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  1. #1
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    Default Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    I will try to explain this clearly...

    "Apparently" the service drop enters the meter and is split (read: double-lugged at the meter - I can't see it without pulling the meter). Service then enters the home to provide electricity. There is a ground rod at the service entrance.

    Service also (and separately) leaves the meter base and enters a small exterior cabinet/panel. In this cabinet there is a 100 amp breaker that provides a feeder to the boathouse.

    At the land side of the pier which is approximately 150-200 ft away from the home, there is another cabinet 18 inches off of the soil (secured to the pier). In this cabinet/panel, which has it's own separate grounding electrode, there is a 60 amp breaker that feeds the boathouse via 6 gauge feeder. There is no metal conduit between this panel and the one back at the meter.

    At the boathouse, the feeder enters the cabinet and provides for three 20 amp breakers (lights and boat lift).

    I've written up several things about this that I've not listed; however, my questions are:

    1.) Is it appropriate to have the second 60 amp breaker at the pier? I'm not sure I completely understand "in series with a grounded conductor" in 3705.5
    E3705.5 Overcurrent protection required.
    All ungrounded branch-circuit and feeder conductors shall be protected against overcurrent by an overcurrent device installed at the point where the conductors receive their supply. Overcurrent devices shall not be connected in series with a grounded conductor. Overcurrent protection and allowable loads for branch circuits and feeders that do not serve as the main power feeder to the dwelling unit load shall be in accordance with this chapter.


    2.) Should the cabinet at the land side of the pier have its own grounding electrode? I see in 3608.1 all grounding electrodes should be bonded together. This one is not bonded to the one at the service entrance.

    I'm sure something I've written above is vague, let me know. The photo below is the panel located at the pier

    Thanks for looking,
    Bruce

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    I believe the 60 amp would be fine, if the conductors that it feeds are #6 like you say.
    The rule you quoted says that the neutral ("grounded") conductor must not be on a breaker. No problem there, it is done correctly, AFAIK..
    They've installed a 3-wire feeder, which is no longer common practice, so that is possibly why there are questions about the grounding down by the boathouse. The experts will chip in, I'm sure.

    The first thing I saw was rust, and that means possible corrosion on the connections, such as the breaker-to-bus connection which we can't see. So, you have good reason to call for an electrician to repair the corroded connections. Then he can check those other issues and you've done good.

    Proper grounding around water and boathouses is extremely critical, so the electrician is needed there for that, as well.
    If that black wire to the neutral bus is coming from the ground rod, it needs to be checked at both ends. And marked with green paint or tape at both ends. The panel itself needs to be bonded to ground.
    The winch and lights need to be grounded back to this panel. If they are relying on the conduit for that, all those connections need to be cleaned up. I don't see a connection from the ground wire to the conduit.
    Back at the service panel, the connections at the main service breaker feeding the two panels need to be checked.

    I'm sure there is more to come, but the good thing is, an electrician will hopefully make sure nobody gets the shock of their life (death) while standing knee deep in the water.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 06-01-2011 at 06:49 PM. Reason: more
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    If that black wire to the neutral bus is coming from the ground rod, it needs to be checked at both ends. And marked with green paint or tape at both ends. The panel itself needs to be bonded to ground.
    Yes, I did report on the black grounding conductor being mislabeled. The bus bar on the right hand side is on the stand-offs and not touching the cabinet enclosure.

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
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    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    Yes, I did report on the black grounding conductor being mislabeled. .
    You reported a non issue. There is no requirement for the GEC to be green.

    Color of GEC [Archive] - Mike Holt's Forum

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    You reported a non issue. There is no requirement for the GEC to be green.

    Color of GEC [Archive] - Mike Holt's Forum
    I didn't say it had to be green, but I did think that it couldn't be black.

    Easy fix, the report hasn't been emailed yet.

    Thanks

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    You reported a non issue. There is no requirement for the GEC to be green.

    Color of GEC [Archive] - Mike Holt's Forum
    It could be confused at the other end, and pigtailed with a hot, no?
    Skip the color issue, then. What about equipment grounding?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    It could be confused at the other end, and pigtailed with a hot, no?
    Skip the color issue, then. What about equipment grounding?

    Dunno. This is first time I've had a post that no one's answered??

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    Dunno. This is first time I've had a post that no one's answered??
    A heated discussion on GFCI's bumped your post out of sight.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    oh well

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Bump agin! Could someone look at these pics and answer this ? - how can the boathouse circuits be grounded if the neutral in the remote panel is floating?

    With a 3 wire feeder coming from the house, is it correct to connect the ground wire, (which happens to be an insulated black) to the neutral bus in the remote panel?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    The NEC used to allow 3 wire feeders to outbuildings if there was no other metallic paths back to the origination point. The neutral was bonded again like in service equipment.

    The bond screw is installed in that panel. Look between the white and black on the buss.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    To answer your question, yes the grounded conductor in your photo needs to be bonded to the enclosure/grounding conductor.

    What you have there is an accident waiting to happen. All metal enclosures must be bonded.

    If this were done today, there would have been an equipment grounding conductor ran with the conductors you have there.

    I believe this existing scenario would be covered under NEC 250.32(B) ex.:

    For existing premises wiring systems only, the
    grounded conductor run with the supply to the building or
    structure shall be permitted to be connected to the building
    or structure disconnecting means and to the grounding
    electrode(s) and shall be used for grounding or bonding of
    equipment, structures, or frames required to be grounded
    or bonded where all the requirements of (1), (2), and (3)
    are met:
    (1) An equipment grounding conductor is not run with the
    supply to the building or structure.
    (2) There are no continuous metallic paths bonded to the
    grounding system in each building or structure involved.
    (3) Ground-fault protection of equipment has not been installed
    on the supply side of the feeder(s).
    Where the grounded conductor is used for grounding in
    accordance with the provision of this exception, the size of
    the grounded conductor shall not be smaller than the larger
    of either of the following:
    (1) That required by 220.61
    (2) That required by 250.122
    The grounding electrode conductor is not required to be any color. It can be black.

    What you do need is a bushing per E3803.7

    The ground rods are required at separate structures per E3608.1 if there are no other grounding electrodes available.

    I would be asking myself why they fed a 60A breaker with 100A feeders. The situation seems strange.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    The feeders might appear oversized to compensate for voltage drop.

    The enclosure looks bonded. Look between the white and black on the neutral buss. There is a green screw.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by TR Platt View Post
    To answer your question, yes the grounded conductor in your photo needs to be bonded to the enclosure/grounding conductor.

    What you have there is an accident waiting to happen. All metal enclosures must be bonded.

    If this were done today, there would have been an equipment grounding conductor ran with the conductors you have there.

    I believe this existing scenario would be covered under NEC 250.32(B) ex.:



    The grounding electrode conductor is not required to be any color. It can be black.

    What you do need is a bushing per E3803.7

    The ground rods are required at separate structures per E3608.1 if there are no other grounding electrodes available.

    I would be asking myself why they fed a 60A breaker with 100A feeders. The situation seems strange.
    Forgive me for restating some of this, I'm trying to wrap my pea-sized brain around it.

    So if I understand correctly,

    1. a second ground rod can be used PROVIDED it is bonded to the one that is at the home (near the meter).

    2. with the above statement being correct, the grounded conductor SHOULD be bonded to the grounding conductor in the cabinet at the pier

    My other question regarding the circuit breaker: I can't seem to find anything in the IRC that says you can't; however, it sometimes takes me several readings to fully grasp what they mean. ....But why on earth would you have a breaker at the home AND a breaker at the pier??

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The NEC used to allow 3 wire feeders to outbuildings if there was no other metallic paths back to the origination point. The neutral was bonded again like in service equipment.

    The bond screw is installed in that panel. Look between the white and black on the buss.
    I've known this for a while, but I think the way you've stated is finally making sense to me.

    NEC allows 3 wires to be used for feeders (with the "no metallic path back" caveat) AND a ground rod will be at the second building. Correct? Grounded and grounding conductors can be bonded. Correct?

    Now days, 4 wires are used and this 4th wire is the bond back to the original service equipment?

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Multiple cabinets and service conductor with breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    I've known this for a while, but I think the way you've stated is finally making sense to me.

    NEC allows 3 wires to be used for feeders (with the "no metallic path back" caveat) AND a ground rod will be at the second building. Correct? Grounded and grounding conductors can be bonded. Correct?

    Now days, 4 wires are used and this 4th wire is the bond back to the original service equipment?
    You are correct. The 3-wire subs are allowed at existing structures.

    Keep in mind that a grounding electrode is required at separate structures regardless of whether it is 3-wire or 4-wire. If you are inspecting a separate structure (other than one with a single branch circuit powering the entire structure), you should see a GEC bonded to a grounding electrode. It does not have to be a ground rod.

    If that is a green bonding screw (it does appear to have been green at one point-- good eye-- OP states "The bus bar on the right hand side is on the stand-offs and not touching the cabinet enclosure." OP should confirm.) bonding the grounded conductor to the enclosure, then I do not believe there is an issue other than the bushings are missing.

    If the feeders were sized for voltage drop, they would have been protected by a 60a breaker, not a 100a. The grounded conductor appears to be the same size as the ungrounded, so it does fit the exception.

    Are those copper or aluminum conductors?


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