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Replacing 1960s FPE outdoor flush mounted combo panel. Any potential issues?

Replacing 1960s FPE outdoor flush mounted combo panel. Any potential issues?

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  #1  
Old 08-11-20, 12:33 PM
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Replacing 1960s FPE outdoor flush mounted combo panel. Any potential issues?

I am planning on replacing an old FPE panel with an Eaton 100 amp combo meter/service panel. I have scheduled a temporary disconnect with the power company (as well as meter seal breaking) so I can safely remove the front cover and look at the wiring. I am hoping if the wire situation isnt too dire I can handle this myself. I have found a replacement panel by Eaton that is basically the same size. I am prepared to have to possibly open up the stucco wall a little bit more to get this new flush panel to mount.

My main concern is regarding the service cable and how stuck the bolts on the wire connections are going to be. I am also aware that on these FPE panels that the breakers could be spring loaded against the panel cover and once I remove it they may pop out. This is why I am having everything completely de-energized before touching it.

Does anybody have experience doing these types of swaps with FPE and stucco flush mounting and the issues that you ran into that perhaps you did not anticipate? I have included some pics of the current installation.






 
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Old 08-11-20, 12:44 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

As an electrician.... I would have the covers off before anything was done. I'd need to know the condition of everything there before the replacement was scheduled.

If you....as a homeowner.... are doing this..... you had better consider the power may be out for several days. The power company will not reconnect without a cut-in card (inspection). If you run into problems it may take you a day or two to get parts and an inspection. You will also need to file a permit for this service work before you start.
 
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Old 08-11-20, 06:27 PM
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First, you need to make sure that the meter socket/panel you are planning to use is approved by the power company. If not, they will not reconnect. Typically the meter is required to be a minimum of 200 amps and have a bypass handle.

Second, by upgrading the meter/panel you will also have to bring the mast up to code. This means that the unfused wires in the mast will not be allowed to be inside the wall anymore. The mast will need to be relocated to the outside of the wall.

I would recommend installing a separate meter socket to the right of the panel and then find an outdoor panel that will cover the existing panel/meter combo. Then feed the existing circuits into the new outdoor panel that is surface mounted.
 
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Old 08-15-20, 11:56 AM
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What country are you in, I suspect maybe Canada. I don't believe the existing installation would have ever been legal under the NEC.
 
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Old 08-15-20, 12:17 PM
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Note: the OP's location is South San Francisco, CA

I have seen houses in my area that have that type of setup with the mast running down the inside of a wall. I want to say they were around the 40's but the OP title is the 60's.
 
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Old 08-15-20, 12:43 PM
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There is also the possibility that the service was originally on the outside of the house and then boxed out for stucco at a later date. I've seen this done at several locations in my area.
 
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Old 08-15-20, 01:15 PM
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I have seen houses in my area that have that type of setup with the mast running down the inside of a wall.
The mast running down inside the wall is an issue with the power company here. Unmetered power is not allowed to be concealed in any manner. The only exception I ever knew of is when a mast passes through an enclosed soffit. The NEC issue I was referring to is the panel interior being installed on it's side. Half the breakers in the panel have their handles down when in the "On" position. I could be wrong, maybe that was allowed way back in the day, but it isn't today or for as long as I can remember.
 
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Old 08-15-20, 06:27 PM
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I see what you are referring to. With the way the text is printed on the panel, I would suspect that is how it was designed to be installed. Another great idea from FPE.
 
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Old 08-19-20, 04:07 PM
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I suspect that back in the 1960s this wasn't addressed in the code, but can't say for sure. I could dig out my old 1968 code book, but not interested enough to bother. It is what it is and needs to be replaced anyway.
 
 

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