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Thread: Panel Wiring

  1. #1
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    Default Panel Wiring

    1) New home 1 year ago. Please tell me this wiring rat's nest violates something in the electrical code. Okay, the codes don't cover workmanship but maybe just maybe.

    2) Total load in panel: If there is nothing stated by the manufacturer, is there a maximum total circuit amperage for a panel? The Cutler-Hammer panel above is rated for 200A (by disconnect breaker, main breaker here, and meter at SE) but the sum of circuit breaker amperage is 515 Amps or 158% over rating; 235A on one bus 280A on the other. The only related statement in the box is that the max load on any STAB is 200A

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    Last edited by Stuart Brooks; 02-27-2010 at 08:58 AM. Reason: Math correction
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    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  2. #2
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    1) New home 1 year ago. Please tell me this wiring rat's nest violates something in the electrical code. Okay, the codes don't cover workmanship but maybe just maybe.

    2) Total load in panel: If there is nothing stated by the manufacturer, is there a maximum total circuit amperage for a panel? The Cutler-Hammer panel above is rated for 200A (by disconnect breaker, main breaker here, and meter at SE) but the sum of circuit breaker amperage is 515 Amps or 158% over rating; 235A on one bus 280A on the other. The only related statement in the box is that the max load on any STAB is 200A
    SB: At a minimum it is not compliant with:

    110.12 Mechanical Execution of Work.
    Electrical equipment shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner.
    FPN: Accepted industry practices are described in ANSI/NECA 1-2006, Standard Practices for Good Workmanship in Electrical Contracting, and other ANSI-approved installation standards.

    I'll leave it to the resident sparkys to fill in the rest of the blanks.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Not the neatest but the "workmanlike manner" mentioned in the NEC is vague and almost unenforceable. The pic makes it hard to see any specific violations.

    Adding the handle values does not equate to the true load on the panel. Nor does it account for diverse loads like heat and air conditioning that are not used at the same time. It is common to see 200 amp panels with 700 to 800 amps of breaker handle values.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    the "workmanlike manner" mentioned in the NEC is vague and almost unenforceable.
    JP: That is not true. It is often enforced in my work area. A nice new red tag makes it a bit less vague for the offending sparky.


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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JP: That is not true. It is often enforced in my work area. A nice new red tag makes it a bit less vague for the offending sparky.
    OK, AD. This is a discriminatory and arbitary standard. What may be workmanlike for one inspector could be "too sloppy" for another. There is no way for this standard to be equally applied. The term workmanlike is listed in the style manual as vague among others.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    OK, AD. This is a discriminatory and arbitary standard. What may be workmanlike for one inspector could be "too sloppy" for another. There is no way for this standard to be equally applied. The term workmanlike is listed in the style manual as vague among others.
    JP: It is no so vague if you actually read ANSI/NECA 1-2006, Standard Practices for Good Workmanship in Electrical Contracting. Most sparkys have the notion that FPNs are both trivial and non-enforcable. I promise you that they are neither. If they are important enough for the code authors to mention, then they are not trivial. And, an AHJ can enforce damn near anything he has the huevos to enforce.


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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    And, an AHJ can enforce damn near anything he has the huevos to enforce.
    The AHJ can only enforce what has been legally adopted and in print. Anything else should be challenged to put a stop to this cowboy attitude of "because I said so."


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    From the National Electric Code Explained, " NEC 110.12. Mechanical Execution of Work. "Electrical equipment shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner." Why is the NEC so vague on this? Well, itís hard to quantify and describe something like that. The Code is basically giving the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) the power to reject work that doesnít meet industry standards. Itís a situation where "everyone knows the rules," and the AHJ can make sure those rules get followed. One reason contractors back such language is they can use this rule to level the competitive playing field against "fly by night outfits" that do sloppy work. The costs associated with work that isnít "neat and workmanlike" are enormousóa small investment in upfront costs saves the customer big money over the life of the equipment. "

    Also allows AHJ to pass crappy work, as in the case of the post that started this thread. In Va, if you can show that work, even if it has been approved by the AHJ, is not acceptable by qualified trade standards, the contractor has to fix it. I take that to mean that if you hire a licensed Master Electrician to review the work and he or she states the work was not performed in a manner conforming to best trade practices - Then the contractor may be required to make corrections. I say may, because we all know there are appeal boards, and that kinship and buddy-ism can take precedence over any issue.


    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Most sparkys have the notion that FPNs are both trivial and non-enforcable. I promise you that they are neither. If they are important enough for the code authors to mention, then they are not trivial.
    Well this certainly does not agree with NEC 90.5(C) where and I quote "Fine print notes are informational only and are not enforceable as requirements of this Code." Looks like the sparkys have backing from the people that write the code.

    Last edited by Jim Port; 02-27-2010 at 12:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    All good points made here, and usually good points are made whenever the 'workmanlike manner' raises it subjective (although not trivial) head.

    We AHJ's are to use the WLM clause only in the most egregious of circumstances when no other code to write exists. There are few times when WLM should be used. I've personally only used WLM a few times in many a year. Unfortunately, I'm also sure that some AHJ's have abused WLM just as much as 90.4 and even 'manf spec'.

    In the case pictured in this thread, there may be some violations to pick on but as long as the conductors are within their allowed wiring area and not subject to damage, electrically speaking the conductors are 'happy' in their environment, I would let it go. Having said that, I must state that I've rejected too neat a panel where all the conductors are tie-rapped together- subjecting them to over heating. My opinion for what it's worth.

    Note: 2008NEC 110.12 'workmanlike manner'. FPN: Accepted industry practices....... One can state that FPN's are not enforceable, but this is somewhat of a misnomer. The AHJ can use the FPN in his evaluation in applying the preceding code the FPN is referring to. This is the reason the FPN's are included in the Code.
    Bob Smit, County EI


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    The AHJ can only enforce what has been legally adopted and in print.
    JP: And, did they forget to mention to you that, the AHJ has great latitude in interpretting the code?

    Anything else should be challenged to put a stop to this cowboy attitude of "because I said so."
    JP: While we are in agreement, challenging them is often a waste of time and effort.


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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    A.D., While I agree with your assessment above, please don't encourage the defeatist attitude in fighting AHJ abuse.
    As a contractor, I fought them whenever I recognized what I considered abuse. Even as an AHJ; a few years ago one of those guys tried pulling a shirt pocket rejection on me.........I let that job sit for a couple of days and visited the building department......eventually the Building Official put enough pressure in the inspector to drop his idea, which he could not back by code.

    My point is, we have to call em out every time. Only then will the Building Official put the breaks on them.
    Whenever I'm questioned by a contractor, I tell them we'll have class.
    We open the code book and go through it together. 98% of the time I'm correct and they usually appreciate the respect given. I also encourage them to do more studying and not to accept whatever is rejected till they research it themselves.
    Bob Smit, County EI


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    I was in the electrical field for 25 years and seen this type of work many times.It cost less than a dollar to use wire ties when making up a panel to avoid this type of sloppiness.As far as code it is up to the individual inspector to call on this one.If I was the electrical inspector i would point it out and ask couldn't they make the panel a little neater but that's me.
    I personally believe this is what is wrong with alot of construction laziness and like of pride in ones work.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by bob smit View Post
    I must state that I've rejected too neat a panel where all the conductors are tie-rapped together- subjecting them to over heating.
    Bob Smit, County EI
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Gordy View Post
    It cost less than a dollar to use wire ties when making up a panel to avoid this type of sloppiness.As far as code it is up to the individual inspector to call on this one.

    Welcome to the board Stephen.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    1) New home 1 year ago. Please tell me this wiring rat's nest violates something in the electrical code. Okay, the codes don't cover workmanship but maybe just maybe.

    2) Total load in panel: If there is nothing stated by the manufacturer, is there a maximum total circuit amperage for a panel? The Cutler-Hammer panel above is rated for 200A (by disconnect breaker, main breaker here, and meter at SE) but the sum of circuit breaker amperage is 515 Amps or 158% over rating; 235A on one bus 280A on the other. The only related statement in the box is that the max load on any STAB is 200A
    The total sum of circuit breaker amperage is almost always higher than the panel itself. The panel will still only allow 200 AMPS. In very few cases do you need to worry about the total sum of breaker amperage vs panel amperage. I am sure there is someone that can explain it better than I can.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    The rating of the panel means that is the maximum it is allowed to be protected at, i.e., the panel is fed by feeders which are protected by a breaker, and the maximum rating that breaker is allowed to be is the rating of the panel. Additionally, the rating of the feeders must be at least the rating of the protecting breaker.

    Let's say you have a 200 amp panel, 300 amp feeders, and a 200 amp breaker protecting the feeders, that is okay.

    Let's say the total of all the breakers is 42 x 20 = 840 amps, but ... the panel is still protected at the maximum rating of 200 amps by the 200 amp breaker protecting the feeders to that panel. I.e, you will not get more than 200 amps through that panel (as long as the 200 amp breaker is working properly).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    I understand the concept of the total of the breakers can and will in most cases exceed the rating of the main disconnect.

    How would you rate a panel that has, say, no main disconnect ? For example 5 breakers that handle various circuits, say 40 amps each, and then a breaker , say 60 amps, that handles several circuits in the panel below ? (maximum total of 6 as required)


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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by kevin hergert View Post

    How would you rate a panel that has, say, no main disconnect ? For example 5 breakers that handle various circuits, say 40 amps each, and then a breaker , say 60 amps, that handles several circuits in the panel below ? (maximum total of 6 as required)
    You would base the size based on the ampacity of the service entrance conductor.

    Typically the two pole 60 feed the lighting and receptacle loads in the lower part of the panel.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    You would base the size based on the ampacity of the service entrance conductor.

    You would base it on the rating of the overcurrent protection for the feeders, then write up the feeders for replacement if the feeders are not rated at least for the rating of the breaker protecting them.

    The above is, of course, presuming you are referring to a panel which is other-than service equipment, which I am presuming as you did not state whether the panel was "service equipment" or 'other than service equipment', i.e., a plain old panel, or, if it is easier to follow, a "remote panel" which is describing a panel which is 'remote' from the service equipment.

    The above depending on, obviously, the panel rating being at least as high as the breaker rating.

    Now, if you are referring to a "service equipment" panel, which is what Jim was referring to, then you would need to make sure that the rating of the panel was the same as, or exceeded, the rating of the service entrance conductors, which brings up an interesting point of discussion: which "should" be rated higher: a) the service entrance conductors; b) the service equipment rating? This given that there is no single main service disconnect but up to the allowed six disconnects.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Panel Wiring

    I was referring to a main panel (no subs) for a home. I believe it would be called a split bus panel; no single disconnect; up to 6 allowed.


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