home power upgrade

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  #1  
Old 12-02-04, 08:28 AM
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home power upgrade

I am getting ready to do an upgrade on my home electrical system but I am a bit confused and I think Lowes sold me the wrong wire.

Currently I have 60 amp service for my house, when I look outside the wire coming from the pole to the weatherhead has 3 strands. I told Lowes what I was doing and they sold me 2 stranded wire in romex. inside the romex there are also several single strands surrounding the two main ones. is this the correct wire to go from the weatherhead to the meter base?

Does anyone know of a website with a schematic for wiring the meter base, disconnect and main feed for the box?

Thanks
Ed.
 
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  #2  
Old 12-02-04, 08:35 AM
sjr
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This post is throwing up red flags all over the place for me... First, it does sound like you were given the correct type of cable at Lowes, though without knowing either the gauge or the size of the new service you are installing, I cannot tell you that you have the right cable.

Please do not take offence at this observation, but from your post, it doesn't sound like you have enough knowledge or experience to perform a service upgrade. A service upgrade is one of the most difficult and dangerous residential electrical jobs and usually not for the average DIY. Please consider hiring a licensed electrician for your own safety.
 
  #3  
Old 12-02-04, 08:54 AM
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My father has completed this project on a house we used to live in and will be helping me, I also have a friend who is an electrician who will give advice as well. I am merely trying to get ahead of the game on it. I have done a fair amount of wiring, just never an upgrade. Also, the power company will do an inspection before they reconnect the power.

The entrance cable is 4/0 aluminum and I will be upgrading to a 200 amp service. After looking as close as I can at the current entrance cable, it looks like it is similar but smaller. Are the two covered cables in the romex the hots and the wire surrounding it the neutral? That is the only thing I have been able to figure by looking at the wire.

I had already purchased the cable to go from the disconnect to the breaker box and it is 2/0 copper but is in 3 single strands. Lowes told me I could use a combination of aluminum and the copper as long as they are not connected directly together, but connected through either the meter base or the disconnect. I would have preferred to use the same wire but wanted to buy it the other night and they didnt have any 2/0 copper.

I apologize for not being clear in my earlier post, I assure you I am capable of doing this and will be absolute sure of what I am doing before I do it. I definately do not want to look like a moron when the power company gets here otherwise I have a feeling I will have them crawling all over my house looking at stuff. The only reason that would bother me is because of stupid things the p/o did on this house. I think I have found all of them and corrected them but knowing my luck they would find something I have missed.

Thanks for you help
Ed.
 
  #4  
Old 12-02-04, 09:03 AM
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Sorry for assuming you didn't know what you were talking about, but from your first post, it wasn't clear.

Anyway, yes, the two conductors with their own insulation are the two hot or phase conductors and the surrounding wire is the neutral/grounded conductor. It is not, however Romex, which is only for indoor use. What you have is most likely Type SE (service entrance) cable, and from your description of the conductor size and the service rating you are installing, it sounds like you have the right cable.

Good luck!
 
  #5  
Old 12-02-04, 09:13 AM
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So I leave a 2ft piece out of the weather head and they will just seperate the wires and twist the neutrals together. It suprises me that the neutral is not coated but oh well.

I wasnt sure what the term was for the entrance cable, since it looked like romex on steroids I figured that would at least get my point across.

One thing i am unsure of is which pieces need to be grounded, I assume the meter base as well as the breaker box need to both be. Does the disconnect need to be as well? Also, where in each of them do I connect the ground? Can they be connected to the same grounding rod?

Thanks
Ed.
 
  #6  
Old 12-02-04, 09:27 AM
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So you have a meter, a disconnect and a breaker box?? Is this the order they are connected? Where is the 4/0 aluminum in the chain? They sold you 2/0 copper and one of lines is not insulated with rubber?

What I would do: skip the disconnect, put the 4/0 aluminum from the meter to your new 200 amp breaker box, hook up ground to the ground/neutral bus bars in your breaker box, send one ground outside into the ground and the other to where your water pipe comes into the house (and a loop over the water meter so electricity will not flow through it in the case of a major jolt).

But this is based on assumptions for your current situation. I don't think you should be doing anything with the weather head because it most likely connects straight to the meter. That will need to be changed by the power company if the line is not rated for 200 amps.
 
  #7  
Old 12-02-04, 09:52 AM
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Here is what I currently have.....

60amp service, meter is located inside a "mud room" that was added on the house. The power company will drop the old line and replace with large enough to handle 200amp free of charge. The meter must be located outside before they will reconnect my service. Currently the weatherhead is mounted to the house and the service cable is not in conduit. I have to put up a new weatherhead and put the service cable in conduit and move it to the side of the house (about 15'). I have to have the disconnect if I have more than 10' of wire running from the meter to the breaker box, I am not thrilled about this but I dont have much choice. I can do it within 10' of wire but wouldnt like the way it would have to be routed through a wall, basically in the middle of the wall which i think is asking for trouble. Instead I am going to go up with it and run it through the floor joists for the second level of the house and then drop it down to the breaker box.

I had planned on using the 4/0 aluminum to go from the weatherhead to the meter, then the 2/0 to the disconnect then to the breakerbox. Connecting the ground to the water pipe is not really an option because it is located at the opposite corner of the house and I am not sure the power company would like that type of ground anyways. I have easy access to putting a grounding rod right below the meter.

The 2/0 cable I have is 3 seperate strands with rubber coating on all 3 strands. Because the neutral will go from the box to the disconnect, then to the meter can I just run a ground from the meter to a grounding rod and call it good? Or do I have to have a seperate ground going from the box straight to the grounding rod or a seperate grounding rod?

Thanks
Ed.
 
  #8  
Old 12-02-04, 09:56 AM
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I did this at my previous residence. Hard work, but rewarding. You will undoubtedly need a new weatherhead. 4/0 aluminum SE is larger by far than your 60 amp existing cable. I installed the new cable, weatherhead, meter and new panel with the existing electricity still on, leaving the ends of the new cable not connected. I pulled the main fuses on my existing panel and ran a set of jumpers to power up the new panel, which I installed right next to the existing fuse box. I transfered my existing circuits, one-by-one to the new panel. Put the main fuses back in and had power back to the whole house through the new panel. When the utility came over to cut off my power for the swap over, I pulled the jumpers off the main lugs on the new panel and installed the new cable from the new meter can while the utility spliced my new SE cable to their aerial drop at the weatherhead. The swap over was done inside 1/2 hour and everything went perfectly.

In my area, as is probably the case in most areas, the utility will be glad to cut off your power for an upgrade, but will not reconnect until they see an approved electrical inspection. It's a liability thing. My village allows a homeowner to do their own electrical work, but requires a permit. They also want a copy of the inspection report to be filed upon completion. So I got the permit, applied for the electrical inspection, and contacted the utility for their approval and to get the cut off/cut on appointment set up. My existing meter was indoors. They required that I move it outdoors, and dictated the final location of the new meter. They required 2 ground rods. (The NEC only requires 1). Ground rods may be no closer than 6'-0" apart per NEC, I planted mine 7' apart.

Only one hitch. Since I moved my meter about 25 feet across the basement and outdoors, my main disconnect was too far away from the point of entry of my SE cable into the building. NEC says it must be "as close as practicable" to that point. In my area, the inspector says his interpretation is 5' - 7' away. In other areas they say 5' max. I either had to extend all 19 of my individual branch circuits to that location and put my new panel there, or I had to purchase a disconnect switch and locate it within the prescribed 5' - 7'. I went with the latter. (There is a third choice - you can run your cable across the house in concrete encased conduit. Not my preference!) At your first disconnecting means you must bond ground and neutral to the same bus. But that makes the breaker panel now a "sub-panel". In any panel downstream of your main disconnecting means, neutrals and grounds must be completely separated. So I removed the bonding screw from the neutral bus on the new panel and for about $8 I bought a ground bus and all my branch circuit grounds and my grounding electrode conductor went on that bus. All the neutrals went on the neutral bus.

Hope that helps. Any other questions let us know.

Juice
 

Last edited by JuiceHead; 12-02-04 at 10:58 AM.
  #9  
Old 12-02-04, 10:45 AM
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Good post Juice. Very informative.
 
  #10  
Old 12-02-04, 10:52 AM
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Hey, thanks man.

Juice
 
  #11  
Old 12-02-04, 12:57 PM
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You have the wrong wire

Originally Posted by edsjr
Here is what I currently have.....

60amp service, meter is located inside a "mud room" that was added on the house. The power company will drop the old line and replace with large enough to handle 200amp free of charge. The meter must be located outside before they will reconnect my service. Currently the weather head is mounted to the house and the service cable is not in conduit. I have to put up a new weather head and put the service cable in conduit and move it to the side of the house (about 15'). I have to have the disconnect if I have more than 10' of wire running from the meter to the breaker box, I am not thrilled about this but I don't have much choice. I can do it within 10' of wire but wouldn't like the way it would have to be routed through a wall, basically in the middle of the wall which i think is asking for trouble. Instead I am going to go up with it and run it through the floor joists for the second level of the house and then drop it down to the breaker box.
If you are building service conduit from the weather head to the meter cabinet then the type SE cable that you have may not be the right cable. Check with the Authority Having Jurisdiction to find out if you will be allowed to run that cable inside the raceway. If they say no then proceed as follows. If you cannot return it you will need to buy a 4/0 aluminum conductor that is insulated to serve as the neutral. You then will have to strip the jacket off of the cable you already have and remove the over wrapped bare aluminum neutral conductors. Those over wrapped aluminum conductors are fine as the neutral in cable but they are not appropriate for use in the service raceway. You will mark your new conductor with white tape at both ends. You then pull the three insulated conductors into the raceway and leave any excess conductor hanging out of the weather head. If your meter cabinet has lugs for terminating the service entry conductors You can terminate the three conductors on those lugs. The plain black one goes on the left, the black with red stripe goes on the right, and the white goes in the middle. If the meter cabinet has threaded studs rather than mechanical lugs the terminations will be done by utility employees.

I had planned on using the 4/0 aluminum to go from the weather head to the meter, then the 2/0 to the disconnect then to the breaker box. Connecting the ground to the water pipe is not really an option because it is located at the opposite corner of the house and I am not sure the power company would like that type of ground anyways. I have easy access to putting a grounding rod right below the meter.
Will there be a conduit between the meter cabinet and the disconnect? If yes you use three separate insulated conductors between those two points as well. Best practice is to use plastic conduit for that particular segment in order to avoid having neutral currents flowing on the conduit but metal conduit is certainly permitted in most places. You could use a main lug only (MLO) panel as your new lighting and appliance panel but a main breaker panel is probably less expensive. One thing to check is the cost of the main lug kit and the weather proof enclosure for that panels main breaker. If the two of them cost less than the two hundred ampere fused disconnect you would move the main breaker to the outdoor enclosure and install the main lug kit in the breaker panel cabinet in place of the main breaker. From the load terminals of the disconnect or enclosed breaker you will run four conductors to your new breaker box. If those are to run in cable then you will have to purchase type SE form R four conductor cable. The bare conductor in the SER will be the Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC). One of the remaining conductors in the SER cable will be remarked with white tape at both ends and will serve as the neutral conductor. The other two will serve as the energized conductors. As Juicehead already mentioned you will remove or never install the bonding screw from the lighting and appliance panel board and then add a ground bar to that cabinet. Alternatively, depending on the brand of panel you buy, you will remove the bar that joins the two sides of the neutral buss together leaving you with two separate buss bars one of which is bonded to the panel's cabinet and will be used for the grounding buss and one of which is now insulated from the panel's cabinet and will serve as the neutral buss.

The 2/0 cable I have is 3 separate strands with rubber coating on all 3 strands. Because the neutral will go from the box to the disconnect, then to the meter can I just run a ground from the meter to a grounding rod and call it good? Or do I have to have a separate ground going from the box straight to the grounding rod or a separate grounding rod?

Thanks
Ed.
You will not need any grounding electrode conductor connection at the lighting and appliance panel board since it is no longer the service equipment. It varies from utility to utility weather you connect the Grounding Electrode Conductor (GEC) in the meter cabinet or not. Some utilities and AHJs require it, others allow it, and still others forbid it. Unless you are required to terminate the GEC in the meter enclosure you should terminate it in the disconnect / main breaker enclosure. From there it should run to the first ground rod and then to the second at least six feet away. Better practice, but not required, is to have the second ground rod at least it's own length away from the first rod. From the disconnect / enclosed breaker you must also run a number four copper conductor GEC that can be bare or insulated to the underground metal water pipe within five feet of were it enters the house and terminate it to the piping using a listed clamp. If it is easier you can run it from either of the ground rods to the water entry point instead but if you do that the GEC to the ground rods must also be number four American Wire Gage. Best practice is to install the pipe bonding clamp on the street side of the main water shut off valve. That water pipe GEC is rarely optional so check with your AHJ before you decide to forgo running it. The grounding electrode system is composed of all of the available grounding electrodes that are available on the premise. An underground metal water piping electrode must be supplemented by another electrode. In the absence of access to the reinforcing steel in the footer or another concrete encased electrode you will have to build an acceptable electrode and the easiest one to build is a ground rod array.

Please let me know if you find any of this helpful. If any of it turns out to be bad advice for your area be sure to let me know that to.
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  #12  
Old 12-02-04, 01:18 PM
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Good catch, hornetd, I missed the reference to conduit. Multi-conductor cable is seldom run in conduit because it then must be de-rated. This is due to the cable having poorer heat dissipation than individual conductors.

If it is permitted to run SE cable in your area, and your local code is clear that conduit is not required, then just skip the conduit. The NEC does not require it for a residential service, but some local codes do and you need to check with your AHJ (code enforcement officer - the person who will do the electrical inspection, usually). Same with the run indoors. SER cable is acceptable per NEC, and conduit is only required if local codes exceed the NEC.

Juice
 
  #13  
Old 12-02-04, 01:51 PM
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I would use copper if run in conduit...
 
  #14  
Old 12-03-04, 03:56 AM
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So in other words, the idiot at Lowes sold me the wrong stuff. I had a big cart right there with 16' of 2" PVC conduit on it with connectors.

I can probably use that between the disconnect and the breaker box cant I?
 
  #15  
Old 12-03-04, 06:01 AM
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If you strip off the outer jacket of the SER cable (three insulated conductors and one bare ground), you can put them in a 2" conduit. The SE cable (two insulated conductors plus the wrapped around neutral) you can only put the two insulated conductors in there but need to buy an insulated 4/0 aluminum neutral conductor. The outer jacket will have to be stripped off. But again, only if your local electrical codes require conduit. If not, as I said before, you may just staple it down the wall of your house from the weatherhead to the meter with no conduit.

Re-read hornetd's description of doing it with conduit, if that's what you are set on doing. It was pretty detailed.

A sharp customer service person at Lowes would have asked the question "What's all the conduit for?" But can you really count on every employee of any retail establishment to be sharp? Many are, maybe even most, but as they say - "there's one in every crowd". For this person to fail to observe you were buying multiconductor cable and conduit too, and not question that, is a bit negligent. Especially for chains that boast "our professionals can help you with your project needs". They have to say that because every single day throngs of lay people walk through their doors with no clear idea of what supplies they need, and only a vision of what they want the results to be. Homeowners who know nothing about plumbing, for instance, but are on a budget and want to fix that pesky leak themselves. But in the end it is caveat emptor.

Personally, when I upgraded my own service, even though I had years of experience in electrical work (never licensed, though), I went to an electrical distributor. Good thing, too, because I had never upgraded a service, and there were specific parts I was either unaware of, or hadn't thought to include. The guys at the counter knew exactly what I needed because they sell the whole package to contractors every day. And their prices were about as good, and in some cases better, than my local Home Depot.

Juice
 
  #16  
Old 12-03-04, 09:34 AM
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After the disconnect you need four conductors!

Originally Posted by edsjr
So in other words, the idiot at Lowes sold me the wrong stuff. I had a big cart right there with 16' of 2" PVC conduit on it with connectors.

I can probably use that between the disconnect and the breaker box cant I?
No, I'm afraid not. You need four conductor cable between the disconnect / enclosed breaker and the panel. The cable you have is only three conductor. Since cross connecting the neutral conductor with ground on the load side of the service disconnecting means [in your case this is the disconnect / enclosed breaker] is prohibited you must run a separate Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC), Neutral, and two hots, for a total of four conductors, from the disconnect / enclosed breaker to the lighting and appliance branch circuit panel board.
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  #17  
Old 12-03-04, 11:29 AM
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First you need to make a sketch of what you want to do.
Go talk to your city electrical inspector.

People are giving you good Notes. NOTES
Every city has different ways of doing things.
One city its OK to use romex. The next city requires metal flex inside the walls.
If you don't ask your city electrical inspector you may end up redoing it all $$.

I don't recommend any bare stranded wire inside conduit (I don't think it is allowed).
over time the stranded wire can saw thru other wires in the conduit.

In my city their not going to let you use PVC for a service outside.
I think the rain head must be 24" above the roof ?

This is what we had to do, Water pipe and ground rod grounding.
you must check with your city codes.(this may not apply for all cities)

What we had to do was locate the main supply water pipe that enters the house.
We set the ground rod about 12" from the pipe.
They no longer permit just a water pipe. Had to be the outside supply line. Not the garden hose faucet pipe.

Then we ran the ground wire from the service. Under the house (not a concrete slab house).
back out to the water supply line that's outside the house (the inspectors require access to the connections).
Cut off about 15" of armor without cutting the copper wire inside.
Ground run must be a continuous uncut piece, (they don't allow splicing a short piece of copper wire to the rod)

Slide off the 15" piece of armor.
Put a clamp on the water pipe then a second clamp facing the other direction
Thread the wire thru the two clamps.
Cut the 15" piece of armor to fit from the second clamp to a third clamp attached to the ground rod.
having that second clamp allows you to clamp the small piece of armor at both ends.
Slide the short piece of armor over the copper wire.
Attach the ground wire to the ground rod.

Some inspectors require that you run your ground wire to the ground rod first then to the water pipe.
You may need two ground rods, if the distance to the water pipe is a long distance.
 
  #18  
Old 12-05-04, 06:00 AM
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I think the thing for me to do is mount the meter base and disconnect then ask the lineman who shows up to drop the line how it needs to be wired. I live in a small bedroom community and I think the power company is actually the people who govern all of this.

Thanks for everyones help
Ed.
 
  #19  
Old 12-05-04, 10:44 AM
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Se cable

I will add my two cents... I think SE cable is junk!. Just run the 2" pvc from the meter up to the weatherhead, unless there are a bunch of bends or stuff in the way like downspouts or something. I see all the time the old SE cable where water lays around the se cable on top of the connector and rots the sheathing away. I know SE cable has come a long way since then but i'm sure the pvc will outlast the se cable, and it looks a lot better too
 
  #20  
Old 12-05-04, 04:32 PM
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Is there any reason why I cant use the SE to go from the disconnect to the breaker box?

I agree that the PVC will look a bunch better so just I am definately not going to use the SE from the weatherhead to the meter.
 
  #21  
Old 12-05-04, 06:10 PM
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You will need SER cable to do that. It will contain four wires. Three insulated wires and one bare for the ground. Code guidelines for the Installation of SER are the same as romex. such as the strapping, protecting, and general installation instructions.
 
  #22  
Old 12-05-04, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by edsjr
Is there any reason why I cant use the SE to go from the disconnect to the breaker box?

I agree that the PVC will look a bunch better so just I am definately not going to use the SE from the weatherhead to the meter.
You already asked that question and I thought I was fairly clear with my answer.
Originally Posted by edsjr
So in other words, the idiot at Lowes sold me the wrong stuff. I had a big cart right there with 16' of 2" PVC conduit on it with connectors.

I can probably use that between the disconnect and the breaker box cant I?
No, I'm afraid not. You need four conductor cable between the disconnect / enclosed breaker and the panel. The cable you have is only three conductor. Since cross connecting the neutral conductor with ground on the load side of the service disconnecting means [in your case this is the disconnect / enclosed breaker] is prohibited you must run a separate Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC), Neutral, and two hots, for a total of four conductors, from the disconnect / enclosed breaker to the lighting and appliance branch circuit panel board.
--
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OBJECTION: ASKED AND ANSWERED
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  #23  
Old 12-05-04, 08:40 PM
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Sorry Tom, guess I just didnt catch that in all of the posts that have been made.
 
  #24  
Old 12-05-04, 08:48 PM
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I just wanted to make sure that you new you needed four conductors between your service equipment and your lighting and appliance panelboard.
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  #25  
Old 12-06-04, 11:20 AM
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Edsjr,

A clarification of an NEC term - "service equipment". This specifically is the enclosure that houses your main disconnect, the first disconnect downstream of your meter. If you have a main breaker on your load center (circuit breaker box), and noother disconnecting means between it and your meter, then your breaker panel is your service equipment. But if you have a main disconnect switchor enclosed breaker in between the breaker panel and your meter, disconnect is your "service equipment".

Juice
 
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