Need Help Urgently! Surface mount electric panel

Hi,
I have installed a surface mount 125 A combination meter main. I have brought all my home runs, 14 of them, all except 2 are 14-2 NM cables through two 1 1/2" knock outs from the back into the panel with a chase nipple. Before entering the chase nipple all cables are stapled to the stud where the panel is mounted. NOW, here is my problem, the inspector now all of the sudden doesn't accept that (used to be accepted by him and others just weeks ago) tells me to run them through a gutter and no more than 2 NMs in a single connector and refers to article 312.5 in NEC.
I am hoping for help here, there are only few knock outs at the bottom of the panel, this a Murray 125 A surface mount panel (JA2442B1125SEC) and of course being a surface mount all are outside. My only other option is to have min. 7 knock outs in the back of the panel, that is to punch them, which might be another problem. The inspector could claim that I am not allowed to punch holes there. Siemens/Murray are of absolutly of NO help. I will think twice before using their stuff again.
How are you guys installing these panels with home runs or having NMs coming into them, they got place for 24 full size breakers. Somebody must have thought about this, it can't be that every of these panels needs a gutter. Again your help is very mich apprerciated. By the way the NEC referrence is the one on 2004.
Thanks
JJ
PS: someone else had this question before but I couldn't find any answer to it.
"While pawing through the 1999 NEC (the one the county inspects to) I found that 373-5(c) no longer allows the arrangement in the current box, all of the NM cables coming in through a single opening with a bushing in the back of the box.
So two questions, please.
First, what is the preferred method for bringing NM loads into a box like this? 20 or so individual cable clamps seems bad, and I don't get how the exception for one or more 18" conduits into the top of the panel is supposed to work."
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dunno, but here's the old thread you cite:
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_thread/thread/56ba1678d49b2590/278e817f0011abcc?lnk=st&q=%22While+pawing+through+the+1999+NEC+%22&rnum=1&hl=en#278e817f0011abcc
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Don't blame Siemens/Murray, blame either yourself or the inspector. Why not ask him if he will accept the holes there? Sometimes you are 100% right, but the inspector has some other idea. He wins.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

I was hoping on a logical, meaningfull reasoning.
Thanks
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A 200 amp panel proobably has more slots...
may still be a viable answer
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Some inspectors will give you that. Others make Hannibal look like a pussycat.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

I know, I have run into one of those and am trying not let have him the say. We suppose to go by the same code, NEC and I am not living in some third world country.
I am not sure I got my point across. Simply put, how do you get 20+ cables into a surface mount panel no matter what amps from the back and cofirm to NEC, that is article 312.5 ?
I am looking for answers from experienced electricians, not things like "inspectors have the say and such"
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JJ wrote:

Does outside mean it is raintight made for exposed outside installation? Are you mounting it weather exposed? If yes the KOs generally have to be below the interior guts.

I agree with the inspector that using a chase nipple is a code violation. There are NM connectors that can connect 2 2-wire NMs through a 1/2" KO and that would require 7 KOs as you said. If you need to add any KOs, ask the inspector if that is acceptable. I would think it would be if they are at the bottom away from the interior guts. Can you use side/bottom KOs?
The point of conduit entry >18" into the top of a surface mount box is to protect NM as it runs down a wall. For example for a surface mount receptacle on a concrete wall you can run 1/2" EMT from the box up into the protected ceiling area and run the NM through the EMT into the box. The EMT protects the NM and gives a clean look. There are some other installation requirements - I'm assuming you have a copy of the code. I don't know as how I'd bet that many NMs in a single EMT would be acceptable.
bud--
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Thanks for the suggestion. Since this is a surface mount panel, all KOs are outside and as far as I know NM (Romex) ist not suited for outside installations. That would mean that all cables have to come through EMT or liquid tight tubing int the box, well that is not securing them or is it? And all the Romex would need to go into a box, that sits inside first and then come out and into the Panel from the bottom. All of that doesn't seem to be what the code had in mind for me. This is improvising a solution. I think the manufacture and code should have a ready solution. Maybe I am not explaining my problem good enough.
JJ
Bud-- wrote:

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I usually don't bring any cables in through the rear of the panel except the service entrance cable. There are plenty of knockouts on the top and bottom for cables. Using the chase nipples provides no strain relief and can also be considered bundling. I suggest that you pull the cables out and put knockout seals in the rear openings. Reroute your cables to enter the top and/or the bottom. A two screw romex squeeze connector is approved for two cables. That should give you plenty of space. You can buy reducing washers at an electrical supply house for larger knockouts. If there is room you can use a 7/8" unibit or holesaw to make additional openings. If your cables are too short to reroute than your other option is the trough. If you wanted to hide the wires you should have installed a flush mount panel.
I have found that the GE panels have loads of knockouts on the top and bottom.
Please don't blame inspectors or manufacturers for your lack of experience.
John Grabowski http://www.mrelectrician.tv
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