How to add ground buss bar

I have an old Cutler Hammer panel . I can add more circuits by using the "duplex" circuit breakers. But the neutral and ground buss bar areas are very crowded already. The panel has two metal bars shorted together and the previous owner use the two bars interchangeably for both ground and neutral. One solution is to add a dedicated ground buss bar and connect it back to the two original ground/neutral bars (I plan to use the original two bars for neutral only).
1. Is this the right thing to do? 2. Does it require a permit? 3. Can I just find a mounting bracket and just bolt the assembly inside the control panel? 4. What other things do I need to pay attention to?
Thanks for the help!
Jerry
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Sounds to me like it is getting a bit crowded in there.
I would get a new panel. The panel itself is not very expensive, so get a large one. I think I paid $150 for a 200 amp 40 slot panel a few years ago.
The breakers are expensive though.
So far as getting a permit, I would advise getting a permit for any electrical work you do like this. The permit is not that expensive and you get an expert to check your work to be sure it is safe. You can also ask an inspector questions beforehand so you do the correct things. (Don't need to re-do work.)
Just call your local inspector and find out when you can go in to ask questions. Take plenty of pictures of everything. Cover removed from panel, service entrance where wires come in, grounding of electrical panels, etc.
Once you have a nice new panel with plenty of room, it will be easy to add additional circuits or rewire existing circuits.
"cfjwang" wrote in message

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On 10/13/05 11:48 am Bill tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

I recently bought a 200A 32-space Cutler-Hammer CH "Value Pack" at Lowe's for approx. $150. This included the main breakers and 5 or 6 20A breakers.
I don't recall the regular (i.e., not GFI or AFI) 15A and 20A CH breakers being more than about $6 each.
Perce
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I suggest that you first investigate your new loads. Will they push you over the main circuit breakers rating?
All residential panel manufactures have a maximum number of poles/handles/circuits that the panel is rated for. Something like 20/40 Most panel manufactures have listings for 2 wires of the same size under one screw. CHECK YOUR PANEL to be sure. All panel manufactures make auxiliary ground bars for their panels. Some even have holes taped already for installation. NOTE I stated GROUND not NEUTRAL. Neutral bar is isolated from the metal in most panels.
1. Can not see it from here 2. Can not answer cause I do not know your local code. Where I live a couple of circuits are not usually permitted. The city wants every change permitted. 3. Possibly for the ground 4. The answer to that is impossible to know.
Please call a licensed pro in your area and ask these questions to him.
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Is this true? I thought this was true only in sub panels, not in the main panel.

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If the neutral bar is not isolated how do you test your neutrals?
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I would think, like others said, that a new panel might be in order. But, and maybe I'm stating the obvious, you probably just cant upgrade from say a 100A to a 200A pannel without also upgrading the main service wires. Not a job for you most likely.
No one has suggested adding a sub pannel. If you are not over loading then that may be OK.
My advice is free, take it for what its worth.
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No wrote:

You can install a 200A panel without upgrading the service wires *if* you use a 100A main breaker. You might have to special order the 200A panel w/ 100A mains installed, but they do make them.
-Bob
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the service wires are sized to the calculated load, not the size of the main breaker.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

And the main breaker is sized to the service wires. The service wires are already in place.
-Bob
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No wrote:

The sub panel idea warrants some investigation. If the main panel will take the new loads, replace two breakers with a 2-pole sized for the sub panel load. Move a few existing circuits to the sub panel and add the new ones in there as well. If possible, buy the same brand sub panel as the main and you won't waste any breakers. The OP also won't have to de-energize the whole house until the inspection is complete.
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Paul Hovnanian mailto: snipped-for-privacy@Hovnanian.com
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1. maybe. maybe not. you are limited to a maximum of 42 circuit breakers total in any one panel. and the panel instructions will tell you the maximum number of circuit breakers you can have.
2. depends on where you live.
3. no.
4. lots. thats why if you have to ask these real basic things it is probably best if you hire someone competent to do this work for you. otherwise you could well kill someone you really would prefer not to.
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If you do go with a new panel just be warned that the only safe way to swap out the panel is to pull the meter off the pan to cut the power to your panel. This is something that is only allowed by a licensed electrician in my area, and probably yours too. Illegal for anyone not licensed to do this. Maybe a call to your utility would help to see if they would be willing to pull the meter for you if you go that way. They could also advise you as to how big a new panel you could install based on the size of your overhead or underground wires. Our utility provided me with a list of approved meter pans that I could choose from to get the job done. Went from a 60 amp Federal box to 200 amp box, well worth it.
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