Multiple breaker boxes questions

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Old 08-29-15, 09:28 PM
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Multiple breaker boxes questions

Ok im no electrician. Lets get that out of the way. Im also pretty sure much of this isnt "up to code". This is an OLD mobile home. 1960s. Im not sure when/if the breaker panel(s) have ever been replaced. I know the secondary panel is newer. The service panel/main breaker OUTSIDE is all new.

1. On the main panel, there is no grounding bar. Just neutral. The outlets, DO have ground wires though. Is it safe to say the ground is somewhere outside the main panel or behind and grounded to the mobile home frame etc?

2. You can see wiring goes out from the main panel and into the secondary panel. The neutral bar from the main panel seems to connect to the ground(or neutral?) bar on the secondary panel. Long question short, are both those neutral bars hot??

3. Im a little baffled by "bonded neutral/ground" which seems to be the case here (maybe?). You can see at the bottom of the main panel, the main power green cable is not connected but the white neutral is. Or, is that white cable the ground?

4. On the secondary panels, the orange cables have a red, black, white AND ground. Why is that? For multiple configurations? (120 or 240 etc?)

5.. What risks are involved with the way its all set up?


 
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Old 08-29-15, 09:55 PM
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So that we understand this correctly. You have a main disconnect panel outside the mobile home. Then you have a main panel and a secondary panel inside the mobile home. Is that correct ?
 
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Old 08-29-15, 10:09 PM
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Assuming I'm correct.....

Your main panel is connected to the disconnect panel with a rubber service cable. The green wire that is just hanging out in the bottom of the panel with the other romex grounds should be in ground bus bar attached to the metal box.

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What size breaker is outside feeding the in home panel ?

I'm seeing the hot lines coming into the 50A breaker and the sub panel tapped to the same terminals. The red and black service wires would normally go to the panel lugs and then the sub panel would be on a 50A breaker.

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There should be a three wire cable with ground connecting the main panel to the sub panel.
The neutrals and grounds should be split on to two bars in the sub panel.
 
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Old 08-29-15, 10:22 PM
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Correct. The main disconnect panel is outside under the meter. Its 200A followed by (3) 100A breakers. Then inside, you have the two panels seen in the pictures.

The forum seems to resize images, so here's the direct link for anyone wishing to see it larger.

http://s1.postimg.org/b7m2porcf/blank3.jpg
 
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Old 08-30-15, 02:25 AM
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PJ most of what you said makes sense. If you look, you'll notice there are no ground wires anywhere in the main panel for all the 120v outlets etc. AND the main power ground is disconnected.

It seems (and I could be wrong) the grounding is elsewhere. Why i dont know.


What REALLY baffles me is how the neutral bar in the main panel is connected to the ground bar in the sub panel. There are GROUND wires connected to it.

Ive read it CAN be done but I cant wrap my head around how that doesnt affect the circuit.

Thanks for the help/input so far.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 06:41 AM
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The bond between the neutral and ground should be only in your service panel. The service panel is the first means of disconnect after the meter.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 07:08 AM
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Though it's current code to have your sub panel feeds be 4-conductor cable (H-H-N-G), back in 60's it was compliant to use 3-conductor cable for this and combine the neutral and grounds. So the basic setup seems to be okay, based on the age of the installation.

I"m more concerned about your branch circuits. I'm presuming your main disconnect is 60A, but if you follow the path of the main wires, your water heater, dryer, and entire subpanel is fused at the 60A. The individual circuits don't have any protection on them.

I would really plan on replacing these two panels with one new one. Depending on the state of your service panel, it can stay, or be upgraded too. Depending on your plans with the house, you may want to upgrade to a 100-150A service as long as you're doing the work... but that's another discussion.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 08:35 AM
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Other issues

You have a few other issues other then the ground and neutral issues.

In your 2nd panel you have wires that are WAY over fused. You have #10 wires that are fused at 60 amps when the max should be only 30 amps. It also appears that the 60 amp breaker is double, or even triple tapped. THIS IS A FIRE HAZARD! See red circle:

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The other issue is one that PJ posted with the breaker being double lugged, but I think he marked the locations of the wires wrong. This is where the line wires should go:

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This panel is OK (other then being small) but you can only have a maximum of 6 circuit breakers in it otherwise you will need to have a main disconnect.

My suggestion is to replace the panel with the dryer and water heater with a larger panel that will accept more breakers and properly fuse the wires. You might also want to increase the size of the feeder and the one you have looks to be only #10 which is also over fused off the 50 amp breaker
 
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Old 08-30-15, 11:30 AM
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The ground wires from your house wiring cables are there in the bottom of the box. I highlighted them. It looks like the green ground was just wrapped around them.

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Old 08-30-15, 11:36 AM
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Wow. Good eye PJ. Sad that I missed that. Confused the dust for the jackets of the neutral. Making more sense now.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 11:46 AM
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So in this case the ground wires are actually hot. Is that correct?
 
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Old 08-30-15, 12:02 PM
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No... that green wire should be connected to the same place the white is outside in the disconnect panel.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 01:54 PM
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Green should only ever carry current in the event of a fault or short circuit.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 02:44 PM
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I dont understand how the ground AND neutral are connected in the main panel, but the ground doesnt also get hot. Im missing something fundamental I think.

Normally im used to the ground being totally seperate.

Here is the main disconnect outside. Right under the meter. The ground and neutral are connected by the "bar"

 
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Old 08-30-15, 02:51 PM
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Aaand I think I just realized the one of the feeds from the disconnect is going INTO the secondary box (pinkish red cable).
 
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Old 08-30-15, 03:36 PM
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The electrons are trying to get back to the source, not earth.

You panel looks correct .
 
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Old 08-30-15, 04:26 PM
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The neutrals and grounds are correct except for one issue. You have two neutral wires under one lug. I highly double that that lug is rated for two wires. This is allowed for grounds, But not neutrals.

The neutral wire is not a hot, otherwise called an "Ungrounded conductor" is it the "Grounded conductor". The grounded is intentionally grounded at the transformer and center taped to get you 120 volts between each hot. This is also why it is called the "neutral", because it has the same potential (voltage) between each ungrounded conductor.

However you have more issues with your outdoor panel:
1) You have a 3 pole breaker feeding 2 - 120/240 volt circuits. That means that one lug is double lugged. Again you may only have one wire per one lug. I really don't understand the use of a 3 pole breaker when you have plenty of space in that panel. The person who installed it must have had an extra 3 pole 100 laying around.

2) The wire/cable on the right appears to too small for 100 amps. It appears to be about #6. 100 amps requires #4 copper or #2 aluminum. The other wire size should also be checked.

3) That breaker I mentioned earlier is also the wrong type. That is a Siemens breaker. Your panel is a Cutler Hammer BR.

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Old 08-30-15, 04:34 PM
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You also have another problem. I don't see the green ground wire that feeds the main panel. It looks like the cord comes into the disconnect panel in the center conduit and the green has been cut off.

The rubber cable feeding the main panel looks like 6-4 SO or SOW or something along that line.

The cable in the right conduit looks like 6-3 NM cable. (bare ground)
 
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Old 08-30-15, 05:33 PM
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I hope the SO cord doesn't go underground to get to the trailer.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 05:50 PM
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I hope the SO cord doesn't go underground to get to the trailer.
It keeps the NM in the second pipe company.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 09:12 PM
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Tolyn, youre probably actually right about someone having a "3 pole breaker laying around".

Long stoey short, Hurricane Ike gave us a beating, knocked the whole pole down etc. We put a new pole in and a new breaker box (no breakers yet). I had an electrician come out to set up the rest. For the life of me I cant remember how it happened, but there was a discrepancy when he came out over having a breaker for our setup.

If its any consolation I *believe* the cable coming in at the right is for the AC unit and that hasnt been used in years.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 09:16 PM
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PJ, the cable in the center is one I havent seen before. Its flat, with a green jacket. I had to dig it up once, but im pretty sure that thing was put in over 40 years ago.

Interesting about the ground. And concerning. The circuits can still count on neutral incase of a lightning strike/short, no?

Im all ears on what the best solution is.
 
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Old 08-30-15, 10:22 PM
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If the one in the center conduit is a green cable and the cable on the right is for an old A/C unit.... how dose the home get fed ?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-30-15 at 11:10 PM. Reason: goes>dose
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Old 08-30-15, 11:13 PM
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The center cable feeds the home. It comes in at the bottom of the main panel inside. That, im 99% sure of.

I need to truly get under the mobile home and see what is what.

Im still baffled about the right feed tho. Its possible that feed on the right of the disconnect box is going into the secondary panel inside, which im 100% sure feeds the water heater and 100% sure feeds the dryer.

The question I have now is if that middle orange cable on the secondary panel is:

A) the orange/right feed on the disconnect box outside
B) or if its just going out to the AC unit.

There is a bunch of weeds/grass, so Ill have to clear it to find out.

If only everything had its own breaker I could find out real quick.
 
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Old 08-31-15, 12:47 AM
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Ok, mysteries solved. That right feed in the main disconnect goes to AC. The center orange cable on secondary panel ALSO goes to the AC.

Not active, so, only water heater and dryer on that breaker.

CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGE

 
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Old 08-31-15, 12:53 AM
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P.S. On the disconnect panel outside, is there anything wrong with putting a single pole 20A breaker on there and putting the neutral AND ground on the right bar? Or should the ground go on the actual ground bar?
 
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Old 08-31-15, 01:11 AM
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Ok..... so your ground wires in the house are connected to the green wire which is cut off outside. Therefore the circuits in your house aren't grounded.

In the outside panel you have two bars...... since they are tied together..... it doesn't make a difference which side the ground or neutral is on.

What is your plan for a single 20A breaker in the outside panel ?
You need a 2P50 breaker to feed the trailer correctly.
 
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Old 08-31-15, 10:14 AM
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I'll swap those breakers for 2P50A and disconnect the AC wires. Makes no sense having 300A under a 200A does it.

Back to my fundamental misunderstandings, if the 20A circuits arent grounded arent they still grounded through neutral in this setup? I need to spend an hour educating myself and get that understood once ans for all.

The 20A is for a septic pump/system. 12-2 wire
 
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Old 08-31-15, 03:56 PM
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Makes no sense having 300A under a 200A does it.
That is not a 300 amp breaker, it is a 3 pole 100 amp breaker. You do not add up the handles. It is for use in a three phase panel, which you do not have.
 
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Old 09-03-15, 03:13 AM
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Ive educated myself quite a bit over the past few days. Looks ill be doing some proper rewiring. All this explains a lot about some of the breaker trips that can occur in the home.

I'm also considering using that second 240v feed that was originally for the AC. The #10. It runs about 60-70 feet from the disconnect. 30 AMP is the amperage, but will it have too much voltage drop? Could it sustain a space heater OR microwave at those specs (Not simultaneously ofcourse)

I imagine I would have a 30a at the disconnect and 30 at the subpanel. (Is it a subpanel if its after the disconnect? Lol /not good at terminology)

On some charts im seeing some serious gauges for 60-70ft run. Still digging for a good chart that goes up to 100ft.
 
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Old 09-03-15, 04:10 PM
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PJ, if the circuits bare grounds arent connected at all, arent the neutrals still acting as ground?
 
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Old 09-04-15, 03:59 PM
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30 AMP is the amperage, but will it have too much voltage drop? Could it sustain a space heater OR microwave at those specs (Not simultaneously of course)
You have a couple of issues there, none of which is voltage drop. First, general purpose receptacles are only allowed to be a 20 amp circuit max. Second, the current circuit is wired 240 volts, you will need to change the breaker to a single pole 20, or a double pole 20 amp ONLY IF there is a neutral available. If there is only two wires, you can only have open circuit.

PJ, if the circuits bare grounds arent connected at all, arent the neutrals still acting as ground?
No, the circuits would be ungrounded which is a dangerous thing. The neutrals are connected to the load and does nothing for protecting people or equipment for getting a shock if a metal part becomes energized.
 
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Old 09-05-15, 01:38 PM
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Tolyn, my idea was to take the unused 240 feed and put in a totally seperate panel. It would be 30amp at the disconnect panel. Then on the panel in the home it would branch out to several 20amp breakers.

The ground of the 240 would (I believe) go to the ground bar and the 20A circuits would connect to the ground bar in the panel.



Does that sound correct?
 
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Old 09-05-15, 02:42 PM
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Ok, bare with me guys. The more I read/learn the more I realize how some of my questions are silly.

Simply, those ungrounded circuits (20A's) need to be connected to the neutral, since the damn neutral feed wire is cut.
 
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Old 09-05-15, 02:56 PM
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You need to connect the green wire at the outside panel to either the ground bar or the neutral bar as they are both connected together.

Inside you need to install a ground bar. It gets screwed into the metal pan. The green wire from the service connects to it as well as all the bare grounds from the individual circuits.
 
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Old 09-05-15, 03:23 PM
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But PJ, as far as the outside panel, the green cable is cut. The right feed has a bare copper, but the central feed has no ground.
 
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Old 09-05-15, 04:34 PM
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but the central feed has no ground.
Then that needs to be fixed. Any way to splice on to the cut ground?
 
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Old 09-05-15, 05:04 PM
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I could open the conduit below the box and splice it. I do have 8 (and maybe even 6 awg) wire out here.

Im confused now as to why connecting the bare grounds to the neutral inside is not ok in this situation? I ask because the other wires in the secondary panel are.
 
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Old 09-05-15, 05:42 PM
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Im confused now as to why connecting the bare grounds to the neutral inside is not ok in this situation? I ask because the other wires in the secondary panel are
At one time code permuted this if there was no other metallic pathways. Separating grounds and neutrals and not boning the neutral at the subpanels is safer. Any time you do work you should try to bring it up to modern code. Note if the neutral bar has a bonding screw or strap it needs to be removed. All grounds need to be moved to the new ground bar.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 06:53 AM
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Tolyn, my idea was to take the unused 240 feed and put in a totally separate panel. It would be 30amp at the disconnect panel. Then on the panel in the home it would branch out to several 20amp breakers.

The ground of the 240 would (I believe) go to the ground bar and the 20A circuits would connect to the ground bar in the panel.
That sounds fine as long as:
1) You have a neutral wire to get 120 volts between each hot
2) You have a ground available to ground the can of the panel
3) The feeder is not going to a building that already has a feeder to it. You can only have one feed to a structure. You can feed a sub panel off of a main panel of a structure though.
 
 

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