steps to upgrade my service

dgeistDecember 1, 2011

I'm looking at upgrading my home's service (100A to 200A), adding some needed circuits, like wired fire alarms, etc, and moving my service from an aerial at one end of the house to a buried at the other (since the existing location doesn't meet code for a new service).

I'm looking at putting in my new main panel (200A QO) and initially configuring it as a sub for my existing 100A service, moving the house circuits to it one at a time as I have the cycles to do so, then eventually decommissioning the current main panel and having a pro install a new 200A meter/main on the outside of the home connected to the new service from the power company. The questions I have are:

- Assuming I maintain the single neutral/ground bond in the existing panel for now, is it reasonable to put in a double-pole 100A breaker there and serve the new panel through its installed 200A rated main breaker (with 100A rated 3+ground conductors between them, of course)?

- Do I need to enclose that conductor bundle (main to sub) if it's accessible in a utility room (PVC/EMC, etc)?

- I'm comfortable doing this work, but I want to work with the city to ensure all the work meets code and is inspected properly for insurance and safety purposes, but what would you even call this kind of work? Is this one of those "ask your local code office what they think" kind of situations?

- I'll be re-routing the last 10-feet or so of a lot of older NM cable. Any tips and tricks folks can recommend for clean routing around other utilities, etc (examples of cosmetically nice work, etc.)

- Knowing that I need to add a bunch of 20A circuits for new things I do (per code) and that most of the current stuff is 15A I don't want to have to re-wire the whole house. I'd like to "future-proof" the house, so I'm thinking of doing un-terminated/shorted 20A "sub-outs" and fishing small coils in adjacent to the first box or receptacle in the existing 15A branches so they'll be there when I get the time and energy to do a lot of drywall patching in the future on those circuits (and accordingly getting 20A breakers on the other end). That'll at least allow me to close in and do all the finish work in the area around the new panel (my garage). It's not cost-prohibitive for me to do this, but do other folks do this kind of thing (or am I nutty)?

Dan

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Ron Natalie

Your idea to set up the new panel as a sub is fine. You will need to buy a additional ground bar for the QO to use it as a subpanel.

You must put the feeder wires in conduit or use cable. You can't just have THHN dangling out in freespace.

I'd call it "new subpanel" for the first part and "upgrade service" for that part.

You can always use your old panel as a junction box to extend out the NM circuits to the new panel.

By SubOut I suspect you mean you just want to rough in some wire for an eventual upgrade of the branch circuits. Sure you could do that if you want.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 2:57PM
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dgeist

Thanks for the response. Comments:

- I'll check the big box store on the QO ground-bar kit. I had forgotten the panel doesn't include one.

- Since the distance between the two is only about 15 feet, but very bendy, the cable's likely the easier way to go for a pseudo-temp install. What trade names would Cu 2-2-(2/4)-6 feeder cable go by? That's what I'm thinking would be proper gauge to eliminate the chance of balking.

- The old panel location will likely have to become a junction box, as you note, but that room (laundry) has a (currently violating code) counter and cabinet right in front of the panel...so it's fine for junction box; not so much for a breaker panel. I'm ripping the room down to the studs to remodel as a gift to the better half, so the fewer "old-work" wires that are in place when I do demo/plumbing/framing, the better.

- That should have been "stub-out" and yes, I just want to make sure an inspector isn't going to fail me if I have a bunch of wire-nut terminated coils hanging next to the panel...

Thanks.
Dan

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 4:02PM
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