My home had an ancient Zinsco sub-panel in which the breakers were grounding out and arcing to the panel. I've swapped it with a new Eaton 100 amp panel. I've re-installed all the breakers, and re-connected everything.

When I re-energize the 100 amp breaker in the Siemens main panel, my non-contact tester shows that I have power to the new panel, but none to the individual breakers. The breakers all switch normally between the on and off positions, but I have no current. The main wires are installed in the 100 amp cut-off breaker in the panel, neutral is fixed to the neutral bar and I've installed a ground bar and connected all the ground lines.

Is there something obvious I'm missing?

  • @Ecnerwal- Yeah, I've tried cycling, both the 100 amp breaker at the main that feeds the new panel and the panel cut-off, too. No luck. Michael- No, I replaced all the old breakers with brand new type BR breakers. The zinscos wouldn't have fit in the new panel even if I wanted to use them. :)
    – user23544
    Jul 5, 2014 at 3:41
  • 1
    In my [limited] experience with no-contact voltage testers, they don't work that well in a noisy electrical environment like a breaker panel. I would use a regular multimeter instead.
    – Hank
    Jul 5, 2014 at 16:04

4 Answers 4


Start by shutting off the breaker in the main panel that feeds the subpanel.

Using a multimeter set to check continuity, test the continuity through the main breaker in the subpanel. It's possible that the main breaker in the panel is bad, and needs to be replaced. The problem is, it's usually cheaper to buy a whole new panel then to get a replacement main breaker. If this is a new panel, and the breaker tests bad. I'd contact the place you purchased it from, and ask them what your options are.

While the power is still off to the subpanel.

Check all the connections to make sure they are tight.

Check the continuity from the bus bar through each branch circuit breaker.

Make sure the main breaker in the subpanel is fully closed. If you turn it to the ON position and it has a little wiggle to the handle, this might mean the breaker is not actually setting when you turn it on. In the ON position, the handle should held tightly in place. If the breaker will not set, it means the breaker is bad and needs to be replaced.


It sounds like you attempted to reuse all the old circuit breakers.

There are various styles of circuit breakers and there is a good chance that the ones from your ancient old box are not even compatible with the new panel....even though they may give the appearance if fitting into their slots.

You described that the old breakers were also arcing and shorting out. These may be damaged due to this.

This leads to the conclusion that you should really replace all the old breakers with new ones that are compatible with your new panel.

  • 3
    I do not understand the down vote here. Despite who downvoted -- @Jeff -- You wrote right in your posting that "I've re-installed all the breakers...". If that does not sound like you put all the previously installed breakers back in then it is a new language to me. If you had said "I've installed all the new breakers..." then there would have never been a need for me to post this answer. That said my answer is a valid consideration for anyone coming to read this thread learn some details about replacing a panel.
    – Michael Karas
    Jul 5, 2014 at 19:59

Is the 100 amp "cut-off" (or main, from that sub-panel's perspective) breaker in the sub-panel on as well as the 100 amp breaker in the main panel?

Your described symptoms are what I'd expect to see if it was off - power "to panel" but not to buss-bars feeding breakers in panel, being "cut off" locally. Try cycling it off and on.


I had the same problem and it was the 100 amp breaker that is on the sub panel that was not letting current go through to the circuits. I replaced the breaker and bingo everything worked correctly.

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