Do I need a sub-panel?


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Old 10-09-17, 05:30 PM
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Do I need a sub-panel?

Hello, I live in Edmonds, WA. and am seeking some electrical panel advice.

I am getting bids to have a heat-pump system installed and the most recent HVAC guy says that my electrical panel is too full and I will likely need a new panel or at least a sub-panel. I have been told that I need 3 breakers for the HVAC, 2-240v breakers and 1-120v breaker for maintenance for the outdoor unit.

Attached is the panel in it's current state. The top breaker 240v/125a breaker feeds a sub-panel in the attic for the current electric furnace (I've been told this is not allowed). I am hoping that I can replace the 125a breaker with 2 breakers that will fulfill the 240v breakers for the exchangers/air handlers. The final dedicated 120v/20a breaker I am hoping I will be able to squeeze in by rearranging some breakers. Are there any obvious changes I can make?

I have an electrician coming this weekend to give me a bid for either an entirely new panel or the addition of a new sub-panel. Trying to keep my costs low so would like to avoid both.

Thanks so much!
 
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Old 10-09-17, 06:45 PM
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This is the only panel I know of (the meter is on the other side of the wall from this panel), how do you mean mis-connnected grounds?
 
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Old 10-09-17, 07:27 PM
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Probably good to add that the panel was installed in '76 based on the permit posted in the door.
 
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Old 10-09-17, 08:23 PM
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Back in the 1970s and early 1980s the main breakers in Square D QO panels were vertical operating so I believe the installation date. I also believe that this is most likely just a 20 circuit 200 amp panel. Although I see 5 tandem breakers in it, I don't think they should be there. Somewhere inside the panel box, probably on either left or right side, you should find a label with the panel catalog number and other nomenclature. I'd like to know the catalog number if you can find it. If there is a label inside the panel door it will be of no help, that label would be just for the cover and door assembly. Back in those days the Square D covers and doors were always sold separately. My first guess is that you can get by with a subpanel by adding the new loads to this panel and relocating smaller loads to a subpanel.
 
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Old 10-10-17, 07:40 PM
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I'd like to know the catalog number if you can find it. If there is a label inside the panel door it will be of no help, that label would be just for the cover and door assembly. Back in those days the Square D covers and doors were always sold separately. My first guess is that you can get by with a subpanel by adding the new loads to this panel and relocating smaller loads to a subpanel.
Attached are images from two labels I found inside the panel.

You mention that there shouldn't be 5 double-poles in there, is there a limit based on panel size?
 
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Old 10-10-17, 07:48 PM
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Is there a box with a door that can be accessed below or beside it.
Here is the meter that is on the other side of the wall (outside the house).
 
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Old 10-10-17, 09:12 PM
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Okay the panel in your house is your main panel. Sorry I confused the issue. Unneeded posts deleted.
 
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Old 10-15-17, 09:33 AM
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Attached are images from two labels I found inside the panel.

There is the answer in the 2nd picture, this is a 20 space 40 circuit panel. All positions will accept tandem breakers.
 
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Old 10-15-17, 05:08 PM
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Thanks CasualJoe. When the electrician was here he said he was not allowed to install "piggy back" (tandem?) breakers due to NEC. He did say he was willing to do it, though the inspector may flag it if he thinks it was a recent change. My thought is that I will buy an old tadem breaker on ebay (QOT2020) and swap out a single 20 for the tandem 20...
 
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Old 10-15-17, 07:27 PM
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You really only need 2 - 2pole 240 volt circuits. The 120 volt receptacle could be fed off any circuit available as it is only for maintenance and is not required to be dedicated.
 
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Old 10-15-17, 09:54 PM
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Very interesting.. I was told that the outlet was required to be on a dedicated circuit. Is 210.63 the section where this is defined? From reading that section I see no need for a dedicated breaker. Also, I have an existing outlet in the back of the house within 25ft of the condenser installation location. Shouldn't this satisfy the requirement?
 
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Old 10-16-17, 03:17 PM
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Yes. 210.63 is the requirement of a 120v receptacle, and it says nothing about it being dedicated. Of course local rules trump the NEC.
If you have a receptacle within 25' of the equipment, and it is accessible from the same level as the equipment, it should meet the NEC requirement.
 
 

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