Replacing main service panel.


Old 01-31-05, 07:56 PM
Old Peculiar
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Replacing main service panel.

Despite a lot of practical hands-on experience with electrical work, I've never come across this particular problem: I need to replace a main service panel - 100amp, single phase, 2-wire (or 3-wire, depending on your upbringing). I've worked with live equipment in the past, but at the risk of sounding a little ignorant: How do electricians do that without having the electric company shut down power to the residence? I know what I would do. I would simply use gear and safety equipment that is electrically rated for the task and go to town, doing to whole job live. Is that how regular electricians do it also? I've never had the chance to see this type of work done, so I don't know. Anyone have the inside scoop? Thanks...

- Ol' Peculiar.
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Old 01-31-05, 08:18 PM
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I just finished this same project. My answer would be "There is no way I would have attempted this live". Have the power company shut off the power for this one.
Old 01-31-05, 08:29 PM
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Most electricians are on approved lists to do this work prior to inspection. We file a form with the POCO, do the work and call for an inspection.
Many of us, depending on area, are approved to pull a meter and do it dead, they way it should be. Pulling a meter without approval and consent is a BAD thing.
I hope you are not considering this and I also hope you are not considering doing it live. Of course it can be done, and most of us have done it, but do not look for an OK from us to do this in a manner which is illegal, dangerous and just plain stupid.
Call the POCO and find out thier procedure. Many areas do allow homeowners to do repairs. If it is just a panel replacement it may be considered a repair which is less stringent.
Old 01-31-05, 09:03 PM
Old Peculiar
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So... The answer is - No, they don't typically do it live. They work in conjunction with the electrical company to have the power shut down while the transition is made.

Thanks for the answer. Your concision is matched only by your displomacy.
Old 02-01-05, 06:42 AM
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I don't know any electrician that would do it live.. it would be very tricky to pull the live cables out of the panel without actually causing a massive short. The most common way is to pull the meter. The panel would than be disconnected from the live line, and can then be replaced.

You can only simply replace the panel if the main breakers are the same size, and if the existing wring is long enough. Most of the time I have to replace a panel I have to at least replace the wring between the panel and the meter. The existing wire is not long enough for most new panels (all conduit where I am).

It's a dangerous job.. and generally requires a permit, and most utilities don't like non-pros doing it.

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