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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3528
Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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Creating a subpanel from an ITE Panel

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I have ITE older Electrical Panel box from 1967 (house was built). It's I think 125amp (says inside box). I don't have room and want to add a subpanel. I plan to add a 50 amp double pole breaker and run a 6 gauge wires from the main to the subpanel. Can I use any type of subpanel I want, ie Also, can I mount it next to a natural gas pipe? And run my branch circuits near the gas pipes? One more thing: when I drill thru the studs to run my lines can I run several lines through the same hole or is there a limit? name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!


1) Can you provide me with the approximate distance that the Eaton sub-panel will be located from your ITE panel? Will the sub-panel be located within line of site from the ITE panel?


2) Are you planning on running Romex cables out of the sub for the branch circuits?


3) How will you connect the ITE to the EATON sub? EMT Metal conduit or Romex?


4) When drilling thru the studs, I assume that the continuous length will not exceed 24 inches or longer, correct? How many cables are you planning on running thru each stud?


5) Is the gas line installed overhead or adjacent to where the sub panel will be installed? What is the distance?


6) How many branch circuits do you plan on installing in the new sub-panel?


7) Does the existing ITE panel contain any double pole circuit breakers other than (1) one double pole breaker for an air conditioning condenser? Do you have an electric dryer or electric hot water heater or electric baseboard heat or electric range or electric double oven installed in the house?


8) What is the amperage of the main breaker in the ITE? 100 or 125 amps? The main breaker amperage should be listed on the face of the breaker. If no amperage listed on the main breaker, for a 100 amp panel, the service entrance wires should be a minimum 4 AWG copper or 2 AWG aluminum. For a 125 amp panel, the service wires should be a minimum of 2 AWG copper or 1/0 aluminum. I will need to know either the main breaker size or the size of the service entrance cables.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.


If I answer all your questions, this website won't allow that length of a reply so instead of putting it here, please see and you will see all your questions with my answers.

Hello Dean and "Thank You" for your replies as well as the drawing.


1) Based upon your replies that you have an existing 40 amp electric range and a 30 amp electric dryer, plus the likelihood of adding another 40 amp circuit for a future Central Air Conditioner, I would not recommend adding a sub-panel. Instead, I highly recommend that the existing 125 amp ITE main panel be upgraded to a 200 amp service using a 42 space panel. This will provide you with the necessary future amperage that you will require as well as spaces for future branch circuits.


2) Since the house was built in 1967, more than likely, the ITE panel is a smaller panel, such as a 24 spacer or maybe smaller? If you install a sub-panel, the main ITE panel will have (1) one 40 amp for the range, (1) 30 amp for the dryer, (1) one 50 amp feeder breaker for the sub and (1) one future 40 amp for a Central Air. Due to the combination of the larger electrical appliances plus the other 15 and 20 amp branch circuits, the 125 amp main will most likely trip.


3) If you installed a 50 amp feeder breaker to protect the sub and then in the future, you installed a Central Air, the AC needs a minimum of a 40 amp breaker installed in the sub. Not to mention that you will have (6) six additional 20 amp branch circuits in the sub. This application will be too many branch circuits and the 50 amp feeder breaker will trip due to the sub-panel being overloaded. It is very likely that the range, dryer, Central Air plus many other branch circuits within the home can be operational simultaneously. Thus my reasoning for recommending a panel upgrade to a 200 amp service.


4) If you choose to upgrade the 125 amp to a 200 amp main, you will need to contact your electrical utility and ask them if their service cables originating from the transformer are of sufficient size to handle a 200 amp service. Some electrical utilities may charge you if their service cables are too small and need to be upgraded. Other utilities may not charge. Thus it is best to ask them.


5) Depending upon the type of service entrance that you have, either a service lateral (underground) or an overhead service will determine the installation price to upgrade to a 200 amp panel if an electrical contractor will perform the work. If you have an existing overhead service via a metal conduit riser mast, very likely the riser conduit will need to be replaced with a minimum of 2" rigid metal conduit. The meter socket will also need to be replaced. A budgetary 200 amp panel upgrade with overhead service will be a minimum of $2,000.00 and most likely more. I would not recommend to attempt to perform the 200 amp panel upgrade by yourself. In fact most municipalities will require a licensed electrician and the job will need to be inspected by the Authority Having Jurisdiction. I would recommend that you contact your local electrical inspector (AHJ) and ask them their local requirements. I would recommend obtaining (3) three bids from reputable licensed electrical contractors in your area. Get some references as well. Pick the one you feel most comfortable with and don't just base a decision solely on the lowest bidder. As with anything you purchase, hiring a contractor is the same, you get what you pay for.


6) I understand that this is not the answer that you wanted to receive. However, something to consider for the future is as follows: Most new single family dwellings constructed today are installed with a 200 amp service and not a 100 amp service. If and when it comes time for the house to be sold, highly likely that any potential buyer will hire a state licensed home inspector and the home inspector will probably recommend to a new buyer that the service should be recommended to a 200 amp panel upgrade. Any knowledgeable state licensed home inspector will see that a sub-panel installed with too many branch circuits from too small of a 50 amp feeder breaker will write up the report and it will not be in your favor. The potential home buyer will use this as a means to low ball the asking price of the home.


Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.


Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Thanks for the excellent answer.


Also, if I install the 200 amp panel how many lines can I run through

a hold in the studs? And how close can I come to an natural gas pipe?


Regarding doing the 200 amp service myself I have a non-electrician friend I know who has done at least a couple in the past and says it would be easy todo. It doesn't sound complicated. Seems like installing the outside shutoff with the meter, running the conduit to the new 200 amp panel, installing the ground rods and the circuits seems not rocket science. What am I missing? Also, since the city inspector will check it out since I'd be pulling a permit and might pay an electrician to check it all out before calling the city inspector for final inspection.


Just trying to save $$$$$$.


I might have a few minor questions and will ask at another time.

1) Hello Dean............thank you for your replies.


2) Their are (2) two code requirements when running Romex thru a 2 x 4 wall stud. If running Romex thru the studs, the National Electrical Code (NEC) only allows a maximum contiguous length of 24 inches which is due to potential heat build-up. If the length is greater than 24 inches, then the Romex cables must be derated to a lower amperage. However, this will not apply in your installation, since you don't have that many contiguous studs that you will be drilling thru.


3) The only requirement that you will need to adhere to when drilling out the studs is that if the hole is greater than 1 1/4" from the stud edge, you are required by code to use the 'nail-on" plates to protect the Romex cables from any future drywall screws, nails, etc. When drilling the hole thru the studs, always drill the hole in the middle. Their is no code requirement on the maximum of Romex cables, other than what I mentioned in my response from above. I normally install a maximum of 5 or 6 cables thru each stud, then use the "nail-on" plate. Then move up or down the stud another 6 inches and run another set of 5 or 6 cables thru, and so forth. Even if my holes are less than the 1 1/4" edge measurement, I still recommend to use the "nail-on" plates, especially in areas of the wall where a future TV or picture frame may be located.


4) The only distance requirement for the side to side working space around the panel is a clear space of at least 30 inches wide (or the width of the panel - whichever is greater must be maintained. Equipment doors must be able to open at least 90 degrees. Installing the new panel near the gas line should not be an issue as long as accessibility is maintained. However, I would run this past your local electrical inspector to make sure. Remember that every municipality may have their own electrical code requirements which can extend above and beyond the National Electrical Code requirements.


5) The NEC requires a primary and a supplemental grounding electrode system. Most common for a single family dwelling is to ground to the street side of the city water supply main pipe and then jumper the contiguous ground wire back across the water meter. An 8 foot ground rod is also installed directly below the exterior electrical meter socket and driven 8 feet into the ground. The grounding electrode conductors from the rod and the water meter are then bonded together by both conductors landing inside panel neutral bus bar. This method now grounds the neutral conductor. The cold water supply, hot water and gas pipes at a water heater must be bonded together if the water piping is copper or metal.


6) Their are many other NEC requirements and variables for a panel upgrade. I would recommend to contact your local Authority Having Jurisdiction (electrical inspector) to review your plans. For example, many AHJ's will now require the use of Arc Fault Circuit breakers in either the bedrooms of the house and/or all habitable areas of the house, depending upon what NEC code cycle they adhere too. Kitchen counter top receptacle circuits require a minimum of (2) two dedicated 20 amp circuits which must be GFCI protected. Bathrooms require a dedicated 20 amp circuit. Laundry area requires a dedicated 20 amp GFCI receptacle circuit. Bathrooms require GFCI protected receptacles, Exterior and garage receptacles require GFCI protection. As you can see, the list goes on and on. When doing a panel upgrade the local electrical inspector will want to get the electrical system of the house up to the current code requirements and will most likely require the aforementioned items.


Yes, having a local licensed electrician check everything out prior to calling for an inspection is always a good idea. Typically, the inspector will want a rough-in as well as a final inspection.


Purchase the largest 200 amp breaker space panel, ie 42 spaces. This will allow for future circuit growth. Do not install any panel smaller than 42 spaces. The additional cost is minimal. If you will drywall around the new panel, suggest installing some extra 3/4" EMT riser conduits at the top and/or bottom of the panel and install large 4 11/16" square pull boxes. This will allow you to add additional circuits down the road without ripping out drywall. The success of any electrical system installation is proper planning.


7) No problem, you can always come back to this question for any follow-ups. No need to create a new question, just come back here and post your question and I will reply back to you. I'm logged onto the JA site pretty much everyday. Usually late afternoons and evenings during the week and on/off most weekends.


Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.


Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Kevin.


Little confused about the grounding system. You said:


"Most common for a single family dwelling is to ground to the street side of the city water supply main pipe and then jumper the contiguous ground wire back across the water meter."


The house is currently grounded just to the water pipe somewhere buried down a wall somewhere. I could run a new ground wire to the water pipe coming into the house on the street side. Not sure what you mean by

"and then jumper the contiguous ground wire back across the water meter." Our water meters are out in front of the house near the sidewalk.


Also, you mentioned:


"An 8 foot ground rod is also installed directly below the exterior electrical meter socket and driven 8 feet into the ground."

The panel is on the opposite side of the garage of the service meter so the ground wire would have to travel about 30-40 meet to be connected to the ground rod if the ground rod is to be near the service meter. Is that distance an issue? I thought I heard is should be closest to the panel as possible in which this case the closest dirt is about 20 feet away.


You said:

"The grounding electrode conductors from the rod and the water meter are then bonded together by both conductors landing inside panel neutral bus bar."


So today's code requires grounding to the water meter and to a ground rod buried 8' deep (I think here we require two ground rods connected together set at least 6' apart)? What about new construction since they don't use metal for the water lines?


But in my case then I would have two grounding systems one to the water pipe and one to the grounding rods all connected at the neutral bus in the panel.


Also you said: "The cold water supply, hot water and gas pipes at a water heater must be bonded together if the water piping is copper or metal."


Yes the piping is metal (galvanized piping). Not sure what you mean by bonding together? Do you mean connecting hot, cold, and gas line via a wire, ie 12 gauge, and clamps at the water heater? I never seen that done before or I haven't noticed it before.


Good day and you have been a tremendous help with all your knowledge! :)




1) Hello Dean....... you have many good questions.


2) Since your water meter is on the exterior, more than likely the local electrical inspector will allow the same. Our water meters here in Illinois are always installed inside the house either in the basement or in a utility room. The grounding electrode conductor for a 200 amp service panel is required to be a 4 AWG stranded copper to both the water pipe and the ground rod. The 8 foot ground rod will be installed nearest the panel location. Most panels are installed back to back from the meter socket exterior wall, thus the reason I mentioned below the meter socket.


3) If the underground water piping is PVC and not metal, then either a Ufer ground tied to the concrete footing rebar is required or a ground plate buried in the soil or a grounding ring is required as the primary ground path. The AHJ will be able to provide you with your local electrical code. Remember, your local electrical inspector can mandate requirements above and beyond the National Electrical Code and they have the final say so. Many municipalities across the United States have different grounding requirements.


4) Check with your Authority Having Jurisdiction (local inspector) as they may require the use of (2) two 8 foot ground rods driven 6 feet apart and bonded together. Code requires a minimum of 1 ground rod. However, your local code may require 2 rods. The use of more than 1 ground rod depends upon your local soil conditions, ie, dirt, clay, sand, rock, etc...


5) The bonding of the water heater piping has been around for maybe 10 or more years. I would have to look up the exact year this was enforced. Anyhow, the code requires that the cold & hot water pipes from the water heater be bonded together with the metal gas pipe at the water heater. This requirement is only if the pipes are metal or copper. The reason for this code requirement is that if any of these pipes became energized, they would be grounded throughout the entire home piping system. For a 200 amp service, 4 AWG Stranded copper wire is also used via approved grounding clamps at each of the 3 metal pipes. No splices are allowed here and the 4 AWG bonding is one piece of wire run contiguously thru each of the 3 ground clamps.


The general rule for electrical is that services (wires from the electrical utility) get grounded and equipment gets bonded. Very similar, but yet a difference. The only true grounding in any electrical system is by either ground rods, street water pipe, Ufer ground, ground plates or grounding rings. These are called Grounding Electrode Conductors.


Equipment such as receptacles, metal conduit, wall switches, light fixtures, water heaters are all forms of equipment. Equipment technically gets bonded together and not grounded. Bare copper conductors used in Romex are Equipment Grounds and not Grounding Electrode Conductors. Same thing with EMT or Rigid metal conduit. Bonding occurs at the main electrical panel. The primary and supplemental grounds (water pipe & ground rod) are tied or bonded together at the neutral bus bar. If metal conduit is used, the metal conduit is bonded to the panel by contact. If Romex is used, the bare copper wires are bonded to an equipment grounding bar inside the panel. Thus, everything becomes bonded together to form an entire grounding system. Think of bonding as "metal coming in direct contact with other metal".





Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Great info' thanks again on your thorough replies.


I was in Homedepot and talking to the electrician there and he said that if the panel is located away from the meter, ie not immediately on the other side of the wall (paraphrasing) and mine is about 25 feet away, then the panel is actually a subpanel and not the main. So the neutral and grounds would not be connected to the same bar. I think he said

it's because of the requirements that we have a shutoff right there on the meter on the exterior of the house that is the main panel now.


Also, he also said that the grounding of the rods would occur right below the meter and that the neutral coming into the house and ground are all connected at the meter.

Regarding the gas pipe would only needed to be bonded if it's close to the meter.

Does this seem to make sense? Getting a little concerned about doing it myself and might have to hire it out hopefully not for an 'arm and a leg.'

1) Dean..... that's correct, if the panel is located that distance from the meter socket, then the 200 amp panel will act as a sub-panel and the neutral in the main panel will need to be isolated or floating and not bonded to the 200 amp panel metal enclosure. If your house is wired using Romex, the sub-panel will also require a separate equipment ground bar. In any sub-panel install, the equipment grounds are always isolated from the neutral. The neutral bus bar can only land white neutral wires and no bare copper or green wires. The equipment ground bar can only land bare copper equipment grounds from Romex or green ground wires. Do not mix white neutral and/or bare copper grounds on the same bus bars in a sub-panel installation, as that is a code violation as well as a safety hazard.


Due to the distance from the meter to the 200 amp sub-panel, you will also require a 240 volt/200 amp disconnect. This is typically accomplished using a meter socket that has a built-in 200 amp main breaker to shut down the entire house. Milbank is the most common manufacturer for exterior meter sockets in the United States. They manufacture such an exterior meter socket disconnect with a main 200 amp breaker. Have used those plenty of times.


2) Due to the distance from the meter socket to the 200 amp sub, the ground rod would be installed directly below the meter socket. Yes, the bonding of the ground rod and water piping grounding electrodes would occur at the meter disconnect.


3) Not sure if you have a service lateral (underground) or an overhead service? Overhead service is always more complicated and time consuming since the riser mast usually has to be increased to a 2 inch rigid metal conduit in order to support the tension on the overhead wires. If overhead, I normally install new riser masts in parallel with the existing system. Then it is just a matter of cutting over from the old to the new.

4) If overhead, you're looking at a minimum of 6 hrs to install new riser mast, install service entrance conductors, anchoring the meter socket to the house, install the drip loops, install the weather-head and make the final connection to the utility wires. Not sure in your area, but here in Chicago, the local utility does not cut power at the transformer, we make the final connections live whether it is underground or overhead. Nothing like splicing 240 volt conductors up on a ladder or on a roof, especially when it is raining outside... been there, down that........ lol. Underground connections to the meter socket are much easier and a little safer. If you have overhead service, our local utility makes us use Burndy connectors and not split bolts for the service wire splices. Check with the local AHJ on this. If Burndy's are required, you must have a Burndy crimping tool to properly make the splice to the utility 2 hots and grounded conductor.


5) As far as de-installing the old panel and re-installing the new one, you're looking at approximately another 6 to 8 hrs, maybe more, depending upon how your branch circuits were initially run. The 6 to 8 hrs timeframe is using experienced electricians. If you don't have experience in performing this type of work, I would recommend to hire a contractor. As you can probably tell, this is a lot of work and these types of panel upgrades never come easy. Proper planning on any panel upgrade always makes the job go smoother. I've performed some panel upgrades that took about 14 hours and that was using 2 other experienced electricians plus myself. Every job is different and many can be somewhat complex and challenging, even to the most experienced electricians.


6) As for the gas pipe, you would need to run this past the AHJ. Here in Illinois, we only bond the gas pipe at the water heater with the cold and hot water supplies. We never bond or ground to a gas pipe anywhere else on the property or inside the house, only at the water heater.


7) Since you have some distance to go from the exterior meter socket to the new sub-panel location, more than likely the conduit from the exterior to inside the garage will need to be de-installed and re-installed with larger EMT conduit due to the increase in wire sizes. Or if you have cable instead of conduit currently used as the feeders, then the cable will need to be de-installed and the feeders will need to be increased.


8) If removing concentric knockouts and no holes are punched in the meter can or the sub, you also need to use bonding bushings inside the meter can as well as inside the 200 amp sub-panel. The 200 amp sub-panel also needs to be a main breaker panel and not a main lug panel.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Kevin, thanks once again. I have an underground service and I believe it's already 200amp. However, I think you just up my mind to have hire an electrician to do it! :)


I found a good deal on Angieslist for $999 to upgrade the 125 amp to 200 amp. I think I will go for it.


You been a big help and much appreciate you sharing your knowledge. Electricity is definitely a thing of nature that we have to respect and not take lightly, so I will go this time the safer route.


Take care,


1) Glad I could be of assistance Dean. If you have any other questions, feel free to come back to this question and I will reply.


2) $999 is a very reasonable price for an upgrade.


Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.


Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:



Kevin and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you

Dean.........Thank you for the excellent service rating............much appreciated!


Take care and have a great evening. Hope all works out well for you on the upgrade!



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


I had an electrician come out and he said I could do fine on the 125 amp service. I know you mentioned the following in one of your replies:


1) Based upon your replies that you have an existing 40 amp electric range and a 30 amp electric dryer, plus the likelihood of adding another 40 amp circuit for a future Central Air Conditioner, I would not recommend adding a sub-panel. Instead, I highly recommend that the existing 125 amp ITE main panel be upgraded to a 200 amp service using a 42 space panel.


However, I decided to take out the electric range and will put in a gas

range instead so there would only be a 30 amp breaker for the dryer. Also, the 200 amp I would have to dig a trench to get to the old line and in case the new line in steel pipe plus run a 4 cable line from the meter to my new panel at 50 feet at $5/foot. Seem like a lot of work and expense was adding up.


So I will upgrade the panel to a 125 amp with more space and a shutoff at the top.


My questions are:

1) when I ground the updated panel I will be using two ground rods six feet a part, however, the nearest dirt is about 25 feet away. Is that a problem being that far away?


2) If that is OK, would I just run the ground wire through the studs in the wall like I would romex on a branch circuit and then out the wall down to the dirt?


3) Would I need to put the ground wire in some kind of casing or metal pipe when it goes out the side of the house down to the dirt?


4) Regarding the 40 amp line going to my stove I plan to leave that there in case in the future someone wanted an electric stove instead. How would I leave the wires in the panel box? With wire nuts on the end and have it labeled or outside of the box with wire nuts on and a label?


5) For the gas stove I think I need a receptacle to run the clock and light etc. Where would I put the receptacle on the wall? Just the normal height of all other receptacles, ie, about 16.5" to the middle of the outlet?


5b) For that receptacle can I go off of my dedicated microwave branch circuit (I just ran that in the attic) or does the microwave have to be totally on it's own dedicated line?


6) Also currently the panel is just grounded to a water pipe somewhere in the wall (house built in 1967 split level). I believe I am suppose to keep that as the ground and in addition add the two ground rods. Is that so?


And would I have a separate ground wire from the neutral/ground bus in the panel to the ground rods? In other words, the current ground wire to the water pipe would be one wire connected to the neutral bus and a separate ground wire connected to the neutral bus going out to the two ground rods?



Good day,



1) Hello Dean.... before I answer your other questions, I just wanted to confirm that you are planning on leaving the existing 125 amp main electrical panel (de-install the 40 amp breaker for the electric range) and install your original plan of using a 50 amp sub-panel located next to the existing 125 amp main panel, correct?


You mention that you will upgrade the panel to 125 amp, so I just wanted to confirm if that was a typo and you meant that you want to add the 50 amp sub-panel and leave the 125 amp panel as-is? Let me know and I will reply back with the answers to your questions.......Thanks.............Kevin!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kevin,

Sorry missed your email.


I want to replace the panel with a new 125 amp panel so I can have a main shut off (shut off at the top of the panel that shuts all off) and more space. So no adding on a subpanel but just replacing the existing panel and NOT upgrading the service to 200 amp.




Hello Dean....... thanks for the replies. The answers to your questions are as follows italicized and underlined below:


1) when I ground the updated panel I will be using two ground rods six feet a part, however, the nearest dirt is about 25 feet away. Is that a problem being that far away? Since the new 125 amp panel will be located approximately 25 feet away from the meter, you will either require a 240 volt/125 amp single phase disconnect switch not located more than 6 feet from the exterior meter socket. The other option is to use a combo meter socket that has a built-in 125 amp main breaker to act as the disconnect. The ground rods will need to be grounded at the 240 volt switch disconnect or combo meter socket/breaker disconnect. The new 125 amp panel should also be a main breaker panel and not a main lug.


2) If that is OK, would I just run the ground wire through the studs in the wall like I would romex on a branch circuit and then out the wall down to the dirt? On the interior of the house, install the grounding electrode conductor inside 1/2" EMT conduit or 1/2" Greenfield. Once on the exterior of the house, transition to 1/2" EMT and use compression couplings and not set screw types. At the end of the 1/2" EMT on the exterior, purchase a threaded grounding hub that will connect to exterior 1/2" EMT via a standard 1/2" EMT threaded box connector and run the ground wire thru and connect to the 8 foot ground rod using an approved accord type ground clamp. The Grounding Electrode Conductors to the rod(s) and water pipe must be a contiguous run and no splices allowed.


3) Would I need to put the ground wire in some kind of casing or metal pipe when it goes out the side of the house down to the dirt? Refer to number 2 above.


4) Regarding the 40 amp line going to my stove I plan to leave that there in case in the future someone wanted an electric stove instead. How would I leave the wires in the panel box? With wire nuts on the end and have it labeled or outside of the box with wire nuts on and a label? Label the 2 hot conductors, 1 neutral and 1 equipment ground for the stove using white electricians tape and a black Sharpie. Label at each end and cap off each end with plastic wire nuts. Group all 4 stove conductors using a zip tie or wrap in some black electricians tape. Therefore, easy for the next guy to identify.


5) For the gas stove I think I need a receptacle to run the clock and light etc. Where would I put the receptacle on the wall? Just the normal height of all other receptacles, ie, about 16.5" to the middle of the outlet? A receptacle for the gas stove receptacle is normally located at the same height above the floor as the rest of the wall receptacles within the house, usually 12" to 16" above the floor.


5b) For that receptacle can I go off of my dedicated microwave branch circuit (I just ran that in the attic) or does the microwave have to be totally on it's own dedicated line? I always recommend a dedicated 20 amp circuit just for the microwave oven and nothing else on it. As you are aware, microwaves come in various wattage sizes. The gas stove receptacle can either be tied into the kitchen counter top 20 amp circuits or it can be run on its own dedicated circuit. Most common method is to tie into counter top 20 amp circuit. You will need a minimum of (2) two 20 amp circuits only for the kitchen counter top receptacles. No lighting is permitted on the kitchen counter top receptacle circuits.


6) Also currently the panel is just grounded to a water pipe somewhere in the wall (house built in 1967 split level). I believe I am suppose to keep that as the ground and in addition add the two ground rods. Is that so? Yes, that is correct. The water pipe ground is actually the primary ground and the exterior ground rods are the supplemental grounds. You may not require 2 separate ground rods and possibly only 1 rod will be required. I recommend to run this past your local inspector due to the existing soil conditions that you have. Code requires a minimum of (1) one 8 foot rod and the resistance must be less than 25 ohms. If greater than 25 ohms, then additional rods bonded at least 6 feet apart may be required. Your AHJ can advise you on the soil conditions in your area. Code requires a primary and a supplemental ground.


And would I have a separate ground wire from the neutral/ground bus in the panel to the ground rods? In other words, the current ground wire to the water pipe would be one wire connected to the neutral bus and a separate ground wire connected to the neutral bus going out to the two ground rods? If using a disconnect switch or a combo meter socket/breaker disconnect, the 2 separate grounds (ground rod and water pipe ground) will terminate on that equipment. From the disconnect switch or combo meter socket with breaker, you will then run a 4 wire circuit to the 125 amp panel which will act as a sub-panel. The equipment grounding conductor originating from either the disconnect switch or combo meter socket enclosure will land on an equipment grounding bar at the sub-panel and not on the sub-panel neutral bus bar.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Thanks for the info.


I got a estimate from a electrician here in town and here is

what he came up with (actual bid sheet):


Panel Replacement:
Remove the existing ITE electrical panel and replace it with a modern 125 Amp main
breaker style panel.
The work will proceed as follows:
 Obtain an electrical permit
 Disconnect power to the house
 Remove the existing panel
 Install a new grounding and bonding system
 Install a new 125 Amp main breaker panel with 24 spaces
 Install new breakers in the panel
 Mark the panel showing what the breakers control
 Restore power to the house
 Spot check to ensure power has been restored
 Arrange for an electrical inspection
Estimated cost for material and labor is $1,380.00


So it doesn't sound like I need a disconnect at the meter and I really want to avoid running a 4 wire from the meter to my panel which is about 40-50 feet away.


It seems like I just need to replace the panel with a new one, reconnect the wires to the right breakers and run my grounding system from the panel.


My question is they said they would install a new bonding and grounding system. Does that mean I can connect to the water pipe (closest to the street) and then to two grounding rods about 25 feet away from the new panel?


Since there is already a ground wire connected to the water pipe I figure I can just use that one? But you said before it must be contiguous? I assume that means all on one ground wire instead of two separate ground wires connecting to the neutral bus in the panel? Not sure how I would to that with the ground rods?


I think this seems so simple I so tempted to do it myself and save a 'load of dough.' :)



1) Dean.......... you will need to engage your local Authority Having Jurisdiction make the call on the distance for the disconnecting means. Most AHJ's want a disconnecting means within 6 feet from the exterior meter. Article 230.70(A) in the 2011 edition of the National Electrical Code discusses this. It basically boils down to a judgment call made by the local inspector (AHJ) if you require a separate disconnect or not. A local electrician can not make this call, only the AHJ can.


2) Same thing goes for the grounding electrode distance. The main purpose of the grounding system is to ensure that the electrical distribution system is grounded as close as possible to the service entrance. The AHJ needs to approve the distance.


3) (1) one contiguous grounding electrode conductor means going from the neutral bus to the 1st ground rod using an approved grounding clamp and routing the wire directly thru the 1st ground clamp and continuing on to the 2nd ground rod clamp if needed. When connecting to a water pipe and a ground rod, two separate wires are always required. However, when connecting to two rods, then only 1 wire is required. If you have 1 existing ground wire connecting to the water pipe, then you are good.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kevin:


About ready to upgrade my panel to 125 main breaker. Got bid as I said before from an electrical company and they said upgrade to 125 amp panel. I wondering how do I know if I have a 100 amp or 125 amp panel?

It does say on the panel 125 amp but I was wondering if that wasn't there how do you tell the difference?


What is the difference between a main "lug" panel vs other? Is that without a shut off? I see these at the store vs main panel.


Also, I saw different brands at Home Depot: Homeline, Eaton (cutler hammer), and Siemons. Any recommendation or is no one head and shoulders above the other?


Thanks ahead of time Kevin. :)



1) Hello Dean....... how are you doing? Hope all is well.


2) All electrical panels will have a maximum rating of the voltage and amperage. Typically, the rating is located on the inside of the door (left side) when you open it. There will be the rating from the manufacturer and also a UL rating with a label. The label will show you the maximum amperage of the panel.


3) There are 2 types of panelboards. A Main Breaker and a Main Lug. Real simple..... a Main Breaker panel has a main circuit breaker located at the top of the panel. If you shut the Main Breaker to OFF, you will disconnect the entire panel. Main Breakers are also labeled typically as 125, 150, 200 amps, etc... depending upon your incoming utility service.


4) A Main Lug panel is only used for sub-panel applications residing next to or very near the Main Breaker Panel. A Main Lug panel does not have a main breaker, it only has branch circuit breakers. If installing a Main Lug panel, you will have a double pole feeder breaker installed in the Main Breaker panel and that breaker will act as the means of disconnect for the Main Lug or sub-panel.


5) I am an Eaton Certified Electrical Contractor, so I'm somewhat partial to Cutler-Hammer brand. I believe CH manufactures the best panels in the marketplace. Their circuit breakers are readily available at most Home Depot's, Lowe's or Ace Hardware stores unlike other panel brands. CH panels are actually designed by electricians like me. We tell Eaton what we'd like to see in a panel and they usually take our recommendations and manufacture them that way.


6) The other brands are also good... don't get me wrong. The main reason, I prefer CH is that they are an old old company. The other manufacturers have been bought out and merged so many times over the years, thus the reason I don't use them. For example, Siemens merged with ITE, Gould, and a few others. Sometimes, it becomes a hassle obtaining parts or breakers at some stores, although, most Siemens breakers are backwards compatible with an ITE or a Gould panel. I also like GE panels, since their breakers are also readily available. I tend to stick with brands that parts are readily available.


7) Many new home builders use Homeline which is manufactured by Square-D. Definitely a good panel, but here again, I've encountered where some stores do not carry Homeline breakers. Thus the main reason I like to stick with either CH or GE panels.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Kevin. Great info. :)

Regarding receptacles most are on 20 amp circuits nowadays, however, at HomeDepot the box for standard receptacles says 15amp-120v. Does that mean I need to find a different receptacle for 20 amp circuits?


Also, if I have romex lines running into a j-box can I wire 2 of the black wires on the same screw of the receptacle? If it's one wire per screw and there are only two screws how would you connect the other two wires? I know some of the receptacles have holes to insert on the back but some do not.

1) Hello Dean............The National Electrical Code allows using 15 amp receptacles onto a 20 amp circuit. However, code does not allow 20 amp receptacles onto a 15 amp circuit. Therefore, if you have a 20 amp circuit, you are good to go and OK to use 15 amp receptacles there.


2) Only (1) one wire lands on a screw terminal and never 2 or more. You will need to make a 6" pigtail splice as shown in the picture below. The use of the pigtail will allow you to connect 1 wire to 1 screw terminal. The pigtail splice is connected using plastic wire nuts. Not recommended to use the "back-stab" connections on receptacles and switches as these tend to come loose over time. Always recommended to use the side screw terminals.





Customer: replied 4 years ago.


1) All duplex receptacles will have a total of 5 screws. 2 screws will be brass for the hots, 2 silver screws will be for the neutrals and 1 green screw is for the ground or bare copper wire used in Romex.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Here is a Homeline 125 amp main panel please click here .

Since it's a main panel and not a subpanel the neutral and ground

bars are connected is how I understand it. My questions are:


1) which one do I choose for the ground bus?

2) Do I bond the neutral bar to the panel with the big green screw and if
so why am I doing that? Grounding the panel?

3) If bonding the neutral bar, where do I screw that in?

4) Also, connecting the ground wire where do I connect that on the bus?

5) If I'm using a 240 volt double pole breaker can I put that anywhere on the panel? Conversely, single poles can go anywhere as well?

6) when tightening the two main feeder wires how tight should I get it? Should I torque it so many foot pounds?


Hope your weekend is going well!

1) Hello Dean....weekend is good here in Chicago. Finally cooled down to a respectable 83 degrees today as opposed to mid 90's the past week.


2) On all sub-panels, the neutral bus bar must remain floating or isolated from the panel enclosure. This means that the green bonding screw DOES NOT get installed.


In a sub-panel install,there is only one electrode conductor ground and that is always & only at the main breaker panel and never at the sub-panel. Sub-panels only get connected using an equipment grounding conductor. A sub-panel is considered as equipment, therefore only an equipment grounding conductor is used and not a grounding electrode conductor. Grounding electrode conductors only get connected to a 8 foot ground rod and/or the street side of a city water pipe supply.


3) Since the HomeLine panel has 2 neutral bus bars tied together, I would recommend leaving them as-is. You will need to install an equipment ground bar near the bottom of the panel or to the left or right side of the neutral bus bars, whichever is most convenient and accessible. The equipment ground bar now becomes bonded to the sub-panel metal enclosure. The neutral bus bars are not bonded to the sub-panel metal enclosure, since no green bonding screw is installed. If you notice, the neutral bus bars are also isolated from the panel metal enclosure.


3A) The equipment grounding conductor from the main panel will land on the sub-panel equipment ground bar. You will also require an equipment ground bar inside the main panel to tie the main to the sub panel for the equipment grounding conductor. If using Romex in the sub-panel, the bare copper grounds from the Romex will also land on the equipment ground bar inside the sub. Do not mix your white neutrals and bare copper grounds on the same bus bars, these must always be separate and isolated. White neutrals only land on the neutral bar and bare coppers only land on the equipment ground bar. The equipment ground bar comes in a variety of screw terminals. Purchase one at your local Home Depot or Lowe's that will accommodate the quantity of bare copper ground wires from your Romex branch circuits. I would recommend to purchase at least a 15 screw terminal ground bar.


Refer to attached link below from Home Depot.


4) When installing the 2 pole double feeder breaker in the main panel, install it accordingly while trying to maintain equal amperage balancing of your existing circuit breakers on both phases. Doubt that you will end up with a perfect balance, but try to get it as close as possible. Yes, the single poles can land anywhere. Same thing, try to achieve a balance on each hot phase if you can for the single poles.


5) The breaker should have a ft lbs rating for the torque. If not, just make sure it is properly tightened and not loose.





Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:


Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Little confused. Since this is my main breaker panel and NOT a subpanel the neutral and ground bar are tied together. That is how it is currently and there is no main shut off at the meter.


So how I see it is that the neutral and ground bars are tied together (as they are currently) and I'll have to run a grounding electrode conductor to the two 8 foot ground rods.


So shouldn't I just choose one of the bars as the ground and if so which one? Or as you mentioned the two bars are the neutrals and I need to add a grounding bar.

Also the green grounding screw would then just be grounding the metal panel box, and connecting it to the grounding bar, right? And where on the bar would I install that?

Also, where exactly would I connect the grounding conductor to the ground bar, anywhere or is there a special screw for the 6 AWG size conductor.

1) I apologize for the confusion Dean..........was thinking that you will be using this as a sub-panel.


2) The green bonding screw gets screwed into one of the neutral bus bars to bond this to the metal cabinet enclosure.


3) You grounding electrode conductor from the ground rod will also land on a neutral bus bar. You may require a larger lug to attach the grounding electrode conductor to if the neutral screw terminals are too small.


4) Based on the pic you previously sent, it appeared that both neutral bars were tied together and both were isolated from the metal enclosure via a plastic backing. If so, I recommend to leave the 2 neutral bars tied together and install a separate equipment ground bus bar as I mentioned in my previous reply for the Romex bare copper ground wires. It is always a good idea to keep the white neutrals on their own bus bar and the bare copper or green grounds on a separate equipment ground bar.


5) Since no main disconnect at the meter, the meter will need to be removed in order to connect the 2 hots and the 1 neutral to the new panel. Once the panel is installed and the 3 wires from the meter socket are landed, you can then re-install the meter into the meter socket. Be careful when removing and re-installing the meter socket as those are live wires coming in from the electrical utility.

Dean.... I see that you are on-line..........let me know if you have any questions.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


I have a old subpanel that was installed by the previous owner. I removed it and the the feeder wire is still there along with the branch circuit to the dryer. Instead of removing the feeder and the dryer wire and installing a new dryer wire directly to the dryer I think I will create a j-box there.

My questions are:

1) the feeder is a 3 wire 2 hots and a neutral and the dryer wire is a 4 wire 2 hots, neutral and ground. What would I do with the ground wire on the 4 wire?

2) If I use a metal j-box, I need a large one being feeder wire is a 6 awg, how would I ground the box?

3) Assuming I can't ground the 4 wire then how would I ground the dryer?

4) Or would you connect the dryer directly to the panel and don't use a j-box but I would have to tear up the walls to do that and run the 4 wire about 20 feet and could get costly.

5) finally, in older homes where there is only a 3 wire for the laundry outlet how do people connect that to there dryer and have it grounded for safety?

Good day, Dean

Hello Dean,


1) Prior to 1996, code allowed an electric dryer to be a 3 -wire circuit using only the 2 hot's and 1 neutral and no ground wire. Prior to 96, it was permitted to ground the junction box to the neutral conductor. The frame of the dryer was also grounded to the neutral conductor which served the dryer as both the neutral conductor and the equipment grounding conductor. Since 96, this is no longer permitted as all new electric dryer circuits are required to be 4 wire (2 hot's, 1 neutral and 1 ground). However, for existing installations, the 3-wire system is still allowed which lands on a 3-wire receptacle and not a newer 4-wire receptacle.


Refer to pic below showing the hard-wire connection located at the rear of the dryer for a 3 wire circuit:



Electric Dryer Outlets


2) The feeder circuit from the main panel to the old sub-panel should have either had metal conduit acting as the equipment ground or if run using Romex, it should have had a bare copper ground, thus making the feeder circuit as a 4-wire circuit. If metal conduit connected the 2 panels, then only 2 hot's and 1 neutral were required. If the original feeder circuit did not contain an equipment ground for the old sub-panel, then that was a code violation.


3) Does your existing feeder circuit not have the ground and it was ran using Romex without a bare copper grounding equipment conductor?


If the existing feeder circuit is only a 3 wire circuit and no equipment ground, then connect the dryer as per my reply and pictures shown above using a 3-wire plug and a 3-wire receptacle. If desiring to use the existing 4-wire plug and 4-wire receptacle, then an equipment ground wire must be run from where the old sub-panel was back to the main electrical panel. The entire dryer circuit must either be 3 or 4-wire from the main panel all the way to the dryer. This will also determine if the receptacle will be 3 or 4 wire type.


4) Electric dryers require a minimum of a 30 amp double pole breaker using 10 AWG stranded copper as the branch conductors. A NEMA 10-30R (refer to pic shown above) is the most common for the receptacle and a NEMA 10-30P is the most common for the plug using only a 3-wire circuit (2 hot's and 1 neutral). All dryers will have a nameplate rating located on the back of the dryer stating either the wattage or amperage or both. Larger electric dryers can also require a larger breaker and branch circuit conductors depending upon the wattage or amperage required.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Hope you are having a great weekend. Smile


I looked at the feeder line again (to the old subpanel) and it has two hots and a braided ground, no neutral. Sorry for the misinformation.

Seems a little weird that there is no neutral?

So if there is a 4 wire going to the dryer (from the old sub panel) I'm missing a neutral. Sounds like I have to run a new 4 wire from the panel straight to the dryer. Didn't want to have to tear up the walls but got to do what I got to do. Hope I'm understanding this correctly.

Good night.


Yes Dean...a good weekend here. Hope yours is also well?


1) An electric dryer is a 240 VAC circuit for the heating coils, but also requires 120 VAC for the timer, lighting & LED portions of the dryer. You will need a neutral wire in order for the dryer to function properly. Yes, a new 4 wire circuit from the panel to the dryer receptacle would be required since the neutral is missing.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

HI Kevin,

Weekend a little heck tick. Remodeling a home that we are moving into this week (Tue) and I'm only half way done with the remodeling. My wife and two kids will have to grin and bear it.


Thanks for the info again. Take care!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Still slowly rehabbing this house and back to the dryer again.

I have to run a new 4 wire from the panel to the dryer as mentioned

earlier, however, the dryer is an older dryer and has only three wire connection (2 hots and the neutral), so how do I hook a 4 wire to it?


Also, I replacing my receptacles in the house and the ground wire is connected to the metal j-box via a ground clip. Now there is ample amount of the ground wire so I also connected that to the ground screw on the new outlet as over kill for grounding the outlet. Is that OK to do?


Thanks again. Hope your week is going well. :)


Hello Dean.........all is going well here. Sounds like you're very busy with the house and making progress.


1) Since you are running a new 4 wire circuit for the dryer, the existing 3 prong dryer cord will need to be swapped out for a 4 wire cord. The 2 hots from the cord get connected to the respective hots on the dryer. Same for the neutral. Most likely, the older dryer did not have a green grounding screw. If not, connect the green cord ground wire directly to the dryer frame using a green grounding screw. The frame may not have a threaded hole near the connections, therefore, you would need to tap a threaded hole into the frame in order to make a good grounding connection. Here is the 4 prong dryer cord and 4-wire 30 amp dryer receptacle you will need. Home Depot and Lowe's both sell these.


See pic below:





2) The use of the green grounding clips are code compliant and simultaneously grounding to devices is perfectly acceptable. Although, I'm more partial when grounding to the metal 1900 boxes, I prefer to use a green grounding screw that gets terminated in the back of the box via the threaded hole. If no threaded hole available in the box, then not a problem using the clips. Either way is NEC compliant.



3) Per the 2011 NEC, receptacles are required to be "tamper - resistant type".


4) If any questions, just reply back to me...........Take care Dean and we'll talk to you later...........Thanks.............Kevin!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin, thanks once again for your help.

Unfortunately I'm running into a j-box with 4 romex wires coming in and the box is a switch for a 3 way. For some reason I can't find the other 3 way switch. I must gotten rid of it when I removed several switches in the room but don't recall seeing if any were a 3 way switch. ( tried to be very careful about killing those lights I didn't need in the room).

I figured out what line is the hot feeding the other 3 legs. My questions are:


1) should I disconnect the hot feeding the 3 way switch to disable it?

2) There is another leg with it's black wire joining to the neutral on the three way leg. Little confused about that.

3)Anyway I did try disconnecting the hot to the three way switch and disconnect the black wire joining the neutral on the three way. All my outlets on the wall are still working, but the outside light on the other side of the wall is not working now. Note, that prior to all this the switch made no difference on turning on/off the outside light. The light was always hot. Perhaps could of been a bad switch or it was wired to be on all the time (but doesn't seem logical).

1) Hello Dean...........Happy Friday!


2) I always recommend to disconnect any hot wire that is being disconnected. Some electricians will say it is OK to just cap off the hot wire on an unused switch, but I disconnect mine at the upstream source. I just think it is safer that way, rather than just abandoning the hot and wire nutting it.


3) If you are unable to locate the splice or connection point for the 3-way hot, most electricians will use a circuit toner. This tool provides an audible tone to locate the wires. The circuit needs to be de-energized prior to using a toner. Here is a link to Home Depot for a circuit tracer/toner:


4) When using Romex, NEC code allows the white neutral wire to be used as a hot or switched loop or a traveler as well as the traditional neutral. If the white is used as any of the above other than a traditional neutral, code requires that the white wire be re-identified with a piece of black electricians tape in order to identify it as a hot, switched loop and/or traveler wire.


5) Reply back with any questions. I will be logged on here ON/OFF all weekend long and I will get back to you...............Thanks................Kevin!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin, hope your enjoying your Friday. :)

To find the other 3 way switch obviously I'd have to find the opposite 3 way switch but if I ditched it in a wall thinking that it was just a one way then I need to kill this 3 way switch for safety. Right?

The hot to the J-box is not on the 3 way switch or it's traveler line so if I just leave the hot disconnected from the 3 way switch shouldn't I be OK?

The circuit toner seems like a great idea but not sure how to use it. I google info on it but couldn't really find anything on how to use it. If you happen to know a link/URL I can read up on how to use it.

Regarding the light outside on the other side of the wall I'm thinking of just running a new romex out to the light and feeding it with the existing hot I have in the j-box.

Your thoughts on all this is appreciated as always!

1) Yes, you would need to locate the opposite 3-way for safety reasons.


2) Yes, that's correct. If leaving the 3-way hot disconnected, you are OK.


3) The circuit toner I referenced has alligator clips. In order to use the toner, you 1st need to shut the breaker to OFF. Then take 1 alligator clip and clip it on the hot, neutral, traveler or switched loop wire that you are trying to locate. Then take the 2nd alligator clip and clip it to a bare copper ground wire. The transmitter will send out an audible tone that you can listen to at a receptacle or switch box or circuit breaker or light fixture, etc. These are easy to use and will save you much time, You can also use a continuity tester that has an audible beep, but you must know the pair of wires that you are checking for continuity. The circuit toner is easier to use.


4) For the exterior light, depends on what circuit you will be tapping into for the hot on the J-Box. As long as you are not tapping into a kitchen counter top receptacle circuit, or bathroom or laundry circuit, then you are OK. Remember, the other circuits (kitchen, bath, laundry) that I mentioned are dedicated for the subject area's use and cannot be extended into other parts of the house.




Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Whoops never mind this question.



1) Yes Dean, the correct method is to always try to use the black as either the hot feed into a switch or as the switched loop leaving the switch. Although, this is dependent upon where the power is being fed from, thus the reason code allows the use of white. However, if using Romex or BX or Armored Cable or Metal Clad cable, the code does allow the white neutral to be used as either a hot feed, a traveler on a 3 or 4-way switch or as the switched loop. If using the white in this fashion, the white wire must be re-identified at both ends as a hot wire and marked with a piece of black electrician's tape in order to immediately identify it as a hot conductor.


2) Check out the pic below for an example of this:


wiring-diagram-2.jpg" alt=""/>




Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Hope your day is going well! :)


I understand that the garage receptacles must have GFI outlets but what if I have a refrigerator on one? Is that an exception? Of course someone could plug into the other socket. Hmmmm.

As I update my panel tomorrow (about time I know) the bedrooms in the older home of course aren't on arc fault breakers and the rooms circuits encompass bathrooms, hallway lights etc. I wondering if they will require those circuits to be arc faulted anyway? I know that is somewhat a local thing but wondering what your thoughts are on that?

Also, I'd like to bonus you because you are so wonderfully helpful and a huge blessing to this site. How do I do that?

Good day. Dean

1) Hello Dean.... all is well on my end for a Monday. Hope your Monday was also good.


2) Per the 2011 NEC, all garage receptacles must be the GFCI type or protected by a GFCI breaker. Yes, even the fridge outlet and the ceiling garage door opener outlet. As a licensed electrician, former inspector and instructor, I always adhere to the NEC but personally, I do not believe in plugging in a fridge, freezer, sump pump and/or an ejector pump into a GFCI due to possible false tripping. If the GFCI trips while you are away for any extended period of time or you do not remove items from the fridge for awhile, you may open the fridge and have spoiled food due to a GFCI that tripped. It is also possible that your local municipality may not by using the 2011 code cycle and they may be still using the 2008 NEC version. If 2008 NEC, the Fridge outlet in a garage did not have to be GFCI protected as long as the receptacle was a Simplex type and not a duplex type.


3) The 2011 NEC modified AFCI's for all habitable living areas of the home including 15 and 20A branch circuits for family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways & similar rooms or areas. Prior to the 2011 NEC, AFCI's were only required on the bedroom circuits. Once again, your municipality may not be adhering to the 2011 code cycle and if a prior code cycle, then only the bedrooms would require AFCI protection. The bathroom does not require AFCI but the bathroom receptacle requires GFCI protection.


4) Thanks for the compliments Dean..... much appreciated. A bonus is not necessary.

I believe when a customer rates an expert, another screen shows up for a bonus area. So I'm not sure if you still have that option since you have already provided me with a positive rating.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Many thanks again!


I pick up the homeline panel and if you could take a second to confirm that the ground goes to the neutral bus here ->


Note, there is no neutral coming in just a ground and two hots. Not sure why but that is how the line is coming from my meter.


Have a wonderful day Kevin. Smile

I'm hoping I can upgrade this panel in a day cause power is

off and am living here with family. Keeping my fingers crossed!


1) No problem Dean.... glad I could assist.


2) Your local electrical utility must supply 3 wires going into the meter. There is always 2 hots and 1 grounded conductor (neutral) for the service entrance. The neutral wire is normally terminated inside the meter at 2 lug locations, LINE side from the utility and LOAD side going into your panel. 3 wires feed into the meter and 4 wires go into the home, ie (2 hots, 1 neutral and 1 ground rod conductor)


3) Yes, your picture is correct. The 2 hots will land at the 2 lugs on the main breaker. The neutral and ground for the ground rod and/or cold water supply will land at the main neutral busbar.


4) Good luck with everything. Hope all goes well. If you run into any problems, I will be logged on the JA site late this afternoon and evening.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Lights out! They turned off the power and I'll be working on it with a flashlight tonight! :) Had to deal with other activities so timing not best.

Do most county inspectors inspect whole house to see if it's up to snuff? I have some holes in my sheetrock showing the romex cause I'm remodeling and cover plates off. I wonder if they will not pass me on my panel upgrade unless those are fixed? Also, not having GFIs in the garage - might have to go to a simplex outlet for the frig.

One last thing I have a few branches circuits I killed and will stuff them above the panel, put wire nuts on the and label it "old range" or "old subpanel line" etc. Then cover the top with sheetrock... oh and also bury the other ends in the wall with wire nuts. I understand that to be OK to do. Right? Good day!

1) Hello are now bringing back fond memories as I've done a few panel upgrades over the years in the dark using flashlights or my portable generator.


2) As a former electrical inspector, I would mainly be looking for neat workmanship, proper conductor sizes, no double taps on circuit breakers and proper grounding (ground rod exterior) within the main panel. I always label my hot conductors at the circuit breaker with the corresponding circuit breaker number for the hot wire. These stick-on numbers are available at any Home Depot or Lowe's in the electrical department. Numbering of circuits in an electrical installation goes a long way with any inspector and shows proper workmanship. The numbering or labeling of the conductors is not a code requirement, but will benefit whoever will be working inside the panel in the future. The use of "neat workmanship" with how the wires are routed inside panel makes a huge difference with any inspector. Inspectors frown upon shoddy workmanship. Once they like the way the panel was wired, the remainder of the inspection usually goes very well.


Also, make sure the panel directory inside the cover door is properly labeled as bathroom, kitchen, garage, dishwasher, etc. for all branch circuits.


Also identify your 2 main hots with a piece of black tape on 1 phase and red tape on the 2nd phase. Identify the neutral service wire landing on the neutral bus bar using white tape.


If using any black insulated wire as your grounds (to ground rod, to cold water supply), tape those ends with green tape.


3) Most inspectors will also visually look for proper GFCI's in the bathroom, kitchen countertops, exterior, basement and garage areas. Some inspectors will intentionally trip a few GFCI's to see if they are properly wired/grounded.


4) The branch circuit wiring that you disconnected should either be removed (de-installed - if no future desire to use it) or labeled with white electrician's tape as spare or future. Always a good idea to enclose any Romex cable ends as a spare within a 1900 JB and label the box using a blank metal cover as spare or future, etc.


5) I would recommend to install the cover plates. Work that has not been completed as 100% really depends upon the inspector. On most of my inspections, I brought it to the attention of the homeowner and/or electrician and I trusted them that they would install any missing wall plates or JB covers ASAP. However, some inspectors like to flex and show their authority. I was a bit different as I took the homeowners and/or electrician's word that they would have everything in order ASAP unless it was a major code violation.


6) Important Note: If you have any hot wires with splices, these must be enclosed in a rated junction box with proper wire nuts and a box cover. It is a major electrical code violation to hide and/or bury any electrical splices within any drywall or paneling. All electrical splices must be readily accessible and protected inside a rated junction box with a removable cover plate.


7) Let me know how the inspection works out........Thanks.............Kevin!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


inspection tomorrow. Wow how do you electricians keep your fingers from "wearing out?" That's tough on the hands twisting those wires, jamming in ground rods, pulling wire thru walls etc.


I wired up the outlet for my dryer. I wired the ground to the metal box but I think I should of wired it to the actual outlet itself and the metal box using a pigtail. Is that the correct way?


Also, I might of ask you this before but can't recall. If i create extra branches for later use and put them below the panel box behind sheet rock and labeled them as extra lines would that be OK?

1) Yes Dean, over the years my hands and fingers are completely torn apart from pulling wires, splicing, etc.


2) For the dryer ground, you can either ground to the metal box and then pigtail to the 14-30R receptacle or you can directly wire the ground to the receptacle lug. Either way is acceptable.


3) Refer to my previous answer on 8/13 above for the extra branch circuits.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So just grounding to the metal box and not to the receptacle is OK?

So then how does the grounding work if the receptacle is not grounded? Is it through the screws that attach to the metal box?



1) I always ground directly to the grounding lug at the receptacle when installing dryer or range receptacles. Or you can ground directly to the metal box and then run a 6" pigtail from the metal box grounding splice and ground directly to the receptacle. For dryer and/or range receptacles I don't like to just rely on the metal screws that attach the receptacle to the metal box as the means of grounding. I always ground directly to the ground lug.



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

You mentioned "Or you can ground directly to the metal box and then run a 6" pigtail from the metal box grounding splice and ground directly to the receptacle" little confused. Do you mean wire nut the ground wire and add pigtails one to the metal box ground screw and one to the receptacle?


Also, the old dryer has a green ground screw that has a white wire probably the neutral connecting to it from inside the machine. Should I just rid the little neutral wire and connect my ground wire from my new 3 wire cord?


Got the county inspector to pass my panel. Yea! However, it was interesting he said that instead of using a separate grounding bar that is bonded by the green grounding screw to the neutral bus I should of connected to the neutral bus directly. He also had me connect my ground from my ground rods and my ground to my water pipe directly to the neutral bus instead of using my separate grounding bus.

I guess his point was that if the little screw failed, ie panel got rusted, screw rusted then my whole equipment grounding system would fail.

However, he said I could use the equipment grounds to my existing ground bus but had to connect the 2 grounds I mentioned earlier directly to the neutral bus.

Perhaps I should move all my equipment grounds to my neutral bus although there isn't a lot of room left.

1) You have a couple of options as to how to ground the dryer circuit receptacle. If the bare copper equipment grounding conductor is long enough, just terminate the bare copper from the Romex directly to the grounding screw on the 14-30R receptacle.


2) If the bare copper ground from the Romex is too short, you can either splice into it and add a 6" pigtail ground wire (same wire size, ie 10 AWG copper) and terminate to the receptacle.


3) The other option is to terminate the bare copper Romex ground directly to the metal box using a green ground screw and leave a sufficient amount of bare copper from the Romex to splice a 6" pigtail ground wire to the receptacle. In this method, both the metal box and the receptacle are grounded. Any of these methods is code compliant. Although, as I mentioned, the easiest is to ground directly to the receptacle grounding screw.


4) You mention a new 3 wire cord for the dryer. Refer to my answer on 8/8/13 as shown below: Since the dryer circuit is new, it needs to be a 4 wire circuit and not a 3 wire circuit. Therefore, the hard-wired cord from the dryer also needs to be a 4 wire and not a 3 wire.

August 8, 2013 Answer:


Since you are running a new 4 wire circuit for the dryer, the existing 3 prong dryer cord will need to be swapped out for a 4 wire cord. The 2 hots from the cord get connected to the respective hots on the dryer. Same for the neutral. Most likely, the older dryer did not have a green grounding screw. If not, connect the green cord ground wire directly to the dryer frame using a green grounding screw. The frame may not have a threaded hole near the connections, therefore, you would need to tap a threaded hole into the frame in order to make a good grounding connection. Here is the 4 prong dryer cord and 4-wire 30 amp dryer receptacle you will need. Home Depot and Lowe's both sell these.


See pic below:



View Full Image





View Full Image


5) Good news that the panel passed inspection........way to go Dean!


6) Many years ago it was acceptable to combine bare copper grounding equipment conductors onto the neutral bus bar. However, the bare copper conductor inside a Romex is technically considered as an equipment ground and NOT as a neutral. Romex already has a white neutral wire which only terminates onto the main neutral bus bar. When terminating a bare copper equipment ground wire from Romex onto a switch or a receptacle ground screw, those devices are considered as "equipment", thus the purpose of the green ground screw. Therefore, all bare copper grounds should only land on a dedicated equipment grounding bar inside the panel and not be inter-mixed with the white neutrals.


The white neutral is called the "grounded conductor" and is grounded at the electrical utility transformer and at the ground rod and at the water meter. Thus the reason the neutral is called the grounded conductor. The only grounding conductors that land on the main neutral bus bar is the Grounding Electrode Conductor from the ground rod and from the water supply piping. All the other conductors on the main neutral bus bar will be white neutrals.


Devices such as receptacles, wall switches, light fixtures, ceiling fans, etc are all considered as "equipment". The use of the word "grounding" on these equipments is actually a deceiving terminology. Equipment gets bonded to the main electrical panel metal enclosure via the main copper bonding jumper strap or the green bonding screw that connects the main neutral bus bar directly to the panel metal enclosure. Bonding and grounding are somewhat similar, yet there is a difference.


The simple rule is that all equipment, devices, etc. get bonded together. The only actual grounding is the grounding electrode system at the electrical utility 10 foot ground rod at their transformer, at your 8 foot ground rod and at your water meter.


Only services get grounded and equipment gets bonded. Services is defined as the service entrance conductors from the meter into the main panel. Part of the services grounding is to ground to a rod and/or water supply. This is the end of the services. All of your branch circuits within the main panel are now considered as "equipment" and no longer services. The National Electrical Code defines a Grounding Electrode Conductor (GEC) and an Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC) as two separate items. The conductors from a ground rod and/or water supply are considered as GEC's and not EGC's. The bare copper in Romex or if using metal conduit are only considered as EGC's.


As an example, if your home was completely wired using EMT metal conduit, you would not require any bare copper equipment ground wires since the metal conduit will act as the equipment grounding pathway. In an all metal conduit installation, there is no need for a separate equipment grounding bar since there are no individual ground wires.




Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


I like your idea of grounding to the receptacle instead of relying on the little screws. Don't think the wire is long enough to go to the ground screw on the metal box and to the receptacle. So if I get it wrap the ground screw and take the pigtail wire nut and additional 6" and go to the receptacle? Just wondering if the ground wire was really short which is often the case is it OK to wire nut two 6" (or so) wires and connect one to the metal box ground screw and the other to the receptacle?


Regarding the dryer cord I actually did go back an read it. However, I couldn't find the situation when there does exist the green grounding screw on the old dryer (that has a 2 wire set up: two hots and a neutral). The green grounding screw is connected to a little wire protruding inside the dryer. Here is a image shot:

So how would I hook up the new 3 wire cord? To the existing existing ground screw and leave on or take off the white wire?

Regarding equipment grounding and service grounding then I wonder why the inspector wanted me to connect my equipment ground to the neutral bar other than if the green bonding screw would fail years later?

I actually moved my 30 amp ground over to the neutral bar thinking I was being safer wonder if I should move it back?

It seems a little confusing because isn't it a matter of where the electrons will flow to in case of a short and the best possible path for safety? It seems that it would all flow eventually to the same place whether the equipment grounds are going directly to the neutral bus or going to the ground bus then through the metal enclosure of the panel to the neutral bus and then down to the grounding rods, water meter or back to the utility pole? I'm probably over simplifying it.

1) Yes, perfectly acceptable to add a 6" pigtail and wire nut and terminate on the receptacle.


2) Yes, just remove the short white neutral jumper on the dryer and connect the bare copper equipment grounding conductor to the green ground screw which attaches to the frame of the dryer.


3) As a former AHJ and as a practicing licensed electrician, I disagree with inter-mixing neutrals and bare coppers on the main neutral bus bar. The practice of inter-mixing these is "old school methods". I maintain multiple factories with many panels that have the main green bonding screw installed since 1965 and they all work fine. However, it is up to the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to make the call. The AHJ has the final "say-so" on local inspections.


4) Since the dryer is a branch circuit and is considered as equipment, the 10 AWG copper ground wire should land on an equipment ground bar and not on the main neutral bus bar.


5) Dean... yes, I do agree as the discussion of bonding and grounding does get to be somewhat confusing. Electrically speaking, you are correct as the grounding path will always find it's way back to the Grounding Electrode Conductor which is on the main neutral bus bar. The neutral wire is only considered a neutral wire once it is inside the main panel. The utility never calls this the neutral wire since it is a grounded conductor at their transformer and all the way up to the main panel neutral bus bar. However, per the 2011 edition of the National Electrical Code, specifically Article 408.40 Grounding of Panelboards discusses the use of a terminal bar for the equipment grounding conductors.


Here is the actual verbiage from the code:


"Equipment Grounding Conductors shall not be connected to a terminal bar provided for grounded conductors or neutral conductors unless the bar is identified for the purpose and is located where interconnection between equipment grounding conductors and grounded conductors is permitted or required by Article 250".

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


In my panel box was the left side intended for the ground bus and the right side for the neutral? What I did was add a ground bar and connected to the neutral via the green screw. I wonder if that was the incorrect way to do it although it did pass the inspection?

It does seem a little weak that the only way the ground bus is grounded is via the little green screw and if that ever rusted or somehow wasn't connected very well to the metal on the panel then I would big problems. Maybe that is why the county inspector initially wanted me to connect all my grounds to my branches to the neutral bus then relented for some reason.

Hello Dean........Happy Friday!


1) No, if you notice in the picture, the two neutral bus bars are tied together at the top with the horizontal silver tie bar. This tie bar ties the 2 vertical neutral bus bars together. The green bonding screw is to tie or bond the neutral bus bar directly to the panel's metal enclosure.


2) If an installation only utilized EMT metal conduit, then there is seldom any need to add a separate equipment ground bar inside the panel since the EMT conduit acts as the equipment ground and is bonded to the panel via the green main bonding screw.


3) If adding a separate equipment ground bar to land any bare copper Romex grounds, it is best to screw the equipment ground bar near the bottom of the panel. The ground bar will screw into the panel's metal enclosure via a threaded hole.


4) The equipment ground bar does not have to be secured using a green screw. Just make sure to use the proper screw for the panel threaded hole and you are good. The equipment ground bar will come with a peel off sticker. Place the sticker above or below the ground bar to designate this as a ground bar.


5) Combining bare coppers and white neutrals onto the neutral bus bar is an old school method. When using Romex, I always install a separate equipment ground bar at the bottom of the panel to land the bare copper equipment ground wires. Remember, neutrals are neutrals and grounds are grounds as these wires serve two different functions. Thus the reason it is always a good idea to land the neutrals and grounds on their separate respective bars and not to intermix them.


When I finish terminating all of the wires inside a panel on a Romex installation, all of the hot wires land on the breakers, all of the white neutral wires land on the neutral bus bar(s) and all of the bare copper equipment grounds land on the equipment grounding bar. Thus 3 different types of wires using 3 different termination points. Some inspectors will allow bare coppers to be intermixed while other inspectors such as me, like to see them on separate bars. Technically, will intermixing of bare coppers onto a neutral bus bar work and usually pass inspection for a main panel? Sure it will work, but it really boils down to more of a uniform or a consistent approach as a way to keep wires in their own respective bars. Also looks neater as "workmanship" is a code requirement since the respective conductors are all in their appropriate bars.


However, if the panel is a sub-panel and not a main panel, then the bare copper grounds are always on their own separate equipment grounding bar. If intermixing bare coppers with neutrals on a sub-panel install, that is a code violation.


6) There was no need to connect the equipment ground bar to the neutral bar via a jumper wire. The panel becomes bonded once the green grounding screw is secured to the metal enclosure via the neutral bar. The way to test if the panel is properly bonded is to take a 2-prong voltage tester or a Wiggy or AC voltmeter. Place 1 probe on the screw of any hot branch circuit breaker and place the 2nd probe anywhere on the panel metal enclosure. You should measure 120 VAC when doing this. This means the panel is properly bonded/grounded since you are touching the 2nd probe directly to the panel metal enclosure. Remember, from hot to ground = 120 VAC and from hot to neutral also = 120 VAC.


7) Let me know if that makes sense. If you have any questions, let me know. I will be logged on here ON/OFF throughout the weekend. Except for later this evening as I'll be watching the Chicago Bears game.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin, yes very well explained as usual. So if I do understand it correctly it's really a matter of organization and neatness putting the ground bar separately from the neutral bar connected via bonding screw rather than "old school" having all the bare ground wires on the neutral bar rather than a matter of functionality since their all connected together anyway?

I noticed on my old panel the ground bar and the neutral bar we're connect by a thick piece of metal as opposed to a little bonding screw. As I said before with my limited knowledge I'm not fond of the little green bonding screw tying in my ground bar, because if that ever failed, then my equipment is not grounded and would be a safety issue. But I'm probably being overly concerned and I imagine that is done all the time.


BTW, what is the reason the developed a separate grounding system way back when when the neutral was acting as the ground (maybe you already addressed this)? Is it a matter because the neutral has electrons flowing through it already at different rates depending on what the current load is and the separate ground wire gives a more clear path to ground in case of a short saving someone from being the recipient of those electrons (in other words from being "fried").

For example if there are two loads on a circuit and one load gets a short the neutral is already busy with electrons heading back toward the panel whereas the clear path for the electrons to flow is the bare ground wire?


Also, regarding equipment having a ground or not is my wife bought a lamp at Goodwill and has a metal structure, however, I notice the plug has only two prongs with no ground prong. It must of been designed with an insulated inside or was designed with a major flaw. What do you think? Lamp my guess under 10 years old.

Hello Dean............Hope your weekend is going well for you!


1) Yes, you are correct. When installing an equipment grounding bar, it is a matter of organization as you mentioned. Combining bare copper grounds with white neutrals on a main panel is perfectly acceptable, however, it just doesn't look as professional if the bare coppers and white were separated onto their respective bars, that's all. I'v had some inspectors that required the bare copper grounds to be terminated onto the left hand side of the neutral bus bar and the white neutrals terminated onto the right-hand side of the main neutral bus bar. Thus again, another method to keep things in order. The main reason I always install an equipment grounding bar is there is typically an insufficient amount of screws when combining bare coppers and white neutrals onto the bars.


2) Many equipment grounding bars will have 2 holes to secure the ground bar to the panel threaded hole. Most often, only (1) one threaded hole is available on the backside of the panel and you usually have to drill and tap an additional threaded hole into the panel enclosure. If using 2 threaded screws to secure the ground bar, then the chance of this failing is very minimal.


3) The neutral wire is actually called the grounded conductor. However, the neutral is the return wire that goes back to the utility transformer, thus making a loop and completing the circuit flow. An example is that in the early 1900's thru the early 1950's, most homes only had a 2 wire system, ie, 1 hot and 1 neutral for branch circuit. A good example of this is Knob & Tube wiring. During this time period, there was no ground and receptacles were only 2-prong and not 3-prong type.


4) Yes, you are correct. The purpose of the equipment ground is to make unwanted current flow back to the earth or to ground as the fastest possible method. This is due to the ground rods cannot have a resistance value greater than 25 ohms. The path with the least amount of resistance due to the low ohm's is called the grounding path. Thus, if a grounding system is properly installed, it will be the fastest way to flush out unwanted current and flow into the earth via the ground rod and/or cold water piping. Unwanted current will always seek the path with the least amount of resistance. In any electrical distribution system, this path is called the Grounding system.


5) Many lamps only have a 2-prong plug. The manufacturer made the internal connections using what is called a polarized plug. This type of plug is very common and perfectly acceptable in most table and/or floor lamps. You will also see similar 2-prong cords used on toasters, cell phone transformers and other small appliances. These cords are usually UL listed so no problem being due to only using a 2-prong.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


If I run a 3 wire romex to the part of the house where I'm putting two new bedrooms and then split off to each bedroom, would that be wiser than running two romex 12 gauge wires through the house?


However, I will have to run arc fault breakers for these bedrooms so perhaps they need to be separate lines 12 gauge romex lines?

1) Hello Dean....... the electrical term that you are referring to by using a 3-wire circuit is called a shared neutral circuit when using 2 hots and 1 neutral. This method is most common in a house only for the dishwasher and garbage disposal circuit.


2) Since code requires the bedrooms to use AFCI breakers, you cannot use a shared neutral on AFCI circuits nor can you use a shared neutral circuit for a GFCI breaker since the neutral wire must be dedicated to each AFCI and/or GFCI circuit breaker. Thus, the bedrooms will need to be on their respective AFCI circuit breakers using 2 separate 12-2 Romex cables with a ground.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Got it! Thanks again.


I plan to run two separate 12-2 romex to each bedroom and run the lights on the same line. Can I also use one of the lines to run an outside porch light in the basement just outside the bedroom door?

Also, how I understand it the smoke detectors need to be hardwired and interconnected, ie one in each bedroom and outside the bedrooms in the hallway. Does that need to be on it's on circuit or can I run that off of one of the bedroom lines? As I might of mentioned this is adding two rooms in a basement.

Hope your week is going well. Again, thanks for all your wonderful electrical knowledge! :)

1) Yes Dean all is going well here except for the hot weather we are having this week in Chicago.


2) Yes, combining the bedroom receptacles with the bedroom lights is very standard - no problem. Also not a problem to run the porch light.


3) You have 2 options on the smokes. They can either be hardwired and inter-connected and can be tapped into a bedroom circuit. The smokes do not require a dedicated circuit. Yes, each bedroom and outside hallway of the bedrooms require a smoke.


Since a basement, the Residential Construction Code also requires 1 Carbon Monoxide alarm in the basement and 1 CO typically installed in the hallway outside of the home main bedroom area. Many manufacturers also sell a combination smoke/CO alarm. Smokes should be replaced a maximum of every 10 years and CO's replaced a maximum of every 5 to 7 years for optimal safety. Replace the batteries twice a year if using regular 9 VDC batteries.


Another option is to use wireless smokes. If I remember, I used either Kidde or First Alert brand. If using these, typically the master smoke is installed in a hallway and is wired as 120 volts. The slave or remote smokes are battery operated. When any of the smokes goes off, the remotes will also go off and be inter-connected due to the wireless signals. The remote smokes run on a 9 volt battery. I've installed many of these in areas of the home where it was cost prohibitive to run wires.


Here is a link for Kidde & First Alert wireless smokes:

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Nice tip on using wireless smokers. I will actually switch over to that and combine both types for the rest of my house.

Also, I notice my lights once in a while flicker. I wonder if some of my screws to my breakers need to be tighten down since updating my electrical panel? Or could it be the main two hots coming in to my box? I don't think I want to stick a screw driver to one of the hot screws on the main line since they are always hot. I guess if I make sure I'm not grounded ie standing on a piece of wood and don't touch the metal on the screw driver might work but I'm a little hesitant in doing that.

I really think I tighten them "puppies" down quite tight so perhaps it's my hots on my breakers but I thought I did a good job on tightening those too.

I also have the real skinney bare ground wires on the old romex to this house that was built in 1967 when that was the going thing. I put each bare ground wire to a screw on the grounding bus whereas the old panel had them all wound together and connecting to the ground bus via a screw. Your thoughts?


1) Usually flickering and/or dimming of lights throughout the entire house indicates a loose neutral connection either inside the panel or inside the meter socket or in many cases is often a utility problem. Can also be a loose hot connection at the mains, but a loose neutral connection is the more common.


2) If only flickering on a branch circuit, then also a loose neutral or hot connection either in the panel, breaker or a splice.


3) The bare copper grounds should be the same size as the branch conductors, ie, if a 14 AWG branch conductor, then the bare copper should be 14 AWG. If a 12 AWG branch conductor, then the bare copper should also be 12 AWG.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Neutral main to the panel seems tight. I'll have to check each

individual neutral (did about half forgot about the other half).

If I have to tighten down the main hots, since there is no main

shut off at the meter is there a way to do that with out having the power company come out and turn the power off? I know that seems like a dumb question.

Unless there is a disconnect switch before the meter, the only other way is to pull the meter from the socket. I do it all the time but I am used to it. I would not recommend that you try that.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,

Found out the problem with the flickering of lights the whole neigbhorhood having same issue. So it was good to know my panel upgrade didn't have anything to do with it. :)


In this 1967 built house I notice that whoever wired it would often use wire clips to tie the wires together and then wrap it with electrician's tape. What is your thoughts on this practice?

It didn't look right to me so I been removing the tape and cutting off the wire clip then joining the wires together via wire cap. Perhaps this is unnecessary?

1) Hello Dean...........since the neighborhood also experienced flickering, most likely a electrical utility transformer or a sub-station problem.


2) Are you referring to the metal "crimp-on" connectors?


If so, the only time I've seen those used is when transitioning aluminum wire to a copper wire for pigtail purposes to connect to receptacles, switches, etc. If splicing copper to copper, the traditional plastic wire nut that twists onto the splices are most common and an industry standard.


Some electricians also wrap a piece of electricians tape over the wire nut for added protection in the event the wire nut ever became loose.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It looks like a crimp on little metal connector that wraps around all the wires your connecting. So I'm not sure who wired this house but he/she used a lot of those wire crimp on connectors and tape.


Little side question when connecting wires via wire nut how long of the bare wire do you expose typically? Obviously if it's cut too short that is not good and won't twist well with the other wires and too long would expose it outside of the nut.

Also, does it make a difference if your connect say 3 or 4 wires together?

Hope your weekend is going well. Got the kitchen 90% done and it's nice my electrical system is uptodate. Just have to figure out how to get rid of a ground rod that got stuck in the ground. Might have to cut it off below the ground using a sawzall. Any suggestions on that? :)

1) When splicing wires together, really depends upon the size of the wire nut you are using as well as the wire gauge. If only splicing 2 to 4 (14 AWG wires, I normally use the tan colored wire nuts and strip off about 3/4" of an inch. I twist them together and then cut maybe 1/8" off after twisting and then insert into the wire nut. Once the wire nut is properly twisted on, there should not be any exposed copper on the splices. Yes, you are correct on your comments regarding too short and too long.


2) The only difference is that the greater the quantity of wires to be spliced, the larger the wire nut needs to be and more insulation needs to be stripped due to the quantity of wires.


3) Weekend is good here.... hope yours is also............Thanks!


4) Why eliminating the ground rod?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks again. The ground rod I pounded in but got stuck so had to buy another one and start over. So I got both ground rods in 6' apart but have that extra one sticking out of the ground.


Oh... by the way, you actually twists wires together first not using the wire nut but some other tool? Then cut an 1/8 off and then twist the wire nut on?

1) Gottcha on the ground rod. I hate when that happens. Been down that road a few times especially when hitting a rock when you're like half way down. Yes, just dig down maybe 1 foot or so and whack it with a sawzall as you mentioned.


2) When making any splice, strip off the required amount of insulation. Line up all of the conductors together and twist them together using a lineman's pliers. I normally cut off about 1/8" or so after twisting with the lineman pliers, then twist the plastic wire nut over the splice and make sure the wire nut is on there tight.


I usually strip off more insulation than I need, thus the reason I cut back if needed. Better to have longer copper than shorter copper. Otherwise, you then need to cut all the wires and re-strip the insulation and start all over again. Thus my reason for doing that.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,

Hope you had an excellent weekend! Cool It's been nice and sunny last two days in Oregon. Tue will hit about 90 degrees. Love it.

I had a bathroom switch that runs to a light fixture and the power runs continuous from the j-box where the light is. So I turned off the switch and was touching the neutral conductor and my finger got a bit of a buzz as I touched the metal j-box.

I'm thinking that since the circuit was still live that the current still flows and was running back to ground via the neutral. So when my finger created a ground by touching the j-box that diverted the flow of the current. Is that a correct analysis?

I read somewhere that the author treats the neutrals with much respect as the hot conductors maybe that is what he was referring to.

Hello Dean........good hearing from you. Yes, hot also here in Chicago, 91 today and 95 tomorrow. Most likely our last hurrah before the fall. Enjoy it now for sure!


1) Yes you and the author are both correct. In any 120 VAC circuit, the voltage always leaves the breaker or fuse and then returns via the neutral wire. Current will always flow from the hot conductor to the return neutral conductor and back to the panel and then back to the electrical utility transformer. Yes, treat the white neutral as you would a hot wire.


Keep in mind that many kitchen garbage disposals and dishwashers are wired as a 3 -wire circuit using 2 hots and 1 shared neutral. As an example, if the breaker for the garbage disposal is OFF but the breaker for the dishwasher is ON, the neutral in a shared example like this is still hot. This is due to the neutral being shared. Usually about the only time in a house that you will see a shared neutral circuit.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for the pointer on the garb' disposer and dishwasher. I wonder why they allow that? Perhaps it's because there so close together typically?

Just so I get this the neutral is carrying back the electrons that constantly flow thru the circuit so if I'm touching the neutral and grounding myself I become the recipient of the current as mentioned above. Now how much of a current does the neutral carry where I would get a nice jolt? Is it when there is a heavy load on the circuit that the neutral is carrying back a lot of current?

It just seems that people don't seem to worry about the neutral nearly that much opposed to the hot conductor.

1) Yes, very common since they are close together. If you think about it, the service from the electrical utility into the home is also a 3-wire circuit, ie, 2 hots and 1 neutral. In a 3 wire circuit, the neutral carries the unbalanced load or unbalanced current.


2) That's correct. For example, you have a dedicated 20 amp kitchen countertop receptacle circuit and let's say that you have a microwave oven and maybe one other small appliance plugged in and both appliances are drawing 15 amps of current. The hot from the breaker is carrying 15 amps and the return neutral is also carrying the same 15 amps. Current flowing in must also flow out. Current has to go somewhere, either thru the appliance or to ground or in the event that you touch a live wire, it will go thru your body and at a minimum, you get a shock. GFCI breakers and GFCI receptacles are designed to trip at approximately 3 to 4 milli-amps of current. 1 milli-amp is 1000 th of 1 amp, thus a very small amount. If the average person receives more than 23 milli-amps of current, the current will travel directly thru the heart and if 23mA or highly, a high probability of pain, muscle damage, burns and/or death can occur. Really depends upon the individual's body weight. Nearing 1 amp of current thru the body, most people will die.


3) The circuit load (small or high) does not matter, if a circuit has only 1 amp flowing, it will have 1 amp returning. If the circuit has 200 amps flowing, it will also have 200 amps returning. Electricity is never wasted, 100% of the current flowing in the circuit is always utilized unless it goes to ground via a ground fault or zaps an individual.


4) Anyone working on electricity should also be aware of the neutral wire.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,

Both wires on a new light fixture have clear insulation, how do I know which is "black" and which is "white"?

I saw on the web that the wire with writing is the hot but they also said you could hook it up either way and it still would work but the correct way for polarity (not sure what that means) should be wire with writing on it to the hot.

Hello Dean...........sounds like you are making progress on the house!


1) Take a look at the two wires and the exterior insulation. The conductor that has the "ribbed" insulation is the neutral wire. Place a piece of white electricians tape and splice that to your white house neutral wire in the box.


The other wire will have a "smooth" insulation and this is your hot wire. Place a black piece of electricians tape on that and splice to the black hot house wire in the box.


Placing the appropriate color tape now identifies each conductor for future removal and/or re-splicing if required.


Attached is a diagram illustrating the same as I mentioned above. Let me know if you have any questions regarding this..........Thanks.................Kevin!





Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Yes, trying to wrap this long winded remodel job. :)


They seem to both be smooth but one has writing on it that I can

barely see. I assume that is the hot. However, if I do hook the wires up incorrectly will the light still come on and would I have reverse polarity?

Could you please explain what that means?

I read some where I can take a volt meter touch the socket where the bulb goes and the other lead to the ground and should get a zero reading on the meter. If so, then it's wired correctly. If I get a positive reading then it's wired incorrectly. Does that make sense?

Hope your doing well. :)

1) Dean......if your volt meter has a built-in audible continuity feature, (without any power connected) place 1 probe inside the light fixture socket and touch it to the threaded shell portion. Place the 2nd probe to either of the 2 wires. When you get a continuity beep, that is your neutral wire.


2) Repeat the same test with 1 probe directly onto the internal tip inside the threaded shell. This is the portion where the light bulb makes direct contact with the tip of the internal socket. Place the 2nd probe an either of the 2 wires, when you get a continuity beep, that's your hot wire. This is how you can test any electrical threaded light socket to identify the hot and neutral.


The internal screw threads on any electrical lighting socket are always the neutral and the bottom tip portion of the socket is always the hot connection where the very bottom portion of the light bulb tip makes contact with the socket.


3) Reverse continuity presents a safety issue. Remember, the neutral wire in any electrical connection is called the "grounded wire". Your exterior ground rod or cold water pipe ground is connected to the main electrical panel neutral bus bar, thus providing the neutral wire as a grounded connection. If you have reverse polarity ( hot to neutral and neutral to hot), electrically, the circuit will still work producing 120 VAC and the light will illuminate and work. However and most important....... any lighting fixture, table lamp, floor lamp, etc. typically has exterior metal components. These exterior metal components are often touched by our hands and come in contact with the metal when the lighting fixture is powered up.


If you have a hot wire connected to a neutral fixture wire in a reverse polarity situation, then the exterior of the metal portion components (stem, metal pole, metal ON/OFF knob, etc) of the lighting fixture now just became a hot conductor. Thus when touching the exterior lighting metal portion, you will get a shock or get zapped!


4) Another option is to splice the wires either way. Power up the circuit. Remove the light bulb. Set your meter to AC voltage @ the 120VAC or 200VAC range. Then very carefully, place 1 probe only to the interior threaded shell of the light socket and the 2nd probe to a bare copper wire or metal box for a ground. You should read 0 VAC here if the circuit is properly grounded (remember, measuring from a neutral to a ground is always 0 volts since they are both at the same potential). If OK, then that's the neutral wire. If you read 120 VAC here, that's the hot and you need to reverse the wires.


Then repeat the test and place 1 probe to the bottom socket tip portion and the 2nd to a bare copper wire or metal box. If you read 120 VAC, then you know the wire is the hot and is wired correctly. If you get reverse measurements doing this test, just reverse the wire splices and re-test to make sure. You have a 50/50 chance on the 1st attempt. If the 1st attempt fails, the 2nd attempt will work!


Once you know the proper polarity, place a piece of black electricians tape on the hot lighting fixture wire that you just identified. This is the hot wire.


Let me know if this makes sense. If you run into any problems, just give me a shout back and I will reply...........Thanks..............Kevin!


P.S..... Am doing well here. Swamped with work load between 2 factories that my company maintains. Have only had 1 day off since May 1st. Have even worked many Saturdays this past summer. Had to hire 3 more electricians to keep up with the work load. Am up to 6 full time electricians plus myself now. I am slowly no longer working with the tools, all I do is design, layout jobs, sell jobs, purchase materials, play material delivery driver and inspect the final project and move onto the next project.


Next month, I will be trying to obtain UL listing for a few electrical control panels that my company also manufactures. 3 years ago, I developed some innovative emergency lighting control panels that can be deployed in any residential, commercial or industrial application which can provide power failure lighting to any standard 120 volt lighting fixture and not just a separate emergency lighting fixture. My invention can provide immediate emergency lighting within a second or so upon a commercial power failure for numerous hours at a time and not just 90 minutes maximum like the emergency lights found in commercial and industrial applications today. I installed my 1st control panels in my home 3 years ago and they work like a charm. I no longer chase for a lighter or candle or flashlight during a power failure or electrical lightening storm. My selective lights in my home come on and stay on for over 12 hours upon a commercial power failure and can be deployed anywhere in the world. Hurricane prone or other natural disasters areas that occur with the loss of commercial electrical power will appreciate my invention. In addition, I'm also immediately informed via a voice mail message or a text message that my home lost commercial electrical power. I can also control the lighting via my Smart Phone or Tablet or any computer PC from anywhere.


In addition to being a licensed electrician for the past 26 years, I also have a degree in Digital Electronics which I never really utilized to my full potential. I'm finally utilizing my 8 years of college at DeVry Institute of Technology where I graduated twice from in 1986 and in 1988. Needless to say, I'm having much fun designing and prototyping numerous electrical control panels for a variety of applications. If everything goes my way, I intend on launching our control panel products to the general public by year end. Hopefully you will see my control panels in the electrical aisles of Home Depot and Lowe's.......we'll see what happens.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


If I did do a reverse polarity and yes have touched the metal parts of the light fixture with no zap then perhaps I wired it correctly?

Little confused on why it would still work on reverse polarity if the hot is going to the neutral. It would seem that would create a surge and trip the breaker?

Okay, I did #4 on your list. It read 84 but for some reason not 120 when I had the one of the probes on the bottom socket tip portion and the other to the ground wire. I wonder why it's not 120? Also, did the probe to the threaded portion (neutral section) and one probe to the ground wire and it did read 0.

Wow, you are a busy guy. I'm surprised (but thankful) you find time to answer all our crazy questions on this website.

Your emergency backup sounds like a needed device especially in troubled areas where weather is a problem. Would be nice to see your control panel products show up at the HD! :)


1) Dean...........check out the link below. Provides a good explanation on AC reverse polarity and even uses the light bulb socket as an example.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for the article.

I think my test using a mulit-meter showing that the volts are zero on the shell and 120 volts on the spring tab in the socket is my test to use and that is the way it's connected.

BTW, why it was only 85 volts and not 120 volts is because i forgot I was using a dimmer switch and it wasn't on high.

In the article I was wondering how you can still be shocked on some appliances when you have reverse polarity even if the switch is on off? Wondering if you can elaborate on that if you have a moment.

Have a great day.

Yes, the dimmer switch controls the amount voltage.


In order to receive a shock on a reversed polarity connected appliance when the switch is OFF, there would have to be a fault internally with the wiring of the appliance. The ON/OFF switch would either have to fail or more likely there would be a problem with the wiring such as a loose connection that came in contact with the metal frame of the appliance.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


I had a friend call and say he bought a new dryer but the receptacle is a two wire and the new cord of course is a 3 wire. Do they have to change the cord on the dryer to a two wire and impliment a ground on the metal frame of the dryer or can they somehow use the 3 wire cord and somehow use the neutral as the ground?

1) Hello Dean..... the code changed in 1996 for electric dryers. Up until 96, was OK to have 3 wire circuit, 2 hot's and 1 neutral and connect the neutral to the frame. Code now requires electric dryers to be a 4 wire circuit and a 4 prong receptacle, ie 2 hots, 1 neutral and 1 equipment grounding conductor for new dryer branch circuits.


2) You mention the receptacle is a 2 wire. Can only be a 2 wire dryer if the dryer is gas and not all electric, ie, 120 volts, 1 hot and 1 neutral.


3) All electric dryers are typically 240 volts unless they are a very small electric dryer and I've seen a few many years ago that are 120 volts and those were of course, 2 wire. If a 240 volt dryer, the minimum conductors has to be 2 hots and 1 neutral prior to 1996. Typically a 30, 40 or even a 50 amp double pole breaker depending upon the wattage of the dryer. 30 and 40 amps are the most common though.


4) It is no longer allowed per NEC to use the neutral as the ground if the circuit will be new. If an existing branch circuit prior to 1996, then still OK to use a 3 wire circuit and 3 prong plug as you mentioned. All new dryer circuits are 4 wire and a 4-prong plug/cord. If they want to retain the existing 3 wire circuit, they can use a 3 prong receptacle and cord.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


My mistake on naming the wire. Yes it's a 3 wire out of the wall. So if they want use a 3 wire instead of a 4 wire plug/cord how would they hook up the 3 wire to the new dryer? Obviously hot to hot, neutral to neutral but where is their ground coming from?

1) No problem on the 2 wire....... all is good


2) From the double pole breaker, 2 hots to the receptacle. 1 neutral from the panel neutral bus bar to the receptacle.


3) The lower rear of the dryer connection will be as shown on the pic below:


4) Since only a 3-wire circuit, their is no ground. The ground lug or grounding strap and neutral get bonded together at the dryer frame where the cord connections are terminated at.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin:


How did your weekend go? We had beautiful weather here

in Portland, OR.


Regarding insulating an attic. I insulated my mother's home a few years ago with blown in insulation and then she hired someone to add about a foot more on top of that. I was kind of careful not too put too much on the J-boxes in the attic, however, the person she hired didn't take such precaution. Later, we had a fire in her attic and started in one of the J-boxes in the attic.

Is there some code as to how much insulation I can put over or on top of a J-box?

I will be using not the blown-in but the matted kind.

Hi Dean............weekend in Chicago area was also good. Although crazy weather here, one day in the 40's, next day in the 80's.


1) There are two code requirements regarding insulation: One is Recessed Can Lights. If installing Recessed Can Lights, they should be IC (insulated contact) rated. Although code does allow the use on Non IC rated can lights, but then a minimum of 3" of free air space must be maintained around the can light if Non IC types are used. Most manufacturers have stopped manufacturing the Non IC types because of the potential safety issue with those.


2) There are no code requirements for attic J-boxes being buried in insulation. Of course, the J-box would require a blank cover on them to protect any splices/conductors. Other than that, there are no other requirements for a J-box with insulation covering them.


3) The only other insulation code requirement is Knob & Tube conductors. Since K & T is a "free air" type of wiring system, the insulation must not come in contact with K & T conductors due to the potential heat build up.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks again Kevin. Regarding the J-boxes do they have to be metal if they are on top of the rafters vulnerable to being stepped on?

1) No problem Dean, glad to assist.


2) If using Romex cables, NEC code does not matter if metal or PBC boxes. Personally, I'm not a fan of the PVC boxes and I always use metal 1900 boxes. However, any local codes will always prevail and they may require only the use of metal boxes. Best to check with your local electrical inspector.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin:


I have a circuit that is on a 20 amp breaker, however, there is one light connected to it but has 14 gauge wire. It would be a lot of work to rewire that to 12 gauge. Is this a problem or can I leave it as is?

Hi Dean............A 20 Amp breaker requires 12 AWG copper. The use of 14 AWG copper on a 20 amp breaker is a code violation since the breaker is over-sized for the conductor.


Since there is only 1 light on the circuit, a simple fix would be to leave the 14 AWG wires in-place and just swap out the 20 amp breaker to a 15 amp. A 15 amp breaker requires 14 AWG copper.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Got you. I just don't really want to change my outlets to 15 amp since some of the outlets are on the outside. So I might have to just rewire that light the hardway or just take out the light. Hmmmmmm.

1) Here's the code requirements for receptacles:


On a 20 amp breaker, you can use either 20 amp or 15 amp receptacles


On a 15 amp breaker, you can only use 15 amp receptacles. 20 amp receptacles on a 15 amp breaker are not allowed.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Kevin. I went ahead and did it the hard way but not too hard and ran a new 12 awg conductor. Now it's all good. Like doing it the right way and this way I keep my 20 amp on my receptacles especially on the outside ones where I run my power tools! :)

Have a great weekend!

1) Very good Dean.................yes, when using power tools, always recommended to have those circuits as a 20 amp.


2) Take care and have a great weekend as well sir!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,

Hope you are well! Laughing

Regarding height of an outlet is there a limit on how high it can be off the ground? I have a basement cement wall that is 2' off the ground so the outlets would be above that.

Also when running my romex how high do you drill your holes in the studs above where the outlets would go?

Have a nice Thanksgiving day.

1) Hello Dean.... all is well here.

2) If the receptacle outlet is outdoors, it can be no higher than 6"-6" above grade level.

3) If the receptacle outlet is part of the required receptacles inside the house, it can be no higher than 5'-6" above the floor.

4) If drilling holes thru the 2 x 4's and routing the Romex horizontally, I normally drill them no higher than 3 feet above the floor or I drill them high on the wall near the top plate. Thus I try to maintain approximately a 4 ft to 5 ft free zone on the wall area in the event you ever want to install a wall mount TV or picture frames that may require lag bolts or toggle bolts. This zone will not interfere with any Romex cable then. Although there is no code requirement on this.

5) Receptacle heights in the living area of the home are normally installed between 12" to 16" on center off of the floor. If brand new construction, I normally go 14" on center off of the floor. If a remodel job, I randomly measure other existing receptacles in the home and install them the same height. There is also no code requirement as to how low the receptacles can be mounted, but 12", 14" or 16" is the industry standard height for wall receptacles.

6) Hope that helps.......reply back with any questions as I will be logged ON/OFF here throughout the weekend.

Take care Dean and have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving as well......Kevin!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


Got a recessed light that doesn't seem to work. I tested to see if it's hot and it is. Should I just replace this section. All wires seem solidly connected and bulb I used to test is good. Tried several bulbs but no light. Here is a pic


Also, thanks for the reply on the receptacles. I assume when you mean on center you mean to the middle of the receptacle?

1) You probably have an internal wire within the socket area that is not making proper contact. Rather than messing with it, I would just replace it since those items are relatively inexpensive.

2) Yes, on-center is the middle of the receptacle if installing them in a vertical position.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Update: I tested it with a meter and the hot is giving over 120 volts if I touch the neutral lead to the metal part of the fixture but when I touch the lead to the inside of the socket neutral part I'm getting almost no volts.

So I my guess is that the socket is faulty for the neutral connection or my romex neutral wire is disconnected somewhere?

1) Very possible. The threaded portion of the socket is the neutral connection and the middle tip portion is the hot connection within the socket.

2) If getting minimal voltage from hot to neutral, that usually indicates a faulty neutral connection. Suggest disconnecting the hot and neutral at the can light and re-test the hot and neutral as open conductors with no connected load. This will isolate if you have a faulty neutral splice upstream in the Romex or will prove if the can light neutral socket connection is faulty.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Got it. Thanks.


Also, what is the thinnest J-box I can have for a receptacle? I'm creating a wall about 2 feet high and want to keep the wall narrow as possible.

1) If using a metal box, thinnest depth that a regular duplex receptacle will fit into is 1 1/2" deep. A standard metal 1900 box.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Great. That should work.


Speaking of J-boxes, I have track lighting in my basement and noticed that whoever wired them up used no j-boxes. They just ran the romex and created a hole through the ceiling. Is there a special j-box I should think about using for this fixture?

1) No nothing special, just use a regular 4" x 4" x 1 1/2" metal 1900 type box with a circular plaster ring. The track lighting cover will fit over the circular mud ring and the 2 threaded mud ring holes will line up with the track cover in order to secure it to the plaster ring.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin, hope you had a good weekend. :)

Is there some kind of code on how thick your wall needs to be to house your receptacles? As long as the outlet fits such as the 1.5" thick boxes wouldn't that be acceptable?

Hello Dean.........weekend here was good, decent weather here. Hope yours was also good?


1) Depending upon the type of box used, the NEC requires that the edge of the box is flush to the outside of the wall finishing, ie drywall or paneling. The metal yoke (removable ears) of the receptacle must be flush with the exterior surface of the wall covering, ie, drywall. Some boxes may or may not require a mud ring, ie, octagon or masonry type boxes. See below for more explanation:


2) Or in your application, if using a standard 1 1/2" deep metal 1900 box, you will require plaster/mud rings on the box to accommodate the thickness of the wall covering. Mud rings come in flat or raised faces and they also come in single or two gang types. If a raised faced mud ring is used, they come in depth dimensions of 1/8", 1/4", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4" thick, etc. Standard mud rings are normally 1/2" thick raised face due to the normal thickness of drywall. 3) The use of a standard 4" x 4" x 1 1/2" deep metal 1900 box with a 1/2" raised face mud ring is the industry standard and is perfectly acceptable. However, if you have an application such as a fire rated wall in a garage, those walls are a minimum of 5/8" thick drywall, thus a 5/8" raised face mud ring is required there.


If for some reason, you are off by 1/16" or 1/8" of an inch or so when trimming out the receptacles or wall switches, you can install green plastic standoffs that are installed behind the 2 device screws. The green standoffs are sold in the electrical aisle at any Home Depot or Lowe's. Sometimes, the edge of the box is mounted on a slight angle and will not be flush. Thus, the green plastic insert tabs are meant to line the receptacle or wall switch yoke with the exterior wall surface finish and act as a spacer. See Home Depot link below for the spacers:


Reply back with any questions.......Thanks..........Kevin!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin, I found a plastic 1.5" box that has fins so I can side mount to a stud. image: .


So if I have the box sticking out a 1/2 inch for the drywall shouldn't that suffice and will not need a mud ring?

1) Yes, that will also work and no mud ring will be required.

2) Personally, I don't prefer using PVC boxes since PVC boxes have a limited number of Romex openings. A metal box always has more openings versus a PVC box. Never know when you might need to tap into a box down the road to extend a circuit.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I like your reasoning for having more openings. I will go with the metal boxes. Little surprised they don't protrude out a 1/2" for 1/2" drywall like the PVC ones do.

Yep, more openings are always a good option.

I've also had some PVC boxes that cracked and I had to remove them. Thus the reason I prefer metal boxes.

Some metal boxes protrude 1/2", but most don't. About the only metal boxes that protrude are usually single gang with the built-in nail bracket.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin, tried HD for a single gang metal box that's 1.5" in depth and the internet but not seeing it anywhere? Is that somewhat hard to find? Perhaps I'll call Platt electric tomorrow but don't see it on there website.


Update I think I found it at Platt but $10 a box! Whooaaa. I'll keep looking around.

1) If the depth absolutely needs to be 1 1/2" in depth, here is a 4" x 4" 1900 box with bracket.

2) Here is a flat (no raised face) single gang mud ring you can use that fits onto a 4" x 4" 1900 box and converts it to single gang:
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Wow, I wonder why these metal parts are sooooo expensive?! $27 for each piece for single gang box. Wow. I think I'll go the PVC route.

Now the one I showed you in the image of the PVC single gang I notice it has a 1/4 inch lip instead of a 1/2 lip for sheet rock. Can I put a plastic mud ring on that?

1) They are only $3 to $4 per box at the Depot. The $27 price that you saw was for a 10 pack (bulk quantity price).

2) PVC boxes don't use mud rings, the box is manufactured to protrude past the 2" x 4", the thickness of the drywall, ie, 1/2" thick lip.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Whoops, my blooming oversight! Thanks for the update. Also, is there any restrictions on proximity of an outside receptacle to a water hose spicket? Of couse, I'll have the receptacle housed in the proper outside cover to prevent moisture from seeping in.

1) No code restrictions on that, but I try to keep any receptacles as far as possible.

2) Yes, the exterior receptacles need to be GFCI protected as well as WR, weather rated and TP, tamper proof and an "in-use" bubble cover.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Kevin,


This question may be a repeat. For some reason I think it got lost because I tried asking a new question button instead (didn't realize that was there), but I think I'll just keep doing the old way by asking it here if that's OK with you?


Hope your doing well.


3 questions:

1) Running two branch circuits to my two new bedrooms in my basement. I plan to run them to the first J-box in the closest bedroom then branch off from there. It seems obviously I think but like to be sure before I cut the line.
2) I seen in some videos that there is a creation of a loop at each bedroom j-box just in case in the future someone needs extra line. Do I staple the required 8" max from the j-box then create a loop and then run it inside the j-box?
3) Have my romex cables can I have in a j-box? I have a good size j-box that is 2.5" deep by 3.5" tall x 4" wide and has currently 5 romex some 12/2 some 14/2. I am not using one of the 14/2 and capped the wires off. It has two swithes on it and one of the switches I'll rewire for an outside light. The wires that were on it are the ones I capped off and stuffed to the back of the box (btw, their dead lines).

Hello Dean.........I answered this on your newly created question. ...........Thanks..........Kevin!

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