New Load Center Panel - Please Review My Layout

Tom PultzDecember 12, 2009

After I get all the wiring roughed-in and the rest of the associated remodeling finished the final task will be to upgrade the electrical load center panel from the 20 space/40 circuit GE to a 40 space/40 circuit SQ D QO140M200C.

The attached link pulls up a PDF version of my proposed layout. I would greatly appreciate comments regarding recommended changes or additions.

As you can see I grouped the breakers as follows from top to bottom:

- All 2-pole breakers, from 50A down to 20A.

- All 20A breakers.

- Four spare spaces.

- All 15A breakers.

- All CAFIC and GFIC breakers.

In our area CAFIC protection is only required for the bedrooms, but I am going to add three more for the family room, living room and dining room to meet the 2008 NEC.

I am planning to wire the garage refrigerator with a single receptacle without GFI. I know that doesn't meet the 2008 NEC but as long as it's not required here I would like to avoid having the refrigerator on a GFI. It can always be changed later.

I was also wondering about the receptacle outlet in the garage ceiling for the garage door opener. I believe that should be a GFI also per the 2008 NEC since the exception for "not easily accessible receptacles" has been removed. But again, our area does not follow the 2008 NEC yet, so I should be OK without a GFI.

The range hood is shown as 15A. The wiring to the hood area is currently the existing 20A circuit for the old OTR Micro/Fan combo. The actual blower is up on the roof and when I installed it I wired it with 14 GA wire since that's all it required. I was just planning to leave the old 12 GA wire in place and connect it to the 14 GA in the range hood junction box. Since I have 14 GA wire in the circuit I used a 15A breaker.

The proposed layout is predicated on the existing circuit wiring (shown with red breaker numbers) reaching the new locations in the panel. I don't really want to pigtail them if possible. Actually, I think I'll probably pull as many new circuits as I can to replace any old wire.

But for now I'd really like some feedback from the experts that do this for a living and not just a hobby :-)


Here is a link that might be useful: Proposed Load Center Layout

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Slots 1 & 2 for your panel surge protector?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 1:44PM
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Nice to see someone doing this in a somewhat 'neat' way.

Your OCD conflicts with mine, but at least it's there.

My personal habit is to line all 2-pole breakers down the right side of the panel, single-pole down the left, and I aim for slot #1 to power the lights in the room containing the panel.

It's just a personal preference, there's no legel or code basis to it.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 12:03PM
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Nice work, Seattle Tom.

I hope you won't mind my commenting even though I'm not a licensed sparky. This isn't a critique...more of something to consider in your checklist.

I don't have an image in my head of the inside of that particular box, but where are the neutral bars located?

The reason I ask has to do with your placement of the AFCI/GFCI breakers. With some breaker/panel combos, the neutral pigtails won't reach from breakers located at or near the bottom of the panel to the neutral bar(s). Where that's the case, you sometimes have to splice them.

With that in mind, you might want to doublecheck that length before deciding to put the AFCIs at the bottom of the box. OTOH, it might not matter at all. Jes sayin...

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 1:15PM
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Tom Pultz

Thanks for the comments "terrible" :-) You have a good point on the location of the AFI and GFI breakers as this box does have the neutral bars located up towards the top on either side of the master breaker. You can add additional grounding bars on both sides that are located further down, which might work too. I will just have to wait until the box arrives to determine what the best layout will be. It's all a work in progress right now.

The main reason I put the AFI/GFI breakers at the bottom was they are longer than a normal breaker and I thought they would be more out of the way there. Who knows, I may end up flipping the design top to bottom.

My current panel is laid out like pharkus prefers, with all 2-pole breakers on the right. I split them side to side to try and even-out the left/right circuits. My current panel is almost wide open on one side and crammed with wires on the other, but that's also due to the fact that all neutral and grounding lugs are on the left.

This is one of those things where there's no right answer and pretty much boils down to preference, but I do appreciate all comments.

I may elect not to put the smoke detectors on their own breaker, and may add them to No 30 since that's pretty lightly loaded. I just want to keep them off any AFI circuit.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 7:34PM
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Once again, consider the source. :-)

As long as this is a true main panel, you can co-mingle the grounds and neutrals. But you already knew that.

This is purely a matter of personal preference on my part, but I avoid co-mingling when I don't have to. It wasn't long ago that I upgraded the service at one of my houses (just sold the house six weeks ago, as a matter of fact!) and the old 100-amp main panel became a subpanel to a new 200-amp "main".

In my other house (the one I'm living in now), I moved the service entrance location such that the feed now runs about 25' through a crawl space before reaching the main panel. As a consequence, I had to install the main breaker under the meter pan, making that the main disconnect and bonding point. Again, from a technical standpoint, my main panel became a subpanel.

Needless to say, I was very happy that, in both cases, all the neutrals went to the neutral bars and all the grounds went to ground bars. It was a simple matter to unbond the bars.

Even if this sort of change doesn't appear likely in the near-term future, I think it's cleaner to keep them separate. Naturally, YMMV.

About the smokes: Make sure you check on the local building and electrical codes before you make this decision. Why? Because this is one of those weird issues about which different local areas take positions that are diametrically opposed to each other.

Some jurisdictions require that the smokes be on circuits that are otherwise frequently used so that the occupant is likely to notice if the circuit is out of commission. Other locales mandate a dedicated circuit. Go figure!

And why check building codes? It's because local fire departments have their own opinions on this issue and it is sometimes enforced by the building or fire inspector, not the electrical inspector!

This is a hidden "gotcha" if there ever was one. And if anyone tells you there's a one-size-fits-all answer based only on the electrical code, don't believe 'em.

I know what you mean about those big front porches on the AFCIs! As long as the tails will reach the bar, I, too, put them as far away from the congested action as I can.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 8:17PM
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