Electrical service/main breaker size questions

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Old 05-31-17, 04:46 AM
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Electrical service/main breaker size questions

Good morning, I have a house that I have inherited a few years back, it was a camp that was converted to year round living many years ago. I am currently adding an addition which will require more power which has led me to start assessing my current breaker box and I feel it is time to replace it.

I was always under the impression that you either had 100 or 200 amp service but this panel had 120 amps on the tag. I do not have a conventional box with a main breaker to check but I do have a shut off on my service pole; when I checked that last night there was no breaker at the shut off. After a closer inspection of my panel I see I have the power coming in and connecting to the distribution board at the bottom, then I have leads coming out from the top of the board and into a 60amp breaker on the board. I assume this is acting as my main breaker but does this mean I essentially only have a 60amp service? I could not read what was on my service wire but it is copper; is there anyway I can check and be sure? I unfortunately do not have the extra money to pay an electrician to replace my panel, would my electrical inspector be able to tell? I have added a picture of my panel.

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Last edited by ray2047; 05-31-17 at 01:42 PM. Reason: Rotate image.
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Old 05-31-17, 11:43 AM
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Over the years residential service panels have increased in size. Originally a 30 ampere service was standard, probably prior to WWI. The next standard was 60 amperes that lasted until about the end of WWII. The current minimum is 100 amperes and panels rated at 125 and 150 amperes have been used although they are somewhat scarce. 200 ampere services are probably the most common these days although the minimum is still 100 amperes.

The panel shown in the picture has what are known as "feed-through" lugs which is why it has lugs at both the top and the bottom. Because it has more than "six throws" to shut off all power it MUST have a single circuit breaker or fused switch ahead of it to be used as a main shut-off. I need to see the panel on the power pole to give you more information.
 
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Old 05-31-17, 05:19 PM
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the panel on the pole is just a shut off, I can try to get a picture of that loaded up this evening. So if I were to switch to a traditional breaker box, would I have to get rid of the main shut off?
 
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Old 05-31-17, 07:43 PM
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While many feel that it is not enough, fact is most homes will do just fine with a 100 amp service. One of the big reasons to go with a larger service is you will get more spaces for circuits.

So if I were to switch to a traditional breaker box, would I have to get rid of the main shut off?
No, the outside disconnect (which should have fuses) can remain. The fuses will determine the amps of your service. The main breaker in the new panel will only act as a disconnect.
 
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Old 05-31-17, 07:59 PM
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I do have a shut off on my service pole; when I checked that last night there was no breaker
So that would mean you have fuses in that disconnect ?
Like Tolyn mentioned... that would determine the main size.

Those two small wires stuffed in that large breaker is unsafe. The white wire connected to the hot lug should be recolored other than white.

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Old 06-01-17, 04:42 AM
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I have attached a picture of the main shut off box, no breaker.

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I appreciate the help, thank you.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 06-01-17 at 07:02 AM.
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Old 06-01-17, 07:14 AM
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Well that (disconnect) doesn't meet code, probably never did because they are using white for the ungrounded conductors (hots) and black for the neutral. Under current code it is wrong because not fused and there is only three wires, no EGC.
would I have to get rid of the main shut off?
No, but it needs to be replaced with a fused disconnect or breaker box and the wires to the house changed out to correct colors and perhaps size increased and a fourth wire added. The panel at the house should really need to be changed to a main breaker type panel so you can have more than six circuits.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 06-01-17 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 06-01-17, 11:35 AM
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Pretty scary......
No neutral/ground bond.
A three phase disconnect used for single phase and opening the neutral on disconnect.
Ray mentioned the colors already.
 
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Old 06-01-17, 10:16 PM
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I'm confused. The switch has white-white-black but I don't see that in the first pic of the panel. Is there another box or splice somewhere?

Also thinking that is a split bus panel. Could be 100 amp service if the wire sizes are big enough.

Regardless you need all of that ripped out and start fresh.
 
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Old 06-02-17, 07:44 AM
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I'm confused. The switch has white-white-black but I don't see that in the first pic of the panel. Is there another box or splice somewhere?
Yes, I saw that too but it was so obvious the whole circuit needed to be redone didn't mention it. Good point though. Is there a third box between the two shown?
 
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Old 06-03-17, 07:09 AM
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No third box that I know of; unless it's hidden underground.

This all opens up a new can of worms; the current service pole is on my neighbors property and runs underground to my house, if I start fresh I should probably see about getting an all new service on my property.
 
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Old 06-03-17, 11:07 AM
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I should probably see about getting an all new service on my property.
Definitely if not on utility right of way.
 
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