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wingless

wingless’ Zinsco to Siemens Home Circuit Breaker Panel Exchange

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The main electric circuit panel in my home is a Zinsco circuit breaker panel. Panels from Zinsco are unsafe and will be rejected during inspection when selling the home.

 

My plan was to properly remove and replace w/ a good panel.

 

The panel I selected is this Siemens P4080B1200ACU 200A 40 Spaces / 80 Circuits PL Load Center

 

This is a really nice panel. The primary feature I wanted was copper, instead of aluminum, for the power distribution. My home is on a salt water canal and I wanted the corrosion resistance. Another feature that is really handy are full length neutral bars alongside all the breaker positions. There is also a similar model w/ shorter neutral bars (and shorter ground bars) for a slightly lower cost, losing that ability for adjacent line and neutral placement. The adjacent line and neutral is very handy when using GFCI breakers.

 

Just like most Amazon customers who wrote reviews, my panel was damaged because of horrible packaging prior to shipment, from Amazon to me. The panel was placed in a larger carton, along w/ a crumpled piece of paper, that was it. When I discussed this problem with Amazon, I instructed them to read the customer reviews on their web site and then asked them about the plethora of feedback about improper Amazon packaging. My impression is that Amazon has ZERO interest in changing their system so that parts like this arrive intact.

 

My swap was complicated by these factors, the new panel being taller than old and rigid conduit entering from bottom, top and rear. My selection was to keep the old/new bottom and rear conduit placement constant, but having the top surface taller, causing the alteration of only one rigid conduit. That creates a complication for the hinged load center panel door, now bumping into the garage door track. I don’t yet have a solution for that problem.

 

Another factor driving this panel selection was the ease to safely implement a generator standby interlock. Simply select the correct ampere rating on a Siemens QP two pole circuit breaker, locate at the top left positions, leave the two top right positions empty (no breakers) and use these parts. Use a Siemens ECSBPK03 generator standby power mechanical interlock and a Siemens ECMBR2 main breaker hold down kit, used to create a secure main, for a safe generator connection. For my 5,500 Watt portable Troy-Bilt generator I used this Reliance Controls Corporation NEMA L14-30 PB30 30-Amp NEMA 3R power inlet box with 10/3 (four conductor) wiring to that exterior wall box. There are different boxes available, such as for a 50A generator, but I didn’t need that larger size.

 

One thing to note on these generator interlock parts is that removal is difficult, due to the snap retention tangs, so only install these parts when everything else is completed.

 

The exterior front panel includes retention hook tangs, to hang the loose panel onto the load center box prior to installing the screws. This makes installation and removal easier.

 

This Siemens load center has 40 circuit breaker positions, good for up to 80 circuits. Four are consumed when properly using the interlock for a generator transfer switch. Some modify the interlock parts, to NOT lose the two top right spots, but that is unsafe and that does not permit the required placement of the hold down kit for a secure main.

 

My breaker choice for regular 120VAC circuits are these Siemens Q2020 Two 20-Amp single pole 120-Volt for Type QT circuit breaker locations, to get two circuits using only one space.

 

Using these for my 120VAC circuits permitted me to fully wire the panel with each feed having its own breaker. I previously needed to double up some feeds because of insufficient breaker quantity. Now I have eight unpopulated breaker positions, good for future expansion.

 

My breaker choice for 240VAC circuits are these Siemens Q260 60-Amp double pole for Type QP circuit breaker locations. As expected, these consume two spaces each.

 

The panel change resulted in many of my wires being too short. I used standard wire nuts and wire to extend the 14AWG and 12AWG wires. I used these split bolt connectors for all the thicker wires. The split bolt connectors are then insulated w/ black electrical tape, after properly tightened.

 

This was a big job. All that remains is the exterior generator hook up, updated wire labeling and the panel labeling.

 

 

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On 1/2/2020 at 6:12 PM, wingless said:

Another factor driving this panel selection was the ease to safely implement a generator standby interlock. Simply select the correct ampere rating on a Siemens QP two pole circuit breaker, locate at the top left positions, leave the two top right positions empty (no breakers) and use these parts. Use a Siemens ECSBPK03 generator standby power mechanical interlock and a Siemens ECMBR2 main breaker hold down kit, used to create a secure main, for a safe generator connection. For my 5,500 Watt portable Troy-Bilt generator I used this Reliance Controls Corporation NEMA L14-30 PB30 30-Amp NEMA 3R power inlet box with 10/3 (four conductor) wiring to that exterior wall box. There are different boxes available, such as for a 50A generator, but I didn’t need that larger size.

 

One thing to note on these generator interlock parts is that removal is difficult, due to the snap retention tangs, so only install these parts when everything else is completed.

 

This Siemens load center has 40 circuit breaker positions, good for up to 80 circuits. Four are consumed when properly using the interlock for a generator transfer switch. Some modify the interlock parts, to NOT lose the two top right spots, but that is unsafe and that does not permit the required placement of the hold down kit for a secure main.

The generator wiring has been completed.

 

There is now an exterior power inlet box where I may connect my portable generator.

 

The main panel has a mechanical interlock for safety and for compliance. The generator breaker is mechanically secured, for the same reasons, to create a secure main.

 

The hold down kit includes a black molded electrical screw insulation cover. This does not remain in-place on my 30A Q230 Type QP double pole breaker, to not fall off when not held by my fingers. According to the Amazon Siemens ECMBR2 hold down kit listing, this is compatible w/ breakers 60A or larger. A telephone discussion w/ Siemens revealed that the 60A and larger breakers have a hook that grabs the cover tang for retention. The smaller amperage breakers don't have that hook. Mine will not have that screw cover installed.

 

The mechanical interlock must be installed last because the retention tangs will make removal difficult.

 

The ONLY way to remove / replace the panel cover is with BOTH the main breaker and the generator breaker in the OFF positions. The interlock has a detent to hold the lever up during the panel cover installation / removal process.

 

Now the interlock permits either street power or generator power to feed the circuit panel. It is also impossible to back feed the exposed exterior power inlet box electrical prongs. The interlock makes it impossible to connect the generator output to street electricity.

 

 

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