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Thread: Question on adding branch to a panel - how do you guys access the knockouts?

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  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member Probedude's Avatar
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    Default Question on adding branch to a panel - how do you guys access the knockouts?

    I have a house built in 1965 with 100A service.
    Looking to pull 2 separate branches off the panel, 1 to each bathroom for a in-ceiling vent/heater. Per the manufacturer information on the panel door, adding a twin breaker into one of the available slots is allowed.

    Question though - how do you guys get to the panel knockouts to bring in another romex line? Exterior of house is stucco, interior drywall. Peak of roof comes down over where the service panel is so attic access is impossible to drill from there.

    Assuming that I need to open the drywall, it looks like the meter has to be pulled to be able to install a strain relief and then romex through the top of the panel. Coming in from the bottom would alleviate needing to call the Edison to pull the meter, but is this allowed?

    So how do you pro's add a branch circuit to a panel in a finished house?

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    First thing I do is pull the meter. I have been doing this for more years than some here are old and have learned that one NEVER works in a live panel.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; First thing I do is pull the meter. I have been doing this for more years than some here are old and have learned that one NEVER works in a live panel.

    Here, that would be a good way to get a hefty fine. Once YOU break the meter seal, the utility does NOT know WHEN you did it, and whether you do it to install jumpers between meter reading times. ONE does work in a live panel when necessary, but then that is why they make "hot gloves".

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    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    You are adding circuits. Easy peasy,, done all the time no need to pull the panel...
    Most likly will need to cut two access panels, one near the panel it self and a second below the top plate of the wall

    On the projects that I've done I have always run one or two empty 3/4" conduits up for future service.

    But then I work on rentals were I have to go back to the same property year after year.
    Spend alot of time laughing at the work I did 30 years ago....
    Michael

  5. #5

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    >So how do you pro's add a branch circuit to a panel in a finished house?

    I don't know if this is an inside panel or outside so I'm not entirely sure what your situation is, but this is how we do it:

    You can use any knockout -bottom, top, side, whatever. Try and pick one you can position a drill directly over as it makes the next step easier. To get the knockout out from the inside drill a small hole in the center of it, then stick a screwdriver through it and pry it out. If this is an inside panel usually the overlap of the cover is enough so you can cut a small hole in the sheet rock big enough for a connector to pass through, yet still be covered when you put the cover back on. If thats the case cut your hole, fish the wire up from the basement through the hole, strip it, put the connector on, then fish it back into the hole and up through the panel knockout. You can then slide the bushing over the wires and secure the connector. If this is an outside panel I'd have to see a picture to be able to advise you.

    -rick

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member Probedude's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone.
    This is an outside panel. The room on the other side of the panel in the house is a bedroom.

    Regarding pulling the meter, if I come in from below I don't need to pull it. From the top I would be calling Edison to pull it as I would not be able to tighten the lock ring on the romex clamp let alone get my hand up there to start it. It appears I wouldn't be able to fish the romex down to the breaker area either very easily with the meter in place - not to mention it would be live.

    From the bottom, no meter problems and I'll of course turn off the main breakers. Don't know if the panel is fitted wall to wall between two studs or not. Might have to go sideways through a stud with the feeds and then up into the header and then ceiling.

    The builder did put in 2 qty 3/4" conduit lengths for future expansion but they are already filled by previous updates to the house - electric oven in one, and 2 qty 20A feeds to a enclosed patio room in the other.

    I guess I'll go at it from the inside of the house. I can do drywall, not great at it, but better than I can do stucco.

  7. #7
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    I have been doing this for over 44 years. I hold the highest license that the state of North Carolina issues as well as holding the highest certificate in electrical inspection.

    I have done electrical work of all aspects from wiring mobile homes to high rises, industrial and commercial.
    I would never install any circuit into any live panel. First it is against every safety law ever written, second it is very dangerous. Unless you have a calorie rated suit of at least 20, hat with shield, voltage rated gloves, and voltage rated tools then don’t open the panel and start poking around.

    Call the power company if you are afraid to pull the meter yourself but never install anything in a live panel.

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