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  1. #1
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    Mar 2012
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    Default One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    I have several photos of the main distribution box and a sub panel. A picture is worth a thousand words.


    A subpanel fed with a #12 wire to a 100amp breaker and two #14 wires on a 20 amp breaker for the transformer.

    On the main service wire neutral, a subpanel neutral is clamped to the same hold down as the main neutral,

    I need to add that the mast/meter on this home is only screwed into the vinyl siding, not wood

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    Can we get a pic of more breakers in the main panel, such as the one that feeds the remote panel?

    The neutral 'hold down' is called a 'lug'. Is that a solid grounding wire tucked in there as well?

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    "One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?"

    First, that panel was taken out of a sub and is now on dry land.

    The first photo shows at least 3 conductors in the neutral terminal, and shows a HUGE open knock-out through the back with some conductors coming through the exposed wood ... which may be the conductors going to the distribution panel in the second photo ... if that is a distribution panel - as John said, a wider angle photo would be helpful.

    The third photo shows either a neutral conductor missing, or possibly a 24o volt circuit with no handle-tie? What size breaker is protecting the feeders to that distribution panel (does not matter what size the breaker in that panel is, it matters what size is at the other end of those #14, #12 or #10 feeders).

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

  4. #4
    cuba_pete's Avatar
    cuba_pete Guest

    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    Hey, at least the neutral is not bonded to ground here...again.


  5. #5
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
    Garry Blankenship Guest

    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    It does not look good at all, but more views are needed. Five branch circuits look to be fed by what you say are two # 14cu wires, the wire sizes on the branch circuits look to be larger than the sub-panel feeder wires, what you are calling the MDP is a 125 amp or smaller panel itself. You mentioned a transformer ? Oddly; if the feeder for that sub-panel is on a 15 amp two pole C/B, it could be not as bad as it looks. The MCB on the subpanel appears to be functioning as a switch and it's amp rating really does not matter, as long as the supply breaker is legally sized.


  6. #6
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    Chico,Ca
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    423

    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    It does not look good at all, but more views are needed. Five branch circuits look to be fed by what you say are two # 14cu wires, the wire sizes on the branch circuits look to be larger than the sub-panel feeder wires, what you are calling the MDP is a 125 amp or smaller panel itself. You mentioned a transformer ? Oddly; if the feeder for that sub-panel is on a 15 amp two pole C/B, it could be not as bad as it looks. The MCB on the subpanel appears to be functioning as a switch and it's amp rating really does not matter, as long as the supply breaker is legally sized.

    One issue could be if the main lugs are rated for a 12 or 14 AWG conductor. If the panel was rated 400,600,800A the only real safety issue is if the lugs were rated to accept the smaller conductors, as long as properly sized overcurrent devices were used at the supply side.


  7. #7
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
    Garry Blankenship Guest

    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rollie Meyers View Post
    One issue could be if the main lugs are rated for a 12 or 14 AWG conductor. If the panel was rated 400,600,800A the only real safety issue is if the lugs were rated to accept the smaller conductors, as long as properly sized overcurrent devices were used at the supply side.
    Good point Rollie. I forget that lugs have a listed minimum size as well as a max size which is usually the the one that gets pushed by nipping of a few strands to make-r-fit. Not that I would have ever done it , but you can stip the wire twice as long & double it over for better contact in a roomy lug opening.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    Good point Rollie. I forget that lugs have a listed minimum size as well as a max size which is usually the the one that gets pushed by nipping of a few strands to make-r-fit. Not that I would have ever done it , but you can stip the wire twice as long & double it over for better contact in a roomy lug opening.

    Not Kosher, the conductor is a "make fit" then. I will admit it works, still not right.


  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    but you can stip the wire twice as long & double it over for better contact in a roomy lug opening.
    You have just effectively multiple tapped a single conductor ...

    And you know that is not good.

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

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
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    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    Good point Rollie. I forget that lugs have a listed minimum size as well as a max size which is usually the the one that gets pushed by nipping of a few strands to make-r-fit. Not that I would have ever done it , but you can stip the wire twice as long & double it over for better contact in a roomy lug opening.
    I have an idea: you should take six of those strands you've nipped off and arrange them around the #12 conductor to meet the minimum size requirement. They you can apply for your green building certification for "recycling" those short pieces.


  11. #11
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
    Garry Blankenship Guest

    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rollie Meyers View Post
    Not Kosher, the conductor is a "make fit" then. I will admit it works, still not right.
    Cannot argue w/ the print in the code book. The most common size smaller lug I have seen is rated 14 through 6. I believe every other opening in neutral & ground bars are this same size hole. While a single # 14 is legal to terminate in one, I have done the double over thing just to make myself comfortable that it is making adequate contact. Had an inspector once make me change some two screw connectors in a panel that I ran two N/M cables through. They are good, solid connectors that function well w/ one or two N/M in them, but were not U/L listed for two. I do not like the cheap pot-metal squeeze type, ( Bucannon ? ) connectors, but replaced the good two screw conns w/ Bucannons to make a point. He did not like them either, but they are, ( were ), "Listed" for two N/M cables. A lower quality job, but now "Legal". It was a correction that should not have been made only because it complied w/ the print in the code. I believe the code does a good job, but is no more perfect than us Hu-mans.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Colorado Front Range
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    601

    Default Re: One guess what's wrong with this main and subpanel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    Cannot argue w/ the print in the code book. The most common size smaller lug I have seen is rated 14 through 6. I believe every other opening in neutral & ground bars are this same size hole. While a single # 14 is legal to terminate in one, I have done the double over thing just to make myself comfortable that it is making adequate contact. Had an inspector once make me change some two screw connectors in a panel that I ran two N/M cables through. They are good, solid connectors that function well w/ one or two N/M in them, but were not U/L listed for two. I do not like the cheap pot-metal squeeze type, ( Bucannon ? ) connectors, but replaced the good two screw conns w/ Bucannons to make a point. He did not like them either, but they are, ( were ), "Listed" for two N/M cables. A lower quality job, but now "Legal". It was a correction that should not have been made only because it complied w/ the print in the code. I believe the code does a good job, but is no more perfect than us Hu-mans.
    Arlington makes a NM two screw type connector that is rated for up to 10 cables ( part #NM844) that looks no different physically from those rated for a single large cable. I have to leave a catalog page for inspections, but that does little to help when HIs come along in the future and call the installation out as a problem. Point is, they look no different from the other connectors rated for a single cable.

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

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