In a recent question I asked about finding parts for my old 1960s electrical panel. I've given up on finding parts, and this new question is about replacing it with a new, modern panel:

One of the lugs burned up in my house's service panel. It was installed when the house was built in 1963. The lug is integral to the panel, and the panel is no longer available. I've looked for used panels of that model -- a GE TRX2012F -- but did not find any. So I'm told I need a new service panel.

I want to do the replacement myself. I've done minor DYI electrical work but nothing this involved. I'm reading and watching what I can find on replacing electrical panels. Can anyone offer answers to any of my questions below?

1) First, any suggestions on what panel to choose? The current one is installed flush in an unfinished stud wall. But surface-mount on top of the studs sounds fine to me too. There is about 14.5" between the studs, and they are about 3.5" deep. There is no real limit on height except that some bolts for the meter pipe extend into the wall about 6 - 7 inches above where the feeder wires come out of the wall from the meter.

2) Next, should I expect to reuse the breakers, or do I need new ones? If new ones, can you suggest what I need?

3) Regarding the fat black wires running from the breaker at the upper left down to between breakers below -- would I be duplicating that, or is that done differently in today's panels?

4) I'll need to know how to shut off the power to the panel box. If I understand correctly that would be done at the meter. And since the meter is locked by the power company, I believe that would mean calling them and asking them to turn it off, then asking them to come out and turn it back on when I'm done. Is that correct?

5) Are there any other components, or any special tools, I'll need?

Thanks! Pictures below:

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More pictures:


Find a GE distributor in your area and have them order you a new INTERIOR for whatever their current product line is that matches your needs. The box dimensions haven't changed enough in 40 years to be a problem, a new interior (and cover) should drop right in.

You also have what's called a "split bus" installed there; the lower section of the panel is protected by a breaker in the upper section. There are two main reasons for this, one of which is not in play here, the other of which is something you need to determine if it applies.

The main reason for a "split bus" panel is to take advantage of what's called the "6 hand rule" meaning that if a firefighter needs to kill all power in your building, they only have to move their hand 6 times. So when a panel doesn't have a "Main Breaker" (as yours doesn't), then the top 6 spaces are all supposed to be 2 pole breakers, and one of those 2 pole breakers then feeds the bottom section where all the single pole breakers are. Your setup already violates that, you have 10 handles up top. Maybe that's because it has been changed by someone who didn't understand, who knows but that is already a violation if that was the original reason.

The other reason for doing a split bus is if you have a backup generator (or now a Solar Power system) in which you only want to power SOME of the loads when under the backup source. That too does not appear to be the case here because that typically needs to have some sort of interlocking system to isolate the unwanted parts of the system when connecting that backup source, and I don't see anything like that. But only you can tell for sure.

So in all likelihood you can get a more standard GE panel interior with enough spaces (20) and that will fit in that box. If it were me, I would get one with a Main Breaker now rather than rely on that 6 hand rule issue and trying to rearrange all of the circuits so that there are only 6 breakers on the upper half, but you may not have enough physical space in the box for that. If that's the case, you may just need to change out to a new box too. But GE has not changed the breakers themselves, so by sticking with GE you can re-use those and save yourself some money.

  • It may very well be the case that no interiors with sufficient circuit counts fit that cabinet due to the wire bending space changes in the NEC that have happened between then and now... – ThreePhaseEel Apr 4 '19 at 22:41

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