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#110343 - 04/02/06 01:21 PM Yes, But Is It Safe?
electure Offline

Member

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 4142
Loc: Fullerton, CA USA
I came across this the other day:

A Challenger Loadcenter enclosure and cover.

It's been refitted with a Siemens Interior, which fits well, and has several different manufacturers' breakers in it.

It's quite the violation, but do you feel it's unsafe?








(the original Challenger neutral bar, on the far right, is still in use)

[This message has been edited by electure (edited 04-02-2006).]

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#110344 - 04/02/06 03:02 PM Re: Yes, But Is It Safe?
Dave T Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 157
Loc: Waukesha, WI, USA
If it isn't listed by the panel mfg. then it isn't going to fly, as it doesn't comply with the NEC.
Safe? Maybe but is it to us to determine that. The are is testing requirements by UL to assure that the panel cover prevents access through cracks an spaces to live parts inside the enclosure and that the cover prevents parts and arcing from exiting the enclosure should their be a fault or failure inside the enclosure. Even when we are confident that the replacement cover would perform as and OEM cover would we are not qualified to make that determination.
As you have noted the panel nameplate is misleading also.

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#110345 - 04/02/06 04:50 PM Re: Yes, But Is It Safe?
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5046
Loc: Blue Collar Country
Cutler-Hammer is one company that specifically makes replacement "guts" for other manufacturers' panels. They have them listed accordingly.
Likewise, there are numerous breakers that are interchangable between different makers' panels; and by this I mean "with the approval of UL."
So, the issue is not so nearly as simple as it would appear. One can't simply say "no way!" without looking into the issue a lot deeper!


Now, as luck would have it, I have a customer whose "Big Name" panel has damaged bussbars. I have been unable to get any guidance from either the distributor, or the manufacturer, as to obtaining replacement guts. Since the old panel is set in brick, is piped in, and the nature of the customers' operation will not tolerate any but the briefest of interruptions- where does that leave me?

I'll tell you where it leaves me: with a poor attitude toward that line of panels! When the crunch comes, I can almost guarantee that I will replace the innards with someone else's (listed) retrofit kit!

Some "field engineering" causes me to lose sleep. This specific example is not one of those.

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#110346 - 04/02/06 06:14 PM Re: Yes, But Is It Safe?
SolarPowered Offline
Member

Registered: 07/05/04
Posts: 615
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
As long as there is a decent fit at the breaker KOs, and grounding is done in an adequate manner, I can't see that there's any particular risk to replacing one set of guts with another manufacturer's guts.

The fit at the breaker KOs can quite possibly be dealt with by using a cover from the same manufacturer as the guts, and just having a mismatched can.

I'd be a lot more concerned about mix-and-match breakers and guts. Just because a breaker physically plugs onto a bus doesn't mean that it's safe. I understand that the panel manufacturers do a considerable amount of engineering and testing to assure compatibility. This extends to things like the alloys used, grip pressure, wiping action when plugging on the breaker, and lubricants/antioxidents supplied on the mating surfaces.

That said, there are breakers that are listed for use in other manufacturers' panels. Usually, the manufacturerer of the panel prohibits foreign breakers, so there's an obvious conflict here. (Cutler Hammer is one such maker of breakers listed for use in other panels.)

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#110347 - 04/02/06 10:25 PM Re: Yes, But Is It Safe?
mxslick Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/04
Posts: 781
Loc: Atomic City, ID USA
I take greater issue with the fact that the three wires spliced at the bottom would reach the breaker without the splices.

 Quote:
The are is testing requirements by UL to assure that the panel cover prevents access through cracks an spaces to live parts inside the enclosure and that the cover prevents parts and arcing from exiting the enclosure should their be a fault or failure inside the enclosure.


The cover as installed here fits better than most OEM applications I've run into. If I were the AHJ I would have no problem on this particular requirement.

The containment of arcing would be a function of fit and thickness of the steel, so I again fail to see an issue here. At least it isn't a DIY cover of light-guage steel or aluminum.

 Quote:
Even when we are confident that the replacement cover would perform as and OEM cover would we are not qualified to make that determination.


Does this mean we have to rip out this panel and submit it to an NTL to determine suitability? I also disagree with the statement that an experienced, licensed, EC is not "qualified" to make that determination, regardless of who did the installation. Can anyone cite any other violations here?

 Quote:
As you have noted the panel nameplate is misleading also.


Now this is the only real safety/Code violation that I would cite in this case. Unless we had the specs for the replacement interior, which would prove the AIC and allowable types of breakers permitted to be installed, then the information on the label could now be incorrect. Although, from what I've seen, small loadcenters from different makes all seem to have the same AIC ratings. (10k amps.)

 Quote:
Now, as luck would have it, I have a customer whose "Big Name" panel has damaged bussbars. I have been unable to get any guidance from either the distributor, or the manufacturer, as to obtaining replacement guts. Since the old panel is set in brick, is piped in, and the nature of the customers' operation will not tolerate any but the briefest of interruptions- where does that leave me?

I'll tell you where it leaves me: with a poor attitude toward that line of panels! When the crunch comes, I can almost guarantee that I will replace the innards with someone else's (listed) retrofit kit!


I agree 100% with this. I would do exactly the same.

We have all seen that the Code falls quite short of reality in many situations.

As a final parting comment, didn't Siemans buy out Challenger? (Or is it the other way around?)

I love the discussions of things like this.

edited to add: I may be using incorrect terminology here, but by AIC I'm referring to the short-circuit withstand capability of the panel and breakers.

[This message has been edited by mxslick (edited 04-03-2006).]
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#110348 - 04/02/06 10:56 PM Re: Yes, But Is It Safe?
techie Offline
Member

Registered: 05/17/05
Posts: 240
Loc: palo alto, ca usa
 Quote:
I take greater issue with the fact that the three wires spliced at the bottom would reach the breaker without the splices.


note how many wires are in each wirenut...

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#110349 - 04/02/06 11:25 PM Re: Yes, But Is It Safe?
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8472
Loc: SI,New Zealand
John,
I printed these pics off and showed them to one of the Inspectors at work this morning.
This Inspectors view is the concensus here as far as any Electrical worker would judge under our current Regulations:

  • Can a person be injured/killed by what is installed?
  • Is this panel over-loaded, to the detriment of the Service.
  • Is this panel a Fire Hazard?.


Failing that test here, under Regulation 69 of the Electricity Act, this complies.
However, the labelling is pretty wack and in our newest release of the Standards here, you are not allowed to leave unterminated wires, anywhere!.

{Edit: Sorry zooming in, them wires are terminated}

[This message has been edited by Trumpy (edited 04-03-2006).]
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#110350 - 04/03/06 03:15 AM Re: Yes, But Is It Safe?
iwire Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
I have no real issue with this either.

 Quote:
I take greater issue with the fact that the three wires spliced at the bottom would reach the breaker without the splices.


You do not mean you would fail it do you?

Splices are allowed.
_________________________
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Massachusetts

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#110351 - 04/03/06 05:34 AM Re: Yes, But Is It Safe?
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8472
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Bob,
 Quote:
Splices are allowed.

I agree,
I'm reminded of a clause in our Regulations here that states, you are only allowed to join conductors within an enclosure or panel, within an installation.
These wires could be anything, but they are being joined in the right place.
Saves finding dodgy joins in a roof void.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#110352 - 04/03/06 11:24 AM Re: Yes, But Is It Safe?
mxslick Offline
Member

Registered: 10/24/04
Posts: 781
Loc: Atomic City, ID USA
iwire:

Would I fail it on the presence of those splices? No, but when the wire is long enough to reach the breaker without splicing I do question what's going on.

And as techie pointed out, after taking a closer look and blowing up that part of the picture, there are more than two wires in each nut. So it appears that two circuits are connected to one breaker. Red tag?

I'm just not a fan of splices inside breaker panels.
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