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Thread: adding a neutral/ground bar to panel

  1. #1
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    Default adding a neutral/ground bar to panel

    I am out of space on the netural/ground bars in my panel. I have attached a photo. There appears to be a space to attach a second bar on the left side of the panel. Is it as simple as shutting off the main breaker and screwing in an additional bar? They sell them at Lowes for about 5 bucks and I'd like to do this myself if possible.
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  2. #2
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    I believe Square D allows up to 3 groundING conductors under one screw -- these are the green or bare wires. The white ones must be one wire one screw.

    The limitation on the tripled up grounds is they must be the same material (aluminum or copper), same size (14, 12, 10), same stranding (solid, stranded), and no larger than #10.

    I can't see you panel well enough, bit I think you can triple some up. Worst case, you could move some grounds to an accessory grounding bar bolted to the panel. You can trust the panel steel to connect it to the others, or waste one slot in each bus for a #6 or #4 wire to interconnect them.
    Mark
    Kent, WA

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    Gotta love Square D QO. Considered by many to be some of the best breakers out there...with the stupidest ground/neutral bar setup!

    Do what Mark said. Sq D does allow for easy adding of bars by providing the correct hole for new bars. Be sure to use ONLY Square D bars.
    If you only have to add a couple of grounds/neutrals I'd simply double or triple up on some existing grounds.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by suemarkp
    I believe Square D allows up to 3 groundING conductors under one screw -- these are the green or bare wires. The white ones must be one wire one screw.
    On the Square D web site it says max of 2 #14 or #12 per screw. I don't think this is going to be enough unless I terminate some neutrals on opposite side of the panel from where they come in. This sounds like it would be difficult and it would look pretty messy.

    Quote Originally Posted by suemarkp
    Worst case, you could move some grounds to an accessory grounding bar bolted to the panel. You can trust the panel steel to connect it to the others, or waste one slot in each bus for a #6 or #4 wire to interconnect them.
    OK just so I am clear - the grounding bar is identical to the ones already in the panel (1 left and 2 right), and it screws into the existing holes. Could it be used for neutrals too, or only for grounds? If I did interconnect how exactly would I do that? Pigtail from existing ground bar to new ground bar?

    Sorry these are probably dumb questions, but I really want to get this right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey
    Gotta love Square D QO. Considered by many to be some of the best breakers out there...with the stupidest ground/neutral bar setup!
    How is it done in other panels? I thought it was weird that the neutrals and grounds need to be bent back up around to the top, it would be more convenient to have them right next to the breaker area.

    Thanks for the replies.

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    OK just so I am clear - the grounding bar is identical to the ones already in the panel (1 left and 2 right), and it screws into the existing holes. Could it be used for neutrals too, or only for grounds? If I did interconnect how exactly would I do that? Pigtail from existing ground bar to new ground bar?
    Yes you can use it for neutrals also. In the main panel both the neutral and grounds are bonded. That metal strap that the bars screw into runs between the grounding/neutral busses and bonds them and bonds them to the incoming service neutral.

    Sorry these are probably dumb questions, but I really want to get this right.
    Not really, these are very important things to know and its worth getting them right.

    How is it done in other panels?
    Every manufacturer has its own design. Some are similar some arent.

    Word of safety....The metal lugs that the two big black service entrance wires connect to on the main breaker are always hot....even with the main breaker turned off. Do not contact them with your tools or hands. Stand on a non conductive surface when you are working in the panel.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger
    Yes you can use it for neutrals also. In the main panel both the neutral and grounds are bonded. That metal strap that the bars screw into runs between the grounding/neutral busses and bonds them and bonds them to the incoming service neutral.
    OK, so if I mount a new ground bar with the included screws, does that mean that I have made a connection to the metal strap and the new bar is now bonded to the others? Or do I have to use a pigtail to physically connect it to one of the existing ground bars?


    Quote Originally Posted by Roger
    Word of safety....The metal lugs that the two big black service entrance wires connect to on the main breaker are always hot....even with the main breaker turned off. Do not contact them with your tools or hands. Stand on a non conductive surface when you are working in the panel.
    This I did already know. It's still a little freaky to me to work in the panel just inches away from those lugs. I just go really SLOW and concentrate on what I am doing. The worst part for me is bringing new branch circuits into the panel and feeding the wire from the top past those lugs. It takes me FOREVER because I'm being so careful around those lugs. I've already added a bunch of new circuits (I believe 7 or so) to take care of a serious overloading problem I had when I purchased the house. I've got about half of the house left to go and the old wiring will be completely replaced and up to code. I might just live long enough to finish

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    OK, so if I mount a new ground bar with the included screws, does that mean that I have made a connection to the metal strap and the new bar is now bonded to the others?
    Yes

    Or do I have to use a pigtail to physically connect it to one of the existing ground bars?
    NO

  8. #8
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    Thanks Roger! And thanks to the others who replied too. I'll get the new ground bar in this weekend, hopefully.

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