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  1. #1
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    Default Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Hey gang, inspected an old house yesterday way out in the country where codes were never enforced or an issue. House has had many upgrades over the years with a full basement addition, etc.

    Main service panel has 19 distribution wires going through the sides of the panel. Is this improper or even allowed over a certain number where a conduit must be required?

    Check the photos.

    Thanks
    Greg

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    It's an FPE panel, replace it anyway.

    Better that many out the sides then trying to cram them all through one or two fittings are the top. Not that it matters with that being an FPE panel.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Thank Jerry, that makes things pretty simple.

    I'll just state that:

    This property had one or more Federal Pacific Electric brand main service or sub panels that use "Stab-Lok" circuit breakers (panel #A, B). Both double and single pole versions of these circuit breakers are known to fail by not tripping when they are supposed to. This is a potential but serious fire hazard. Recommend having a qualified electrician replace any and all Federal Pacific panels. For more information, visit: Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok Panel Circuit Breaker Hazard, Repairs, Electrical Panel Replacement Electricians Directory for Stab-Lok Repairs

    If the Federal Pacific panel(s) are not replaced, then a qualified electrician should thoroughly evaluate the panel(s) and make repairs as necessary. Recommend installing smoke detectors above Federal Pacific panels.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    [quote=Greg Subick;87069]Thank Jerry, that makes things pretty simple.

    I'll just state that:

    This property had one or more Federal Pacific Electric brand main service or sub panels that use "Stab-Lok" circuit breakers (panel #A, B). Both double and single pole versions of these circuit breakers are known to fail by not tripping when they are supposed to. This is a potential but serious fire hazard. Recommend having a qualified electrician replace any and all Federal Pacific panels. For more information, visit: Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok Panel Circuit Breaker Hazard, Repairs, Electrical Panel Replacement Electricians Directory for Stab-Lok Repairs

    If the Federal Pacific panel(s) are not replaced, then a qualified electrician should thoroughly evaluate the panel(s) and make repairs as necessary. Recommend installing smoke detectors above Federal Pacific panels.[/quote]

    Personally, I'd cut the bottom comment out of your report. Why tell them to replace the FPE panel and then tell them to have it repaired and install smoke alarms over it. Tell them it should be replaced.
    JMHO

    rick


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    If the Federal Pacific panel(s) are not replaced, then a qualified electrician should thoroughly evaluate the panel(s) and make repairs as necessary. Recommend installing smoke detectors above Federal Pacific panels.

    You are suggesting non-standard smoke detector installation that may or may not increase safety without qualifications to do so.

    Additionally, the hazards a FPE panel may cause won't always present themselves at the panel. You can wind up with melted insulation in cables (and maybe fire), damaged receptacles (and maybe fire), and various amounts of damage to whatever was plugged in (and maybe fire), Other scenarios possible as well

    Just present the facts and supply the link so people can follow up if they want to.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kriegh View Post
    If the Federal Pacific panel(s) are not replaced, then a qualified electrician should thoroughly evaluate the panel(s) and make repairs as necessary. Recommend installing smoke detectors above Federal Pacific panels.

    You are suggesting non-standard smoke detector installation that may or may not increase safety without qualifications to do so.
    Bill,

    Actually, he is not doing that.

    The MINIMUM locations for smoke detectors are stated in the code, using them elsewhere is not "non-standard", they are "supplemental" locations. The critical thing would be to follow the installation requirements are regards to placement not closer than 4" to a ceiling when placed on a wall and not closer than 4" to a wall when placed on a ceiling - the smoke detector would be useless in that 'dead air' space, however, *HE* would not need to specify that, THE INSTALLER of the smoke detector would be expected to install it according to its instructions.

    Additionally, the hazards a FPE panel may cause won't always present themselves at the panel. You can wind up with melted insulation in cables (and maybe fire), damaged receptacles (and maybe fire), and various amounts of damage to whatever was plugged in (and maybe fire), Other scenarios possible as well
    That part I totally agree with - the smoke detector above the FPE panel is only addressing one minor problem with them, would be better off to install AFCI protection on each circuit ... because (to my knowledge) no one makes AFCI breakers for FPE panels, which means the panel gets replaced to install the AFCI breakers.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Jerry
    It appears to me, that he is
    "...suggesting non-standard smoke detector installation that may or may not increase safety without qualifications to do so."

    Now, if he added " and elsewhere as needed", that would be better.

    I agree with what Rick Hurst said.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Rick,

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Jerry
    It appears to me, that he is
    "...suggesting non-standard smoke detector installation that may or may not increase safety without qualifications to do so."

    Now, if he added " and elsewhere as needed", that would be better.
    This is what he said, nothing else.
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Subick View Post
    Recommend installing smoke detectors above Federal Pacific panels.
    Greg was not telling where to install all smoke detectors, he was stating to install a supplemental smoke detector "above" the panel.

    I also agree with what Rick said:
    Personally, I'd cut the bottom comment out of your report. Why tell them to replace the FPE panel and then tell them to have it repaired and install smoke alarms over it. Tell them it should be replaced.
    I am only disagreeing with Bill, and now you, on what Greg was saying. Greg DID NOT say anything about removing or relocating any other smoke detectors, only installing that supplemental one above the panel.

    Rick is correct in that one should not say "replace" something and then include an option to "repair" it in any way. Once it has been stated to "replace" something, that is the final word, other than giving reasons to "replace" it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Jerry, I disagree. You have identified a potential problem, Then have stated that if you don't fix it, do this. I think a reasonable person on a jury would conclude that this statement somehow made the bad situation better by adding the smoke detector by the panel -and then the fire started in the living room.

    Suggesting a smoke detector by the panel versus language that no additional safety is assured by doing so makes a world of difference.

    I think bounds were crossed when anything besides the suggestion the panel be replaced or evaluated by a qualified electrician got tossed in.

    Having been there and seen that, just MHO


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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Jerry
    Your right, he didn't suggest it, he down right RECOMMENDED it.
    What for?

    There was a pic of a gas water heater with the gas line that bypassed the control and went straight to the burner (I don't know where the thread is, but you or someone else may).
    Anyhow, I don't think that saying;
    " Recommend installing smoke detectors above water heater"
    is what should be recommended, suggested, or implied, in any way, at all, under any circumstance.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kriegh View Post
    Jerry, I disagree. You have identified a potential problem, Then have stated that if you don't fix it, do this. I think a reasonable person on a jury would conclude that this statement somehow made the bad situation better by adding the smoke detector by the panel -and then the fire started in the living room.
    Bill,

    You are now mixing the two issues being discussed into one.

    One was recommending the smoke detector, your words:
    You are suggesting non-standard smoke detector installation that may or may not increase safety without qualifications to do so.
    That is where we disagree.

    It is not me not answering questions, it is you changing what is being discussed.

    The other issue being discussed was what Rick said:
    Personally, I'd cut the bottom comment out of your report. Why tell them to replace the FPE panel and then tell them to have it repaired and install smoke alarms over it. Tell them it should be replaced.
    On that you and I agree.

    Don't mix the two together and then say we disagree, we only disagree on YOU stating:
    You are suggesting non-standard smoke detector installation
    And me stating:
    he was stating to install a supplemental smoke detector
    Keep it straight and things can be discussed more accurately.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Guys, thanks for the replies. I appreciate them and this forum, HOWEVER, WHY does everything have to end up being a hair splitting contest with the same peopel thread after thread......like one stated about just listing the facts, lets just answer the original questions and move on. There are other people out their waiting for their threads to be answered rather than beating a dead horse........

    Thanks
    Greg


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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Subick View Post
    Guys, thanks for the replies. I appreciate them and this forum, HOWEVER, WHY does everything have to end up being a hair splitting contest with the same peopel thread after thread......like one stated about just listing the facts, lets just answer the original questions and move on. There are other people out their waiting for their threads to be answered rather than beating a dead horse........

    Thanks
    Greg
    Greg,

    Because this is how we entertain ourselves.

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Subick View Post
    Guys, thanks for the replies. I appreciate them and this forum, HOWEVER, WHY does everything have to end up being a hair splitting contest with the same peopel thread after thread......like one stated about just listing the facts, lets just answer the original questions and move on. There are other people out their waiting for their threads to be answered rather than beating a dead horse........

    Thanks
    Greg
    Greg, Debate is how we learn. I personally enjoy reading the conflicts of opinion and their justifications of their opinions. Worst case, you read a little extra that you didn't need to, best case, you learn a little.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Subick View Post
    beating a dead horse
    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Greg,

    Because this is how we entertain ourselves.
    Greg,

    First, one must confirm that, indeed, the horse is "dead", only then can the discussion be turned to "beating" a "dead" horse.

    If the horse moves when struck, is the horse dead?

    Does the act of striking the horse cause the horse to move?

    Did the horse drown from being taken to water and refusing to drink?

    Was the horse already dead before it was beaten to death?

    So many questions, so little time to answer them ...

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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    What organization oversees the beating of a DEAD horse?
    The animal rights activists oversee the beating of a live horse.
    What if it was really a donkey , would that make a difference?



  17. #17
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    only addressing one minor problem with them, would be better off to install AFCI protection on each circuit ... because (to my knowledge) no one makes AFCI breakers for FPE panels, which means the panel gets replaced to install the AFCI breakers.
    FYI, Schnieder Electric makes an Stab-Lok AFCI breaker for the Canadian Federal Pioneer panels. Best not go there.

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    I do it (the hair splitting) for any number of nefarious reasons. I've done what I do long enough I know when smoke is being blown or when common sense has made a run for it.

    Sometimes I stir the pot even if somebody else is right to drag out more information. People tend to remember the "confrontational" stuff longer than the mundane posts.

    Other time I do it because I can.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    I kind of like the debate back and forth. I agree that we all learn from it and refine not only our inspection skills but also our report writing skills. I learned from this discussion. I had my own statement that I use in my reports but added a version of Rick’s in my report. Where I do not agree with Rick is the word “Recommend”. Here in North Carolina we are told by the state not to use recommend in any statement. It can get you in trouble. This is one time that I agree with the state.

    My original statement: You have a Federal Pacific panel which is legal, but there is a possibility that the circuit breakers may not trip when shorted possibly causing an electrical hazard. Opinions by licensed electricians on this panel varies between safe and unsafe. A licensed electrical contractor should be consulted for an opinion and correct if necessary.

    Rick’s modified statement: This property had one or more Federal Pacific Electric brand main service or sub panels that use "Stab-Lok" circuit breakers. Both double and single pole versions of these circuit breakers are known to fail by not tripping when they are supposed to. For more information, visit: Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok Panel Circuit Breaker Hazard, Repairs, Electrical Panel Replacement Electricians Directory for Stab-Lok Repairs.. If the Federal Pacific panel(s) are not replaced, then a qualified electrician should thoroughly evaluate the panel(s) and make repairs as necessary. Smoke detectors should be installed in all electrical areas throughout the house for additional safety.

    You guys are welcome pick this apart to make it and me a better inspector.

    Thanks


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    While everyone answers everything they can think of, EXCEPT the question you asked ...

    There's no limit to the wires that may enter a panel from the side. Conduit is a wiring method - and so is Romex. As long as the methood is allowed, it's allowed to go all the way to the panel.

    That said, the wires do need to be secured soon after they leave the panel, and not be clearly subject to damage (a dliding door hitting them would be a good example of 'subject to damage.')

    The cables must use the proper connector where they enter the panel; I have yet to see any connector listed for more than two flat or one round cable.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    "Smoke detectors should be installed in all electrical areas throughout the house for additional safety."

    While smoke detectors are useful gadgets, they have no bearing on the FPE panel. Your statement should stick to the topic at hand. The FPE panel is bad and should be replaced. There is no viable repair other than total replacement.

    The problem with FPE panels is they don't trip when they should. There is no guarantee that the overheating will create a fire in the panel. The fire could be anywhere along the circuit. Putting a smoke detector (alarm) over the panel does not solve the problem with a defective panel.

    "in all electrical areas" Can you name a few of the "electrical areas" in a home? I have electrical receptacles scattered in every room, along with light fixtures, radios, TV's, computers, battery chargers, electric blankets, toasters, lamps, etc. Your statement is too vague and provides no specific direction for your client.

    If you want to recommend additional smoke detectors through out the house, then do that as a separate item from the panel replacement and specify particular locations.

    Commonly accepted building practices require smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside common sleeping areas and on each level of the house that are interconnected so that if one alarms, they all alarm. Garages and utility areas have a high fire potential due to stored flammable materials and heat generateing equipment. Install smoke detectors in the garage and utility area interconnected to the existing smoke detectors by a licensed electrical contractor.

    Of course the IRC calls them smoke alarms not detectors but that tends to confuse the general public.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    That said, the wires do need to be secured soon after they leave the panel,

    The cables must use the proper connector where they enter the panel; I have yet to see any connector listed for more than two flat or one round cable.
    That proper connector also secures the cable to the panel enclosure as REQUIRED.

    From the 2008 NEC. (underlining and bold are mine)
    - 312.5 Cabinets, Cutout Boxes, and Meter Socket Enclosures.
    - - (C) Cables. Where cable is used, each cable shall be secured to the cabinet, cutout box, or meter socket enclosure.
    - - - (There is one exception to the above, and that is if the cable is entering through a rigid raceway, and then it is required to meet ALL of 9 conditions, the first of which is that the enclosure is surface mounted, another is that the raceway is visible along its entire length and not longer than 10 feet. Thus, for all except the rare residential installation, the exception does not apply.)

    Note also that "panelboards" are mounted in "cabinets", thus the above section covers "panels" as used for the complete assembly of "panelboard" and "cabinet" together.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides




  24. #24
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Is it dead, though?

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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Jerry, you're reading too much in to the wording of the NEC. While each cable needs a connector, there is no prohibition of two cables using the same connector.

    There are many connectors specifically listed for two flat cables. This information is found on the box the connectors came in. In a manner similar to the packaging of wire nuts, the box lists all the approved cables, and combinations of cables, for which that connector is listed.

    This is also where you learn what types of cables - NM, SO, MC, etc. - the connectors are listed for.

    The only 'fly in the ointment' is that the box listing does not go into the various amounts of strain relief available to flexible cord connectors. While not relevant to this thread, the issue came up in another. AFAIK, there is no easy way to identify, in the field, exactly which applications of a flexible cord a connector is listed for.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    Jerry, you're reading too much in to the wording of the NEC. While each cable needs a connector, there is no prohibition of two cables using the same connector.
    I didn't say there was. I stated that each cable needs to be secured to the enclosure - not that each one needs to be connected to the enclosure independently.

    If you have a cable clamp / cable connector which is rated for two 2-conductor cables, then that is okay (and most are rated for two 2-conductor cables and only one 3-conductor cable).

    There are many connectors specifically listed for two flat cables.
    John, I agree with you on that, however "each cable" is required to be secured to the enclosure (with that one exception being applicable when it is).

    That means that running 10 NM cables up through a short nipple is not acceptable, even though we find that condition many times.

    I believe that you and I are on the same page on the strain reliefs and this cable connection to the enclosure aspect.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  27. #27
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    Cool Re: Multiple Distribution Wires into panel sides

    Interesting, an FPE panel.

    And a new circuit, no FPE, AFCI breakers made.

    This is your job, you were hire to to do an inspection.

    Some people who written a post, say the panel should be replace, it not
    safe. Other say hire someone who will say its safe. Should the **** hit
    the fan, the home owner going to come after you, don't suger coat this.
    Look him right in the eye, and tell you must change the panel out. And
    know this because down the road, should he add circuit ext. or new cir-
    cuits, the NEC 200d edition in now requiring the use of more AFCI break-
    ers then ever before.

    I believe must home owner want to be told the truth, no matter how
    costly the repair/replacement my be.

    This is a product that alway has been issue with the trade.

    So my answer would be look, its your best interest to replace this brand
    of electrical panel, then when you sell your home, the next inspector
    won't have an issue with the house electrical panel.

    footnote: inspection found Knob-and-tube wiring in a homeowner attiic
    his home owner insurance was going to drop his policy unless
    this wiring was replace by an electrician.

    I leave you now, good luck. Robert


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