amp upgrade

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  #1  
Old 07-03-05, 01:44 AM
randyj
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amp upgrade

I'm wanting to replace my 100 amp main breaker panel with a 200-amp. Is there a quick way to determine if the service wires from the pole and the meter are able to hande the upgrade? Also, what guage should be used for the entry wires going to the main breaker for 200 amp?

Thanks for any replies
Randy
 
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  #2  
Old 07-03-05, 06:41 AM
Speedy Petey's Avatar
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99.99% of the time you will not be able to simple swap a 200 amp panel for a 100. This requires a complete service change.
That includes everything from the weatherhead at the top, on down to the meter pan, service cables and panel.
Also grounding and bonding. This is typically a ground wire to a ground rod (or two) outside from the main panel, and a ground/bond wire from the main panel to a water pipe.

The size of the service cable is one small aspect of this job. 4/0al or 2/0cu in the case of 200 amps.
Do you all the other details of this job?

IMO a service change is not within the realm of anyone but the most advanced DIY'er. Please make sure you have all the knowledge and information you need.

Also, a permit and inspection is mandatory in most parts of the country. Since this involves cutting and re-attaching the POCO's (hot and unfused) service drop this is a very important step.
 
  #3  
Old 07-03-05, 11:17 PM
randyj
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Thanks for the reply, Speedy Petey.

I took a good look at the service entrance and noticed a Sq D panel with 3 wires coming from the meter for the service entrance panel. I was expecting to see four wires: two hots, a neutral and a grounding conductor. Instead I found only three. I go outside, and sure 'nuff, I see only three overhead wires coming into the weatherhead down to the meter. Inside the breaker box, the two hots go to the main breaker with an insulated ground going to the ground bar. I'm not sure if the neutral and ground bars are connected together or not. This is a 1940's house that I just bought and am fixing up. I'm confused about only three conductors instead of four. Where's the ground here? Shouldn't the inside of the meter base have a grounding place? Or is this a case of the neutral being grounded through the transformer? I didn't open the meter up, as I think that to be illegal.

Still trying to figure out if the existing overhead wire sizes will be 200 amp capable. The following info is on the meter, if that's any help:
  • Sangamo Watthour Meter
  • CL 200 (does this indicate a 200-amp meter, and thus the overhead wires would also be 200 amp capable?)
  • 240V
  • 3W
  • Type J5S
  • 30TA
  • 7.2Kh
 
  #4  
Old 07-04-05, 05:17 PM
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Most meters are 200A although not all the bases are and most of the time as petey said the incoming wire isnt sized for an upgrade. If this is an old house it isnt, back in the day 100A service for residential was plenty, before air con, hot tubs, puters, microwaves, etc.
 
  #5  
Old 07-05-05, 02:52 AM
randyj
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Ok, then I suppose I need to contact my electric company to upgrade me.

I still wonder about the 3 wire from the pole to the meter. I know the electric Comany will know what's reight, I was just curious as to the grounding. Shouldn't there be 4 wires?
 
  #6  
Old 07-05-05, 05:33 AM
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As sberry said, the meter is almost irrelevant. Yes, the meter itself is capable of metering 200 amps. It is most likely that the meter base cannot. The glass meter has nothing to do with the overhead wires.
Speaking of the overhead wires, they are not yours. They are the property of the POCO and it is their choice to replace them. Three wires coming in is normal for a residence.
The point where the wires attach to your house, all the way to the main panel and breakers are yours, and yours to replace.
Also, the POCO is not responsible for anything with regard to a service change, with the exception of making the connections at the top most times.
 
  #7  
Old 07-05-05, 09:20 PM
randyj
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ok, I'm not understanding everything here. The three wires from the pole to the top of the weatherhead, you say are mine? And I must provide them? Or are you saying te wores from the meterbase are mine to replace? Will the POCO be responsible for replacing the three overhead wires? As is obvious by this post, I've never had the experience of messing with teh outside wiring to the meter, so all information would be helpful. I don't want to have to pay someone to do this job since I think I'm able to learn to do it myself, and I am the homeowner.

I do understand that I will have to upgrade and replace the meterbase. I'm confused about the overhead wires and who are resonsible for their replacement. The POCO will attach tehm to the top of the mast, correct?
 
  #8  
Old 07-05-05, 09:37 PM
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The overhead wires from the POCO pole to your house are the responsibility of the POCO. Basically everything on/in the house, excluding the glass meter itself, is the responsibility of the homeowner/electrician.

If you have never done, helped, or even seen this done, I hope you do your homework. And that doesn't mean just asking questions of what you should do. Every job is different. Most every locality has different rules.
You will most certainly need a permit and inspection to do this work, and have the POCO re-attach the drop from the pole.

IMO this is NOT a job to learn on. This is the type of job you do after getting some experience.
But, having said that, many folks do go at this and most, most get it done.
I have heard of a service change taking a DIY'er 2 weeks to finish. It takes a real electrician one day.


Here is some very good light reading regarding services and grounding:
Services and grounding
 
  #9  
Old 07-05-05, 09:44 PM
randyj
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Thanks for that link and the advise, Speedy. I think I can do the outside job in one day I do have some inside electrical wiring experience, including putting in breaker panel and recepticles, and I unerstand the safety issues. I've just never done the outside overhead thing. i did do an outside meter wiring for underground service once.

Anyway, thanks for the link, and I shall study. I may still need help, though!
 
  #10  
Old 07-05-05, 09:52 PM
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Not all utilities are the same. In my area, the utility supplies the cable to the meter base; you supply everything from the base on (except the meter itself, of course). Sometimes you can buy the materials from the utility, and some will offer installation up to and including the service panel. Those that do generally charge out the wazzoo, though. Better to buy the supplies from a "Big Box" and hire a reputable contractor to do the work, if you don't feel up to it yourself.

Keep in mind that this upgrade will require having the utility cut the power before the meter; once they know what you're doing, they will likely have to inspect the work before they hook you back up. So even if you do it yourself, I'd recommend bringing in a pro to check your work to make sure everything is up to snuff. Just because it works doesn't mean it will be up to local code.

3 cables coming in is correct: 2 are hot, 1 is neutral. Your box should have a separate copper ground wire running to an 8' ground rod IF it is up to current standards. It's quite possible that it's not, given the age of your house. On the other hand, 100 amp service wouldn't have been common in the 1940's; so it's possible that your house has been updated at some point.

Good luck!
 
  #11  
Old 07-05-05, 09:55 PM
randyj
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Originally Posted by selfhelpandmore.com
...the Utility Company will connect to your service entrance conductors that are sticking, at least 3’, out of your weather head.
I think this answers my question. Am I understanding correctly that I should run the wiring from the meterbase 3' out of the weatherhead for the POC to attach to? Thanks!
 
  #12  
Old 07-05-05, 09:58 PM
randyj
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Originally Posted by duster1979
Not all utilities are the same. In my area, the utility supplies the cable to the meter base; you supply everything from the base on (except the meter itself, of course). Sometimes you can buy the materials from the utility, and some will offer installation up to and including the service panel. Those that do generally charge out the wazzoo, though. Better to buy the supplies from a "Big Box" and hire a reputable contractor to do the work, if you don't feel up to it yourself.

Keep in mind that this upgrade will require having the utility cut the power before the meter; once they know what you're doing, they will likely have to inspect the work before they hook you back up. So even if you do it yourself, I'd recommend bringing in a pro to check your work to make sure everything is up to snuff. Just because it works doesn't mean it will be up to local code.

3 cables coming in is correct: 2 are hot, 1 is neutral. Your box should have a separate copper ground wire running to an 8' ground rod IF it is up to current standards. It's quite possible that it's not, given the age of your house. On the other hand, 100 amp service wouldn't have been common in the 1940's; so it's possible that your house has been updated at some point.

Good luck!
Thanks, Duster, for answering the grounding question. Yes, the house had been upgraded, by whom, I do not know.
 
  #13  
Old 07-11-05, 10:35 PM
randyj
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I contacted my power comapany today and they said that I, myself, would have to cut the elctricity from their pole to the weatherhead. But I've no idea how to do this. This means that I have to go up and disconnect my wires from the weatherhead to their lines??? They weren't very forthcoming, saying "the electrician does that".

I'm thinking that I will need to upgrade the wiring (from #4 to 2/0) upstream from the meter through the weatherhead for 200amps (as the current ampacity is 100a #4 wire, correct?). If all I needed to do was replace the downstream wiring from the breaker, I would have no problem, as I could simply remove the meter and go from there. But removing the meter doesn't cut the upstream power from the pole. And since I need to replace the wire from the line side of the meter to the POCO pole, shouldnt the POCO simply cut off the power dfrom the pole? I know I can perform this job, but I don't want to mess with the POCO's overhead wires while they are live.

What I need is a temporary removal of the service drop so that I can safely replace the upstream wires from the meter out through the weatherhead.

I'm confused. Please help
 

Last edited by randyj; 07-11-05 at 10:47 PM.
  #14  
Old 07-11-05, 11:03 PM
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May be Its your city.
But the power co. should come out and cut the lines.
Call them again.
Or go talk to the city Elect inspector Not on the phone.
 
  #15  
Old 07-12-05, 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by randyj
I contacted my power comapany today and they said that I, myself, would have to cut the elctricity from their pole to the weatherhead. But I've no idea how to do this........
What I need is a temporary removal of the service drop so that I can safely replace the upstream wires from the meter out through the weatherhead.
I think instead of asking who does this you should ask them if they'll do this. They HAVE to. They cannot leave this to a completely inexperienced homeowner in this case.
It would be interesting; if in a worst case scenario the hot wires touched, and the transformer went up like a small bomb....who would they blame???
 
  #16  
Old 07-15-05, 09:51 PM
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Have you even found out if you are allowed to perform a service upgrade in your area. It would be a shame to have them drop the overheads and then not hook them back up because you are not a licensed electician or have a permit and inspections. A service changeout probably won't cost more than 2000 and probably much less from a pro. They will have it done in a day and will take care of who is responsible for dropping the overhead and how many wires to run. I just finished my own service upgrade and I was a nervous wreck when we cut over (I was able to run my new service beside the existing) and I worked my way through college with an electrical contractor assisting on several service upgrades. I did my own just because I love to do this type of stuff and don't get to very often, but in hind sight, I probably would have been better off hiring it done.
 
  #17  
Old 07-16-05, 03:38 AM
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I recently had my panel upgraded from a 100A to a 200A and the first thing the electrician did was to go up to the roof and cut the main wires. He cut them one at a time and secured them out of the way. Didn't seem to be any big deal to him, and we didn't contact the power company first, he just did it. I thought we had to inform them first of our intentions, but I was wrong. Of course, when it was finished and I had the inspection sticker then I called the power company and they reconnected the main wires to the new ones the electrician had installed.

One thing you may not have considered yet is you may have to up-size your conduit from the panel to the roof. Mine was 1 & 1/2" and I had to install a 2" for the larger wires.
 
  #18  
Old 07-19-05, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by randyj
I contacted my power comapany today and they said that I, myself, would have to cut the elctricity from their pole to the weatherhead. But I've no idea how to do this. This means that I have to go up and disconnect my wires from the weatherhead to their lines??? They weren't very forthcoming, saying "the electrician does that".
Different utility companies handle it differently. As someone else mentioned, it may be that you are responsibile for it; I would definitely hire an electrician, though.

I'm thinking that I will need to upgrade the wiring (from #4 to 2/0) upstream from the meter through the weatherhead for 200amps (as the current ampacity is 100a #4 wire, correct?).
Are we talking copper or aluminum? If you're going with copper, you are correct: #4 for 100A, 2/0 for 200A. Copper requires #2 for 100 and 4/0 for 200.

And as rcash 54 mentioned, you will probably need to increase the size of your weatherhead and entrance conduit unless it was oversized for your current service.

Also, make sure you find out how high your weatherhead needs to be and whether they require metal conduit. Nothing worse than thinking you have the project finished only to have the guy from Alliant (or whoever you may have) come out and tell you you have to do something different before they'll reconnect you.
 
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