FPE panel replacement project underway

Today I officially began my project to replace two Federal Pacific circuit breaker panels in my house. I’m starting with a subpanel in the boiler room, and after that’s done I’ll move on to the house’s main panel.

Ironically, the first step to doing this was to replace a perfectly good Square-D QO subpanel in the boiler room. This panel was upstream of the FPE panel (which is totally full — a previous owner added the QO panel to add capacity). The plan is to consolidate both panels into a single QO panel, but the existing one was too small. So step one was to replace it with a 24-slot QO. Next, I’ll move all the circuits over from the FPE panel.

Wiring the new panel was pretty easy as far as these things go — no big surprises. The QO panels are very nicely laid out, with neutral busses on either side, for example, so there’s no need to cut conductors to different lengths. The only thing I didn’t care for was the placement of the separate ground bus (required by code for subpanels) which was at the very bottom of the panel. A couple of my existing ground wires were not long enough to reach the bus (keep in mind the new panel is several inches taller than the old one). But this wasn’t too hard to work around.

Phase two, as mentioned, will be to move the circuits off the FPE panel. I’ll need to set aside a day for this, as there’s some conduit that’ll need to be rerouted, plus some wires that will need to be spliced to reach over to the new panel. I’ll probably try to do this the week after we get back from the beach — no sense rushing it with the beach trip looming and lots of other stuff to take care of.

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