Can I add another sub-panel ?

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  #1  
Old 02-16-15, 11:39 AM
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Can I add another sub-panel ?

Hello,
First post after lot of reading...

I am in need of aditionnal circuits for my house : more specifically a 40A outlet in my attached garage, and probably 60A or more to a sub-panel in a detached garage I'm planning to build this summer. So roughly around 100 more amps to what's already in place.

Right now, I have a 200A fused main disconnect between the post/meter and a distribution box rated for 225A. The distribution box feeds :
- a 125A fused disconnect going to a 25kW furnace
- a 200A breaker panel
- a 60A emergency sub panel with a transfer switch for a generator.

The 200A panel is full, with a couple of twin breakers, a 60A breaker for the hot tub and many more. Adding all thoses breakers sure exceed 200A. The 60A sub panel is not full, with breakers totalling 45A to match the 5kW generator capacity.

I understand than the house is not pulling all thoses amps in normal use, and is unlikely to do so, but what if I add another 100A sub-panel? The furnace alone pulls 108A with all elements on...

So I guess my question is : Can I Add the sub-panel after the 200A fuses, from the distribution box or is it too much for thoses fuses? If not, what is the best option?

I should add than everything that is in place right now was done by professionnals. If I do the job myself, I will have a professionnal to inspect and connect the sub-panel to the meter or distribution box. Finally, I will not work on this project if it require modifications before the main disconnect...

I will post pictures of what's in place if my description is not clear enough.

Thanks for your help!
 
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  #2  
Old 02-16-15, 12:43 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

While the NEC and CEC are very close, there are some minor differences. Any info given here should be double checked by your local authority.

Basically saying, you can keep adding sub panels until the cows come home, it does not affect your service. What does is the total load. What you want to do first is do a load calculation. (Google load calculator) That will tell you if you are maxing out your 200 amp service.
 
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Old 02-17-15, 07:38 AM
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- a 125A fused disconnect going to a 25kW furnace
This may be one difference between the CEC and NEC. By the NEC electric heat is considered a continuous load. The 125 amp fuses are too small for the 25KW furnace, they would need to be 150 amp.
 
  #4  
Old 02-18-15, 07:13 PM
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Thanks for your answers.

Well, I've just completed 2 load calculators and both estimated a house load of around 170 amps. The furnace really is the big part of the load with 107 amps...

In this situation, would it be ok to add only a 40A breaker in the main panel? This breaker would be used for a mig welder in my attached garage. I could free up some room in the panel by adding a twin breaker and using a free spot in another twin. I would reconsider my options for the 60A sub-panel for the detached garage later...

Out of curiosity, what would be the work involved to increase my service to 300A or 400A? Could I instead get the power company to install a second meter on my detached garage? Seems like less work on my end than trenching and running underground lines...

Thanks !
 
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Old 02-18-15, 08:19 PM
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You might be able to get a second service (from the utility) to the detached garage but it might also be priced at commercial rates. At the very least there will be all the fixed costs of service (monthly minimum billing and whatever other charges are assessed to an account by the serving utility) and those recurring costs may in a short time overrun the costs of a larger service at the house.

Going to a 320 ampere service would generally entail a second mast or lateral (overhead vs. underground) a combiner box and either a 320 ampere meter or a current transformer to a new meter. From the meter or current transformers a distribution box with conductors to the existing service and to a new circuit breaker for the detached garage.
 
  #6  
Old 02-27-15, 10:59 AM
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Hello,
Still looking what would be the best solution to power up my detached garage and the 40 amp plug. I just cannot justify the costs involved to upgrade my service to 400A... Thinking about it, I see no plausible situation where the garage and the 40A plug would draw lot of amperage at the same time. So I'm now considering adding a 60A sub-panel that would feed both the garage garage and the plug.

If I understand correctly, there is no problem in having a total of amps, when adding every breaker value in panel, higher than the main breaker of the panel, as long as every wire is protected by the correct size breaker. So, could I add a sub-panel with 60 amp main breaker containing a 40 and a 60 amp breakers? Is it ok to get a 60 amp breaker in a 60 amp sub-panel?
Thanks !
 
  #7  
Old 02-27-15, 11:43 AM
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You understand correctly -- the sum of the breaker handles is not meaningful. There is a procedure called a "demand load calculation" in which you add up all of the appliances in the house and apply adjustment factors to get to what the service size should be. This calculation takes into account that not everything runs at the same time.

Yes you can add a 60A subpanel with 60A and 40A breakers. It is up to you to make sure they aren't both used to full capacity at the same time or the breaker will trip.
 
  #8  
Old 03-03-15, 09:11 AM
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Ok, I'm now trying to figure what is the correct way to feed the sub panel. I understand than normaly you add a "master" breaker in the main panel and feed the sub panel from it with hot-hot-neutral-ground. The sub panel neutral and ground are isolated.

As I said in first post, in my case, the 200A main disconnect is not in the main panel, it feeds a distribution box that split to the main panel, to the furnace and to an emergency sub panel. At the distribution box, before every breaker, the ground and neutral are bound together. Correct me if I'm wrong but the way I see it, the distribution box is only an extension of the two 120V bus and of the neutral/ground bus usually found in a single main panel.

There is a single breaker loadcenter holding a 60A breaker between the distribution box and the emergency sub-panel, wich I think is the same as having this breaker in the main panel.

Question is : do I need to have another single breaker loadcenter between the distribution box and the new subpanel, or can I simply add a subpanel with a main breaker connected directly to the distribution box buses? Do the ground/neutral isolation can be acheived in the case of a sub panel with main breaker?

both solutions would involve almost equals cost, but if it is not possible to have a subpanel with main breaker, I'd like to know the difference between a breaker at main panel feedind a subpanel without main breaker, and a subpanel with main breaker fed directly from the 2 bus after the main disconnect?

I'm presently at work but will post tonight images so you can see the installation.

Thanks again !
 
  #9  
Old 03-03-15, 10:30 AM
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t feeds a distribution box that split to the main panel, to the furnace and to an emergency sub panel. At the distribution box, before every breaker, the ground and neutral are bound
That is wrong by current code but may be grandfathered. At any point after the first OCPD (breaker or fuse) there must be four wires. Under current code there should be four wires to the distribution box and the sub panels it feeds. How old is this setup?
you add a "master" breaker in the main panel
Not master. Just another branch circuit breaker.
 
  #10  
Old 03-03-15, 11:39 AM
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Sorry for the "master" breaker terminology, I've seen it somewhere else on the forum and reused it. I get than it is simply another breaker.

It might be my old memory that missed a fourth wire, I will have a look at this tonight. The house was built in 1979.

I dont know if this could explain things, but the 2 disconnects, the distribution box and the main panel are attached together closely with metal conduits. Is it possible than the enclosures be used as the fourth conductor, or considered as the same enclosure?

I will report back what I find tonight.
 
  #11  
Old 03-04-15, 08:29 AM
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Ok here is the installation :

main disconnect in center, furnace disconnect on the right and distribution panel on the left. Under is the 3 poles split box. There is also a single breaker loadcenter under the split box that goes to the emergency panel. Theses panels are all hooked together with metal conduit, so the panels are not isolated.
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Emergency panel at the top and triple pole center off switch under it. The switch alternates between the power company feed and the power generator. Thoses 2 panels enclosures are connected to the single breaker loadcenter with pvc conduits, but in this case there is a fourth wire in conduits to get the hot-hot-neutral-ground.
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inside the main disconnect. ground and neutral are connected together at this place only. The ground wire that goes up on the right connects to grounding rods outside. This pole also connects to the chassis of the disconnect, so every enclosure connected with metal conduit is grounded.
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guts of the Split box. 3 poles only : hot-hot-neutral/ground
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Inside the distribution panel. Full panel, lots of circuits. I cannot see any physical connection between the ground bar and the neutral bus. They are connected by the ground to neutral bond at the main disconnect. I tested the continuity between them.
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Single breaker loadcenter. The ground bus is used here and the fourth wire starts from it (blue wire). The bonding screw is removed on the right bus so neutral and ground are isolated. Four wire going to the switch in pvc conduit.
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Inside the switch. the ground is connected to the enclosures, and the neutral is isolated.
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If a fourth wire is needed by code, would that means I have to add a ground bar in the split box, connect it to the neutral/ground connection of the main disconnect and distribute it to ground bar in panels of the first photo? I'm not an electrician, just trying to understand, but what's the point of doing this if the enclosures are already grounded by chassis conductivity?


After looking closely at how the emergency subpanel is connected, I think I could add another subpanel with main breaker, as long as the ground and neutral are isolated from each other. Is this correct?

Thanks for reading all this and sorry for the long novel...
 
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  #12  
Old 03-04-15, 10:37 AM
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The metal conduit would qualify as the 4th conductor. Any ground would be bonded to the enclosures above the trough. Effectively you have 3 service panels.

I don't know why the correct color wiring was not used.
 
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Old 03-05-15, 06:35 AM
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Thanks pcboss for clearing that point. I sure hoped you would confirm than the metal conduit was considered as the fourth conductor.

Back to my first question, now that you've seen the installation : would it be ok to add a sub panel with a main breaker that would be fed from the 3 poles of the split box? I could add a grounding bar in the split box to get the separate ground and fourth conductor to the sub-panel. In the sub-panel, the ground and neutral would be isolated.

I would prefer this approach as the distribution panel is already full, but if this is not acceptable by code, I could realocate circuits in tandem breakers to get a space for a new subpanel breaker.

Thanks again !
 
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Old 03-05-15, 10:38 AM
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By split box are you talking about the knife switch disconnect with the handle on the side?
 
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Old 03-05-15, 11:50 AM
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No, not the knife switch disconnect with the handle on the side. I mean the long horizontal box under the main disconnect that distribute current to the 3 services panels :

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You can see on picture that the poles have room to add screw on lugs.

Thanks !
 
  #16  
Old 03-05-15, 12:04 PM
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Not well versed in the CEC, but I really don't see why another could not be added fed from the trough as long as it will support the load and the panels are grouped.

Those lugs are probably hot all the time. I am surprised the trough is not sealed to prevent access.
 
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Old 03-05-15, 05:27 PM
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I could realocate circuits in tandem breakers to get a space for a new subpanel breaker.
That panel looks to be a 40 circuit panel that is full so tandem breakers would not be an option.
 
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Old 03-05-15, 06:49 PM
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Yes the lugs are hot unless the main disconnect is closed. The cover of the trough is of course always closed and held in place with 3 bolts. I opened it carefully to take that picture and see what I was dealing with.

I will not connect the new sub panel to theses lugs myself, I will have a qualified electrician coming to do it and inspect the installation I did before powering it.

If I cannot use tandem breakers in the full panel, Is there a better solution than using a main breaker panel fed from the split box?

Sorry if my questions are redundant, I just want to do things rights and be sure I can install a panel with a main breaker as a subpanel...
 
  #19  
Old 03-06-15, 06:18 AM
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Is there a better solution than using a main breaker panel fed from the split box?
Assuming the service can take the additional load, I would remove two single pole breakers from the 40 circuit loadcenter and add a new 2 pole subfeed breaker to feed the new subpanel. Then, move those two circuits that were removed to the new subpanel. Right now your service appears to be pretty heavily loaded.
 
  #20  
Old 03-06-15, 07:37 AM
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Any panel can have a main breaker. Sometimes it is needed, other times it is just redundant. In your case it is not needed since there is an exterior disconnect on the same building.
 
  #21  
Old 03-09-15, 07:10 AM
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I would remove two single pole breakers from the 40 circuit loadcenter and add a new 2 pole subfeed breaker to feed the new subpanel. Then, move those two circuits that were removed to the new subpanel
This seems to be the standard procedure when there is only a main panel, and I could do it this way, but I would have to splice in junction boxes the 2 removed circuits, because the new panel location would be just a bit too far.

Except that power would be cut from the breaker in the distribution panel, and not from the main breaker in a new subpanel, what would be the advantages of this solution?

Right now your service appears to be pretty heavily loaded.
I just did another load calculation including everyting I could think of, and I get a result of 160A. For now, my goal is to add a 240v 40A receptacle for a mig welder, and have room for later expansion.

Any panel can have a main breaker. Sometimes it is needed, other times it is just redundant. In your case it is not needed since there is an exterior disconnect on the same building.
I understand that statement, and get that, for example, the 200A rated panel is correctly protected by the main disconnect 200A fuses, thus does not requires any breaker between the trough and the panel.

But what if I connect a 60A rated panel without breaker to the split box trough? If a fault was to happen in this subpanel, or an oversized breaker added in it, wouldnt it only be protected by the 200A fuses? If the wires going to the panel are sized only for 60A, that would be hazardous no?
 
  #22  
Old 03-09-15, 11:20 AM
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I've decided to go the way suggested by CasualJoe, and feed the new subpanel from a 60A breaker in the main distribution panel. I Will feel safer to be able to cut power completely to the subpanel.

Gonna go with square D subpanel as I have to move breakers from the panel already in place wich is this brand. Anything wrong with this type of panel?

Thanks !
 
  #23  
Old 03-09-15, 03:50 PM
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But what if I connect a 60A rated panel without breaker to the split box trough? If a fault was to happen in this subpanel, or an oversized breaker added in it, wouldnt it only be protected by the 200A fuses? If the wires going to the panel are sized only for 60A, that would be hazardous no?
You could do this by NEC using the tap rule, but you would have to install new lugs in the trough and a 60 amp breaker or fusible disconnect within I believe 5 feet of the trough. I don't know if there is a similar tap rule in the CEC.

Gonna go with square D subpanel as I have to move breakers from the panel already in place wich is this brand. Anything wrong with this type of panel?
Square D would be fine.
 
  #24  
Old 03-10-15, 09:24 AM
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and a 60 amp breaker or fusible disconnect within I believe 5 feet of the trough.
My previous questions concerning the addition of a subpanel fed from the trough where relating to this breaker. Can this breaker, within 5 feet of the trough, be the main breaker contained in a distribution panel, or does it have to be in a separate enclosure before the distribution panel?

I know than the drawn schematic would be the same, but is there a rule for this breaker/fusible disconnect asking it to be in a separate enclosure?

I'm unsure of this because in my installation, there is a single breaker enclosure between the trough and the emergency panel.

Thank you
 
  #25  
Old 03-11-15, 05:35 PM
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Can this breaker, within 5 feet of the trough, be the main breaker contained in a distribution panel, or does it have to be in a separate enclosure before the distribution panel?
It can be either. Again, this is by the NEC. Here is more info on tap rules.

Understanding the Rules for Feeder Taps | Code Basics content from Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine
 
  #26  
Old 03-13-15, 05:52 AM
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Thank you very much CasualJoe, you are very helpfull and patient... I appreciate.

I read the tap rules informations, and to my understanding, my planned installation would meet every requirements of the 10-ft feeder tap rule :

The ampacity of the tap conductor is not less than the computed load in accordance with Art. 220, and not less than the rating of the device supplied by the tap conductors or the OCPD at the termination of the tap conductors.
60 ampacity from 6 AWG THHN wires, protected by 60 amp main breaker in subpanel.

The tap conductors aren't extended beyond the equipment they supply.
conductors will stops at the main breaker of the subpanel

The tap conductors are installed in a raceway if they leave the enclosure.
Will enclose the conductors, just dont know yet the type of raceway to use.

The tap conductors have an ampacity of no less than 10% of the ampacity of the OCPD from which the conductors are tapped.
60 ampacity is no less than 10% of 200A

I checked for the CEC equivalent and found it at section 14-100(b). This is nearly the same rules, but it allows to use armoured cable or metal-sheathed cable when not in enclosures. Still, I would prefer rigid over flexible conduit.

What would be the appropriate conduit type here? I see there is a lot of them available... I guess the better would be threaded metal RMC, GRC or IMC? Could I rely on this conduit to carry ground conductor to the new subpanel, or should I use a grounding bushing with copper conductor? Or could I simply use PVC conduit with ground conductor?

Again, many thanks !
 
  #27  
Old 03-13-15, 11:00 AM
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PVC is easiest to work with, but you will need a 4th conductor.
 
  #28  
Old 03-14-15, 09:53 AM
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If I go with pvc conduit, what would be the best way to bond the trough to the new subpanel? There is no ground bus in the trough.

Could I use a metal locknut and grounding bushing over threaded pvc and start my 4th conductor from there?
 
  #29  
Old 03-14-15, 07:02 PM
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Could I use a metal locknut and grounding bushing over threaded pvc and start my 4th conductor from there?
There would be no purpose in using a bonding bushing on a PVC male threaded adapter. You already have to change some lugs in the trough. Just add one more lug for the EGC to bond the trough to the new panel's ground bar.
 
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Old 03-15-15, 06:28 AM
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Well, I'm not surprised than I cant use a ground bushing over pvc...

You already have to change some lugs in the trough. Just add one more lug for the EGC to bond the trough to the new panel's ground bar.
Do you mean I should bond this extra lug to the trough enclosure? There doesnt seem to be any holes allowing the addition of a ground bar or a lug. What would be the appropriate way to do this?
 
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Old 03-15-15, 07:50 AM
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You can drill a hole in the trough and add a lug using a nut and bolt.
 
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Old 03-17-15, 07:29 AM
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Thank you for all the very helpfull answers, I think I now have all the informations I need to get this job done and be code compliant.

I will post back when finished.
 
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Old 01-28-16, 08:40 AM
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Hello,

I realised I never updated this thread with the results. I finished the installation a while back, but the electrician came recently to connect the new subpanel.

Here is the new subpanel :
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I finally opted to bond the panel to the trough with a steel nipple, so no 4th conductor was required. The green bonding screw was removed so ground and neutral are isolated. I added one 40A breaker that goes to an outlet in the garage. the cable used is 8/2 nmwu. The 60A main breaker in the subpanel is connected to the through with gauge 6 wire.

Here is the trough connexions, this part was done by the electrician. :
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All done :
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I'm not sure how much money I saved by doing this myself, but it sure was a fun experience.

Thanks again for all the help, I would not have done it without you guys.
 

Last edited by Oli_G; 01-28-16 at 09:04 AM.
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Old 01-28-16, 10:42 AM
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Looks good. Thanks for the update.
 
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Old 01-28-16, 02:05 PM
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I finished the installation a while back, but the electrician came recently to connect the new subpanel.
Just a question for you out of curiosity. I remember you had mentioned earlier in the thread that you'd be using a Square D panel. My question, why did you choose Square D over Federal Pioneer?
 
  #36  
Old 01-29-16, 07:57 AM
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Just a question for you out of curiosity. I remember you had mentioned earlier in the thread that you'd be using a Square D panel. My question, why did you choose Square D over Federal Pioneer?
Probably because you told me earlier in this thread than square D would be fine. I also did a fair amount of research over the web to find wich brand was best rated, and Schneider's square D was always on top. The electrician that came to connect the subpanel also told me it was a good choice, as this type of panel was reputable.

Federal Pioneer Stab-Lok system, on the other end, was often mentionned as a no go because they had recalls and problems with breakers allowing more current than rated. I say this with reserve, as I only relate what I've read, but this was enough to disqualify federal pioneer. BTW, I know my emerency panel is a Federal Pioneer with stab-lok breakers... But I dont worry too much... Or should I ?
 
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Old 01-29-16, 08:44 AM
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I know my emerency panel is a Federal Pioneer with stab-lok breakers... But I dont worry too much... Or should I ?
Most of the negative reports were about panels manufactured and sold in the U.S. The Canadian panels don't have the same reputation.
 
  #38  
Old 01-29-16, 12:07 PM
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As far as I know the design of Stablok in Canada is no different than the design of Stablok in the US, just that there was more investigation which uncovered evidence of fraudulent certifications in the states. My assumption is that the actual likelihood of malfunction would essentially be the same in either country. FP does make other non-Stablok gear in Canada that, as far as I know, does not have the same design problems as the Stablok line.

In any case, Square D was a good choice.
 
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Old 01-29-16, 06:40 PM
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Probably because you told me earlier in this thread than square D would be fine.
Yes, Square D is fine. I only asked because you are in Canada and Federal Pioneer is a major brand up there and is also a Schneider brand like Square D.
 
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