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  • Panel Wiring Practice

    A very basic question, I'm afraid. Is it correct/better to leave some extra length of conductors within the panel on a new installation? Someone told me to just go directly to the breakers as it is neater, but I would think that having a few inches extra inches of conductor (neatly folded) would allow for alterations in the future. Having said that, I have seen some panels that look like they are full of spaghetti. What do you recommend?

  • #2
    Re: Panel Wiring Practice

    I've always made a loop up above then back down to the breakers if the wire was long enough.That generally leaves about 6'' extra wire,it can be done very neatly.I usually do the same with nuetrals and grounds too making the loop across the cans bottom.Too many service calls replacing bad old breakers that a couple inches of insulation was fried too I guess started me doing it.I found it really helps to land everything in a panel then go do something else for a couple hours then check the terminals for saying tight..specially with alu wire
    Sam

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    • #3
      Re: Panel Wiring Practice

      I always run the wires directly to the breakers/ground bar keeping the wires at 90 degree angles. Leaving excess wire would result in a messy looking load center.

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      • #4
        Re: Panel Wiring Practice

        I do it the same as Sam

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        • #5
          Re: Panel Wiring Practice

          I go directly to the breaker or the nuetral/ground bar and keep everything neatly squared off. Often I will use loosely fitted zipties to keep everything organized nicely. I know of one electrician locally that was killed because he was digging through a bunch of looped wires in a panel when he got tangled up and touched a lug.

          In my opinion safety comes first, future is second, and that is what the codebook says as well. Safety is always first and leaving a messy panel is not safe for anybody.

          Jeff

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          • #6
            Re: Panel Wiring Practice

            All the good electricians I've seen run the wires directly to each breaker with clean square bends. It makes sense to keeps the wires as short as possible for less fill.

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            • #7
              Re: Panel Wiring Practice

              I'm more with Threecreeks and WBrooks. I leave some extra. There's nothing worse than to need it later and have to do splicing because a wire is 3 inches too short. With that said, I like to keep things neat and clean too. Try wiring it up but do not turn on the main breaker. Then look everything over. If it looks like a mess, try to clean up the mess. You can do a nice clean job with a small few extra inches of wire. Later on you may very well need or want to change a connection to a different breaker.

              Something people do not think about is that later on you may want to totally change the breaker panel. Think of what it would be like it almost every wire had to be spliced inside a "pull box" near to the new breaker panel. I've see this and oh what a job. (GRRRR) so please think of the future.

              Just make sure you do not end up with a new installation that ends up being a rat's nest. That will never pass.

              Something never to do with any of the wires is to cut them to exact length so there is stress on the connections from expansion and contraction as the wires change temperature. That results in disaster soon.

              As for wiring up a new breaker panel yourself, that really isn't a DIYer type of job. In many areas laws ban such. Then there's your home owner's insurance. At the very least have a good licensed electrician check things carefully before you turn on power. Do have a county-state inspector check it too and turn in the info to your insurance company. Just in case of a fire later on, having proof of inspection makes a huge difference if you need to file a claim. Insurance companies do not like DIY work being done. You can do the work yourself, but do not power it up until it's passed inspection. A good electrician should be fine with coming out and checking everything for you. It's some extra $$$ for him/her. It's also good peace of mind for you and your family.

              You'll need to check your codes there regarding the use of Arc Fault Interrupting circuit breakers for the bedroom areas and also Ground Fault Interrupting breakers for garage, basement and any wet or damp areas. Use of regular circuit breakers for such will not pass and are not safe. In addition on any circuits wired where there are 2 hot conductors, be sure both ends of the Line 2 conductor are ether red jacketed or fully red taped. Here in the US people run 2 conductor (with ground) and have a black and white power conductor. White is for neutral and nothing but. I've seen far too many cases where they were not properly color coded with red tape and someone comes along and assumes it is neutral only to find it's really Line 2 and hot. Such is dangerous and most not be allowed, especially in new work. I've heard in Canada there is 2 conductor Romex with black and red in place of black and white. I wish we had such here in the USA. I use 3 conductor and wire nut the white conductor.

              Something to consider is to buy tie-on tags and label all wiring as to what circuit it is before connecting it up. That can help with laying out where it gets connected to.

              When done make up a nice neat chart showing which breaker for what circuit and do confirm that all is in fact correct.
              Last edited by Woussko; 03-06-2008, 03:09 PM.

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              • #8
                Re: Panel Wiring Practice

                thanks for your answers guys! I think I will leave a couple of extra inches, very neatly folded. You all make great points and I really appreciate your thoughtful answers.
                As for this not being a DIY project, either is building a house, and I have done ok with that, passing my structural and plumbing inspections so far. Of course, I will have the wiring inspected, and it is my plan to have no - zero - zilch defects. I want the pride of a job done right, but also my parnter and I are going to live in that home and I don't want us to go up in smoke. I have arc faulted the bedrooms, ground faulted the bathroom and kitchen and outdoor rececpticles and I think I will be okay. Code in Ontario allows a homeowner to do HER own wiring, so long as it is inspected. The inspection cost is considerably higher as the inspector needs to go over things with a fine-toothed comb, but I don't mind that - any work should be able to stand a good inspection.

                It is interesting that you guys are divided on the question. Of course, half of you think the other half is wrong, but you all make good points. I'm still not really convinced either way, so I will make a small neat squared-off loop for each circuit, and if it looks like hell I can easily cut it back. Again, thanks for your amazing answers, and yes, I will very likely be back with more.
                Cheers!
                Denise

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                • #9
                  Re: Panel Wiring Practice

                  One guy said to loosely tie wrap the wires.It's better if you don't but make sure it is not tight because there can be a heat build up if you do.Make turns nice and neat around panel.This gives plenty of wire in case of any problems later.Do not put two heavy loads across from each other on the same buss,which can cause extra heat at that point.Wish there were more girls out there that could do this work.Good luck.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Panel Wiring Practice

                    toolgirl...maybe the safest way to achieve the flexibilty you are seking is to keep the panel neat but, most codes allow a loop of wire (usually around 6-8") to be left between the fixture a wire runs into and the staple that is used to secure the wire just before it enters the fixture.
                    there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Panel Wiring Practice

                      I'm in the process of wiring my garage and have contemplated this issue. I like to wind a loop of wire around my finger before connecting to the breaker. This leaves a neat look with a bit of extra wire. On the other hand, I like the neat look - going directly to the breaker, using 90 degree bends. I think that for my garage I will use the 90 degree bends and run to the breakers without an extra loop. I will, however, install the breakers on the lowest part of the panel so that if I ever have to cut and re-attach a wire, I can move the breaker higher in the panel.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Panel Wiring Practice

                        As a professional electrician, i'd have to say I prefer going directly to the breaker. Wires must be straight with 90* bends and tucked neatly and out of the way. Nothing is worse then having someone go ahead and leave loops from the top breaker down to the bottom of the panel because they "May" move a breaker later on down the road. I dunno about you, but the amount of time's that I've had a service call where i've had to Move a breaker from the top, to the bottom are very limited. Even then, those times are the times when the panel HAS all that extra wire in it, and it's a mess. If a breaker has to be moved, then it's FAR neater to have a splice and wirenut up in a top corner (where all the wires are making their 90* bend already down to the breakers) and relocate the wire from there.

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