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Just inherited a 1956 built home in SC with a 100A FP sub-panel. There are MANY other major and minor code-related and safety issues such as grounded outlets with no ground wires. My question is whether I can (by code) replace just the panel now without being required to sort out everything else in the first go. Recognize inspectors do what they do, but in the permit application in jurisdictions adhering strictly to latest code, will I be forced to do it all at once. I’ll get to the rest.

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    You could do what you can easily do to correct or at least make the other violations less obvious. For example, the proper and code compliant way to put 3-prong outlets on ungrounded circuits is to install GFCI outlets marked "no ground".
    – DoxyLover
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 4:31
  • Hurry. NEC 2023 will change this, and add "external meter-main" to scope. Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 0:51

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Generally speaking, when you replace a panel you do not need to bring everything else up to current code. This typically means you do not need to worry about things like:

  • Dedicated bathroom and kitchen circuits
  • GFCI and AFCI protection
  • Grounded receptacles

However, that is based on everything meeting code at the time it was installed. For example, in a 1950s house like yours (and like mine, and I had a panel replacement a year ago), you won't need any GFCI or AFCI breakers at all. However, any new receptacles in places that need GFCI or AFCI will require that protection. For example, there was a receptacle a few feet from my old panel that, practically speaking, it made sense to replace with a receptacle installed right next to the new panel - so that receptacle had to have GFCI (could have been done at the breaker but cheaper at the receptacle) and be tamper resistant.

However, you may have some complications. For example, a 1950s house did not normally have grounded receptacles so you don't have to replace any ungrounded receptacles (I've been doing that in my house, but independent of the panel replacement). However, if you have any improperly grounded receptacles (no ground at all or ground connected to neutral) then an inspector could require you to replace those, and in the process could also require GFCI and/or AFCI protection to bring them up to current code.

If the panel replacement itself is done very professionally (whether by an electrician or by a homeowner under appropriate rules, which vary a lot by jurisdiction) then an inspector is likely to not check through everything else in the house. But they could: for example, if they see very old cables going into the panel and have concerns about them, they might look around to see where they go and might start finding other problems. Impossible to know for sure.

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