converting fuse to circuit box

Old 07-28-03, 09:07 AM
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converting fuse to circuit box

Could anyone tell me where I can find a detailed tutorial
on how to convert my 60 amp fuse box to a 100 amp circuit
breaker box.

Old 07-28-03, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Fayetteville, NY, USA
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I did this to my house. Couple things you should know. Your service entrance cable is undoubtedly rated 60 amps. You can't increase your main overcurrent device (60 amp fuse) with a larger one (100 amp breaker) without first installing new service entrance cable with 100 amp rating.

You're also probably grounded to your water main only with #10 ground conductor. You will be required by the NEC to install a new ground rod and a new #6 ground conductor from your new panel to the ground rod.

So, to replace the service entrance cable you must get the local utility to cut you off for the swap-out. When you get them involved they will require an inspection before they will turn you back on again. So you will have to apply for an inspection. The inspector will want to see a permit from your local city, town or what have you.

I did all this fun stuff up front. But first I called my town code enforcement guy and asked if a homeowner is allowed to do his own electrical work. In my town its OK. I live just outside a major city where it is not. You should check first. I did so anonymously in case I decided to bypass the red tape and do it anyway. I'm glad I did not. And if I did and had a fire, my insurance company could have walked away without paying a cent if they found out. Since they usually send out an investigator they probably would have too. So far no fire, though. But it's blessed by the official inspecting agency of my state, so I'm iron-clad.

I assume your electric meter is in your basement also. If it is the utility will make you move it outside, at a location they will dictate to you. This is so they have an easier time reading your meter every month, and of course for this added convenience to them you pay for and wire the new meter socket (also called meter "can"). They supply the meter though. You can't shop around too much for the best price on the meter can because it must be the exact model they specify. They also specify mounting height for the meter, number of ground rods (my utility requires two, NEC requires 1) and other things that may not be in the Code, but that they won't hook you up without. All of which you pay for and install. But at least the cut-off and cut-on service is free with most utilities.

As long as I was going to do this, I bought a 150 amp, 30-space panel, and 150 amp wire. Very little difference in cost. Also very attractive when selling the house, as 100 amp is the minimum allowed by the NEC and allows for little expansion in the future without going through this all over again.

Materials (NY State) ran about $800, including box, cable, ground rods, new meter can, hardware, connectors, etc. Also included $25 for permit, $40 for inspection application. That's for a full 150 amp service. My neighbor paid $900 for a 100 amp service with new 20-space panel. He called an electrician and went on vacation, the electrician got the permit, inspection, filled out forms, dealt with the utility and busted his tail while my neighbor hoisted a telephone and then his checkbook. I, on the other hand, spent every free evening and weekend days for 3 weeks installing all the new stuff. I installed it all parallel to the old stuff with the old system on line, then called the utility for a single appointment for cut-off and cut-on. They were there all of about 20 minutes.

I say that for your comparison in case you underestimated what all was involved. I'm personally glad I did this myself, many others I talked to told me I'm nuts. Oh, it also helps that I had years of experience in residential wiring, though was never a licensed electrician and never performed a service entrance upgrade before. I work with the NEC regularly in my job and was familiar with the codes, and passed the inspection no problem.

If you still want to do this and want more detailed info I can walk you through the work and the inspection if you like. I just thought I should forwarn you before delving into all the details and finding that you might change your mind once you knew how much was involved.

Post back, I'm curious what your reaction will be to all of this.


Last edited by JuiceHead; 07-28-03 at 10:14 AM.
Old 07-28-03, 10:05 AM
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I'll allow some of the others to provide some of the advanced stipulations to undertaking a project of this type, however I am going to give the basic scope.

The service entrance cable on the side of the house, meter base, and panel will need to be replaced. (Everything from the service headdown). Given it is a old 60A service, I would also assume that it mandtory to have the arial service drop replaced. This will involve the utility compnay. It is advisable to do the calculations for the load on the service based on the 2002 NEC. You may find that is should be larger. A permit from the municipality, an inspection afterwards, and POCO to retag the meter are all needed. Grounding to one or more 8ft electrodes (rods) outside, and water service (bonding jumper around meter, or well within 5 ft or entering building are needed. Nat.Gas service should be bonded too.

What is your experience with doing electrical work? If you have minimal skills it may be advisable to hire a pro. Were willing to work with you though. Why are you wanting/needeing to replace the panel?


edit: JuiceHead you beat me to completion.

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