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Air Conditioning Connected Sub-Panel


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Ernie,

Wile I think you did an admirable job I don't agree with the approach. There are two major code violations that I saw in the picture of your meter can and AC disconnect. The first is the flex over to the AC disconnect, regular flex is not approved for wet locations so I would really consider replacing that. The other issue is the use of a dryer receptacle outside, these devices are not weather proof and I would be really concerned over moisture infiltration.

As far as your temporary panel I think it looks great but I would definitely be worried about moisture infiltration into the panel and your GFCI's.

Tony

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Ernie had this at the MN Mini, mostly complete. It looks very professional in person...

Tony: Looks like that "flex" was the existing wiring from his A/C, as the dryer outlet is connected directly.

Ernie: Do you have plans for weatherproofing the dryer outlet during the rest of the year, or will it simply be disconnected? (if it's the latter, I'd probably just have hard-spliced it in if I were doing it :) ) I don't think I'd feel bad about putting a bag over the entire panel -- a good quality garbage back (puncture-proof type) should work nicely. It shouldn't get hot at all... I know my main panel doesn't... Barring that, I suppose you could fabricate some sort of cabinet door over the entire front of the thing. It could be 6" or so deep, with an open bottom so the cords could drop right out the bottom. It would only have to be raintight enough to keep wind-blown rain from getting inside in any significant amounts...

-Tim

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One other thing I think should be pointed out, since Ernie posted such a nice, clean picture of his sub-panel. Anyone looking to do something like this themselves, notice Ernie did not tie the ground and neutral together. This is correct for a sub-panel. I think it's a common mistake to tie them together, it's one I've found quite a few times when looking over other DIY projects.

I posted in a couple other threads about a similar project I did last year, stealing power from our Hot Tub disconnect switch. I did almost exactly what Ernie did here, adding a 50 AMP outlet, with a plug going to a 100 AMP panel, feeding six 20 AMP GFCI outlets.

The more I thought about it, the more worried I became. I realized the outlet, the plug, and the outdoor breaker box were all not GFCI protected, and could get pretty dangerous if any of them got wet. When I installed the 50 AMP outlet at our new house, I put it on a GFCI breaker. Now the circuits are all protected before they even get outside.

Tony and Tim raise concerns about the weatherproofing of the dryer outlet. While it still might not be the best approach, could a level of safety be added by putting the AC unit on a GFCI breaker?

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The problem I see with using a large GFCI breaker is that it's not a given that the GFCI outlets would trip before the breaker. So you may have all (or a large portion of) your display go out with one ground fault. And it would be particularly hard to diagnose...

I think it would be better (but probably still not meet code) to fashion some sort of "in-use" cover for the dryer outlet. And maybe put it on a separate disconnect, so it's only live during display season...

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You're right, Tim. From what I've tested, my GFCI breaker ALWAYS trips before the GFCI outlets.

It might be a pain when the whole display goes out, but probably a bigger pain to get shocked from an unprotected outlet...

You, of all people, should know! :giggle:

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Ernie,

. . . There are two major code violations that I saw . . .

Tony

When I worked at a retail store for a while, I (of course) put up Christmas lights. I was coached by an electrician that if we got inspected, just be sure to keep using the word "temporary" to absolve us from code violations. The other side is, of course, that you don't want to burn the house down, so "safe" temporarily, but "not current code" may be two different things.

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