Ok Electrical Guys, Identifying Lots Of Stuff

So I did a bunch of reading and research through this forum, the NEC, and various websites about and electrical system being wired to a detached garage, or in the case of this house, the garage is where the service panel is and the distributions are in the garage and the house.
That being said, I’m going to try and decipher as much as I can. There will be images of everything also. If anyone would be so kind as so point in my the right direction to understand more, or quiz me to learn more, that would be greatly appreciated. So here we go!

  1. the house is fed by a service drop. The meter feeds the first in a serious of panels, where the main disconnect is. 100AMP service.
  2. that first panel feeds these next two panels which are, I’m assuming, other disconnects, as the house is wired for a welder and an air compressor.
  3. these disconnects also feed the panel on the bottom, a 20amp breaker.
  4. the first panel below the meter is just a box where the multiple slices are.

From what I read, each of these panels where wire is ran through, 1 have to be bonded together and 2 ground and neutral separated.

The distribution panel on the inside of the house has to be grounded to a grounding rod or the water supply system to which it was grounded to the water supply. Since it’s grounded to the water supply, the ground and neutrals can be on the same bus, from what I read, or at least to my understanding.

My questions are:

  1. Are those other two disconnects extra disconnects?
  2. Am I correct that distribution panel on the inside of the house can have the neutrals and grounds on the same bus since it’s grounded to the water supply?
  3. There was another set of cables coming from the power line to the house, but was wired into a telephone and internet box. That being said, after 2008, any home/detached building that has power ran to both, with an extra metallic line, has to be a 4-wire system and not a 3-wire.

Extra: I do see various issues in almost every panel, but feel free to write one to see if I missed it. Dirty panels, missing legends, sheathing cut far back, improper bonding, wrong screws to hold panel etc…

1 Like

There are a number of things going on here…

Let’s get some things straight:

  1. each structure, unless fed by a single branch or multiwire circuit with an EGC, must have own grounding electrode system.
  2. everything after the first disconnect (service) is remote distribution
  3. the only time you could (and had to) bond the neutral and the grounds in the remote distribution was prior to 2008 when the remote distribution panel was fed by a 3-wire (no EGC wire) feeder in a remote! structure. The remote structure could not have any metallic paths going back to the structure where the feeder originated (at the service).
  4. the bonding of neutral and grounds has nothing to do with water pipes or other grounding electrodes

There are number of things wrong in your pictures. The simple: the MC cable not approved for wet locations, missing knockout cover, double lugging, don’t see GEC at the service.

Here is what I don’t see: where is the feeder feeding the house subpanel? to the left of the meter and goes up the conduit? how does it get to the house? how many conductors are part of that feed? there is no picture of the main disconnect. No picture of the feeder entering the house’s subpanel.

The entire thing needs to be checked by a seasoned licensed electrician.

Draw yourself a ladder diagram that should help.

Here is the main disconnect. I seem to have not taken a further away picture but next to the breaker was jam packed with splices.

There is a grounding rod at the entrance to the garage. For some reason I didn’t snap a photo of.

If you don’t mind, what did I get wrong or where did I explain something wrong?
I am aware everything after the first disconnect is a remote, I thought I explained that that in the OP the right way.

what MC cable?

IMG_3909

See #4 that I wrote…

Your second pic on the right, the armored cable. Look up AC vs MC cables.

Unfortunately, I cannot tell from the additional pics the type of feeder used. Like mentioned… if they ran a 4wire from the main disconnect, the subpanel in the house must have neutrals separated from the grounds. You did not explain/show how the feeder gets to the house.

Not exactly… the 3-wire feeder was an exception, not the rule, prior to 2008. After 2008 ALL feeders must be 4-wire for 120/240v remote panels, regardless of any additional metallic paths. Pre-2008 you could run 3-wire using the exception… otherwise you had to run 4wire even pre2008. Even in 2020, it is still okay (considered safe) to have a building fed using the pre2008 exception as long as it is sill compliant with the exception (no metallic paths, no EGC with feeder, remote panel is bonded), and was installed/wired pre NEC 2008 was being enforced in the location of the house.

1 Like


This is the second set of wires that came from the utility pole. They fit into these two boxes one of which was for Internet. Unless that other box somehow fed the panel on the inside I’m assuming that it’s an underground feed? I did not see anywhere visible that the wires ran to the house.

Per before… the second conduit going up from the main disconnect… in your first pic of the first post… where did it go? There are 2 conduits… one feeds the meter the other (on the left) goes up from the disconnect. The subpanel in the house, was it fed by 3 wire or 4 wire feeder? You don’t take zoomed out pic of the entire panel? this should be a standard practice :slight_smile:

I do, on every home, but I guess not this one. I was pretty distracted by my client obsessively telling me code things about his job and how something was code and not code. I guess I was more distracted than I realize. I might have to go back and take another look. But, there’s enough wrong between all the panels, receptacles and what not I can refer the whole thing out to an electrician. Might get away with this one and not embarrass myself.
This is more for me to learn. This house intimidated me, 5 panels :face_vomiting::weary:

You allowed it to happen… next time I’d tell the client in order to do a great job and not miss anything important it would help for you to focus… and it’s hard for you to focus when you have to speak at the same time. Explain that you will answer all questions at the end of the inspection. It’s up to you how you run the show :slight_smile: I can never focus when people are talking to me unless I’m completely ignoring/blocking them out. So just send them to do something useful instead of bothering you. Put them to work!

It helps to look and inspect one panel at a time instead of the whole mess at once. For example… you’re looking at a panel: is it service? okay, it should be this way… Is it a remote panel? okay it should be this way… one panel at a time. Don’t lick the opened panels, you’ll be alright :wink:

1 Like

Yep, like Simon says, run your own inspection protocol. I give them a pad of paper and pencil and answer at the end, unless I’m not busy and am right there.

Divide and concur!

1 Like

100% I did. The first inspection I’ve had were I was too distracted. That’s okay though I won’t let it happen again.

This is what I do every time. After reading about detached garages and electrical I went into it a little too cocky of the understanding. The whole inspection is me making rookie errors.

The MC comes out of the bottom panel fed by a 2 pole 20 amp breaker.

1 Like

@srechkin Here we go bud. I went back to the property today and took some more pictures to help me understand what’s going on.

Where did you take the last pic? By the house or the garage? Did you open the panel in the house to see how many wires fed it? From the open service panel with the 2 disconnects I see what looks like 3 insulated and 1 bare AL wire going into the conduit above, but I cannot tell for sure from that pic. Look, it was your job to figure this out while there :slight_smile: with 3 wire feed, the subpanel in the house would need neutral bonded, 4 wire feed would need neutral separated. Was that conduit in the ground metal or PVC? Looks like metal. As you understand, there cannot be any metallic paths with 3wire feed exception between the 2 structures.

The entrance to the garage.

Yes 3 wire.

Yes, I am aware it is my job. Also, I can’t learn unless I ask questions. It’s better than just sending it off an saying “yeah I don’t know dude.” So in other words, at least I’m reaching out to learn. :wink:

Metal
Thanks for your help!

If the subpanel in the house was fed by a 3 wire feeder then the only issue with that, if any, are metallic paths between the 2 structures. I would call out the simple stuff and have an electrician verify there are no metallic paths when he is there.

I understand the learning part… but you cannot just throw pics at us… you’ve got to participate… like hey, I went there, this is what I found or this is what I’m still not understanding… I already asked you about the 3wire feeder in post #7 and all I got was here you go… bunch of pics LOL

So at this point… does it all make sense or not :smiley: If not, explain what makes sense and which part doesn’t.

1 Like

I thought it did that but obviously I didn’t do that well enough or just a horrible attempt at it. I’ll make sure to do a better job the next time. My fault for not doing that.

I’ll reply back later with my understanding of the whole system.

1 Like

@srechkin
Here we go.
When a detached garage and house are powered through a feeder, whether it be house to garage or garage to house, it can be wired by a 3 wire run except if there is another metallic source that also run between the two buildings in which If that’s the case, then there needs to be a 4 wire feed. But if the feeder is non metallic then it can remain a 3 wire.

Yes, the key word is remain, for new installations or those after to the adoption of the 2008 NEC they cannot be used.

1 Like