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Installing Subpanel - Trying to Understand the Process for Pulling Permit

Installing Subpanel - Trying to Understand the Process for Pulling Permit


  #1  
Old 05-29-24, 09:23 AM
C
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Installing Subpanel - Trying to Understand the Process for Pulling Permit

I would like to install a subpanel in my garage close to the existing main panel. I currently have a 200-Amp Siemens panel with 40 spaces. I'm relatively close to capacity, mainly due to a number of dedicated receptacles that I have in my garage and exterior. I used to use them when I did a large Christmas display, and at this point, I'd rather just leave them in place. My thought is either a 150-Amp or 100-Amp 40 space panel, but I'm not quite sure on specifics yet. I'm going to be installing a couple of mini splits in the near future (double pole 15A breakers), and I'd like to place them in there.

I know for a project of this type, I should pull the permit and have it inspected. I'm in Southern New Jersey, and I'm not too familiar with the process once I complete the application. Can anyone give me a general idea of what it looks like? I realize it can vary considerably based on jurisdiction/inspector, but I just want to have a basic understanding of what is involved. I'm sure I can ask the Township for additional information, but I'd at least like to know the typical process. These are the types of questions I have, but any insight at all is greatly appreciated.

1. Are there typically multiple visits from the inspector? Do they assess the project, either in person or remotely, before I can actually install the panel? Or is it most likely a single inspection once everything is installed?
2. When I commence the project, do I install the subpanel, add the breaker to the main panel, and leave it in the off position until the inspection?
3. Will they ask why I'm installing the subpanel or what my plans are for additional circuits?
4. How likely am I to create issues with past work where I didn't obtain a permit? I fully admit that I've added circuits and made other changes without pulling a permit. I do everything carefully, and I always make sure to follow code, so from that standpoint, I'm not worried. I'm afraid that he'll see the date stamp on the NM cable, and I'll end up creating a huge headache.
5. Any other tips or advice that I didn't think of would be very helpful.

I appreciate any assistance. I tend to overanalyze everything, so hopefully it's a smoother process than I'm thinking.
 
  #2  
Old 05-29-24, 11:42 AM
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First I would see if you are permitted to do the work. In many areas the homeowner is permitted to work on their own home, even work that requires a permit. Essentially you are the licensed contractor but for only that one address where you own and live. But, some areas with some things (electrical, HVAC...) may require a licensed contractor no matter what.

1. For a job like that I would expect one inspection when the work is complete.

2. You can do pretty much anything that is reasonable and safe. You may energize the system prior to inspection to check for errors but it should not be put into regular use.

3. In most cases the reason to add a subpanel is self explanatory. You need more circuits. Being friendly the inspector may ask about your plans if you are present during the inspection but stating the end purpose is not part of the inspection process. They are there to inspect the work covered by the permit. Now, of course they (the Inspections Dept.) know you are doing electrical work so I'd make sure to get permits for any future/additional work. Or, include your new circuits under the permit for the subpanel and get everything covered by one permit.

4. The inspector has no idea when old work was done or if it was done by you. Plus, the inspector is there to inspect the work covered by the permit. Where things get messy is if the inspector thinks you are trying to sneak things by intentionally such as doing work beyond the scope of the permit. But, since you are pulling a permit for the panel they should assume you are trying to follow the code and do things properly.

Generally, make sure you know and understand the code. For example, when installing my whole house generator a few years ago the transfer switch became the primary electrical panel and my house's existing breaker panel technically became a subpanel. This required some rewiring to split the neutral and grounds.
 
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  #3  
Old 05-29-24, 03:45 PM
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Thank you! This is very helpful. I appreciate it.
 
  #4  
Old 05-29-24, 06:26 PM
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1. Are there typically multiple visits from the inspector? Do they assess the project, either in person or remotely, before I can actually install the panel? Or is it most likely a single inspection once everything is installed?
Unless your work needs to enclosed before completing the job, single visit will do. Installing subpanel is usually single visit type of work.

2. When I commence the project, do I install the subpanel, add the breaker to the main panel, and leave it in the off position until the inspection?
Inspector doesn't really care. So long as it is safe turn the circuit on, you may do so. (No open ends).

3. Will they ask why I'm installing the subpanel or what my plans are for additional circuits?
Inspector doesn't care why you need a subpanel. They will just inspect your work is up to the code and safe. Additional circuits you add to the subpanel needs to be inspected as well. If you did not include circuits to the permit, you may be required to pull additional permit.

4. How likely am I to create issues with past work where I didn't obtain a permit? I fully admit that I've added circuits and made other changes without pulling a permit. I do everything carefully, and I always make sure to follow code, so from that standpoint, I'm not worried. I'm afraid that he'll see the date stamp on the NM cable, and I'll end up creating a huge headache.
Inspectors usually will not go beyond scope of the permit. (They are busy). However, if the inspector see something obviously wrong and not safe, then the inspector can report you for doing work without permit. When the inspector finds issue, do not lie to the inspector and be honest. Then the inspector will work with you to make it correct.

 
  #5  
Old 05-29-24, 07:00 PM
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Permitting varies from location to location. The best answer to your concerns is a visit to the city/town building officials office or web site. Tell them what you plan to do and ask them what they need from you when you submit a permit application.

Mostly they will probably want to know the cost of your project so that they can collect their fees.
 
  #6  
Old 05-29-24, 11:37 PM
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First thing is to find out if you, the owner, can do the work (if this is what you plan on doing yourself).
Besides NEC codes to follow you more than likely will have additional requirements (codes) to follow by the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) which is your code office.
Best to be upfront and honest with electrical inspector and ask some questions. Inspectors like to see home owners willing to work with them.
My town allows owner to work on their property electric without purchasing a permit but must have an inspection.
If you are unsure whether you can do the entire project yourself and may need the help of a licensed electrician don't start the project, find you can't finish it and then try and find an electrician to pick up where you left off. Many will not do this because of liability issues with their insurance. So be sure if you start it on your own that you feel confident enough to finish on your own.
Most inspectors won't worry about previous work - unless they happen to see something so dangerous that sticks out and then tells you that you must correct it.
Working closely with the inspector if you are doing the work is key, as I said they like that you cooperate with them. Most are easy to work with.
 
  #7  
Old 05-30-24, 06:11 AM
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With 200 Amp service and a panel that is close to being full, do you really have the capacity to add a 100 or 150A subpanel? You mentioned that you are planning on adding a couple of mini splits so the overall load is getting really high. I would doubt you could even get a permit without upgrading your service to 400A, which creates all sorts of other issues.

I my area, homeowners can get permits for electrical work only after they have passed a test given by the county. Never tried, so I don't know what the test is, but I assume it covers the basics residential NEC items.
 
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Old 05-30-24, 06:49 AM
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whittsend, it's hard to exceed 200A without an unusual load (e.g. tankless electric water heater). But by all means do an NEC "load calculation" since the inspector might demand it.
 
  #9  
Old 06-03-24, 10:27 AM
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Southern New Jersey
The inspectors & building departments in most small to mid-sized towns/cities are generally helpful and reasonably friendly. The biggest recommendation is to be friendly back, be open to suggestions, do your research on how to do your project, and you'll be fine. It sounds like you're doing work in a professional manner, which will make your inspection much easier.

The inspectors aren't there to teach you how to do it, but all my experience with inspectors in NJ has been overly positive. The few failed inspections that have happened, were for understandable items and easily resolved with a follow-up inspection. Most of the horror stories I've heard are with homeowners (or contractors) who have a chip on their shoulder to start with or have no idea what they are doing.

Lastly, take pictures of your setup and share it with the knowledgeable folks here. Chances are we'll catch anything in advance of your inspection!
 
  #10  
Old 06-03-24, 11:15 AM
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I agree with Z.

When you go to pull out a permit... they will require block/lot and price of work.
When the inspector comes he will verify.... the sub panel is connected with four wires and there is no bonding screw. He may check main panel grounds.... like ground rods.

As mentioned he may ask about future circuits which will now require a permit and inspection.
He may ask about loads but not usually.
 
 

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