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Old 02-20-2012, 09:37 AM   #1
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Default Subpanel-fusebox

I have a customer that wants a heat pump installed in place of an existing oil furnace.
Problem I am seeing is going to be the power, I think.
What they have right now is a 125 amp fuse box installed in a garage. At the meter, they also have a 30 amp disconnect tied to the meter that feeds the air conditioner.
I am not sure if this is true or not, but I was told long ago that an inspector can make you change a fuse box to a breaker box if you do any renovation type work. Hopefully someone can clear this up for me.

So what is the best way to do this? Should I install a panel outside of the house and feed power to the fuse box as a subpanel? I did this last year on a renthouse. The owner on that house had to have a new meter and outside breaker box, so we installed a trailerpack and fed the inside panel off of the trailer pack. It passed inspection. But that was a breaker box to a breaker box, not a breaker to a fuse box. I do have a rent house that is wired up with a fusebox as a subpanel, but I don't know if this is to code anymore.
And then by the time we do all of this, it may be easier just to change out the fuse panel to a breaker panel. what they have now is a 125 amp Square D fuse panel. I don't know if they make anything in this size now that will fit into the same hole or not, or if it is better to just mount the breaker panel over the existing box and pull the wire in from there.

I am licensed to do this, though I don't usually go this far back into the wiring. The trailer pack I installed last year passed inspection the first check, so I am thorough in what I do, I am just hoping to do this the easiest way without getting into a lot of work for nothing. And I surely don't want to install a new panel only to find that the fusebox will have to be changed out too. After all, I do have a heat pump with ductwork to changeout once I get the power ran, but the power will have to be first on this project.

What I would like to do is to take out the 30 amp disconnect for the A/C off of the meter, change the wiring to the correct size and install a 100 amp box just for the heat pump. I need 25 for the heat pump and 60 for the strip heat. But when I get into dealing with these panels, I get confused as to what is ok and what isn't, but I see a lot of variations in the field. This adds to the confusion I guess.
Please advise as to what would satisfy code on this type situation.
Thanks
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:01 AM   #2
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Getting rid of the oil and going electric? You need at least another 60 and a 30 2pole circuit to satisfy the heating elements .Upgrade needed. 200 amp service. Lotza watts.
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:23 AM   #3
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So I am wondering if I would be better to mount the panel outside and feed the fusebox off of it with a 125 amp breaker, or if I can come off of the meter with a terminal that is listed for 2 wires and feed an additional breaker box for just the heat pump and strip heat. I get very unclear as to what the code allows on panels with subpanels and what each is, but I do recall that any terminals on the meter must be listed for 2 wires if that is how it is wired.
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:24 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bobelectric View Post
Getting rid of the oil and going electric? You need at least another 60 and a 30 2pole circuit to satisfy the heating elements .Upgrade needed. 200 amp service. Lotza watts.
Really, everyone around here is going to heat pump as our climate allows for it. This job is going to be a good learning experience for me.
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:40 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by nchvac View Post
Really, everyone around here is going to heat pump as our climate allows for it. This job is going to be a good learning experience for me.
Are you qualified to change a service entrance, with an HVAC licence?

Just curious!

Here, an HVAC contractor can not do a service upgrade.

He would have to hire an E.C.
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:53 AM   #6
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i partner with a HVAC company. We both win.
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nchvac View Post
I have a customer that wants a heat pump installed in place of an existing oil furnace.
Problem I am seeing is going to be the power, I think.
What they have right now is a 125 amp fuse box installed in a garage. At the meter, they also have a 30 amp disconnect tied to the meter that feeds the air conditioner.
I am not sure if this is true or not, but I was told long ago that an inspector can make you change a fuse box to a breaker box if you do any renovation type work. Hopefully someone can clear this up for me.

So what is the best way to do this? Should I install a panel outside of the house and feed power to the fuse box as a subpanel? I did this last year on a renthouse. The owner on that house had to have a new meter and outside breaker box, so we installed a trailerpack and fed the inside panel off of the trailer pack. It passed inspection. But that was a breaker box to a breaker box, not a breaker to a fuse box. I do have a rent house that is wired up with a fusebox as a subpanel, but I don't know if this is to code anymore.
And then by the time we do all of this, it may be easier just to change out the fuse panel to a breaker panel. what they have now is a 125 amp Square D fuse panel. I don't know if they make anything in this size now that will fit into the same hole or not, or if it is better to just mount the breaker panel over the existing box and pull the wire in from there.

I am licensed to do this, though I don't usually go this far back into the wiring. The trailer pack I installed last year passed inspection the first check, so I am thorough in what I do, I am just hoping to do this the easiest way without getting into a lot of work for nothing. And I surely don't want to install a new panel only to find that the fusebox will have to be changed out too. After all, I do have a heat pump with ductwork to changeout once I get the power ran, but the power will have to be first on this project.

What I would like to do is to take out the 30 amp disconnect for the A/C off of the meter, change the wiring to the correct size and install a 100 amp box just for the heat pump. I need 25 for the heat pump and 60 for the strip heat. But when I get into dealing with these panels, I get confused as to what is ok and what isn't, but I see a lot of variations in the field. This adds to the confusion I guess.
Please advise as to what would satisfy code on this type situation.
Thanks
You will be better off to upgrade the service to 200 amps then just feed all your loads from the 200 amp panel.

If your 125 amp service is already maxed out then that will be the best way to go.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:43 PM   #8
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i would change the meter to a meter main, like a milbank u5168-200. It has a 8 space panel built in right under the main breaker. It also has sub lugs. Sub lug off to the existing 125 amp panel. Come off of the meter main to the heat pump. Add additional heat strip circuits from a new 125 amp sub panel fed from a 125 amp breaker in the meter main.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:11 PM   #9
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i would change the meter to a meter main, like a milbank u5168-200. It has a 8 space panel built in right under the main breaker. It also has sub lugs. Sub lug off to the existing 125 amp panel. Come off of the meter main to the heat pump. Add additional heat strip circuits from a new 125 amp sub panel fed from a 125 amp breaker in the meter main.
It sounds like the house I did last year. Guy had to have a new meter and outside panel, so I installed the trailer pack and fed the indoor breaker panel off of it.
Electrical inspectors never cease to amaze me. On that job, he did not make me change anything to arc fault or ground fault because it was an existing installation I was upgrading, but he turned down the indoor panel (which I did not touch at all) because the box was an old kind that did not have a main bonding jumper between the ground/neutral bar to the box. Why wasn't that existing, as I assume that is how the manufacturer made it at the time?

I like this above idea, and will check the product out.

Let me ask this. On a job like this, if the whole panel is changed, can or does the inspector make you use arc faults in the listed rooms?
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:17 PM   #10
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Are you qualified to change a service entrance, with an HVAC licence?

Just curious!

Here, an HVAC contractor can not do a service upgrade.

He would have to hire an E.C.
My HVAC license does not cover electrical, but my limited electrical license does. My electrical license is not limited to Heating. The limits are 600v and $40,000 per job.
I usually only do repair type electrical and that required for HVAC. I really would not want to do HVAC work without an electrical license, as often I find myself in the breaker panel. And often I discover problems that need to be dealt with on the electrical side. And I always go through and tighten all screws anytime I open a panel, which scares me how many times I find loose connections.
I have changed out some panels, but I just have not caught on to what the inspectors around here consider existing and what they want brought up to the new code. I do need to get a good understanding of doing this type of changeout, because a lot of people are going to heat pumps.

What would work best for me is to find a solution where I could hopefully come off of the meter and install a panel just for the heat pump and strip heat without haveing to disturb a maxed out panel. However, my review of the code appears to reveal that subpanels need to come off of the main panel.
Can a person not use a lug that is listed for 2 wires on the meter to feed the main panel and an additional panel for an outbuilding or heat pump, etc.?
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:45 PM   #11
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What size are the service conductors feeding the meter from the PoCo? If this is an OH service the risor conductors probably aren't large enough for a 200A service. Also, all 3 of the PoCos in my area prohibit double-tapping the load side of a 100A or 200A meterbase. You would have to take a properly sized set of conductors to a disconnect then 4-wire feeders to additional load centers.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:57 PM   #12
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What size are the service conductors feeding the meter from the PoCo? If this is an OH service the risor conductors probably aren't large enough for a 200A service. Also, all 3 of the PoCos in my area prohibit double-tapping the load side of a 100A or 200A meterbase. You would have to take a properly sized set of conductors to a disconnect then 4-wire feeders to additional load centers.
I did not take the cover off to see the wire size, but the meter specs says CL 200 which I think is 200 amp. The lug at the top is using the large gasket with the Cable that is ran, as the cable pretty well had the entrance lug full. till I pop the cover I won't be able to answer that question without guessing. Can a power company wire a 200 amp meter with wire that is not sized for 200 amps? That doesn't seem like that would be legal.
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:43 PM   #13
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I called the inspector, and he said that mounting a service pack is ok, though they do like to see fuse boxes changed. Problem here is that the fuse box is on the other side and corner of the garage, and is located directly behind an entrance door that swings in front of the fuse box, so I think I am ok with it being considered existing.

The wires to the meter box and from the meter box to the fuse panel are 1/2" diameter counting the insulation, so the NEC is saying that is 1/0, which would be minimum for 125 amp. So the SE to the meter will have to be changed to 4/0 aluminum as the previous post suggested. I am not sure if I have to change that and the head or if the power company does since it is before the meter, but I will call them Monday morning to find out. The inspector told me that i could swing the current meter box to the side, install the service pack and temporarily jumper the old meter outlets to the new meter outlets for temporary power till they inspect and the power company is able to do their part. I was suprised he would let me turn the power on without them checking it, but I assume that with all of the breakers that it is considered safe, as long as I install the 2 ground rods because he said the 3/4 pipe won't pass since we don't know for sure it isn't rusted. I won't run the new 125 amp disconect for the heat pump until the service is passed, as they fall under two different permits anyway, I think.

When i do the 125 amp subpanel/disconnect for the heat pump package unit, I am going to run SE cable through the attic like the power going to the existing A/C unit is ran. I think he will make me install the Ground fault 120v receptacle outside at the unit as well, as there is not one there. I will pull this off of the existing 120v power that is currently powering the oil unit, and is only 7 foot inside of the crawl space from where the new unit will be, so that will work out good. In use cover ground fault receptacle of course. I dread that attic as it is very tight with little slop on the roof.

Anyway, if any of this sounds questionable or if anyone has any suggestions on this approach, I will appreciate the advice. I realize the best would be to change the whole panel, but the owner has flip the bill, and there would be additional SE wire and tearing up their wall to consider, because the panel would not be able to be mounted on the outside of the wall due to the door. not sure if the inspector would approve it being behind the door anyway. I recall that there is a clearance side to side, and my instuctor said that the clearance side to side doesn't have to be from dead center (ie it can be on one side or the other as long as it includes the box in the square, but this may have changed since I took that class.

I bought a 200 amp Square D Service Pack today as well as an A hub and the seal, as Graybar (Sneider Electric)is close to this job so they will have the 125 amp breakers, etc.
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