How to Install New Service Panel Wiring

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The service panel is the control center of your home's electrical system. The panel receives the power leads from the electrical company and shunts this power to the various electrical circuits via a series of circuit breakers, which are like re-usable fuses. These breakers clip onto a brass buss which is connected to the hot line from the power company, and return lines from each circuit are connected the the power company return line via the neutral buss. In addition, each household circuit is connected to the ground buss in the panel, which is itself connected to ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Insulated screwdriver
  • Ground rod
  • Ground clamp
  • Ground wire
  • Knock-out clamps
  • Insulated pliers
  • Utility knife
  • Wire splicing tool
  • If the power is on to the panel, call your electrical provider and ask them to switch it off.

  • Open the panel door and unscrew the cover. Connect the neutral, or silver, buss to the ground buss by tightening the screw on the neutral buss.

  • Pound a ground rod 8 feet into the ground and screw a ground clamp onto the rod. Attach one end of a 10-gauge ground wire to the clamp and run it to the panel. Feed it through a knock-out hole in the side or bottom of the panel and, using a screwdriver, attach it to the lug on the ground buss.

  • Feed all circuit cables through knock-out holes in the panel after first attaching knock-out clamps to these holes. When you have fed through as many wires as a hole can accommodate, tighten the clamp with a screwdriver. Be sure to give yourself plenty of slack on each cable so you can make connections.

  • Remove about 12 inches of sheathing from all the wires in the panel by cutting around the sheathing with a utility knife and pulling it off with pliers. Be careful not to cut into the insulation on the wires inside.

  • Separate the wires and remove 1/2-inch of insulation from all coated wires with a wire splicing tool. Insert all the white wires into lugs on the silver buss and all the bare wires into lugs on the ground buss, tightening the nuts with a screwdriver as you go.

  • Insert each black wire into the lug of a circuit breaker and tighten the nut. Then snap the breaker into position on the brass buss bar and label the circuit.

  • Use a double-gang circuit breaker for four strand cable with a red wire. Insert the black wire into one of the breakers and the red wire into the other and snap the double-gang breaker onto the brass buss bar.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add up all power draws on the circuit and size your wires and breakers accordingly. For example, circuits drawing more than 1800 watts will need a 20 amp breaker and 12-gauge wire.
  • Remember that when the power to the panel is on, the hot buss is live even if the main breaker is shut off.

References

  • Photo Credit electric panel image by DXfoto.com from Fotolia.com
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