I'm looking at upgrading my main service to 200A. I've got underground
service, and the existing service and meter base are rated for 200A.
However, the existing panel is mounted such that the highest breaker is
about 15" higher than current code allows.
Does anyone know how this is usually handled? Can I get grandfathered
in? I'm not sure how one would even go about lowering the panel given
that the wire for the existing circuits generally comes down from above
and is cut to fit the current height.
I'll be asking the local inspector, but they're closed today.
You install a good sized pull box above the new panel, at a suitable
height so the existing circuit wires will all comfortably reach inside
the pull box. You connect the pull box to the panel below with
relatively large conduit or conduits as appropriate. Inside the pull box
you pigtail all the existing circuits onto new wire from the new panel
I've worked on several upgrades that were done this way and all were
passed by the inspectors with rave reviews.
If you live in New Jersey you would be covered under the Rehab Code,
and it would be OK to keep it at the 6'6" plus 15". The other solution
is to put the main breaker on the bottom of the panel. This is why
panels come with field installable labels.
I'm in Canada. According to the simplified code book, the "highest
breaker" (not the main breaker) must be no higher than 67" from the floor.
The main breaker on the existing panel is at 82".
Guess I find out tomorrow what the inspector wants.
If the new panel is installed upside down (which is frequently
permissible), you _might_ be able to get away with just extending
the service feed through a box of the appropriate side.
As you're only upgrading the panel, you might just get lucky
with the inspector.
If you have to splice circuits, you'll also need the inspector
to tell you what's acceptable - multiple J boxes, or common,
whether you need conduit etc.
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
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