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andrew386
Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

Hi,

I am concerned that the entrance cable on the the distribution panel pictured below is undersized. I am about to close on a condo serviced by this panel and would be very grateful if some of you with more experienced eyes would comment on the possible capacity. The home inspector thought that the entrance cable was about 60A but was not sure. The panel itself is rated at 125A.

Thanks in advance for your comments!

Andrew

JEWEATHER
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

I would definately call in an electrician on this one. I doubt those cables are even good for 60 amps.

canuk
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

Just a guess ....

It looks as though this condo has been renovated at some time with new wiring along with a replacement sub-panel installed.

If so there will be another panel somewhere in the building with the main breaker for that suite that will be labeled with the supply rating.

The capacity rating of the panel itself doesn't mean anything .... it may say 125 amps though it can be used for a lesser service like 60 amps.

It might be a good idea before closing to check with your local building department to see if any permits have been issued for this residence and if any inspections had been done.

Just a thought. :)

Ernie_Fergler
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)
canuk wrote:

Just a guess ....

It looks as though this condo has been renovated at some time with new wiring along with a replacement sub-panel installed.

If so there will be another panel somewhere in the building with the main breaker for that suite that will be labeled with the supply rating.

The capacity rating of the panel itself doesn't mean anything .... it may say 125 amps though it can be used for a lesser service like 60 amps.

It might be a good idea before closing to check with your local building department to see if any permits have been issued for this residence and if any inspections had been done.

Just a thought. :)

I agree:)
Andrew it might be a good idea if you find yourself another inspection service. They should be able to tell you the present wire size. Heck that is what you are paying for, correct?

kentvw
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

Just curious about what seems to be parallel conductors feeding the panel. I would really like to see what is feeding the panel on the service end. Curious as well on a panel schedule to see a description of the loads.

Gas water heat?
Gas range?
How is the condo heated?
Air conditioning?

djohns
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

Boy , does that look familiar . :cool:

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

is this the same 1940s condo with the 20 amp 250v air conditioner outlet in the living room? seems weird that the two hot wires for the 20 amp 240 circuit aren't the same size.

don't buy until you've had an electrician in. even if you have a main at a central location for the building with a meter this panel should be able to completely shut down all the circuits with less than seven switch motions no main in there.

not an electrician here but it looks like trouble on the 240 with 20 amp circuit breakers skinny wires and at least where we're at wire nuts aren't allowed in a panel but a gray nut on hot wires seems really bad thought those were just like green ones only for grounds? and the wall finish to the panel and where the wires all enter knockouts don't see the bushing lock nut romex clamp things that keep the romex cable from being pulled out and keep the panel sealed. how is this thing mounted? i don't see any mountings and the holes for mounting are all open! looks like spackle is the only thing holding this thing up? the other thing that that seems strange is white wires under one of those wire nuts that has been taped up with black tape like to change its color? ask an electrician here or there but i think that might only be allowed to do on switch paths not in a panel? doesn't seem right that two wires are on each lug feeding the panel for a residence, converted condo or not, like kentvw said and stranger that the colors are crossed, i pretty sure that not called entrance that called a feeder instead. seems weird that there is no big lug on the neutral for the feeder cable too. the bits of trim copper and brass screw sitting in the bottom of the subpanel isn't good either i think.

your inspector if he doesn't know or questions something should be telling you in his report to get a licensed electrician in to inspect the panel so you have to notify your realtor and the seller that you do not accept the inspection and want a specialty inspection immediately or else withdraw your offer so you can get estimate to make corrections if you need to do. if the inspector you hired took off the panel cover he should be able to tell more about the panel to you or else he had no business opening it up in the first place.

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

i think its called double lugging or double tapping to have two wires on one lug and that can also be trouble on anything except the ground here anyways mabe not the same where you are.

andrew386
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

Thanks so much for all your feedback - the information you all provided is very helpful!

A few responses to your questions:

The condo had been renovated as @canuk suggested above but I was not able to find another main panel. When the inspector was on site, building facilities other than this apartment were not accessible (locked) so we could not get to the meter and the main circuit shut off.

@kentvw: I took a picture of the load labels (see below) but it seems that they left a lot out. If the labels are true, there isn't enough power to the kitchen (kitchen and dining room on ONE 20A breaker). I will go back with my agent in a few days and will map all circuits to understand what's really going on. Condo is heated centrally (the whole complex) and there's a common water heater as well (no electrical load for either of these). The range is gas. There's no central AC now, but the owner will be adding it as a part of the deal (I will make sure they have the separate branch circuit for the compressor). They will also be adding a laundry hookup and I will insist on another branch circuit for that.

1 -- kitchen / dinning room
2 -- master bedroom
3 -- hallway / living room
4 -- upstairs bedroom

(the other circuits are not labeled at all)

@BlueRidgeParkway: You are right, this is the same apartment that has the air conditioner outlet in the living room. You point out a lot of things that I've missed here (and that the inspector didn't note in his report). I will certainly follow up on all of it.
Here's the marked up panel based on your comments:

So my plan is to go back to the property and do as much checking myself first. I will check outlets (and test GFICs), map circuits, look for another panel, try to find out where all the wires with wire nuts go, etc. I plan on hiring an electrician to do a final inspection when the owner completes the AC and laundry hookup and will document the findings so far ... I am an Electrical Engineer and although small voltage electronic circuits are my thing, I feel comfortable doing some of this myself just to get a more detailed view first and will then get an inspector to come in as well. Also checking with the town on any electrical permits or violations ...

Thanks very much once again! I appreciate any additional input as well ...

Andrew

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

i don't say things clear one of the yellow nuts you didn't point to has white wires on the left that are retaped black. there looks like two fat neutral wires on the bar prolly one for the feeder and one for the 220 circuit but don't see the big lug on top of the bar that takes two little screw positions thats what i ment. i don't think you can have parallel feeder for residential at least not here never flies esp cuz you have a 240v circuit so cant be 120 service right? two wires on one lug even if allows needs special kit piece either plate that has nested for each wire or a connect lug thing. the electricians on the site will know the right words for it when double luggling or double taps are allowed, dont know where you are but here is not allowed the wire nuts or double tapping except a double tap on grouwnd wire. the wires going in for hot dont look big enough and that the possible main is in a locked room not accessible to you makes the need for a main in your feeder panel since you can't turn off all the power to this residence with less than seven or six flips.

now you say they are going to add even more from this panel to make your deal so it seem you should get electrician now not later to tell you what to demand cuz this do not look good. how is this panel secured for installation cuz dont see any mount holes were used. big space in the wall to the right bottom edge where spackle fell off to.

remember i am no electrician one thing i do know for sure is that the panel schedule list must be complete and right your new picture of the list is a no brainer fail.

kentvw
Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

Actually I only see one piece of romex in the panel. The white cable coming in the top with the bare ground.

It is a sub panel and that explains the separate neutral and ground bars.

The neutral looks like it is being fed with the two larger white wires landing on the right

The two pole breaker may well have the same size wire just different insulation types. Look carefully and you will see that the smaller dia cable is spliced to a thicker cable. Looks to me like TW insulation as opposed to THHN. Not a big deal to me. Just means the panel was replaced at some point and the wires were too short.

The National Electrical Code does not disallow splices and or wirenut’s in a panel. The biggest question I would have is why the two wires on each of the main lugs? That is odd. As far as I know The NEC has never allowed conductors smaller than #1 to be paralleled. The other odd thing is the color combinations, black/red, black/red.

My guess is that is either a parallel feed or there is a large load being taped off of the main lugs. Regardless, what you have there is a code violation.

I would be very leery of adding an AC condenser load to this panel.

Not sure what you mean regarding the bushings. The NEC does not require them in this application. Any "clamps" would be ouside of the panel and not visable.

Looks to me like the wire in the main lugs is #10 wire with old cloth insulation. #10 is currently good for 30amps.

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