Do i need to replace main panel?

retro02December 4, 2013

Electrician told me my panel has bad shape ,no ground ,etc and need to be replaced.Just panel,no breaker box.For 425$ with labor.
Hi is right?

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More pictures

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 10:05AM
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Ron Natalie

What does he allege is wrong with it? The panel itself doesn't look like there is anything particularly wrong with it. 100A may be cutting it a little thin on service, but there's more to upgrading service than just replacing the panel.

That being said, I do note several issues here.

1. I'd vacuum or otherwise clean out all the crud from the bottom. It's unworkmanlike, and can lead to corrosion and other issues in the future.

2. It is not proper to ground branch circuits (or just about anything else) by putting the wires under the panel mounting screws (bottom of the second picture).

3. It appears to be a GE panel, it should not have a CH breakers in it (there seem to be a handful). Conversely if it were a CH panel, it should not have GE breakers.

4. It's hard for me to tell which wires are going to the breakers for sure, and eyeball wire gauge from a photo, but it appears some of the 20A beakers (like the second from the top on the left side) are feeding 14G wire.

This post was edited by ronnatalie on Wed, Dec 4, 13 at 11:08

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 11:02AM
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He told me-ground connection wrong.And panel at the bottom not screwed because is broken mounting (bottom of the second picture).
Nothing told me about breakers.He don't wont to replace it.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 6:01PM
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This panel looks like there is a LOT wrong with it!

1st: If this is the Main Distribution Panel, then WHERE is the main bonding jumper (Screw)?

2nd: Why are there 2 grounded conductors (ie 'neutrals' under the same 'main' lug?

3rd: Where is/are the Grounding Electrode Conductor(s) that are supposed to go from the MDP (Main Distribution Panel) to the grounding electrodes and grounding electrode system?

4th: Why are Equipment Grounding Conductors attached to the mounting screws of the panel box? (Anyone who can't see tis problem is either no electrician or is BLIND!)

Unless someone can make a case to the contrary, I'm with your electrician on this one: The existing panel is not even close to compliant, is unsafe, and needs to be replaced.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 8:31PM
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But what about breakers?
He don't wont to replace it.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 9:08PM
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If he does a completely new panel, I would have him change all the breakers to new ones also. It would be pretty stupid to install a totally new panel and use the old breakers in my opinion. Personally I wouldn't use a GE panel either, but that's just my preference.
If you're looking to save cost, keep the existing panel and breakers, but add what's needed to make it compliant/safe, (ground bar, bonding jumper, etc...) A panel is basically just a shell that holds everything. Unless your bussing is totally FUBAR (which I doubt) you can save yourself the money and just add what's needed to this one.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 11:04PM
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Ron Natalie

The question is what's wrong with the panel no that's wrong with the idiot who has been installing/modifying the circuits. Some of the things Manhattan and I pointed out are obvious, some are just guesses because it's hard to see where the wires go based solely on the two photos. Suffice it to say the panel needs work even if not outright replaced.

If what you are saying the plastic part that separates the breakers from the case is cracked so that you can no longer insert the screw to hold it securely in place, then he may indeed be correct.

While GE isn't my first choice, there's nothing wrong with GE panels. Panels sometimes tend to be a regional thing, while QO and CH you can pretty much find anywhere, BR, GE, etc... tends to be a bit regional in usage.

I kind of like the GE skinny breaker idea better than Square D's tandem approach.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Ron Natalie

Manhattan: Not all "main panels" have the bonding screw. Mine sure has hell doesn't (and is not permitted to). It only needs it if it is the service disconnect. In my case, the service disconnect is out at the meter. I suspect that's where the apparent missing ground/bonds you are expecting are as well. This also seems to use armored cable so there aren't a whole lot of ground wires for the branch circuits kicking around inside the panel. I already pointed out that the ones connected to the mounting screws were bogus (no matter what they are coming from).

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 10:38AM
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A decent electrician can make this panel safe in 2 hours plus materials.
- install a bond screw (if service equipment)
- install a ground bar
- separate grounds and neutrals (if not service equipment)
- relocate the doubled up white neutral from the main neutral lug to the neutral bar
- install a grounding electrode conductor to water and ground rod (if service equipment)
- change out any breakers not of the same manufacture as the panel
- maybe a couple other odds and ends

There is nothing wrong with this panel shown in the pics (short of burned buss or other hidden problems) that would warrant a replacement. It just needs some professional tweaking. It was probably Mr.Quick electric out to scam another unsuspecting customer.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 4:22PM
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Ron Natalie

I think what he is saying if I can understand the followup is the plastic piece that backs up the bus bars is cracked down near the bottom (to the point that the mounting screw has no place to go). Look at the second picture. The electrician is proposing swapping out the "insides".

There's really not any grounds to relocate. Other than the two wires that are under the mounting screws for some reason, there seems to be a lack of grounding conductors but it looks like some sort of armored cable was used so that's not unexpected.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 5:11PM
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ronnatalie said:
"the plastic piece that backs up the bus bars is cracked down near the bottom"

I missed that. Yeah, that is a problem only solved with new guts. Unfortunate but true.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 1:14PM
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