200 amp service aluminum wire size?

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  #1  
Old 03-18-08, 03:26 PM
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200 amp service aluminum wire size?

I plan on replacing my water heater with a PowerStar AE125 electric tankless water heater. My outside main panel was upgraded from a 125 amp to a ge 200 amp some 9 years ago. I do not believe they changed the wire from the meter to the line coming off the pole. The wire is #4 aluminum and has been in place for some 30 years. The question I have is: Is it safe, or should I change it out with copper?
 
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Old 03-18-08, 03:53 PM
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The service drop cable is the property of the power co. They decide if if it needs changing. You could call them and communicate your concerns. Perhaps you mean the wires from the drip loop to the meter?
 
  #3  
Old 03-18-08, 04:40 PM
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Yes. The drip loop to the meter? My power co. changed out the wire from the pole to that point.
 
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Old 03-18-08, 06:24 PM
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Bear with me a min but let me make a clear explaination here.,,

this part will get pretty instering.,,

on the wall itselff the only thing the POCO will own is the meter itself but everything on the wall is your so start at the drip loop where the " BUG " aka wire crimp or split bolt etc from drip loop down the wall you will have either SE cable or in the pipe [ it will be either PVC or Rigid pipe { this is mantory if popped over the roof it will become mast }

all the way down to the meter socket. that meter socket useally is customer owned not the POCO. and from the meter socket to the Main breaker is your conductors [ wires ] but some local code or area will required a main breaker outside as well. that is your also.

Merci, Marc

oh BTW for 200 amp alum cables they are useally are 4/0
 
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Old 03-18-08, 06:25 PM
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I (a rookie) used incorrect terminology in my response so let me correct mysef. I believe the cable from the transformer if overheard is referred to as the utility cable, or utility drop. The wires from the drip loop to the meter base is called the service entrance cable, as is the cable from the meter base to the panel if they are not one unit, I believe. In any case if your service entrance cable or individual wires are aluminum they would need to be 4/0 awg (american wire gauge) for 200 amp service (minimum) I'm pretty sure this is what size you meant you have. There is a big big difference in size between 4awg and 4/0awg. If you change to copper the minimum size would be 2/0 awg. 3/0 (bigger in diameter than 2/0) is often used by many contractors, so I read. Aluminum wires need checking from time to time for possible tightening, or to check if they have been over tightened, or if they have been overheated and other issues. Generally, I believe Aluminum wires, if maintained are ok for what's called "Feeders". ( wires feeding an overcurrent device (circuit breakers etc.) Electric tankless water heaters do draw a ton of current, so your concerns are valid. Perhaps someone with more experience will come along soon.
 
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Old 03-18-08, 06:41 PM
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Let me add a comment related to the tankless electric waterheater the AE125 unit is pretty big and that will take 26 KW and hope you have room in the breaker box due it will take 3 - 40 amp breakers.

how far is the tankless waterheater will be located from the breaker box ?? and will be in sight of the breaker box and viceverisa ?? if happend to be in diffrent room that can change a bit due the code requirement.

let us know then we can guide you where to go from there

Merci, Marc
 
  #7  
Old 03-18-08, 07:14 PM
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Wow. 120A for a Tankless water heater. That better do some serious heating!
 
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Old 03-18-08, 07:17 PM
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The wires from the drip loop to the meter base on the power co. side of the meter is what I'm talking about then. They read 4awg aluminum. They've been there for 30 years, even before I had my panel upgraded to a ge 200 amp. I'm told I should change them out to copper. Is there a reason why. The panel is already installed and I have room for the breakers.
 
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Old 03-18-08, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by zachh1020 View Post
Wow. 120A for a Tankless water heater. That better do some serious heating!

that is pretty good size for resdentail unit but the biggest one i did see and installed in resdental is 36 KW that take 3x 60 breakers and that place i end up telling the customer to hevey up to 400 amp service due the tankless waterheater size.

[ there is a bigger unit but strictally used in commercal location only ]

Merci, Marc
 
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Old 03-18-08, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by HRMJR View Post
The wires from the drip loop to the meter base on the power co. side of the meter is what I'm talking about then. They read 4awg aluminum. They've been there for 30 years, even before I had my panel upgraded to a ge 200 amp. I'm told I should change them out to copper. Is there a reason why. The panel is already installed and I have room for the breakers.
the wire between the meter and drip loop is your so for some reason if someone did upgrade the box and did not do the upper part at all and by the way # 4 alum is not a good size for 200 amp service and typically used with 60 amp service only. but from drip loop to the POCO post that their mess to deal with it.

and there is more and more POCO is getting strict with the tankless waterheater[s] they have few issues with it so some of the POCO allready written a new section related to tankless waterheater.

Merci, Marc
 
  #11  
Old 03-18-08, 08:19 PM
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I know you are waiting for more of a solid answer as to the aluminum vs copper issue, and I'm sure it will be forthcoming. But like French said 4awg al is only good for a 60 amp service. If you had a 200A upgrade and it was inspected it would have never passed, I would think. (unless of course the inspector was blind) or if your main breaker did not exceed 60 Amps, and if that 60 amps service was perhaps allowed in your area.?? The minimum allowed service these days is 100 Amps, or so I understand. I believe that is national. Sooo if you truly only have 4awg S/E wire, then indeed it will need to be replaced, and of course use copper (it is always preferred). It is a better conductor of electricity, and not so prone to overheating, especially with high wattage items like a electric tankless water heater. Hope this helps. You really need to find out with 100% certainty weather you have 4awg or 4/0 awg wire. What size is your Main breaker in in your panel? Just because you have a 200 amp rated panel doesn't mean you have 200 amp service. It's the size of the main breaker that determines your service. Of course the main C/B has to have proper size wire for said main C/B. I'm sure you already know this.
 

Last edited by sidecutter; 03-18-08 at 08:40 PM.
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