be sure you're heading in the right direction.

Your current service is 100A. That likely means your service entry wires and meter pan are rated at 100A. That means the largest main breaker you can install is 100A. This is a good time to consider a full service upgrade, even if an electrician has to do it. Might as well get it all done at once as opposed to piecemealing it.
You could probably temporarily do a 100A backfeed or replace the main breaker, but replacement main breakers can get pricey.

If the main breaker you have is rated for 3-2/0, it can not support 4/0 wire... though it's very unlikely you have 4/0. I believe it's only used for 320/400A services...

As for your joist wiring, if your basement is set up in a way that it could be finished, the wiring should run through drilled holes in the joists. If it's more of an unfinished basement, there usually aren't issues with the wires being correctly stapled to the underside of joists along the walls or with running boards.
 
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Old 04-16-14, 12:06 PM
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Can a 100 amp breaker accept 4/0 wire? The one I purchased is labeled 3-2/0, but I am unsure of the size of the wire from the meter, but it is definitely aluminum.
No. A 100 ampere service, even with aluminum conductors would likely use #1 or 1/0 conductors.

If the main breaker you have is rated for 3-2/0, it can not support 4/0 wire... though it's very unlikely you have 4/0. I believe it's only used for 320/400A services...
(emphasis mine)
I have a 200 ampere service and my service conductors from the meter to the main circuit breaker are 4/0 aluminum. Truth is, 4/0 aluminum has a maximum rating of 180 amperes so the only way it would be used in a 320/400 ampere service would be if the conductors were paralleled.

I would suggest, if you have the room, to mount the new panel adjacent to the existing and install a 100 ampere circuit breaker in the existing panel to feed the new panel as a sub-panel. This will, of course, mean that you will need to keep neutrals and equipment grounds separate in the new panel. Add in the 2 inch nipple going outside where the new 200 ampere meter socket will be installed and cap the nipple. Transfer over the existing circuits to the new panel as time and budget allows and when you are ready to make the final change add the new meter socket, mast and weatherhead (assuming an overhead service drop). When the utility swaps the service drop from the old mast to the new is when you remove the temporary feeder and connect the conductors from the new meter to the main breaker.
 
  #4  
Old 04-16-14, 07:01 PM
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No. A 100 ampere service, even with aluminum conductors would likely use #1 or 1/0 conductors.
A 100 amp residential service per the NEC could be either #4 copper or #2 aluminum minimum, but the service entrance conductors could be slightly larger.
 
  #5  
Old 04-16-14, 07:04 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

The basement is only a half basement with waterproofed brick walls, and is 6' tall. I would not say that it could be finished and comfortably used for living space.

As for the subpanel idea, that was my original plan, but there is an existing subpanel, and I will have to pull the meter to remove that sub which I know has the refrigerator on it, but it does only have three active circuits. I have posted pictures which will show why I have to pull the meter to replace the sub here
 
  #6  
Old 04-16-14, 07:10 PM
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I guess you know the way the subpanel is connected is a code violation.
 
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Old 04-16-14, 07:19 PM
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HOLY CRAP!! That is a mess!! Yes, you need to remove the wires that are feeding your sub panel. They are not protected by any fuses!

2nd off, I really see no reason to upgrade to 200 amps unless you are adding a bunch of stuff. Right now you only have 18 circuits. You can get 100 amp 30 circuit panels all day long.
 
  #8  
Old 04-16-14, 08:26 PM
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I like the subpanel idea, but I am not sure what I would need to get the connection between the old main panel and the new panel. I know a neutral lug, but I think I would have to remove most of the wiring to be able to even get that installed. And I would probably get 1/0 (based on the chart I found hereto be on the safe side. Would I just need a 100 amp breaker in the old panel then to feed the lugs on the new one? And would it need a retaining clip?

I do have all the equipment to replace the whole thing, minus the retaining clip for what would be the 100 amp main in the new panel, but that is on order. Based on the earlier replies, the wire from the meter should fit in the breaker, correct? I know that would mean more work and more time without power, but it might be worth it to get it over with.

I am open to other options or suggestions, but I figured this would not be an easy job.

Thanks again for the feedback!
 
  #9  
Old 04-17-14, 06:32 AM
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Would I just need a 100 amp breaker in the old panel then to feed the lugs on the new one?
Correct.

And would it need a retaining clip?
No. That is only required for a main breaker.

And I would probably get 1/0
You would only need 1/0 aluminum if you were running cable between the main and sub panel. If you use a nipple between a new sub panel and the main panel (I suggest it) you can use #1 aluminum or #3 copper.

Installing a larger sub panel would be the cheapest, and easiest way to do it.

When you pull the meter to disconnect the sub panel feed, put some anti-oxidation paste on your aluminum wires coming from the meter. It doesn't look like there is any installed, it's required.

You can use the 200 amp panel you bought for a sub panel, but it is overkill. If you can, take it back and get a 30 circuit MLO panel. and feed it with a Siemens 100 amp breaker.
 
  #10  
Old 04-17-14, 08:06 AM
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I thought there wasn't any no-ox on the cables, and I picked up some of that while shopping for the panel. The 200 amp was $100 on Amazon with free shipping, which I thought was a decent price and with that, it would never have to be changed again. I doubt I could return it. And I don't want to say cost is not a concern, but so far, I am way ahead of the $2000 that I was told this would cost from one of the people in the area that I can't get to call me back. Can't say that I blame them...

I will have to measure tonight and see if the mounting board I have will work where the existing subpanel is since there is a window to the left and an old pipe on the right which doesn't go anywhere and I can't get out of the wall. Currently, the panels are both mounted directly to the brick somehow, which is something else I thought should be fixed. I am not sure if that is any type of code violation, but most places I have seen have a wood mounting board installed for anything surface mounted on concrete. I picked up a 3/4" inch thick one at Home Depot figuring even if I didn't use it here, I would eventually like to use it for low voltage stuff.

Now, if I used a nipple, I could use threaded conduit and run this to different location, correct? You cant see it in the pictures, but the main panel is close to the northeast corner, and I could put the new panel on the east wall or perhaps on the north wall on the other side of the window. The east wall would work out really well since that was the wall I was planning to run all my new cable along.

Should the 100 amp Siemens breaker I purchased work in the old panel? I did buy the breakers locally, so I could return it.
 
  #11  
Old 04-17-14, 10:01 AM
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Should the 100 amp Siemens breaker I purchased work in the old panel?
Is the old panel a Siemens, ITE or Gould? The Siemens breaker would for sure work if it is one of those three. If it's another brand, check the label inside the cover to see if the Siemens Type QP breaker is approved for use.
 
  #12  
Old 04-17-14, 10:11 AM
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Your main panel is ITE so a Siemens 100 amp breaker will work just fine. The 200 amp panel would be fine. The 200 amp main will only act as a disconnect.

Use a threaded nipple if the sub panel will be next to the main panel. If you want to mount it someplace else you can use PVC or EMT conduit (Or even cable). They would be easier to work with than threaded pipe.
 
  #13  
Old 04-17-14, 10:48 AM
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Awesome. I will go the subpanel route then. Will I still need a lug kit on the neutral bar on the main, or can I feed the #1 or #3 wire directly in there? Also on the main, since the neutral and ground are completely wired together, which bar should be the neutral and which one should be the ground?

I'll do some measuring and planning and be sure to post updates. And I hope I am not asking too many questions. I can't thank you all enough.
 
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Old 04-17-14, 11:24 AM
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Looking at the neutral bar in your main panel, you will likely need a lug kit. They all look too small for #1 or #3.

In the sub panel install a ground bar (I suggest 2, one on each side) to the steel of the panel and run your ground from the main to that. Leave the neutral bars just for the neutrals. It will be easier to install branch circuits this was. Do not install the green bonding screw in the sub panel.
 
  #15  
Old 04-17-14, 11:51 AM
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Will do. I probably should get two lug kits as it looks like they split the ground wire between the two bars on the main panel. Luckily, the new panel game with two ground bars already, one on each side. I will leave green bonding screw in place so it is not lost, but not tighten it. This was the way the panel came from the manufacturer.

I purchased #4 stranded copper to use for grounding as this was initially going to be the only panel, and I still hope to get to that point someday. Could I run this now and attach it directly to the grounding stake? Should I? I could take this back since I got it locally,

Also, when I add the no-ox to feeds for the main panel, how tight should the screws be? Is there a rough guide I can use? There is no label on the breaker indicating that, and I have no confidence this is at the right torque now.
 
  #16  
Old 04-17-14, 12:07 PM
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You do not attach the ground of the sub panel to the ground rod. Connect it to neutral bus in the main panel. You could use the #4, but that is overkill and if you can take it back, I suggest doing so. You only need #8 copper or #6 aluminum for your ground.

Also, when I add the no-ox to feeds for the main panel, how tight should the screws be?
There is a torque spec someplace, but I just make them as tight as I can by hand with adding a cheater bar.

as this was initially going to be the only panel, and I still hope to get to that point someday.
Just for a note in the future, If the sub panel becomes your main panel someday, you will likely need to add a disconnect on the outside of the house if the panel is not on an outside wall. Not a big deal as my house is like that, just something to be aware of.
 
  #17  
Old 04-17-14, 12:57 PM
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I believe I understand this now and feel kind of dumb for not thinking this through. The subpanel will be wired just like 3-prong a 240V appliance, so I want to take the ground wire back to the point where the ground and neutral are bonded, which in the case is the neutral bus on the main. The neutral on the sub is then the grounded connection for the circuits, and the unenergized connection between the two panels provides the grounding. Both the ground and the neutral on the subpanel go to the neutral bus on the main...or the bonding point. Nothing else is connected to the neutral bus then on the subpanel other than the single pole end devices in my case...since all of my current two pole connections have no white neutral wires to the panel, at least that I could trace back at this time in that rat's nest.

I will probably first move the stove or water heater connection to make room for the 100 amp breaker in the main panel, and in this case, I would take that ground back to the bonded point again, which would be the ground on the subpanel.

And thank you for the disconnect advice! I was actually thinking of moving this to an inside wall, but my east wall is an outside one, so it is making more and more sense to put it there.
 

Last edited by Chris Bauer; 04-17-14 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 04-17-14, 01:11 PM
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I believe I understand this now and feel kind of dumb for not thinking this through. The subpanel will be wired just like 3-prong a 240V appliance,
No, like a 4-prong plug.

.
 
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Old 04-17-14, 01:16 PM
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Yes...because I want it to operate at 120v, too...got it.
 
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Old 04-17-14, 02:35 PM
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Not exactly. On stoves and dryers with 3-prong you do have 120 volts but the neutral is also used as a ground. Combined neutral/ground is no longer code compliant.
 
  #21  
Old 04-17-14, 03:19 PM
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I didn't think so, but it seems there is a lot of information on how to wire this and certain places online where they indicate this is acceptable. Is it grandfathered for existing connections as permissible but all new wiring has to meet the new standard?
Being separate makes more sense to me. That way the ground is not carrying a current unless something is not functioning correctly.

In this case, running the sub ground and neutral to the neutral on the main is OK because this is the point where they are already bonded, right? And the only reason I would do that is because this is the only place I can connect them with the lug.

Of course, this means I will be changing outlets and rewiring my stove and dryer. At least once the subpanel is in I won't have to do it all in one day.
 
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Old 04-17-14, 04:10 PM
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Is it grandfathered for existing connections as permissible but all new wiring has to meet the new standard?
That is correct.
That way the ground is not carrying a current unless something is not functioning correctly.
And that is one of the reasons the code changed.
In this case, running the sub ground and neutral to the neutral on the main is OK because this is the point where they are already bonded, right?
Yes. Your stove and dryer are grandfathered till such time as major work is done such as a major remodel of the house.
 
  #23  
Old 04-17-14, 06:59 PM
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You can bond the ground wire from the sub panel to the main panels steel if you choose as well.
 
  #24  
Old 04-17-14, 07:52 PM
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Do you mean on the outside of the panel? If so, how should it be attached to be correct? I can't imagine it would be with just a screw. Or just a bunch of tape like some of the splices I have found! I didn't get a picture, but what got me looking at all of this was the 4 12 guage wires I found in my crawl all just twisted together with no wire nuts and a bunch of tape!

I am so happy to have found this site and that I will finally be able to get it fixed!
 
  #25  
Old 04-20-14, 04:39 PM
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Well, I ran into an bit of a problem with the LUG kit. I picked up one from a local electrical supply store, which was a ECLK1-2 (See http://w3.usa.siemens.com/us/interne...ccessories.pdf for details). I thought the mounting screw was a regular hex screw, but it's not, and it is so small I can't tell what type of head it is. The other issue is the screws on the old panel are larger than the new ones. Someone at one of the big box stores mentioned that a Cutler Hammer kit might work in it, but they didn't have any in stock.

Any suggestions from the group here on which kit might work or any other ideas?
 
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Old 04-20-14, 07:03 PM
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Do you mean on the outside of the panel? If so, how should it be attached to be correct?
Yes, to the steel case of the main panel. This is for the ground only. The neutral wire must connect to the neutral bar. To attache it to the steel case, you can either install another ground bar, or just a single lug. And yes, you only need to attach it with a 10-32 screw. (No sheet metal screws) I find a green ground screw works well.

I thought the mounting screw was a regular hex screw, but it's not,
I am pretty sure it is a Torx screw either a T15 or T20. I have used lugs similar to that one you have listed, but I have used ECLK2 or ECCS1 more often. The ECLK2 has a larger screw according to the picture here: #4-2/0 Neutral Lug Kit For Load Centers-ECLK2 at The Home Depot
 
  #27  
Old 04-21-14, 04:57 AM
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The larger screw I am talking about is the mounting screw, not the lug screw. The neutral and ground bar on the ITE box have larger wire screws than the bars on the new panels. I checked by taking the old one out where i planned to mount the lug and tried to put it in one of the newer bars.
 
  #28  
Old 04-21-14, 05:48 AM
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I think you have a lug that sits on top the bar. The original screw holds the lug to the bar.
 
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Old 04-21-14, 05:58 AM
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Now I feel silly. I could loosen that lug and run the neutral from the sub in there with the main feed neutral. The meter tail is aluminum thought and the wire I bought for the sub is copper. As long as I put some Noalox on there, will that be OK?
 
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Old 04-21-14, 06:00 AM
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Neutrals need to be one per hole. They cannot be doubled.

A copper conductor cannot touch an aluminum conductor in a lug or split bolt.
 

Last edited by pcboss; 04-21-14 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 04-21-14, 06:20 AM
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Copper cannot touch aluminum in a lug or split bolt.
Just for note on above. PCboss is referring to copper and aluminum wires not touching. Not a lug that is made from aluminum.

Also note my previous post about the ECLK2 lug for the neutral. The mounting screw is larger and I believe that is what you need. They are available at big orange.
 
  #32  
Old 04-21-14, 08:57 AM
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I have an ECLK2 on order since no one had one - Depot, Lowes, Menards, or local electric suppliers.

I didn't think the aluminum and copper were supposed to be together. Yet another reason that subpanel has to go. Luckily I know what is live on it and it is only the fridge, microwave, and a standing lamp. I'm going to work on getting as much of the wiring to the new panel as I can today and hopefully have it all ready to power up tomorrow.

Thanks again everyone
 
  #33  
Old 04-21-14, 04:00 PM
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I added three new photos to my house wiring album on G+. Advice is welcome. It looks OK to me, but compared to what I have been seeing, almost anything is better.
 
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Old 04-21-14, 06:01 PM
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Looks fine except for four things:

1) I don't care for the "loops" you made in the wires. I like them to go directly to the lugs. Not a code issue, just looks neater.

2) Technically the wire is to be pulled in after the conduit system is complete. Personally I would give you a pass on this.

3) You need to install bushings on your connectors for any wire that is #4 or larger, which I assume yours is.

4) Your new NM cable should come into the top of the panel. (Members from Canada would argue with me on this. ) It will be more protected that way. You can run two cable through most NM connectors.
 
  #35  
Old 04-21-14, 06:32 PM
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I added three new photos to my house wiring album
So, you wired your new 200 amp panel from your existing 100 amp service, correct? Am I correct to assume you have added a 100 amp disconnect after the meter and before this new panel?
 
  #36  
Old 04-21-14, 06:41 PM
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Thanks Tolyn

1) I found the loop recommendation somewhere and it was pointed out that this created a short service loop as well as put downward pressure on the wire for the connection. I wasn't entirely sure if I liked them or not either.

2) Thanks! I had this connected, but disconnected it when I ran the cables since I didn't want to pull the meter again until I was ready to finish this and disconnect the subpanel.

3) I did get the #3 copper and #8 ground you recommended. You mean bushings on the flex, correct?

4) I had thought about this, but left those open for old wires and other connectors. I checked the packaging didn't realize I could run two 14-2 through these! Only one 12-2 though. I kept the connections at the top open for moving the old ones, but if I keep most of them 14, I might have to rethink this.
 
  #37  
Old 04-21-14, 06:44 PM
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CasualJoe, the 200 amp panel will be wired as a subpanel from the main. The main will serve as a disconnect, as well as the 100 amp breaker in the main that will be feeding the sub.
 
  #38  
Old 04-21-14, 06:49 PM
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CasualJoe, the 200 amp panel will be wired as a subpanel from the main. The main will serve as a disconnect, as well as the 100 amp breaker in the main that will be feeding the sub.
........................................................
 
  #39  
Old 04-22-14, 04:55 AM
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I found this diagram showing the bushings on the connectors. Then I also found these that look like they go in the end of the flex. I do need both, correct?
 
  #40  
Old 04-22-14, 06:31 AM
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The first link may apply depending on the size of the conductors in the flex.

The redheads shown in the second link are used with metallic cables, not conduit.
 
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