Breaker Box/Load Center Questions

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Old 02-09-11, 07:29 AM
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Breaker Box/Load Center Questions

Hi. I have a big metal building out back and would like to put electrical service in. I be a poor man right now but I am also safety minded. I have been buying woodworking machines (jointer, 3 horse table saw, etc) and its all 220 single phase. The jointer manual says it requires a 15 amp breaker. Dunno about the saw at the moment but its easy information for me to get.

anyway

The building has a pole right next to it with an empty meter box attached to it. From the meter box the service goes down and then in the building. Inside the building the service pipe with the service wire just stops. There used to be a breaker box there I suppose. There has not been one since we've owned it.

I've been looking at Lowes website and I see a lot of different options that I do not understand. I think I need a box rated for "service entrance"? There are so many different kinds of breakers and different prices and that is a bit confusing. I am fairly certain that I would like a 200 amp service with 30 to 40 slots. I am not understanding those boxes that have more circuits that spaces either. Any help and advice would be appreciated. I already know and understand that yall are going to recommend professional help and I may have to do that, but, I would still like to know whats going on. Sometimes with contractors they can say anything at all to you iffin they think you dont have a clue. I am looking for those clues.

← why is this dog running away?

Edited to add: I didnt read the thing I was supposed to before I posted this question. Please allow me to apologize for that. I live very close to Houston but not actually in Houston. I am out in the county. Harris County.
 

Last edited by MjdTexan; 02-09-11 at 08:17 AM.
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Old 02-09-11, 08:40 AM
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I can help a little here, my knowledge is more product than code, but here is my 2 cents. Any 200 amp panel with a main you looked at would be rated for "service entrance". The number of spaces is not always the same as maximum circuits, as some panels allow use of space saver breakers. For example..GE TM3220CCU 32 circuit 200 amp panel has 32 spaces or slots for full size breakers but will allow you to use enough half size breakers to cram 10 extra circuits in. If you think you might need 40 circuits buy a 40 circuit panel for a few bucks more. If not a 30 or 32 is fine. The one thing I would suggest is that this is obviously an old service. The local power company should be consulted to send a local engineer out to see what they would require to make this old hook up legal to hook up again. Codes change and you may wind up adding a second ground rod, an outside switch,or moving the entrance all together......and this may be an old 100 amp service as well so everything may have to be replaced. That is what we do here....but that is the best advice I can give. I would suggest you hook up with a local elctrical supplier though, rather than Lowes for the simple reason you will need advice if you do this yourself. Lowes is not famous for these sort of things......
 
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Old 02-09-11, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by JimElectric View Post
I can help a little here, my knowledge is more product than code, but here is my 2 cents. Any 200 amp panel with a main you looked at would be rated for "service entrance". The number of spaces is not always the same as maximum circuits, as some panels allow use of space saver breakers. For example..GE TM3220CCU 32 circuit 200 amp panel has 32 spaces or slots for full size breakers but will allow you to use enough half size breakers to cram 10 extra circuits in. If you think you might need 40 circuits buy a 40 circuit panel for a few bucks more. If not a 30 or 32 is fine. The one thing I would suggest is that this is obviously an old service. The local power company should be consulted to send a local engineer out to see what they would require to make this old hook up legal to hook up again. Codes change and you may wind up adding a second ground rod, an outside switch,or moving the entrance all together......and this may be an old 100 amp service as well so everything may have to be replaced. That is what we do here....but that is the best advice I can give. I would suggest you hook up with a local elctrical supplier though, rather than Lowes for the simple reason you will need advice if you do this yourself. Lowes is not famous for these sort of things......
Thank You very much and that is an excellent idea about a local electrical supplier. I should have thought of that. Thanks again.
 
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Old 02-09-11, 08:59 AM
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Building

I have a big metal building out back
How big? How many light fixtures and machines will you be installing?
 
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Old 02-09-11, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Wirepuller38 View Post
How big? How many light fixtures and machines will you be installing?
Wirepuller
You made me go out in the rain to measure that building. It measures 50 ft by 75 ft. I do plan on putting those 4 ft florescent lamps above the machinery and I plan on building out a small office in it. Right now I only have 3 220 powered machines and half a dozen 110 powered machines. I also want to light up the front, rear and sides of the building as well. I hope I answered correctly but dont mind being told I didnt.
 

Last edited by MjdTexan; 02-09-11 at 09:20 AM. Reason: Put 100 ft instead of 75.
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Old 02-09-11, 09:42 AM
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Sorry I didn't take the tine to ask these that myself....a couple more thoughts on this building... If you are not doing a lot out there maybe a 100 amp service would be fine. Also, if this building is close enough to your house perhaps you could run an underground line to it and install a small 100 amp or less panel in the building. I have a 20x24 garage that I work in but only have a 30 amp fed service at this time. Eventually I plan to bring in a machine and dig a trench so I can ungrade to 100 amps, but at this time I simply don't need it. The thought is, if you are just using this for occasional work and not using a great deal of power it might make more sense to feed this building from your home and save the hassle of dealing with the power company and adding another service. Good luck!
 
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Old 02-09-11, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by JimElectric View Post
Sorry I didn't take the tine to ask these that myself....a couple more thoughts on this building... If you are not doing a lot out there maybe a 100 amp service would be fine. Also, if this building is close enough to your house perhaps you could run an underground line to it and install a small 100 amp or less panel in the building. I have a 20x24 garage that I work in but only have a 30 amp fed service at this time. Eventually I plan to bring in a machine and dig a trench so I can ungrade to 100 amps, but at this time I simply don't need it. The thought is, if you are just using this for occasional work and not using a great deal of power it might make more sense to feed this building from your home and save the hassle of dealing with the power company and adding another service. Good luck!
Actually, I intend on renting the house out on that property. I live next door to it. My intention is to be in that building full time by the summer, using it 5 days a week all day. If things go correctly I will be getting more machinery. If that does not work out for me then I would still like to have 200 amp service to the building in case I ever lease it out. Thank You very much for answering my questions.
 
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Old 02-09-11, 06:10 PM
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I believe I'd put talking to the power company at the top of my list to see if they'll even give you service from the existing pole. It sounds to me like the PoCo may also consider this as a commercial service and commercial services usually have some different regulations to follow, such as a commercial bypass meter socket. Do you know the conduit and wire size entering the building now? Is the wire copper or aluminum? Is it underground? Also, the riser from the meter socket up the pole, how high is it, what is conduit size, what is wire size and is wire copper or aluminum?
 
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Old 02-09-11, 08:54 PM
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Very much agree with CasualJoe that the primary concern is the state of the existing drop. If that pole has to be moved or something, best to know that before you make more detailed plans.

My recommendation is to get a 200A box that has 40 slots. Firstly, because those 200V tools are going to require two slots apiece, and they should not be sharing breakers. So that's two slots gone per tool. Some of the 110V tools probably want dedicated circuits as well. Secondly, no matter how many slots you think you need, you will need more. Extra isn't extra, it's nearly a necessity. Third, if you ever do remodel this building for more living space, the number of breaker slots you need will explode. Finally, the bigger boxes are simply easier to work inside, for the extra $20 it's better to not be cramped.

You can put a 200A box onto a 100A drop. If there isn't a current-limiting device built into the service drop somewhere, you may have to replace the main breaker on the panel with a 100A version. But in the future, when you aren't poor, you can upgrade the service drop and not have to replace the box itself. The cost difference between a 100A panel and a 200A panel is so modest compared to the cost of redoing an entire box... overcapacity is good.

BTW, the issue that may come up with installing a separate disconnect outside is a safety one. The fire dept. needs to be able to kill power to your whole building without having to search the house for your panel. So it needs to be located near an exterior door, or else there needs to be a separate exterior disconnect. One of those things that people didn't use to think about.. until something really bad happened as a result.
 
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Old 02-10-11, 03:32 AM
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I agree about the 40 slot box. That was what I am wanting to get. So the amperage can be limited before it gets to my box? Huh, did consider that. Your right though, better to have more box than I need really. Thank You.
 
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