Is 6 gauge copper wire enough for neautral/ground?

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  #1  
Old 09-16-09, 02:19 AM
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Is 6 gauge copper wire enough for neautral/ground?

Hello,

My setup is the main is a 100 amp breaker with 20 or so smaller breakers, generally most stay pretty unused. I made space for a 2 pole 100 amp breaker to serve into a sub panel in the garage under advice of some commoners of this forum.

I spoke with a few individuals at home depot in the electrical section, they said 6 gauge copper would be enough but I'd like a second opinion. I ran the wire today, that was fun, and I have the sub panel all setup with a single 70 amp breaker in it to serve my needs (tig welder). I am also planning on running a cable straight from a ground rod to the sub panel using some of the 6 gauge copper wire.

I had a friend over recently and he was touching the third wire that came in from the telephone pole, into my home that is connected to the ground. Is there no current running through this? I feel like there are a few details I don't fully understand. Originally I thought that 220v consisted of nothing more than 110 and 110, the ground was option and created as a safety precaution.
 
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Old 09-16-09, 06:05 AM
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I made space for a 2 pole 100 amp breaker to serve into a sub panel in the garage under advice of some commoners of this forum.... I spoke with a few individuals at home depot in the electrical section, they said 6 gauge copper would be enough but I'd like a second opinion.
The Number 6 isn't even close to being large enough for 100a breaker. Assuming THWN and less then 100 feet on a 100a breaker you need #3 for the conductors. The ground can be #8. In some cases you may be able to use a #4 for the neutral.

P.S. If this is the same welder as you first wanted to install a 70a breaker is not enough. A 100a main panel isn't enough. If this is a different welder give us the specs?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 09-16-09 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 09-16-09, 06:55 AM
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Is this panel fed with a 100 or a 70 amp breaker? You mention both in your post.

I am not sure if you are using conduit or not. If you had run a cable assembly the proper neutral size would have been built into the cable.
 
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Old 09-16-09, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
The Number 6 isn't even close to being large enough for 100a breaker. Assuming THWN and less then 100 feet on a 100a breaker you need #3 for the conductors. The ground can be #8. In some cases you may be able to use a #4 for the neutral.

P.S. If this is the same welder as you first wanted to install a 70a breaker is not enough. A 100a main panel isn't enough. If this is a different welder give us the specs?
The run from breaker to breaker is about 35 feet, I am using THHN.

The TIG needs 95 amps at it's 100% output, that's when it puts out 450 amps, the guy I purchase it from had a 50 amp plug on it, meaning by default it was limited to 50 amps, along with his breaker, he didn't have any trouble using it. I figured 70 amps wouldn't hurt, it would keep the breaker cool should I ever get to the half way mark in terms of how much output I use. I am very certain that I won't ever need to use that much power.

Where is your source of information concerning what sort of ground/neutral to use?
 
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Old 09-16-09, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Is this panel fed with a 100 or a 70 amp breaker? You mention both in your post.

I am not sure if you are using conduit or not. If you had run a cable assembly the proper neutral size would have been built into the cable.
I take the word conduit literally, I purchased the wire for each seperately, meaning it isn't bunched together. I do have a conduit around a portion of the wires though, the length that I fear could, in same highly unlikely situation, get chewed upon by a pet or two.

I have a 100 amp main, with a 100 amp breaker in it to feed a 70 amp breaker in a sub panel in my garage. I am sure most don't think it makes sense.
 
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Old 09-16-09, 02:06 PM
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Your welder is most likely not using a neutral connection. However, the installation of a sub panel requires BOTH a neutral AND a separate equipment grounding conductor. I am assuming that you do NOT have four conductors going to this sub panel.

You can get away with this PROVIDING that you label the sub panel as having no neutral and it is for 240 volt loads only.
 
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Old 09-16-09, 02:09 PM
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I do have a conduit around a portion of the wires though, the length that I fear could, in same highly unlikely situation, get chewed upon by a pet or two.
Not good enough. The conduit must be continuous from source panel to sub panel.
 
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Old 09-16-09, 02:50 PM
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Your electrical set up

Hi,

First of all the set up that you currently have is not right, and could be dangerous. You have a main breaker of 100 amps that you say feeds some 20 or so smaller breakers, then you have another 100 amp breaker from the first (main) then have a run of cable into your garage feeding a sub panel with a 70 amp breaker. Even though you say that most of these smaller breakers that feed other loads may not be used frequently you still can't take the chance that some may still be in use while you are using your TIG Weilder.


You also state that the run from the power utility has three wires, and that is correct. In a single phase system the two energized wires feed 120 volts each, one wire to one side of your circuit panel and the other energized wire to the other side of your circuit panel. The third wire is the nutreal wire and does in fact carry current as the return for each of the two legs of those energized feeds.

If you only want to use the 220 - 240 volts then all you need are the two energized feeds plus a ground, if you want to use either of the 120 volt feeds then each one requires that neutral as a return.

That neutral wire should go to the neutral buss in your circuit panel and not directly to the ground buss. The neutral wires are usually white while the grounds are usually bare copper. Each one has it's own buss that it should connect to. Although sometimes the neutral and ground busses are internally connected together within the circuit panel.

Now the correct way of connecting the welder would be to have a licensed electrician run another set of wires directly from the utility service, after the metering panel directly to a circuit panel in your garage. This also depends on what service you have coming from the pole into your metering panel. Since you only have a 100 amp main your service may not be sufficiant for what you want to do. You should really check to make sure.

I know that you will probably not want to go through the trouble of doing this, but you should be aware that you can pose a fire hazzard, and if you should ever have an electrical fire then your insurance company may not pay for your claims. More importantly it could also save your life and your loved ones as well.

Please really give some thought to my advice. I am an Electrical Engineer now retired, and have seen many problems caused by things just like this. By the way #6 copper conductors are fine for what you want to do for the run that you say it is, just the feed from that 100 amp main is what troubles me.

One last thing; you will be doing the right thing by running a ground to the panel in your garage. Make sure that you use a copper clad 8 foot 3/8 rod with a brass bug on it to be able to accomadate the wire. You can use a lesser of a gauge wire for that providing that the run from your panel in your garage is close by the grounding rod. Be sure to use a product called No-OX on the bug where it makes contact with the copper wire and be sure that you tighten it up securely. While you are pounding that 8 foot rod into the ground you can try pouring some brine (salt water) around that rod as it goes in.

I wish you good luck, and hope that you take my advice.

Marty



Originally Posted by Pinjas View Post
Hello,

My setup is the main is a 100 amp breaker with 20 or so smaller breakers, generally most stay pretty unused. I made space for a 2 pole 100 amp breaker to serve into a sub panel in the garage under advice of some commoners of this forum.

I spoke with a few individuals at home depot in the electrical section, they said 6 gauge copper would be enough but I'd like a second opinion. I ran the wire today, that was fun, and I have the sub panel all setup with a single 70 amp breaker in it to serve my needs (tig welder). I am also planning on running a cable straight from a ground rod to the sub panel using some of the 6 gauge copper wire.

I had a friend over recently and he was touching the third wire that came in from the telephone pole, into my home that is connected to the ground. Is there no current running through this? I feel like there are a few details I don't fully understand. Originally I thought that 220v consisted of nothing more than 110 and 110, the ground was option and created as a safety precaution.
 
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Old 09-16-09, 02:52 PM
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The TIG needs 95 amps at it's 100% output, that's when it puts out 450 amps, the guy I purchase it from had a 50 amp plug on it, meaning by default it was limited to 50 amps,
A plug does not limit the current except perhaps by melting. The idea of drawing up to 70a from a main feed that is only 100 amps basically leaves only 30a for the whole house. An electric dryer and water heater would use that much. You best bet is to get a separate 150a-200a drop for the garage.

If this is the same welder you posted about before let me remind you of what was previosly written by Bruto.
So lets get more simple...that panel is a vintage Square d QO panel 20 space 100 amps back fed main. It will not support the load demands of that welder. Simple math... breaker for branch circuit 175 amps as per manual. Service to house panel 100 amps. Input current at rated output 96 amps. The 175 amp breaker is to allow the welder to strike an arc hold the inrush current as the welder comes down to 96 amps input if set on its rated output of 32 volts at 300amps. That's 4 amps less than the service rating to that panel if you can get the main to hold the arc start current. Not likely.

The breaker required to operate this welder will likely not be made as a branch breaker or will not install in the panel and if you could get it in... the bus stab rating on that panel for branch breakers is 70 amps. Meaning the sum of any breakers sharing the bus stab cannot exceed 70 amps.
Source:http://forum.doityourself.com/electr...ml#post1611295 Post #24

Are you sure the 100a breaker is rated for your main panel?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 09-16-09 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 09-16-09, 03:40 PM
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Great response WA2YYX! I can agree to an extent that there is a small level of danger, but in the worst case scenario, the breakers do their job and simply trip. That's what I imagine at least, some day in the future I will bring all of my stuff up to code, maybe even hire an expensive electrician to do it all for me but for now I will have to rely upon the DIY spirit. I have a 5/8 copper ground rod, a lot of people use some sort of crazy hammer setup to get a grounding rod in but I found an alternative that involves digging a shallow hole and essentially penetrating the hole over and over at the same spot. You stick the rod in as deeply as you can and then take it out and pour in some water. This process is repeated until you are as deep as it gets. I purchased a bronze connector, it was either that or zinc at menards. I don't entirely understand what you mean by the ground and neutral bus, so here is a picture to aid in specifying which is which.



I would assume that the top of the three bars are the neutral and the other two are ground but I'd rather ask to be safe.

I will get this 'no-ox' (I assume it's a anti-oxidization product) and as I do the ground I will treat it with plenty of salt.
 
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Old 09-16-09, 07:11 PM
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Most cases you can just beat in a rod with a good size hammer (2lb) but I know St. Paul has a lot of rock so try it your way.

IDK what your talking about salt but I don't suggest any.

Your picture shows the neutral in the middle and the hots on both sides. All of the bars at the top are all neutral bars. In the main service the neutral and grounds go to the same place. This is the only place they do this.

I can agree to an extent that there is a small level of danger, but in the worst case scenario, the breakers do their job and simply trip.
Thats fine in theory but with your setup even the breakers can not do their job.

1) You have #6 wire on a 100 amp breaker. #6 is rated for only 65 amps (310.16) at the 75 degree. The 70 amp in the sub panel will do NOTHING to protect those wires going from the main panel to the sub if the wires were contacted. I suggest putting the 70 in the main panel and the 100 in the sub IF the sub is rated for 100 amps.

2) Your #6 wires are not rated for direct burial. The insulation will fail! It needs to be in conduit the entire way.

If you want code references I can toss them out for ya.
 
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Old 09-16-09, 07:36 PM
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Pinjas,

I am going to strongly suggest that you hire someone to do this project correctly. You are again picking and choosing whatever info out of the posts that several people have spent their time and freely contributed to. You cannot just pick some ingredients out of a recipe and expect to bake a cake. Electrical safety is the same way. You need to pay attention to all the rules. Many of the rule changes were made due to unsafe methods, some with deadly consequences. You have had posts in the past where you display a disregard for safety and you seem to be continuing with this thread.

From your cobbled together conduit and your lack of concern for electrical safety and lack of knowledge, you are both a danger to yourself, your family and neighbors and to the fire fighters that may need to risk their lives putting out a fire that you caused.

I hope that this will cause you to examine your abilities and realize that you are in over your head. The people helping here will not help you disregard basic safety practices.
 
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Old 09-16-09, 08:08 PM
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I agree with PCboss and this is getting a thin line to get crossed over aka thread locked out due lack of common sense here and most of the members whom posted I know most of them here are legit electrician by trade and few super serious DIY'er and they do understand the situation what is going on.

Marty .,,

You mention 3/8 copper clad ground rod the answer is no it is not allowed too small per NEC code you will need at least 1/2 inch or larger most common is 5/8 inch ground rod useally either 8 or 10 footer { I can get both depending on set up }

Pinjas.,

Do not use Zinc ground clamp it not worth it they will get corroded in short time in couple years so get in brass or bronze verison they will hold up far much better.

Now just do it right first time as we the members give you fair instuction to do in safe legal way or get a hold of electrician that is only two options I can give to you at the moment.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 09-16-09, 08:18 PM
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Your correct about the gauge of the grounding rod, my error sorry about that.

Marty
 
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Old 09-17-09, 12:55 AM
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It isn't that I disregard safety, it would only appear that way because I ask questions. My questions often come off as disrespectful and aggressive, I guess this is something in my nature. I ask in a turn of logic, why a sub panel? Why more breakers? Why this gauge and not the other? These are rhetorical at the moment, I am curious. I would have hired an electrician but I am way short of the cash needed.

I don't know what causes this in myself, but as I wake up from sleep or as I fall into sleep my minds thoughts are far sharper and more clear, logic seems to come to me with fewer details. I am starting to think that I need a 4th wire and that perhaps the ground and neutral are completely separate. This is something I have asked several individuals and the answer is often different. But perhaps everyone interprets my questions a little differently. I imagine hooking a 3rd 2 gauge wire up, but not as a replacement to the 6 gauge wire but as the neutral itself.

Right now I am wondering how I would put a gauge 4 3 or 2 wire into one of those much smaller holes located where the neutral is.
 
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Old 09-17-09, 05:15 AM
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Again, you CANNOT just run individual conductors thru holes. Your conductors MUST be in a complete conduit system, or a cable assembly.

Your conduit would also need to be properly sized to allow for heat dissapation and so that damage did not occur during the installation.
 
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Old 09-17-09, 05:32 AM
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Fineee, I will go get a new auger and 50 feet of conduit for the run itself. Is there a magic trick to getting a 2 gauge neautral into the tiny, oddly shaped holes?
 
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Old 09-17-09, 05:34 AM
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how I would put a gauge 4 3 or 2 wire into one of those much smaller holes located where the neutral is.
They make an adapter lug that fits in two smaller holes of the neutral bus that provide a connection for a larger wire then either individual hole will accept.
 
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Old 09-17-09, 03:51 PM
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Old 09-17-09, 05:48 PM
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I guess 07bloomfieldb deleted his post or someone else did it because I don't see it. I am not trying to draw more than my main can supply, I doubt I will ever pull more than around 50 amps at the sub panel, I am merely planning for the future. I went to my hardware stores earlier, I discovered that the wire I am using is 'thwn-2' gauge 2 copper, this seems pleasing in my mind.

As I might have mentioned once or ten times, I am using a QO breaker box, I went to seek the neutral lug adapter, of the hardware stores I went to the closest thing I was able to find was one for a QO breaker rated at 70 amps, the rest were for homeline series (mine is not homeline), as far as I know the homeline adapters are not compatible with the non homeline series, I tried asking anyone I could but that was a waste of time.

I have searched the web a fair bit for this particular product, the lug adapter, but I haven't had any luck, anyone know of a known location to find this adapter?

I am a bit concerned with the idea of my grounding, I live in a place where it gets very cold, north eastern Wisconsin. During the cold months I understand that unless I do something special around the grounding rod the effectiveness of the grounding rod is greatly reduced. When I mentioned salt earlier, I had read something about treating the ground with a saline solution, which is, what I assume, to be a method of changing some sort of freezing temperature for the ground. I am pretty sure I read that in my TIG welder setup guide.

I read that when you live in an area that the ground freezes it is important to make sure the ground goes below the freezing line. The longest rod I have found anywhere is 8 feet, I could add an extra foot by digging with a shovel but I am not sure how much good that would do. Especially seeing as how it is pretty much impossible to keep the ground moist enough during the colder months.
 
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Old 09-17-09, 06:17 PM
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8' is plenty long and will be past the frost line. The frost only goes down 4' max around where you are.

I suggest forgetting the local hardware store. While they most times have what you want and are knowledgeable they do not carry all the electrical supplies needed. Since you are east of St. Paul in WI, then I suggest going to Hudson, WI. There is a Home Depot, Menard's, and Fleet Farm all within a mile of each other. I know this because I was just there working on a job. If you can't find the lug there then there is a electrical supply house also within a mile called J.H. Larson. Here is their Hudson location web page: Hudson Home Page They will for sure have what you need.

Also besides a lug that goes into two holes there are also lugs that bolt into the bar and sit on top.
 
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Old 09-17-09, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
8' is plenty long and will be past the frost line. The frost only goes down 4' max around where you are.

I suggest forgetting the local hardware store. While they most times have what you want and are knowledgeable they do not carry all the electrical supplies needed. Since you are east of St. Paul in WI, then I suggest going to Hudson, WI. There is a Home Depot, Menard's, and Fleet Farm all within a mile of each other. I know this because I was just there working on a job. If you can't find the lug there then there is a electrical supply house also within a mile called J.H. Larson. Here is their Hudson location web page: Hudson Home Page They will for sure have what you need.

Also besides a lug that goes into two holes there are also lugs that bolt into the bar and sit on top.
Hah, that is exactly where I was, that is what I call my 'local hardware stores'. Menards and home depot. Fleet farm might also have what I seek but their prices are never as good. That's kind of a bummer though, to find I was pretty much driving past that place repeatedly. Oh, you must live close by, st. paul area and all that. I found a product that goes by qo70an as a product number, it is almost exactly what I need but it's 30 amps short . Awesome information though, thanks!
 
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Old 09-17-09, 11:25 PM
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Ask for QO100AN or QO125AN one of the two it is larger than QO70AN and if J.H. Larson supply don't have it in stock they can order otherwise one of the other electrical supply store may have it { depending on if you want to go to Twin City area or not }

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 09-18-09, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
Ask for QO100AN or QO125AN one of the two it is larger than QO70AN and if J.H. Larson supply don't have it in stock they can order otherwise one of the other electrical supply store may have it { depending on if you want to go to Twin City area or not }

Merci,Marc
It would seem that the part number that fits this accurately is LK100AN or LK125AN.
Product Detail - Schneider Electric United States
Product Detail - Schneider Electric United States
I e-mail this company last night concerning this, I am going to go to that electrical shop in hudson to see if they have this specific piece and for how much. It looks this website sells the lk100an in packs of 10, but the lk125an is many times more expensive per item as one costs 22 dollars.
 
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Old 09-18-09, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinjas View Post
It would seem that the part number that fits this accurately is LK100AN or LK125AN.
Product Detail - Schneider Electric United States
Product Detail - Schneider Electric United States
I e-mail this company last night concerning this, I am going to go to that electrical shop in hudson to see if they have this specific piece and for how much. It looks this website sells the lk100an in packs of 10, but the lk125an is many times more expensive per item as one costs 22 dollars.

Normally I useally stock both LK70AN and LK100AN which it is most common one I useally dealt with it all the time and belive or not some big box store may have this on stock and some case they can order it.

Normally you can get them in single piece I useally get them in case qualinty if I go thru alot in short peroid of time { it useally a time saver for me when I deal alot of them on one shot }

And the cost of 22 bucks I don't think it will be that high at all more like maybe 15 or so bucks { for LK125AN }

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 09-18-09, 09:34 PM
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I went to fleet farm and that electrical place in Hudson, neither had what I sought. They suggested checking out some place is eau clair, wi. I think I will just order it from the web. I found something at fleet farm called 'welding wire' which I think is just a way of clarifying that is very flexible due to it having many thin copper strands rather than a dozen or so thick strands. Is this correct?
 
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Old 09-18-09, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinjas View Post
I went to fleet farm and that electrical place in Hudson, neither had what I sought. They suggested checking out some place is eau clair, wi. I think I will just order it from the web. I found something at fleet farm called 'welding wire' which I think is just a way of clarifying that is very flexible due to it having many thin copper strands rather than a dozen or so thick strands. Is this correct?

Ahh ok I am kinda suprised they don't have that on hand especaily the electrical supply in Hudson.

I think it due a small distrubition centre in Hudson so either St Paul or Eau Claire is much larger supply centre.

Yeah you can order it on website as well.

Now speaking of welding cable with very fine strand normally it is not rated for normal building wire at all unless it have MTW or DLO marking then it can be allowed to use if only marking on say " W " then no it is not allow to use that due the voltage rating of the conductor insluationg materal { most will useally rated at either 125 or 250 volts IIRC }

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 09-18-09, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
Ahh ok I am kinda suprised they don't have that on hand especaily the electrical supply in Hudson.

I think it due a small distrubition centre in Hudson so either St Paul or Eau Claire is much larger supply centre.

Yeah you can order it on website as well.

Now speaking of welding cable with very fine strand normally it is not rated for normal building wire at all unless it have MTW or DLO marking then it can be allowed to use if only marking on say " W " then no it is not allow to use that due the voltage rating of the conductor insluationg materal { most will useally rated at either 125 or 250 volts IIRC }

Merci,Marc
Yeah, so was I. They said they don't carry anything for square D. Any suggestions on specifically where to go in st. paul? I will be driving around there pretty soon.

It sounds like I should just stick with the thwn-2 #2 copper. It's not like it would be cheaper to get the other kind of wire.
 
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Old 09-19-09, 10:04 AM
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For St Paul area I will let Tolyn Ironhand answer that question due he is more famuair with his area due he is from that area so he will chime in with detail any minute.

For #2 THHN copper conductor that is pretty common item but keep in your mind some big box store may not stock this at all I know Big Orange do have them on hand with out any issue but big M or big bleu one of two it is a toss up kinda 50/50 split question with they will have it or not.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 09-21-09, 03:21 PM
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I found a place that has LK100AN, in Minneapolis called graybar. Graybar | Specializing In Supply Chain Management Services .
 
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Old 09-21-09, 04:12 PM
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Graybar is a big electrical supplier..had 'em back in VA..my Master Electrician neighbor sent me there. Even used to have a hat...where the heck did that thing go to anyway????
 
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Old 09-21-09, 05:21 PM
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Yeah ., Graybar is very large electrical supply centre it cover pretty much allover USA I don't know if they have couple in Canada yet { IIRC there are couple up there }

Normally they are a wholesale to commercal / Industural customers but yeah from time to time they can deal with homeowner.

Merci,Marc
 
  #33  
Old 10-02-09, 07:40 AM
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I want to share an idea with you folks. I came to a realization concerning the neutral lug nut adapters. All wires gauged 8 and up (6 4 2 et cetera) are threaded. It almost seems that this serves a duplicitous role. Not only does it allow the wire to be more flexible, but I can also take the threads and split them in two. I take each half and stick them into separate holes on the neutral bus bar and it is finished. Neutral lug nut adapters aren't free and certainly aren't universal, but the threaded wire is.

I feel like this is an excellent solution on avoiding the lug nut adapter.
 
  #34  
Old 10-02-09, 08:12 AM
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Sorry Pinjas,

This is not an excellent solution like you suggest. The adapters are made just so someone does not try to do what you propose. The wire needs to terminate in one hole only.

PS, wires are not threaded. It is properly called stranded.

Please stop trying to find work-around solutions when you have been given the proper information.
 
  #35  
Old 10-03-09, 07:51 PM
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Location: NE Wis / Paris France{ In France for now }
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Originally Posted by Pinjas View Post
I want to share an idea with you folks. I came to a realization concerning the neutral lug nut adapters. All wires gauged 8 and up (6 4 2 et cetera) are threaded. It almost seems that this serves a duplicitous role. Not only does it allow the wire to be more flexible, but I can also take the threads and split them in two. I take each half and stick them into separate holes on the neutral bus bar and it is finished. Neutral lug nut adapters aren't free and certainly aren't universal, but the threaded wire is.

I feel like this is an excellent solution on avoiding the lug nut adapter.
This is not a legal soluotion to this matter and no you can not split the stranded conductors like that I have see that pretty often and it is not safe at all { in few spots I did see it got overheated like that }

please do follow our advice here.

Merci,Marc
 
  #36  
Old 10-05-09, 10:44 PM
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Pinjas,
After reading through this thread, i am of the opinion that you are not obtaining a permit to perform this work legally, persisting in performing the work in a decidely unsafe and illegal fashion, despite the wealth of information you have received from others, and have a seemingly blatant disregard for life and property. This forum is designed to give people the proper knowledge to safely complete their projects, which i do not feel you have any interest in. I am closing this thread. Please feel free to post again when you are ready to heed the expert knowledge given here.
 
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