100 amp and 200 amp panel installation question

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Old 03-19-12, 03:25 PM
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100 amp and 200 amp panel installation question

I built a barn last summer, and will be building a house this summer. A 200 amp meter is installed on the utility pole, but is not connected to anything yet. I want to run 100 amp service to the barn now, and 200 amp to the house after it is built. I want a disconnect below the meter that branches to the barn and house, so I can disconnect power to run the line to the house in the future. One electrician is telling me that I can run 2-2-4 al to the barn and ground at the barn. Another is telling me that I need to run 2-2-2-4 al and still ground at the barn.

Can you please give me some direction on this?
 
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Old 03-19-12, 05:08 PM
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Your SERVICE is that part of the wiring that starts where the utility's drop wire connects to the wires at your weatherhead, through the meter and to the first disconnect, which in your case will be the TWO means of disconnect below the meter.

In actuality what you will need immediately downstream of the meter will be a 200 ampere main circuit breaker panel with either feed-through lugs (to the house) or the ability to add another 200 ampere circuit breaker for the feeder to the house and a 100 ampere circuit breaker for the feeder to the barn.

The feeder connections will have to be a four-wire configuration consisting of two "hot" conductors, a neutral conductor and an equipment grounding conductor. You will need a minimum of one, and more than likely, two ground rods at the meter and service panel with at least one ground rod at each building.

There is quite a bit more.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 05:47 PM
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Thank you for your response Furd.

If I understand it right, I had my terminology mixed up as there is only one service, and when I split it it becomes feeders. Additionally, I follow that the 2-2-2-4 at the barn with a ground rod is the right method. Please correct me if I still have something mixed up.

My power company has a single ground wire for the meter. So you are saying that I will need at least one more for a breaker panel directly below the meter? If I have a 100 amp and a 200 amp circuit breaker there, would that be an additional ground rod for each?

Additionally, I have been reading a lot in these threads about when and when not to connect neutrals and grounds in the FEEDER panel. If I have this straight, they will not be connected in the barn and house, but will be in my 200 and 100 amp circuit breakers below the meter. Again, please verify my understanding.

I will be hiring an electrician for this job, but just want to know what I am talking about when I am getting bids. Also, this is the kind of knowledge that will come in handy some day. People who have no clue too often get taken advantage of. I would prefer not to be that person! Thanks for all your help.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 05:58 PM
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Your power company has a single neutral wire, also called the "grounded" conductor, it is not a ground.

Yes, below the meter you will need some type of disconnect/panel close to the meter to do what you want to accomplish. Furd's suggestion of an outdoor panel with feed through lugs is a good one since you will have a VERY hard time finding a plug in 200 amp breaker. Then you can add a 200 amp feeder to the house when the time comes.

The neutrals and grounds are only connected together in the main panel, in your case, the one on the pole. All other panels they are kept separate as they are sub panels.

You will need two ground rods at your service on the pole.

NOTE: Some states are on newer code cycles then others. You might want to check on what version of the NEC you are on. IF you have an electrician do the job, it should be inspected and they will know that is required in your area.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 05:59 PM
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Additionally, I follow that the 2-2-2-4 at the barn with a ground rod is the right method.
That is correct.

My power company has a single ground wire for the meter. So you are saying that I will need at least one more for a breaker panel directly below the meter? If I have a 100 amp and a 200 amp circuit breaker there, would that be an additional ground rod for each?
I think what Furd was referring to is a requirement in the NEC for the resistance to ground to be 25 ohms or less. Few electricians have equipment (it's pretty expensive) to prove to the inspector that the resistance to ground meets the requirement. Therefore, it is almost universally accepted that if you install two ground rods 6 feet apart, the intent of the NEC has been met.

Additionally, I have been reading a lot in these threads about when and when not to connect neutrals and grounds in the FEEDER panel. If I have this straight, they will not be connected in the barn and house, but will be in my 200 and 100 amp circuit breakers below the meter. Again, please verify my understanding.
That is correct. That is the reason you need 2-2-2 and 4 Ground to run to the barn from the pole, to keep the neutral and ground separate. The electrician who told you you need 2-2-4 needs to take some code classes, I wouldn't hire him.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 06:27 PM
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Thanks for the reply Tolyn,

I am aware of the power company's neutral wire, but the ground wire that the power company installed looks like a #6 bare copper wire stapled to the utility pole and running to the ground.

I think I will take Furd's suggestion for the panel with feed through lugs. I did some research to find out what a feed through lug is, and now that makes perfect sense.
 

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Old 03-19-12, 06:40 PM
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Casual Joe,

The electrician who seems to know what he is talking about told me that the #6 wire connecting the ground rod at the feeder panel in my barn needed to be in 1/2 inch conduit. Is this also true for the ground wires at the service panel? Also, when they are away from the utility pole to get 6' of separation, would they need to be buried at a certain depth?

A little bit of advice opens up a lot of questions, but all of the help is greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 06:59 PM
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Oh, That ground wire. You do not connect/mess with that at all. That is the power companies. In fact, everything from your weather head to the power plant is all the power company's responsibility.

The #6 wire going to the ground rod does not need protection if it closely follows the structure. (pole/ground) IF you do use conduit, it should be PVC or it needs to be bonded. Beyond the pole you only need to bury it a little bit. Just so it will not get damaged.

Again, I am going by what is required around here. Your location may be different. Good example: We never have to install two ground rods unless there is not a water service or other approved grounding system to bond to. Never had to prove the resistance to the inspector either.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 07:00 PM
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The ground wire is not normally installed in conduit, but it could be in 1/2" PVC conduit if the conduit is needed to protect the ground wire.

If I were installing two ground rods, I would bury the ground wire connecting the two rods just to keep it from being a trip hazard, it does not need to be at any specific depth.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 07:05 PM
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That is the reason you need 2-2-2 and 4 Ground to run to the barn from the pole, to keep the neutral and ground separate. The electrician who told you you need 2-2-4 needs to take some code classes, I wouldn't hire him.
Some areas (mine included) are still on the 2005 NEC code cycle. I believe H-H-N is still permitted for separate buildings in 2005. If I recall correctly, it was changed in 2008 to require a 4-wire feeder to separate buildings.

Depending on which code cycle your area is on, you may be able to get away with a 3-wire feeder. I'm not sure what the pros/cons are for doing this.

Just a few more thoughts to add...
 
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Old 03-19-12, 07:17 PM
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I believe Nebraska has adopted the 2011 NEC.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 10:00 PM
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I believe H-H-N is still permitted for separate buildings in 2005.
I’m sorry, what does the above mean: HHN? If you mean THHN-where used underground-then this was never permitted regardless of what area you are from, or code cycle you are in!! And please don’t present that it’s dual rated!! Regardless, "THHN is what it is”!!!
 
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Old 03-19-12, 10:10 PM
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aolsonx2,
are you sure you aren’t the electrician. If you are, it’s ok to ask questions. It only makes you better. Although electricians should know specific things, most are loosing their edge—as the economy has had them out of work too long. "Things change"!!
I’m curious to know why you are getting two different answers from two separate electricians—working in the same jurisdiction [keeping in mind this is a new installation]. One says four conductors, and the other says three. Personally, I would go with four regardless!!!
 
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Old 03-19-12, 11:08 PM
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HHN?
HHN is Hot-Hot-Neutral but even in '05 I think there was the no metallic pathways clause.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 11:36 PM
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I'm too tired to look anything up but I wanted to urge aolsonx2 to purchase the book, Wiring Simplified and read it cover-to-cover. This book is written for the layman and has been in continuous print for at least fifty years, revised every code cycle. It is available at most mega-mart homecenters, usually in the electrical aisle rather than the book and magazine section. It is also available from most of the on-line booksellers. The cost is less than $10.

Wiring Simplified explains all about HOW and WHY things are done the way they are. You will find that the more you learn on the subject the more questions you will have. Please don't hesitate to ask them here.

One other thing, there is no such thing as a "feeder panel". A feeder is a circuit that originates at an Over Current Protective Device (OCPD) typically a circuit breaker but it could be fuses. This circuit runs to another panel containing more than one OCPDs, it could be within the same building or it could be a separate building. The second panel if usually referred to as a sub-panel although that particular term is not defined in the National Electrical Code (NEC). Circuits that go directly to a utilization device such as a permanent lamp, a convenience receptacle, a fixed piece of equipment such as an electric water heater or the like are called branch circuits.
 
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Old 03-20-12, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by SeaOn View Post
aolsonx2,
are you sure you aren’t the electrician. If you are, it’s ok to ask questions. It only makes you better. Although electricians should know specific things, most are loosing their edge—as the economy has had them out of work too long. "Things change"!!
I’m curious to know why you are getting two different answers from two separate electricians—working in the same jurisdiction [keeping in mind this is a new installation]. One says four conductors, and the other says three. Personally, I would go with four regardless!!!
SeaOn,

I am sure I am not the electrician! I am building my own home, and acting as the general contractor. I am a high school math teacher who works construction during the summers. I some familiarity in electrical wiring, simply by reading and researching in books and websites such as these, but I am by no means experienced in working with it.

As for the different responses from two different electricians, it is possible that one did not understand what I was wanting to do. I talked with them over the phone, they did not actually come look at what I have in place. If I did not have a breaker at the meter, then I am assuming the 2-2-4 would be okay. Maybe he had a different plan to split the 100 and 200 amp feeders. Regardless, from what I have learned here, I will be going with the 2-2-2-4. That is why I am on this thread--to make sure I know what is going on!
 
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Old 03-20-12, 05:10 AM
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Furd,

Thanks again for the help with the terminology. I will get the book you recommended. I have read several books on electrical wiring, but the ones I have seen do not deal with anything before the panel, only after. For example I could wire a 3-way switch or direct wire a dishwasher with no problems, but anything related to the service is out of my comfort zone. I will likely return with questions, and I appreciate your offer to help.
 
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Old 03-20-12, 09:09 AM
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@ Aolsonx2,

IC!! Sounds good!!! I have nothing to offer further, as the others are giving very good info.. Good luck!!!
 
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Old 03-20-12, 10:23 AM
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One book that I will caution you NOT to buy is the full National Electrical Code. The NEC is written with a tremendous amount of jargon and also in legalese. It offers no explanations on why things are done in a certain way. It is also expensive. If you want to know more about the NEC and don't mind spending the money then I WOULD recommend the National Electrical Code Handbook which DOES offer explanations. I haven't purchased one for a few decades but they used to include the entire NEC along with the explanations, I don't know if that is still the format.
 
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Old 03-20-12, 03:20 PM
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Regardless, from what I have learned here, I will be going with the 2-2-2-4.
#2 aluminum is only good for 100 amps.
 
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Old 03-20-12, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
#2 aluminum is only good for 100 amps.
Understood. I am only doing the 100 amps to my barn right now.
 
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Old 03-20-12, 06:24 PM
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Feed Through Lug Question

I found a panel with feed through lugs as described here: "Siemens PL series Load Center, single phase, 120/240 Volt, 8 space, 16 circuit, factory installed 200 Amp Main breaker, an outdoor rated enclosure, Copper Bus Bars, Feed thru Lugs."

Will this work for what I am trying to do? It was described as trailer panel, but could it be used in other than trailer applications?

If not, do you have any suggestions for an online panel that would work? There are none sold locally and my electrician can order one for $275. The one described above is only $120.

Thanks again.
 
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Old 03-20-12, 06:58 PM
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Another Option

Through further research in this forum, I may have found a different option. What if I run 200 amp service to my barn, through a 200 amp panel with feed through lugs, and then to my house later? This would slightly increase the total length of wire needed for 200 amp, but would eliminate the wire needed for the 100 amp feed. What do you guys think of this option?
 
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Old 03-21-12, 04:42 AM
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Your socket/panel will need to be on the approved equipment list from your utility.

The revised plan would limit you to 200 amps total.
 
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Old 03-21-12, 05:43 AM
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pcboss,

My utility company requires that we use their meter socket, so I will be installing a panel below the meter. I am just wondering if this panel is approved for this application. And I am okay with the 200 amp total. Thanks for the input.
 
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Old 03-21-12, 10:15 AM
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200 amperes total is all you are going to get unless the utility changes the meter and possibly the drop wire. They may even need to change the transformer serving you and that would likely cost you. Going over 200 amperes total puts a completely different spin on things and costs will rise significantly. Unless you are planning on opening a manufacturing facility in your barn (or will have electric resistance heat in either the house or barn) I feel that 200 amperes total will be quite sufficient. If you DO plan to do heavy manufacturing in the barn then a completely separate service would probably be in order.
 
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Old 03-21-12, 03:18 PM
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I found a panel with feed through lugs as described here: "Siemens PL series Load Center, single phase, 120/240 Volt, 8 space, 16 circuit, factory installed 200 Amp Main breaker, an outdoor rated enclosure, Copper Bus Bars, Feed thru Lugs."
This sounds perfect for your application! Especially if your pole will be in the middle of your two future buildings, or closer to the future house then the barn.

The only issues I see with running 200 amps to the barn is:
You will have to install 4/0 aluminum or 2/0 copper wire to the barn.
It will be more costly to get 200 amps to the house.
 
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