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yet another sub panel question


Ken Meyer
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Panel is a Square D from 1952, the sub panel was installed some time later. There are a number of problems here; old obsolete panel, most of the wiring in the house is older, ungrounded NM cable, and there is corrosion on the breakers.

Question 1: I can't see any markings on the breakers either on the front or anywhere to tell me the amperage. The service will most likely be upgraded anyway and this whole mess removed, but if I encounter a panel like this again, how can I tell the rating of the breakers?

Question 2: This made my brain hurt when I looked at it at first, but I think I have it figured out even though it makes no sense why it was done this way. The two single pole breakers on the right (outlined in red in the first photo) are labeled as feeds to the the sub panel, but they go back to the main lugs, and through add on lugs attached to the main lugs over to the sub panel. The breakers (which should be double pole) are then bypassed and completely useless.

Yes, I noticed the 3 wire feed to the sub panel. A second opinion would be welcome to confirm my conclusions, or correct me if I'm drawing the wrong conclusion.

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The two single pole breakers on the right (outlined in red in the first photo) are labeled as feeds to the the sub panel, but they go back to the main lugs, and through add on lugs attached to the main lugs over to the sub panel. The breakers (which should be double pole) are then bypassed and completely useless.

I don't see anything outlined in red, but I asume you mean the middle pair on the right.

It looks to me like you have a split-bus panel. Instead of a normal "main" feeding the bottom section, they have jumped directly from the main lugs to the lower section lugs. Those short jumpers (the red and black) do not look like they are attached to the breaker, but to bus bar lugs which happen to be behind. I don't believe there's anything attached to those breakers at all. And, then the sub is also jumped directly from the main lugs.

Hopefully, you have a service disconnect elsewhere, because the way that is set up would require every breaker to be thrown to shut off all power.

I have no idea how you could tell the amperages without pulling the thing apart.

It's a mess, and needs upgrade!

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I think you got it, Richard. I should have thought of that. Sorry, I uploaded the wrong version of the first photo. Here's a closeup of the feeds from the main lugs that connect to the lower section behind the two single pole breakers, if that's indeed what they do. I couldn't see well enough back there.

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