Need some info about my Load Center!

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Old 08-19-16, 10:42 AM
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Need some info about my Load Center!

Hi All, I'm under contract on a house that I'll be making a rental and have some concerns with it's load center. I've attached a few photos for reference. My first question is, how many AMP service is this? Is it 85A because the main disconnects are 85 sum? Also, the LC is next to a 240V plug for a dryer but the wires aren't connected. The wires (orange jacket) go into the box but not into any breaker (pic). I'm curious as to whether there wasn't sufficient wattage (?) available for another 240V circuit? Also, I'm planning to add a disposal, dishwasher, and microwave to the kitchen that aren't currently existing. Would I be ok installing some double breakers for these items? The main service wire looks pretty small which is concerning but everything seems to be functioning fine with this load center even with a CAC system. the HWH and range or both gas which will remain as such. Any help would be appreciated! I plan on renovating the house to bring it up to rental standards but am hoping not to replace the Load Center.
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Old 08-19-16, 10:52 AM
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Yes it's currently 85A, but I can't tell from the picture what it should be. In a split bus panel the service is considered to be the sum of the main disconnects in the upper section, and you do have to be careful not to accidentally overload the incoming wires. My suspicion is that it is actually a 60A or 100A service but the breakers have been changed over the years. Can you carefully see if there are any AWG markings on the incoming service wire? Is it copper or aluminum? Can you get us a picture of the exterior service entrance -- meter and mast?

Looks like somebody must have pulled the 30A dryer breaker out of that empty double-pole slot. Probably no concern in replacing that 30A breaker. Maybe the previous occupant had unhooked it for a welder or grow-op depending on what kind of neighborhood you're in.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 11:09 AM
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You have a split bus panel. I doubt that it is less than 100 amps, and probably 150.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 11:10 AM
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Thanks for the reply. I'll see if I can get back in there to take pictures of the meter and service wires for you. I did have this zoom in of the 70/15A breaker and just noticed that the 70A is the only one labeled with the AC. I'm guessing the other 30A is for the furnace but am not sure as it's gas and there aren't any other heavy load electric devices that I know of.

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Old 08-19-16, 11:28 AM
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A/C, dryers and water heaters are commonly 30 amps @ 240.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 11:30 AM
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The 70A breaker probably feeds the bottom half of the panel. It would be unusual to have an AC that requires 70A.

The 30A breaker is probably the outside AC condenser.

I agree with Ben, the 30A breaker from the dryer was probably pulled out for whatever reason and can be replaced.

And please get some blanking plates for the holes, especially the top right one! (I'm sure you already had that planned)
 
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Old 08-19-16, 11:37 AM
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That makes sense, and looking at it again it looks like it's 100A currently (70+15+15). Is it usual for those two 15s to be up there as part of the main disconnects? Based on what I've been hearing it sounds like I shouldn't have a problem adding the 30A to the top left for a dryer and some more 15/20A for the kitchen appliances I want to add? Also, I may use a stackable that uses 120V in which case I'd use two 15s in the upper right for some of my kitchen appliance adds.

Thank you!
 
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Old 08-19-16, 11:42 AM
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I'd move the 15A breakers down to the lower section and put the dryer breaker in the top section. Can you tell what the panel model number is either on the inside of the door or on that sticker inside the panel?
 
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Old 08-19-16, 11:55 AM
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The service size is set by the cable size. It does not change if someone adds or removes a breaker at the top.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 11:55 AM
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Well the dryer was going to already go in the top right spot. Is there a reason to put it on the left under the 70 instead? I'll try to get model info. I snapped these during the inspection period yesterday.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 11:58 AM
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@pcboss, I get that, but would it be relatively safe to assume that it's been 100A for a while and the service wire corresponds to that? 100A should be enough for the demands of this house considering gas furnace, HWH, and range.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 11:59 AM
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There's not a specific reason other than it's convention on split bus panels to put the "large" 240V circuits in the upper main section and put the lights and receptacle circuits in the lower section. Everything in the bottom section goes through the 70A breaker in the upper left, so adding the dryer there leaves only 40A for everything else.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 12:00 PM
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It's probably 100A, but as PCboss said you need to know details about the service entrance cable to know for sure.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 12:04 PM
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If you post the cable size we can backtrack to tell you the service size.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 12:04 PM
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Ok I think I understand. Is the 30A on the top right feeding off of the 70A main? If so I understand why it makes more sense to place the 30A dryer on the left under the 70A as opposed to above the existing 30A.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 12:20 PM
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I couldn't get inside... But here are pics of the wire going in (glasses for size reference):
https://postimg.org/image/g807yhyg9/
https://postimg.org/image/4k663y9bd/
https://postimg.org/image/fxspf5ju1/
 
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Old 08-19-16, 12:25 PM
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Also one of the three pics in the first post show the wire that goes into the load center.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 12:34 PM
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The lower part of the panel is fed from the 70. The 70 and the rest of the top portion are fed directly off the service cable.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 12:36 PM
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As a side note, the service cable is nearing the end of its life.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 12:43 PM
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Hmm, is that something that the electrical company usually pays for since it's before the meter? Also, does the size look consistent for 100A? If so, should I be "ok" to add the dryer and extra appliances?
 
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Old 08-19-16, 01:10 PM
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If it's copper conductor it's almost certainly 100A. If it's aluminum, maybe.

The homeowner is usually responsible for the service entrance up to the weatherhead. In my area the power company provides the meter socket itself, but all other installation materials and labor is on the homeowner.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 02:06 PM
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I called my electric company to ask about the fraying cable and he made it sound like they cover the "loop wire" before the meter and he's sending someone out to investigate. If it is 100A, I should be good to add dishwasher, disposal, microwave, and dryer? I know I keep asking but I don't think that's been answered directly. Thanks, guys!
 
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Old 08-19-16, 03:00 PM
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The best way is to do a demand load calculation.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 03:04 PM
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The power company takes care of the triplex up to the connection to the power cable. From the connection down is the homeowners property.
 
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Old 08-19-16, 04:45 PM
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If it is 100A, I should be good to add dishwasher, disposal, microwave, and dryer?
Maybe. Like others have said, you need to do a load calculation. I only see two available spaces for new single pole breakers in the lighting section of the panel. Judging from the age of the service cable and assuming the meter socket is the same age, I think it would be in your best interest to put in an entire new electric service with a new modern main breaker panel.
 
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Old 08-20-16, 12:04 AM
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Even for a split-bus it looks strange to me. The top right lug would normally be the one of the wires going to the meter. The other lug just below the 30 would be feeding the bottom half. Just for my education could you get a picture of the upper left side wiring? I'd like to see how the service entrance conductors connect as well as the feeds coming of of the 70 amp going to the bottom half.

There's nothing technically wrong with having those two 15 amp breakers in the top section. Rule was that there be a maximum of 6 throws to disconnect everything.

Most likely load calc will show OK with 100 amp even with dryer and new circuits as the stove is gas.
 
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Old 10-18-16, 05:34 PM
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Size:  38.1 KBHello all, just digging into the electrical mess. I'm still uncertain what size the service cable is, but the cable that goes from the top to bottom bus is 2 thw. It appears the strands of the cable connecting the buses has larger strands than the service cable coming in. The service lines come in to the 70A breaker. Can anyone determine the size of service cable from this? The box is rated for 100A so I want to up my main breaker but don't know if the service cable is large enough to support it.Name:  image.jpg
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Old 10-18-16, 07:08 PM
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Someone really customized that panel. You are going to need a real electrician to come out anyway since there is no disconnect at the meter/you can't work on it yourself. Let them figure out what can be done.

I only see one 2 gauge wire connecting top section to bottom. Is there a second one?

The 70 amp breaker is back fed and should have a retaining clip or bolt.

From here those wires look more like they are sized for 60 amp service.
 
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Old 10-18-16, 09:08 PM
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No the second one isn't there for some reason, thus leaving 2 of the 4 CB slots on bottom right dead. I'll connect right side and make them all live. I may be able to get by with 70A service but would love to switch it to 100A if I can figure out the service cable size with it energized. Hmm
 
 

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