I have an old Wadsworth panel (circa 1964) in our house. I recently got a
quote from an electrician to upgrade the panel to Square D circuit breakers.
He proposed to leave the old Wadsworth box in place, including the wiring
entering the box, removing the existing circuit breakers and bus bars as
well as the main fuses, and installing the Square D bus bars, main circuit
breakers and new circuit breakers. This would result in less labor to
remove the old box and rerunning the wires in the new box. Total cost would
be about $600 (parts and labor) to approximately 30 breakers in a 200 Amp
service. Does this sound like a reasonable approach?
Yes, it is a sensible way to do it. The box is a box. It does nothing but
enclose stuff. If you can leave it and all the wires in place, you save a
lot of labor. 30 breakers have to be in the range of $300 to $350 alone.
Here in the Tampa bay area of Florida that is a bargain,make sure he
has it inspected though,if he wont allow a inspection by a city or
county inspector,thats why its so cheap,even if he isnt a lic eletrical
person you should be able to pull the permit as a home owner.
Actualluy sounds reasonable. Thats $200- $300 in parts and will take him
2-3 hours. I bet that price does not include the permit which in my city
would cost another $150 (94 for the permit and ~50 for the SE upgrade).
Power company should not charge for the temporary disconnect but will if you
require bigger service entrance conductors.
He should stick around for the inspection but will probably split before the
power company guy gets back to reconnect.
Although this sounds like an economical means and as someone else said "A
box is a box", this is most certainly NOT the way to go. When Square D has
their equipment tested to get a UL listing it is with the entire package.
Removing the guts from a Square D panel and installing them in a Wadsworth
panel will void all warranties and would not pass inspection. I am
surprised that a licensed electrical contractor would even suggest something
like that. Make sure that you get an insurance certificate from him because
you will need it.
I understand that you want to save money, but the liability in such an
installation is not worth a few dollars savings on a hatchet job. I suggest
that you get a few more quotes from other electrical contractors and I also
sugest that you have the installer get a permit and inspection for the job.
When a panel is upgraded the code requires that the grounding electrode
system be upgraded as well. That means two grounds rods installed and all
interior metal piping must be bonded.
Just had my 100 amp panel upgraded to a 200 amp panel. Everyone was
involved: Electrician, power company, inspector. Passed ok. They didn't
touch the grounding, used existing ground wire. Without digging down
there, how would they have known if it was one or two rods?
It is possible to test the ground wire to determine if it is good for the
code mandated 25 ohms or less. Usually a 100 amp service has a #6 copper or
#4 aluminum (Or #8 copper armored) grounding electrode conductor. If you
have water service from the street the conductor would be connected to that.
A 200 amp service requires a #4 copper or #2 aluminum for the primary
electrode grounding conductor. The supplemental grounding electrode
conductor can be #6 copper. Your local jurisdiction may have less stringent
Did the electrician bond the hot and cold water pipes to the gas pipe? Did
they install a jumper from one side of the water meter to the other?
The water meter is 40 feet from the power entrance. Everything from the
water meter to the house is PVC. No, they didn't wire anything to the
water pipes. The only gas up here on the mountain is propane. I suppose
30 feet of buried copper tubing would make a decent ground but I don't
think it would be wise to connect to that. To add to all of this, the
wires from the transformer two poles away to the house have not yet been
changed by the power company. Wires are presently not adequate for 200
amp service. Maybe the power company will upgrade the ground if and when
they upgrade their service. Having a 200 amp panel in rural Tennessee
doesn't mean the power company can supply 200 amps. And I thought the
TVA was all about abundant electricity.
I didn't say anything baout saving money. The guy happened to be at my house
doing electrical work and I asked him about the Wadsworth panel; if it was
dangerous being old and fact that breakers are hard to come by. He
mentioned they aren't UL certified and I asked him to quote replacing it.
He came back with the idea of just repacing the guts. I'm just trying to
see if it really makes that much of a diffierence.
I agree with John. The Square D guts would no longer be UL listed and
the installation would be a code violation. I would be surprised if the
Wadsworth breakers/panel aren't UL listed but havn't seen one for a real
I'd first ask your local authority whether it's permissable, before
worrying about whether it will work. It shouldn't save you more
than a couple hours labor, and maybe $100 on the case, though,
as long as the new box has entry holes in the same places.
It's still a hack job. Any electrician worth his salt can remove the
old panel and replace it with a new one instead of gerry rigging an old
panel. You should seriously consider finding another electrician.
Retrofitting that old Wadsworth with Sq.D guts will NOT meet NEC. That
$600 is probably about half the going rate.
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