The Leviton Load Center is a popular solution for new construction but it is also a great solution for upgrading an older electrical service. The Leviton Load Center can easily be installed either surface or flush mount, and outdoor enclosures are available when needed. The indoor panels can be installed with a traditional orientation with the main breaker at the top, or the panel can be rotated and the main breaker installed at the bottom. Here are some key considerations when choosing a Leviton Load Center for a service change.
Count the number of breaker positions in the current electrical panel. Be certain to count the number of breaker handles, not breakers or spaces in the panel. There may be “tandem” breakers where two circuit breakers can be mounted in a 1” space. Breakers that connect to 240V equipment (Electric hot water, stove, and air conditioning compressors) will take up 2 spaces. In most cases 120V breakers take up one space. Choose from 20, 30, 42 or 66 space panels based on your current and future needs.
Look at the top or bottom of your current load center for a main breaker that protects the entire panel. In some applications there may not be a main breaker, instead the panel is protected in another panel. Note the main breaker size. If you are not receiving a service feed upgrade then choose a main breaker that is the same size as your existing panel. Main breakers are available in 100A, 125A, 150A, 200A, and 225A. Note, main breakers can be changed if the service size should change in the future.
Permits, Code, Inspection and The Meter Base
A Load Center performs many roles distributing electricity throughout the home. The most important role is safety. Over time technology improves and best practices are updated to ensure your electrical system is as safe as possible. Often these changes lead to updates to local, state and national electrical codes. Load centers should be installed by a qualified professional electrician with knowledge of local code and permit requirements. In many locations the electrical meter must be removed to disconnect the main panel feeds. Disconnecting a meter without permission and permitting may result in a fine from your electrical utility and/or local municipality.
AFCI and GFCI Protection
When updating a load center your inspector may request circuits to be updated to include additional protection. Be certain to follow local electrical requirements to ensure the installation process goes smoothly and that your electrical system is working properly.
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) - Protects against electric shock by monitoring the amount of ground current going to and from equipment along the circuit conductors.
- Focus on protecting any potentially wet or damp areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, outdoors, basements, garages and workshops
- GFCI protection can be achieved with a GFCI enabled breaker or outlet
- Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) - Protects against fires by monitoring electrical circuits for arcs
- Focus on protecting branch circuits supplying outlets or devices installed in living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, laundry areas, and similar rooms or areas
- AFCI protection can be achieved with a AFCI enabled breaker or outlet
- AFCI, GFCI and Smart Breakers all require the neutral to be terminated on the silver neutral connection below the breaker (see Neutrals Connections in the Panel below)
Upgrading To Smart Breakers
The Leviton Load Center is a modular system which can be updated to Smart Breakers in minutes. Start by adding an LDATA interface that connects to your Internet connected network over Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Install Smart Breakers to add new features to your installation including current consumption information, voltage monitoring, notification, and the ability to trip breakers from the My Leviton App.
LDATA Interface For Smart Breakers Connection
The LDATA is an interface that collects information from the Smart Breakers and sends the information to the My Leviton App. The interface is designed to be mounted in the bottom of the Leviton Load Center and connects to the homes Internet over Wi-Fi or an Ethernet. The LDATA is powered from a 120VAC breaker.
Neutrals Connections in the Panel
When changing a load center it is common to find the neutral connections in the original panel are tied together on a neutral bar at the top of the panel. When installing standard breakers in a Leviton Load Center the neutrals should be extended to land the neutral connection next to each breaker. It is recommended to discuss extending the neutrals with a wire connection in the Load Center with the inspector prior to the installation. If extending the neutrals is not permitted traditional current protection breakers can still be installed in the same manner with neutrals at the top of the panel. AFCI, GFCI, Smart Breakers all require the neutral connection to be terminated on the silver neutral connection next to the breaker and not on the neutral bar.
Prior to a National Electric Code (NEC) change in 2011 it was common for branch circuits to be fed from a white, black, red and earth ground. The red and black conductors would land on two 120V breakers immediately adjacent to each other. Each breaker would provide power from opposite legs and use a single white neutral. This wiring is referred to as a “shared neutral”, “Edison”, or “3-wire” circuit. The Leviton Load Center is compatible with shared neutral applications; however, there are some key considerations.
- Standard (non-smart, non-GFCI and non-AFCI) 120VAC breakers are compatible with shared neutrals
- For Smart breaker applications with a shared neutral use a Smart non-AFCI and non-GFCI Dual Pole breaker.
- While these breakers are traditionally used for 240VAC applications they are required by Code to protect two 120VAC circuits with a shared neutral
- If either branch circuit exceeds the current rating both branch circuits will be turned off
- The dual pole breaker contains an arrow which indicates the proper screw to connect the neutral
- 1-pole AFCI and GFCI breakers are not compatible with shared neutrals. Leviton offers a 2-pole AFCI breakers which are compatible with shared neutrals.
- LSBMA current transformers are not compatible with shared neutrals
Energy Monitoring Circuits Larger than 60A
Breakers larger than 60A are not available in Smart configurations, To monitor larger 240VAC loads, use the LSBMA Smart Breaker Metering Accessory. Two Current Transformers (CTs) each support up to 125A branch breaker wiring and connect to a breaker on each leg of the load center. The LSBMAs pair to the LDATA and are compatible with the My Leviton app.
Today’s homes have more electronics than ever. Fortunately the Leviton Load center has the LSPD1-T and LSPD2-T breakers which offer integrated surge and over current protection for 15A or 20A branch circuits.
The LITLK Manual Transfer Interlock Kit provides enhanced safety when using back-up power sources, ensuring utility power sources are turned to the OFF position when emergency back-up power sources are being used, and vice-versa. Compatible with all Leviton Load Centers and is traditionally used with portable generators
The Leviton Load Center is compatible with Aluminum (AL) wire installation. Aluminum wiring may require specialized connectors and termination, it is recommended to consult with an electrician familiar with aluminum wire to ensure a safe installation.