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Gettin Myself all Worked up...


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Inspected a rehab home yesterday. 1300 sq ft split level. Walls torn out, no carpet, siding missing, no bathroom fixtures. A gas fireplace.....with no gas supplied to the home...A real gem. The home had the main panel and two sub panels. Don't know why someone felt they needed all this extra power. The main and one sub was in the garage, while the other sub was conveniently located smack dab in the dining room, nice touch.

Here's what has me stumped, and maybe because of the condition of everything else in the home, I'm finding myself second guessing.

The Main Panel had 6 throws to shut off everything, one of which was a 60 amp breaker to shut off the bottom half of the main panel. In that bottom half was a 70 amp breaker that fed the sub in the garage. Seems that the 70 amp is too large to be downstream from the 60 amp breaker.

Mismatched breakers were noted all over the place. How many of you verify the manufacture and model number of breakers compared to the panel manufacturer?

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Also the sub in the dining room is protected by a 20 amp breaker in the main panel labled...."deep freeze".

This whole set up seems a bit whacked and unnessary for the size of home. There was a forced air electric furnace, heat pump, and I was informed that the home once had a exterior spa. And I would get that if the subs controlled the heat pump....which didn't work....and the spa...which wasn't there, but the subs controlled the kitchen lights, living room receptacles...

Just kind of a mess.

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Inspected a rehab home yesterday. 1300 sq ft split level. Walls torn out, no carpet, siding missing, no bathroom fixtures. A gas fireplace.....with no gas supplied to the home...A real gem. The home had the main panel and two sub panels. Don't know why someone felt they needed all this extra power. The main and one sub was in the garage, while the other sub was conveniently located smack dab in the dining room, nice touch.

Here's what has me stumped, and maybe because of the condition of everything else in the home, I'm finding myself second guessing.

The Main Panel had 6 throws to shut off everything, one of which was a 60 amp breaker to shut off the bottom half of the main panel. In that bottom half was a 70 amp breaker that fed the sub in the garage. Seems that the 70 amp is too large to be downstream from the 60 amp breaker.

You probably know this already, but that's called a split bus panel. As for the 70-amp breaker downstream of the 60-amp breaker, it's doofusy, but there's no particular rule against it other than the fact that the loads are supposed to be calculated.

Mismatched breakers were noted all over the place. How many of you verify the manufacture and model number of breakers compared to the panel manufacturer?

Personally, I think that's an impossible task given the mergers of companies and the presence of "classified" breakers.

Also the sub in the dining room is protected by a 20 amp breaker in the main panel labled...."deep freeze".

Of course, all breakers are supposed to be labeled as to their purpose.

This whole set up seems a bit whacked and unnessary for the size of home. There was a forced air electric furnace, heat pump, and I was informed that the home once had a exterior spa. And I would get that if the subs controlled the heat pump....which didn't work....and the spa...which wasn't there, but the subs controlled the kitchen lights, living room receptacles...

Perhaps some of the breakers should have been labeled "grow lights."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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One issue with branch circuit or feeder breakers that are too large is that fault currents in those branch circuits might end up tripping the main breaker which then removes power from the entire dwelling. This inconveniences the homeowner.

When I wire panels, I generally don't allow any branch or feeder breaker to be more than half the size of the main breaker.

Marc

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At a recent CE course, an inspector who was primarily an electrician spoke about how electricians--in THEIR CE classes--poke fun at HIs who point out things like mismatched breakers in panels. Neither he nor his buds had ever seen a problem with not using the appropriate UL rated breaker in a given panel.

I realize that technically it's wrong, but it's also helpful to know what the dude who comes behind me is going to say . . .

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Jim,

What do you write in your report when you see other manufacturers breakers in a panel?

When I see other electrical issues in a home, I write that there is a mix of other manufacturers breakers, and that they should check with their electrician to ensure they are classified for the panel.

When there aren't other issues.. oh wait, I don't think that's ever happened. [:-magnify

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At a recent CE course, an inspector who was primarily an electrician spoke about how electricians--in THEIR CE classes--poke fun at HIs who point out things like mismatched breakers in panels. Neither he nor his buds had ever seen a problem with not using the appropriate UL rated breaker in a given panel.

I realize that technically it's wrong, but it's also helpful to know what the dude who comes behind me is going to say . . .

I've got news for you. Electricians, in their CE classes, poke fun at home inspectors, no matter what they've said or done. Of all the trades, electricians seem to have the least tolerance for us.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim,

What do you write in your report when you see other manufacturers breakers in a panel?

If the breaker looks like if fits in and the deadfront fits over it, I say nothing. I see no need to.

When I see other electrical issues in a home, I write that there is a mix of other manufacturers breakers, and that they should check with their electrician to ensure they are classified for the panel.

When there aren't other issues.. oh wait, I don't think that's ever happened. [:-magnify

If you want to be precise, you should say listed and/or classified. There are listed breakers, classified breakers, and some breakers that are listed and classified.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Kind of drifting here so forgive me....

When I recently wired a sub panel for an addition on my house I was amazed at how cheap the actual panel was. I think it was around $30 off the shelf at HD for a 100A panel with bus bars and the works. Then, I went to buy breakers... $35 a piece for a 15A (Afci, of course) adds up quick.

It reminds me of printers... they pretty much give them away and stick it to you for the ink. And, of course, threaten life in prision if you use aftermarket ink (sounding familiar?).

I agree with Jim and don't call it out if they fit snug in the panel and the cover fits. I used to call it out and just had too much trouble backing it up. There's just too much of winding, circular road of rules between the UL listing, the manufacturers and the code.

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