Panel ground question

If I am correct, the ground wire in this panel should not be running behind the breakers the way it is - correct?

Also, the two pole 30 amp breaker, the one with the incorrect white wire, looks like it is a 10/2 (but also may be a 12/2, now that I look closer), shouldn’t that be a 3 wire? I think it is for the AC condenser (it wasn’t labeled). I’m just looking for confirmation that I’m not crazy.

This may or may not be direct violation with the way the GEC is run but it is rather sloppy. I would be concerned about the type of connector used to terminate the cable armor to the panel enclosure, if there even is one. Seems like the GEC (grounding electrode conductor) was a little short and the installer didn’t want to spend the money on an irreversible connector or a Cadweld splice, either of which would be required to lengthen a GEC.

The 2-pole 30 amp CB with #12 AWG conductors may be permitted if this is a circuit for an AC unit or other motor load. Typically those AC units have OCPD larger than the standard sizes used to protect #12 condcutors. Also a straight 240 volt circuit would not require a neutral.

One other thing to check is that the MWBC’s (multi-wire branch circuits), those circuits with 3 wires, 2 hots and a shared neutral are arranged so that the black and the red conductors within the same cable are on different phases.

Robert, do you have the ability to zoom in on the photo? If so, follow the white conductor on the 30 amp circuit, and tell me if you see evidence of overheating.

I cannot really zoom in and see anything. Since it’s a 240 volt circuit an overload would cause overheating on both the black and white conductors. Do you know what the load connected to that CB is?

I believe it is the AC condenser. I see overheating on the white conductor.

Then a problem with the white conductor would be a connection issue not an overload issue since it didn’t occur in the black conductor too. Remember that AC units can and will have over-sized OCPD’s to allow for the starting current of the unit. Take a look at this nameplate as an example. It would acceptable for this unit to have #12 conductors on a 30 amp OCPD:

I’m not sure I understand what you are basing the conductor size on.

See photo of data tag of the AC condenser connected to the panel. It appears now, after reading it, that the 30 amp CB is too “large”. Right? Perhaps that’s the reason I see the overheating of the conductor?

Yes, that nameplate indicated that the maximum OCPD for the unit would be 25 amps so the 30 amp OCPD is no good. The conductors are sized base on the Minimum Circuit Ampacity (MCA) of the unit. The #12 condcutors would be fine with a 25 amp CB. Also this unit could be wired with #14 condcutors and a 25 amp CB as well.

But back to the original problem with the white conductor showing signs of over heating. The problem would occur equally in both condcutors of the circuit so the 30 amp CB likely has nothing to do with it.

I’m gonna call out the improperly sized OCPD and leave the evaluation of what I see as an overheated conductor to a licensed electrician.

Sounds like good advice. The new CB will (hopefully) be tightened to the proper torque value and the overheating wouldn’t occur again.

Thanks for all the good feedback.

Unless the disconnect is fused with appropriate fuses.

Interesting point. That would depend on what you would call those fuses. Call them supplementary protection then I would agree with you. If they’re not supplementary protection then the circuit between the panel and the fuses, by definition, becomes a feeder making the 30 amp OCPD no good with #12 AWG condcutors.

I would agree with Jeffery that if the fuses at the disconnect were 20 or 25 amps then the installation would be compliant but I have heard it argued the other way too.

Maybe John can tell us if the unit disconnect had fuses or not.

There were no fuses at the AC disconnect.

Then your initial assessment was correct the maximum size OCPD permitted to protect that circuit is 25 amps so the 30 amp CB should be changed to a 25 amp.


Just covering the bases :wink:

Yes, and thanks for pointing that out. :mrgreen:
I completely missed the fact that there could have been an OCPD at the disconnect.