New panel installation for rewire house project

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  #1  
Old 01-14-05, 02:30 PM
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New panel installation for rewire house project

I spoke with our local power company field rep and she said if I want to put in a new panel to upgrade my service from 100 Amp to 200, I could charge the new panel without turning off the feed from the street. Once I got inspected and permitted, the power company is authorized to turn the power back on, even though they actually never turned it off. This way, she said, you keep your power on without having to wait for inspectors.

Here's my plan, please let me know what I can do better. Install the new 200 Amp panel. I then install a 100 breaker (turned off) into the new panel. Disconnect the hot and neutral wires from the old panel. Wire the 100 breaker from the new panel to replace the feeds in the old panel. Turn on the breaker and now the house should have power like it did before. Now I can run new circuits to the almost empty new panel. As I replace the old circuits, pull the breakers out of the old panel until empty. Remove the old panel.

By the way, how do I safely handle the incoming hot wires?
 
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  #2  
Old 01-14-05, 02:35 PM
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You forgot the part of the plan where you get electocuted while doing this step:
Disconnect the hot and neutral wires from the old panel
I don't think your plan is feasible.
 
  #3  
Old 01-14-05, 03:08 PM
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Ouch

Originally Posted by John Nelson
You forgot the part of the plan where you get electocuted while doing this step:I don't think your plan is feasible.
Ok, how is it done?
 
  #4  
Old 01-14-05, 03:59 PM
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You have the power company disconnect the power before you start. Then you work as fast as you can. Or you hire it out.
 
  #5  
Old 01-14-05, 04:04 PM
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what kind of service do you have now, overhead, underground? Where is meter? How do you upgrade to 200A service without upgrading incoming service conductors?
 
  #6  
Old 01-18-05, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by up-n-running
what kind of service do you have now, overhead, underground? Where is meter? How do you upgrade to 200A service without upgrading incoming service conductors?
I have three incoming wires, two hot (that I can tell) and one is neutral. The service is underground, the meter is in the back corner of the outside of the house. The electric company service field representative said no changes were necessary. Does a pro have the power shutoff from the power company also or is there something I am missing?
 
  #7  
Old 01-18-05, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyger52
I have three incoming wires, two hot (that I can tell) and one is neutral. The service is underground, the meter is in the back corner of the outside of the house. The electric company service field representative said no changes were necessary. Does a pro have the power shutoff from the power company also or is there something I am missing?
I think it is safe to say Pros will never work on live circuits for residential work. I've only seen power company employees work on a live circuit once in my life and then they were required to wear heavy insulated gloves and they had to keep one hand behind their back at all times (this was supposed to prevent a possible situation where the current traveled up one arm, across their heart, and down the other.

It only takes milliamps across your heart to stop it, so please never, never, never, work on a live circuit. Nothing in your refrigerator is worth risking your life over.
 
  #8  
Old 01-18-05, 09:44 AM
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The only way anybody, pro or not, would go about this is with your service conductors de-energized. In my last house I did this procedure. You and your power company need to ascertain that your incoming service conductors are rated 200 amps. Cannot legally (or safely) up the service panel from 100A to 200A unless the service conductors are 200A rated. Doing so could very well cause your house to burn down. They also must disconnect the power for you before you even think about touching your main hots or neutral, unless of course your body is constructed of high grade rubber or porcelain.

John, it cracked me right up the way you put this: "You forgot the part of the plan where you get electrocuted..."

Juice
 
  #9  
Old 01-18-05, 10:00 AM
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If youíre incoming wires have been inspected and are ok for the load, just do it right. Have them pull the meter, do your work, get it inspected and have them plug the meter back in.
There is one place you do not want short cuts taken, thatís in the breaker box.
I had my box installed by a licensed electrician; he was done in about 1 hour.
A few months after I replaced my water heater, I shut the breaker off and checked 2 of the 3 wires with a meter just to make sure.
I started pulling the wires out of the box and there was a big flash.
I went back to the breaker box and saw that my dryer breaker had tripped.
Come to find out, he had mixed all my 220 connections up. I had 3 different circuits bridged between breakers.

Like grandpa used to say
Haste makes Waste
 
  #10  
Old 01-18-05, 01:46 PM
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Power Co disagrees

Originally Posted by Blizzard
I think it is safe to say Pros will never work on live circuits for residential work. I've only seen power company employees work on a live circuit once in my life and then they were required to wear heavy insulated gloves and they had to keep one hand behind their back at all times (this was supposed to prevent a possible situation where the current traveled up one arm, across their heart, and down the other.

It only takes milliamps across your heart to stop it, so please never, never, never, work on a live circuit. Nothing in your refrigerator is worth risking your life over.
While I agree that this isn't worth dying over, I called my Power Company field representative to verify she said this cut over is done live. She said yes, but it is allowed to be done by licensed electrians only and since I am not licensed, I cannot do the work live. I do not want to do the work on live wires if I can help it, but if I only handle one wire at a time (wearing thick rubber gloves, standing on rubber mat) how will current flow?

When I told her that there are licensed electricians who say this can't be done I said that they weren't from this area. She said that in this area, SoCal, that disconnects are not done and main panels are replaced all the time. She reminded me that it's low voltage and there was no guarentee they could restore power the same day. Do licensed electrians vary their practices that much from area to area?
 
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Old 01-18-05, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyger52
While I agree that this isn't worth dying over, I called my Power Company field representative to verify she said this cut over is done live. She said yes, but it is allowed to be done by licensed electrians only and since I am not licensed, I cannot do the work live. I do not want to do the work on live wires if I can help it, but if I only handle one wire at a time (wearing thick rubber gloves, standing on rubber mat) how will current flow?

When I told her that there are licensed electricians who say this can't be done I said that they weren't from this area. She said that in this area, SoCal, that disconnects are not done and main panels are replaced all the time. She reminded me that it's low voltage and there was no guarentee they could restore power the same day. Do licensed electrians vary their practices that much from area to area?
There's only one way to de-engerize it so you could change out the panel in a semi-safe way. Semi-safe is acceptable for knowledgeable electricians but not for DIYers.
 
  #12  
Old 01-18-05, 01:57 PM
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Normally all you do to replace the main panel and the feeders between the meter box and the new panel is unplug the meter. However, this assumes the conduit is large enough to accomodate the much larger 200A conductors. Typically you need to replace the meter socket at the same because it will usually not be large enough to accomodate the bend required by the new large wires. But you may be lucky that you don't have to.

What you want to do is the most dangerous part of a residential electrician's work. Keep in mind that even with the meter off you are only a couple of inches away from several thousand amps the POCO's transformer can provide. That's enough to weld and melt your screwdriver, and after all this the transformer will probably still run like nothing has every happened.

Unless you can get the electric company to shut off the power at the pole or their transformer (some do...some don't) I wouln't do this. To do this safely with the utility power on you need not only skill and nerves of steel, but also several hundred dollars of equipment you'll probalby never use again.
 
  #13  
Old 01-18-05, 02:03 PM
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"""I think some posters are leery about telling you one of the 'tricks of the trade' because you're a DIYer!"""

Perhaps some electricians think that way, but I can tell you that one mistake in this procedure will have dire consequences.....

Shorting out or getting shocked by a 20A circuit is bad enough, but you'll probably live to talk about it. Doing this on an unfused and probably 20,000A circuit will usually be the last thing you'll do.
 
  #14  
Old 01-18-05, 02:24 PM
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Thanks

Ok, I won't do this with live wires. Thanks everyone for looking out for this DIYer. Over the years, I have almost always done all the work on my home and as I get more experienced, I get a real strong feeling of power and satisfaction. It took months of research and discussion on this board to talk me out of putting in the HVAC myself. The more I learn, the more I respect those of you who know your stuff. Thanks again.

BTW, the power company said the service wires were already big enough for 200 Amp service. I have not checked the wires coming into the breaker panel.
 
  #15  
Old 01-18-05, 02:28 PM
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Not that it matters in this case, but typically replacing a panel involves replacing the conductors between the meter and the panel also because they are usually too short.
 
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