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Old 01-17-2018, 03:04 AM   #1
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Default Nicest and most versatile way to terminate commercial panels?

This is more of an opinion question, but I'm curious what people think.

First of all, my personal preference has usually been that if there's a gutter above the panel, I leave a loop for each circuit in the gutter whether or not it needs a splice, and then leave the absolute minimum amount of wire in the panel - everything goes where it needs to without any slack.

If there is no gutter, I like to leave slack in the panel, and my go-to method has usually been to leave a loop that lets each hot reach any breaker in the panel, and then fold the loop so as to occupy the least space possible and ty-wrap it all together in a neat little bundle, something like this: https://ibb.co/hJViRm. If I have any little wire numbering clips, I'll use them on the hots, but I usually don't bother to label neutrals in the panel. I usually screw a few straps into the back of the panel so I have something to attach ty-wraps to as well.

Today though, I popped open an existing panel on one of my jobs, and saw something I like even better. The neutrals were terminated normally, but each hot wire (they all came in the top of the panel) went straight to the bottom of the panel at the back, and then every wire doubled back upwards to its breaker. Its beauty brought tears to my eyes, haha.

Anyhow, seeing that made me wonder what else is out there in terms of personal techniques. Do you label neutrals? Separate the neutrals and hots as soon as they enter the panel or leave them together until they get to the bottom? Leave loops? Post a pic of the nicest panel you've seen!
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Old 01-17-2018, 03:34 AM   #2
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From a follow-up troubleshooting point of view, I would be cussing you out. You might need slack on a conductor in a panel once in a blue moon but the odds that a circuit may have a problem and need to be traced out much more common. Seems a waste and a pain.
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Old 01-17-2018, 03:41 AM   #3
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Too much wire wasted.
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Old 01-17-2018, 05:00 AM   #4
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From a follow-up troubleshooting point of view, I would be cussing you out. You might need slack on a conductor in a panel once in a blue moon but the odds that a circuit may have a problem and need to be traced out much more common. Seems a waste and a pain.
I don't cuss any more, I just instantly cut all the cable ties and start doing what I need to do. Sorry neatnik, I admire the craftsmanship but it's history, I am short on time here.

What you really need in panels is something more like slotted duct running vertically on either side, but there's not room for that in a panel that has to fit between two studs.
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Old 01-17-2018, 05:08 AM   #5
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First of all, my personal preference has usually been that if there's a gutter above the panel, I leave a loop for each circuit in the gutter whether or not it needs a splice, and then leave the absolute minimum amount of wire in the panel - everything goes where it needs to without any slack.
I think a gutter above the panel really pays for itself pretty easily during construction, and quickly pays dividends as soon as there's some additions / maintenance / troubleshooting. @chicken steve has posted about this too. You can terminate all the grounds in the trough. In commercial work, a big box up above the drop ceiling to land conduits and cables on will pay off even faster.

I'll go you one further. An idea I'd like to see is terminating all the field wiring in terminal blocks in a cabinet next to the panel, with that cabinet connected to the panel by a few large nipples. Run a jumper from each breaker to the terminal blocks. No slack on the jumpers - the inside of the panel should still look perfect in 25 years. It wouldn't cost all that much in the big picture, for a significant gain in ease of maintenance and even safety.

If arc fault devices are ever going to work, I believe they'll need to be separate from the breaker. With my setup, you could have DIN rail mount arc fault protection devices in series - supplemental devices - in that cabinet with the field wiring terminations.
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Old 01-17-2018, 06:09 AM   #6
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I leave zero spare wire in the panel. Absolutely no ty-wraps. They are evil.

Never had a problem.
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Old 01-17-2018, 07:33 AM   #7
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I think using a single ty-wrap in a panelboard is a defeat.
I can usually bend those small conductors into the corner of a panelboard by taking advantage of the natural throw the wire has in it from being on a spool or coil if it's fighting me.
I wouldn't care to leave any slack in a panel board. It's a mess and as Brian pointed out, why the need for all of that slack.
If I roll them into the upper corner of the panel and then down the side, the form them from the back of the panel to the level of the breaker, that would leave several inches of slack without even trying.
Also, that gutter trick is nice but, if the panelboard is slap full and all of the nipples are full, what's the point?
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Old 01-17-2018, 08:25 AM   #8
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I'll group and identify each circuit (beyond 200.4B multiwires) in gutters.

The neat factor depends on solid/ stranded, but either way i drop 1/3 of the mess in EGC's on a gutter mounted Gbar

solid can be formed into neat rows, stranded needs a little more help

the introduction of future circuitry usually goes a little neater too

JMH (OCD) O

I'm a gutter addict......there should be a support group.....


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Old 01-17-2018, 08:35 AM   #9
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1 = Identify neutrals

2 = No zip ties

3 = no need for slack

Identifying the neutrals is more important than leaving all that slack. First trouble shooting job you would have to cut all those zip ties.

Why all that slack? You honestly think the panel will be replaced anytime soon?
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Old 01-17-2018, 08:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eddy current View Post
1 = Identify neutrals

2 = No zip ties

3 = no need for slack

Identifying the neutrals is more important than leaving all that slack. First trouble shooting job you would have to cut all those zip ties.

Why all that slack? You honestly think the panel will be replaced anytime soon?
Im just thinking what a mess it would be cutting those tywraps and all of that slack flopping out for you to deal with.
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Old 01-17-2018, 08:42 AM   #11
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If a wire is too short to be moved just put a wirenut on it.

I admire a pretty panel, but it just feels like a waste to me most of the time. I just try to terminate as efficiently as possible. Some order and neatness is usually faster and makes for easier troubleshooting.

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Old 01-17-2018, 08:50 AM   #12
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Im just thinking what a mess it would be cutting those tywraps and all of that slack flopping out for you to deal with.
I redo the panel when that happens to me. All the while muttering under my breath.
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:23 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TGGT View Post
If a wire is too short to be moved just put a wirenut on it.

I admire a pretty panel, but it just feels like a waste to me most of the time. I just try to terminate as efficiently as possible. Some order and neatness is usually faster and makes for easier troubleshooting.

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Exactly the way it should be.

I install the panel and am off cashing my check and headed to Titty City while Steve is still installing his trough.

That idea is almost as silly as installing a subpanel with a main breaker to power a residential kitchen so that the dishwasher repair guy can put a lockout on the main breaker so that OSHA doesn't fine him for working on the DW without proper LOTO.
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:48 AM   #14
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Quarky.. I like the panel in your pic.. I was taught to make the wires long enough to reach any breaker in the panel. I have modified that so that the hots are long enough to reach any breaker on that side of the panel (ie odd or even).. Cut 'em all the same length, strip them all, then terminate and tyrap the loops. I've been burned by guys that don't leave a loop, and something changes and then the wire is too short.. Better to be lookin at it than looking for it.. If you need to cut tyraps for troubleshooting, replace them. It doesn't take that long or cost that much to keep it looking neat. It's not like you're in the panel moving wires daily..

Grounds I'll either run a larger wire to a wireway, or they all get terminated first with no loop. Neutrals are labelled for their hot (ie. LPA-11N, LPA-11/13N, etc), again with no loop. If the need comes to use it as a hot at some point, they can figure that out at a later date. Spares I typically use white tape on and mark the cable number or conduit label, or at bare minimum where they go to (JB above west west door, JB by gate, etc). I leave them long enough to reach the bottom (or top) and to the opposite side that they were ran down. If there is a wireway, they are tyrapped separately and left in there. If there isn't a wireway, they are tyrapped in a separate bundle and left at the bottom of the panel.

The most common panel in our area are Cutler Hammer PRL1, so there is lots of room from the breaker termination to the side. Some of the older Federal ones make it a pain to leave a loop, as they are really tight fitting..
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:54 AM   #15
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How have you been burned by people not leaving extra slack on the wires in the panel? Just wirenut a piece of wire onto it if you need to move it. There are many splices and connections along a circuit. There’s no reason why an electrician can’t make a solid splice inside of the panel if necessary.
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:54 AM   #16
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I think a gutter above the panel really pays for itself pretty easily during construction, and quickly pays dividends as soon as there's some additions / maintenance / troubleshooting. @chicken steve has posted about this too. You can terminate all the grounds in the trough. In commercial work, a big box up above the drop ceiling to land conduits and cables on will pay off even faster.

I.
We use header boxes above MDPs, UPS's and switchboards, with limited space provided having a header box especially when it is a top feed equipment, gives you wiggle room, generally makes it easier to install conduits often eliminating the last 90 and just simplifies the installation.

On UPS's with Bypass cabinets, a header box is a must.
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Old 01-17-2018, 10:57 AM   #17
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Here is my version of lacing a panel neatly. Minimal zip ties, minimal slack and neutrals labelled. In Canada we donít have to use breaker ties when sharing neutrals for separate circuits so identifying them is important IMO.
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Nicest and most versatile way to terminate commercial panels?-05bd0225-ee36-47ff-b200-4ea619412e1c_1516200999945.jpg  

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Old 01-17-2018, 11:18 AM   #18
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Yeah right. Leave enough slack to hit any breaker? You guys have bumped your heads. The only thing less efficient is putting an unnecessary gutter above a panel.
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:27 PM   #19
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It's a panel, not the Mona Lisa. Most i install feed trading floors and cubicle farms. Once installed they're typically never touched, opened or altered. In residential adding circuits often involves incorporating the use of twin breakers in an otherwise full panel, leading to major circuit reconfiguration but this is not applicable in commercial installs. Makes no sense to make provisions to reassign every circuit to any breaker. New circuits would simply be added to the last panel. (The only panel that has unused spaces.) we'll use a tie wrap here and there for practical logistical wire management, but if the panel ends up looking like the inside of a control board for a nuclear power plant, you've wasted too much time.
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Old 01-17-2018, 02:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TGGT View Post
If a wire is too short to be moved just put a wirenut on it.

I admire a pretty panel, but it just feels like a waste to me most of the time. I just try to terminate as efficiently as possible. Some order and neatness is usually faster and makes for easier troubleshooting.

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Nailed it. I see it the exact same way.

If it's stranded use a couple of loose wire ties so a gentle tug will allow the allow the wire you're looking for to move. No need to cut the tie, once you find it, pull it right out of the bundle.
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