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Replacing panels in condos with 3 wire feeds #219877 01/03/19 09:23 PM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 742
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BigB Offline OP
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We have several large condominium communities here that are from the early 60's. They are in groups of six, with six pack meter-mains on the end of each building and a 100 amp FPE sub panel in each unit fed with SEU. There are no attics, flat roofs and the SEU feeders pass through the inaccessible ceiling structures to get to each unit. As these units get sold one at a time by their private owners the home inspectors are coming in and pointing out the FPE sub panels, and the buyers want them changed. Since the SEU is not run in conduit we only have 3 conductors and the neutral is bonded to the ground in each panel. Getting a new feed to a condo 100 feet or more away with no attic is not realistic. Installing a new sub panel with a 3 wire feed is not code compliant, but still better than keeping the FPE. I plan to call the city tomorrow, but meanwhile what would you do in this situation? My fear is that units could be sold again in the future with the replaced sub panels and when the HI points out the neutrals/grounds on the same bus fingers will be pointing at the installer.

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Re: Replacing panels in condos with 3 wire feeds [Re: BigB] #219878 01/03/19 11:23 PM
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gfretwell Offline
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I suppose if you can get a challenger or similar replacement panelboard that fits in the enclosure the AHJ might call that a repair and not an installation. They probably still want a permit and an inspection but they might let you get away with it. BTW I am not sure when that was ever legal since it is within the same building.


Greg Fretwell
Re: Replacing panels in condos with 3 wire feeds [Re: BigB] #219885 01/05/19 09:39 PM
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BigB Offline OP
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Well the AHJ reply kind of surprised me. First he said if we change any panels we will need to make the unit into a two wire ungrounded unit, not connect any of the Romex grounding conductors and replace the receps with 2 slot or GFCI protect the grounding receps. He also said maybe we could use the water pipe for the EGC rolleyes then, after re-consideration he decided that wouldn't work. My solution would be to run a EGC all the way around each building and tap it at each unit as they get the sub panels replaced. But that would require cooperation from all the owners as well as the association which ain't going to happen any time soon.

I am passing on the work, we really don't need it anyway.

Re: Replacing panels in condos with 3 wire feeds [Re: BigB] #219886 01/06/19 01:42 AM
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gfretwell Offline
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A wise choice. I do not see a code compliant solution and the AHJ seems to have come up empty too.
His ideas are not compliant either. If you did find a route to run an EGC, you might as well run SER and be legal.
Where are the panels in relation to the outside walls?


Greg Fretwell
Re: Replacing panels in condos with 3 wire feeds [Re: BigB] #219887 01/06/19 05:13 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
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HotLine1 Offline
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Greg:
One EC here had the 'replacement guts' for FPE panels in one of the condo/townhouse complexes here. He called me, discussed his 'plan', and I requested specs/etc for the 'guts'.

He brought in a box with an interior (buss & 1 neutral bar), and I said, "what about a cover"?? Nope, didn't come with one. No documentation, & no signs of any UL type stickers. FPE's in that complex are "up/down" layout, and this buss is "right/left" layout, so...the FPE cover sure don't work.

He was asking me for a letter to the HOA that this is an acceptable compliant item! Ha Ha!!

The EC that the HOA likes got that panel change, and many,many more.

BTW, I have had a few no EGC subpanels, and a few radical solutions proposed, but have not accepted any to date.


John
Re: Replacing panels in condos with 3 wire feeds [Re: gfretwell] #219889 01/06/19 05:27 PM
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BigB Offline OP
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Originally Posted by gfretwell
A wise choice. I do not see a code compliant solution and the AHJ seems to have come up empty too.
His ideas are not compliant either. If you did find a route to run an EGC, you might as well run SER and be legal.
Where are the panels in relation to the outside walls?



The subs are in the center of the units so the new feed or EGC would need to be fished through the ceiling joist bay out to the back porch where it could be tied in. Running new feeds to each unit would get pretty crowded with conduits on the eave but a shared EGC would be much easier and inconspicuous, and IMHO would comply with 250.130(C) (1) & (2)

Re: Replacing panels in condos with 3 wire feeds [Re: BigB] #219890 01/06/19 09:03 PM
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gfretwell Offline
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I think letting someone else have this fun might be the best choice. It is an interesting problem but I might not be worth pursuing.


Greg Fretwell

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