Service Entrance Help Needed

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  #1  
Old 04-18-12, 02:41 PM
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Service Entrance Help Needed

My brother bought a house and I was helping renovate before he moved in. It was wired with old knob and tube so we decided while we have most of the walls opened up we might as well upgrade the electrical and also switch to a 200 amp panel box from a 100 amp. We had the service line dropped a few weeks bag when we were putting up the new vinyl siding so nothing is hot. We went out and bought the new service entrance cable and meter socket. Everything was ready to go until we were told we couldnt put the panel box where we wanted to. We were planning on putting it in a closet that we built to make the first floor bedroom. We were going to put it in the basement but the ceilings are only 5' 6" and IBI said it was too short to put the box down there and we are not allowed to put it on its side. The only option we have no is to put it on an interior wall because all the outside walls have 2x4s laying flat instead of the proper way, I guess thats how they built houses back in the day. The problem that we ran into was how to get the cable from outside to the panel box. Its only about 2 1/2 feet from the outside wall that the meter socket is on. We were told that we cant run the service entrance cable through wall studs and that it cant go more than 3' inside the house. I had an idea of making another wall just on the other side of the wall we have the box on with about 2" in between them and run the SE cable in between those 2 walls. If that is not possible, would anyone have any ideas on how to get the cable to the panel box? Right now I am open to any suggestions. Our inspection was suppose to be tomorrow to get the service turned back on and the rough in inspection was suppose to be on Monday. We live in Cincinnati, OH and our inspections are done by IBI Hamilton County if that matters. Im hoping we can get a good idea and knock it out tomorrow morning and not have to cancel. Even if they dont come out they still charge you. If you need any more information I think I know everything about it I just dont really know what to put on here. I really need help!!
 
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Old 04-18-12, 03:01 PM
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Donít know exactly what your jurisdiction requires, but you can always install the panel outside. The panel would need to be nema 3r rated. You can keep the meter, and install conduit between the Nema 3R panel and the service meter. Or you could also install a meter with main disconnect, and run SER cable from the meter/main to a service panel anywhere code compliant inside the house. Or, you could do a meter main panel outside.
 
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Old 04-18-12, 03:01 PM
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Why not use an externally mounted breaker panel, mounted after the meter base. It is done all the time in Colorado. Would your inspector have a problem with that?
 
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Old 04-18-12, 03:19 PM
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The only option we have no is to put it on an interior wall because all the outside walls have 2x4s laying flat instead of the proper way,
Can you cut out a short piece of a horizontal stud and frame in a cripple on each side to make a space that'll hold the panel?
 
  #5  
Old 04-18-12, 03:32 PM
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We were trying to use what materials we had and we were told we were not allowed to mount an outdoor panel box. Electrical materials are so expensive. If we could fix the problem with a false wall it would be much cheaper. And no we cant put it on the outside wall anywhere with because the walls arent deep enough to receive the box. It would stick out a good 2 inches and running the entrance cable and the romex would be a problem because they would all be exposed.
 
  #6  
Old 04-18-12, 04:02 PM
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And no we cant put it on the outside wall anywhere with because the walls arent deep enough to receive the box. It would stick out a good 2 inches and running the entrance cable and the romex would be a problem because they would all be exposed...
If we could fix the problem with a false wall it would be much cheaper.
Ah. I misunderstood "2x4s laying flat" as "horizontal" rather than as "turned flat." Sorry 'bout that.

So, you could fur out one whole wall to be deep enough. You could just add in 2X4s turned edge-on to the ones that are there now; maybe cut a short section out of one of the existing studs if it's in the way of the panel. But I can't believe that would be cheap, especially when you figure in deepening the window and/or door casings.

I would just go with a main disconnect outside, either in the meter socket as SeaOn suggested or on its own, and then run feeder cable to wherever you decide to mount the panel. Since you would no longer need a main breaker in the distribution panel, you might be able to trade the one you have for a smaller, cheaper one and offset some of the cost of the exterior disconnect.
 
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Old 04-18-12, 04:10 PM
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As Chandler suggested surface mounted outside directly below the meter. That is the way it is done here also. Maybe you are misunderstanding the requirements or is this in Cleavland and some "big city" requirements.

we cant put it on the outside wall anywhere with because the walls arent deep enough to receive the box. It would stick out a good 2 inches and running the entrance cable and the romex would be a problem because they would all be exposed.
Surface mount means it is not recessed at all. All cables run in to the back of the box. Meter feeds via nipple into the box. Plan B is a combined meter and breaker box again surface mounted.
 
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Old 04-18-12, 04:14 PM
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Im not really sure how the whole service disconnect works. Would you run regular 4/0 cable from the meter socket to the service disconnect and then 4 ought feeder cable through conduit into the house and into the panel box? and if we did use that option what size conduit would you suggest and would it be possible to keep the same panel box. Its a 200 amp square d. I think it would be better to still have the main breaker in the panel box just so you dont have to go outside if you ever needed to switch it off. I know its uneccesary to have 2 disconnects with nothing in between them but if that is the only way to run cables through walls then thats what were going to do. Is there any other way to switch from SE cable to feeder cable without a service disconnect? Could you possibly do it in the meter socket? Ive only ever rewired houses Ive never messed with the service cable from the outside before.
 
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Old 04-18-12, 04:29 PM
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Yeah I misread the surface mount part. Im not sure he wants a surface mount as the only rooms to mount it in would be the living room or bedroom unless you create some sort of cabinet to cover it up which I would not object to but this is not my house.

As for the code for not mounting it outside, Im not sure if it the county code or city code or what but when we called and asked about mounting outside they said no. I was unaware that you could not mount them on their side either until we asked them. Ive seen many panel boxes mounted sideways in people houses.
 
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Old 04-18-12, 04:30 PM
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4 ought feeder cable through conduit into the house and into the panel box?
Not sure why you would need conduit. The short-distance requirements you got from IBI Hamilton County are intended to minimize the length of conductors without overcurrent protection inside the structure. But the feeder cable will have overcurrent protection. That's why SeaOn said
you could... run SER cable from the meter/main to a service panel anywhere code compliant inside the house
 
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Old 04-18-12, 04:38 PM
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4 ought feeder cable
4/0 Aluminum? Not 2/0 Copper?
 
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Old 04-18-12, 06:31 PM
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4 ought feeder cable through conduit into the house and into the panel box?
Not sure why you would need conduit. The short-distance requirements you got from IBI Hamilton County are intended to minimize the length of conductors without overcurrent protection inside the structure. But the feeder cable will have overcurrent protection. That's why SeaOn said
you could... run SER cable from the meter/main to a service panel anywhere code compliant inside the house
Thanks Nash for the credit, thought my post was missed
 
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Old 04-18-12, 06:54 PM
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Thanks Nash for the credit, thought my post was missed
You're welcome, SeaOn. I thought you'd made an important point, and I also sensed that it wasn't being heard - at least not fully. Thank you for noticing, and for the feedback!
 
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Old 04-18-12, 07:12 PM
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Others have covered this but I thought I would post it to be clear:

You may not place a panel in a clothes closet. It can be a dedicated closet for the panel itself.
You may not put a panel in a bathroom.
The infused conductors from the meter socket must be terminated in as short as possible to the main overcurrent device. (in your case 3')
If you install a disconnect with an overcurrent device on the outside by the meter then your conductors to the main breaker can be as long as you want because they have overcurrent protection.

At least this is how it is done around here.
 
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Old 04-18-12, 08:57 PM
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Unrelated, but with the wall so thin it will be hard to get a decent insulation value.
 
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Old 04-18-12, 10:47 PM
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As for the code for not mounting it outside, Im not sure if it the county code or city code or what but when we called and asked about mounting outside they said no.
This doesnít sound right!!!
it was unaware that you could not mount them on their side either until we asked them. Ive seen many panel boxes mounted sideways in people houses.
NEC has specific breaker positions with an exception. This rule has changed back and forward over the years. Vertical seems to be the norm.
 
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Old 04-19-12, 03:00 PM
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Can you run regular SE cable through conduit? And if you do that can you run it through walls studs? And if that is possible where would you need to start the conduit? Its about a 10' run from the meter socket to the point of entry to the house. Would you run it from the meter socket or just at the point of entry and all the way to the panel box?
 
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Old 04-19-12, 04:06 PM
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Can you run regular SE cable through conduit? And if you do that can you run it through walls studs?
Why do you want to run conduit through the wall studs?
 
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Old 04-19-12, 04:20 PM
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More information makes this thread more interesting as we go. Now the meter base is 10' from the house?? Is it on a pole? If it is mounted on the house, there's no way the authority will allow you to dislocate the panel box without a disconnect at the meter. Generally meter bases and breaker panels are back to back in walls, or within a foot or so, depending on the grade. If the breaker panel can't be located behind the meter base, a disconnect is required. Others may have had different experiences, but we have to do that.
I am concerned, too with the thickness of the walls, and why a 200 amp panel is necessary.
 
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Old 04-19-12, 04:29 PM
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You cant run regular SE cable through wall studs and being the idiot my brother is and taking advice from a non certified electrician, he already bought all the materials to run everything a certain way.

We were planning on running the SE cable into the house and it would go through 2 wall studs to get to the panel box and it would be located in a closet, but because regular SE cable doesnt have overcurrent protection you can not run it through wall studs and we cant put the panel box in a closet so, we are turning it around and placing it on the other side of the wall, which is a living room, and then making some sort of decorative cabinet to cover it up.

After I made this post yesterday, I called my brother to tell him the different ideas and see what he said, and he told me moving it would be a problem because the whole house has already been roughed in so the wires are already cut for the panel box being in that location. Moving the panel box would mean running all new home runs which is like 22 runs. That is something he does not want to do. Not only would it mean a lot more work but a lot more $$$ which he really doesnt have. Turning the box around right now is about our only option and with the SE cable running over $3 a foot replacing that would hurt as well. If the fix was as easy as running some conduit, a buddy of ours just got done with a project and has some extra conduit he said we could have if we needed it. Its not much but it would get us at least from outside to the panel box.

I really just need to know how to get from the meter socket, run about 10-15 ft along the house, inside the house and about 2.5 ft to the panel box. What would be the best way to do just that because we talked about it today and that what out problem boils down to. What ever we have to do in order to do that is what we are going to do and we are trying to do it as cheap as possible with the materials we already have which is, a 200 amp meter socket, 200 amp square d panel box, 4/0 Al SE cable from the weatherhead to the meter socket and then to the panel box(which is wrong) and all the romex completely ran in the house and to the location where our panel box currently is.
 

Last edited by JakOfAlMasOfNon; 04-19-12 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 04-19-12, 04:33 PM
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Your paragraph key isn't working again. Will be glad to read your post if it has paragraphs. Too hard to read otherwise.
 
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Old 04-19-12, 05:17 PM
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No the mater socket is on the house and not having the panel box directly behind it was not a problem we already had that checked out. And we upgraded to a 200 amp panel because there was an addition added on years ago and somehow they got away with not adding anything extra. It was just highly recommended to us to use a 200 amp panel box instead of the 100 amp that was there already.
 
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Old 04-19-12, 05:46 PM
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You cant run regular SE cable through wall studs... because regular SE cable doesnt have overcurrent protection
Overcurrent protection has nothing to do with cable type. Once you install the fused main disconnect outside, whatever you use for feeder cable is protected. That's what the fused disconnect is doing.
 
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Old 04-19-12, 05:47 PM
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I'd ask whoever told you the breaker box couldn't be outside to show you the code in writing. If he can't ask to speak to his supervisor. This whole thing is getting more complicated then it should be because of a statement that may not be true.
 
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Old 04-19-12, 06:40 PM
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I agree with Ray. Having an exterior breaker panel would solve 90% of the problems that have been presented in the thread. I know of no NEC prohibition for an external breaker panel, so it must be a local quirk, if at all.
 
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Old 04-19-12, 06:53 PM
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Even if we did run an outdoor panel box we would have to run all new home as the wiring in the house is almost completely done. Im not 100% sure but I would think he would not want to do this. Im really opposed to putting panel boxes outside myself I think it is a terrible idea. But sometimes it has to be done.
 
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Old 04-19-12, 08:04 PM
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You do not necessarily need a full panel on the outside, you only need a 200 amp disconnect. They can be found at big box stores for about $100-$150

I get what you are trying to do now with the conduit. Yes, you can run the pipe from the meter socket, on the outside of the house, and then stub in the pipe into the wall to the panel. (I suggest electrical PVC) If you must use the SE cable, I suggest using at least 2" pipe, but larger will likely be better as cable can be a bear to get into pipe. You can not remove the outside jacket from the cable. Make the pipe a straight as possible (minimal 90's) and go into the house using an LB fitting. Once inside the house you can run your SE to the panel.

As for panels and disconnects on the outside of a house being a bad idea. It is done all the time in the south. It is also done other areas of the country and many cases in townhouses and commercial buildings. My house has a disconnect on the outside as well.
 
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Old 04-19-12, 09:27 PM
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Even if we did run an outdoor panel box we would have to run all new home as the wiring in the house is almost completely done.
No, just extend the cables. So long as it remains accessible you could put a large junction box in the closet and extend your cables from there. However using an outside disconnect is perhaps better. I would not use SE just because I had it. I'd suggest THHN in conduit. Easier to run. Maybe you can sell the SE on Ebay or something.
 
  #29  
Old 04-19-12, 09:27 PM
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Here's what I think you're looking at. And yes, that means I'm open to your corrections of my sense of it.

You've got a location on the exterior where your meter is going to be, or already is. You've got a space in an interior wall which you've roughed in for your panel. You already have a lot of materials, including a 200A panel with a main breaker.The thing is, you can't mount the panel back-to-back with the meter for a number of reasons.

As things stand now, it's about 10' sideways from the meter to the butt end of the wall where you've roughed in for the panel. Plus the panel location is a few feet away from the outside wall. And you are looking for a way to legally and safely feed the panel, using materials you already have to the extent possible. Plus you like keeping the panel with the main breaker so that you don't have to go outside to kill power to the panel.

Does that sound right so far?

If so, then I think Tolyn may have described the setup pretty well. I would just add that I would use rigid conduit outside or, if I was using PVC, I would use Schedule 80. I would make it plenty big, to make it easier to make the bend through the LB. I'm thinking 2 1/2". I'll underscore that, if you stay with the SE cable you've already got, all you need out of the back of the LB is a short nipple with a bushing on it, just long enough to get into the first stud bay in the interior wall.

Oh, and here's an example of a 200 amp Fusible Outdoor Disconnect.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 04-19-12 at 09:47 PM.
  #30  
Old 04-20-12, 05:50 AM
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Right now what I have in mind is 2 different options.

Option 1: Place a separate disconnect out side, right where the cable enters the house and use SER cable from the disconnect to the panel box.

Option 2: Replace the meter socket with a meter socket/disconnect combo in the same location it is currently in and then use SER cable from there to feed the panel box.

I think these are the best options right now to be fully compliant with code and not have something crazy going on thats going to make the inspector scratch his head and think we are idiots.

Are both of these options going to be kosher with the NEC and if so, which one do you think would be cheaper? Also I talked to someone about grounding it this way and since the main disconnect will not be inside, we no longer have to run the grounding wire inside to the panel box. Is this true? And since we are replumbing the house as well and we are using CPVC and not copper we arent required to ground the water line either. We just have to ground where even the main disconnect is to 2 8' ground rounds on a continuous run and the panel box will be grounded with he 4th cable in the SER.

If this is right I think I might have found my answer and move forward with it. Its not the cheapest way possible but its not the most expensive and requires little extra work and materials. My brother wont be happy he has to buy new cable and a new box but its his fault for listening to the wrong person in the first place.
 
  #31  
Old 04-20-12, 09:12 AM
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Also I talked to someone about grounding it this way and since the main disconnect will not be inside, we no longer have to run the grounding wire inside to the panel box. Is this true?
No. By current code all panels downstream of the first over current protection device must have separate ground and neutral. That's four wires. Ground bonded to the box at a separate ground bar and neutral isolated. I don't know where you are getting your information from but so far most seems to be wrong or in this case outdated by at least two code cycles. What code cycle are you on, NEC 2005?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 04-20-12 at 11:50 AM.
  #32  
Old 04-20-12, 10:05 AM
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Also I talked to someone about grounding it this way and since the main disconnect will not be inside, we no longer have to run the grounding wire inside to the panel box. Is this true? And since we are replumbing the house as well and we are using CPVC and not copper we arent required to ground the water line either. We just have to ground where even the main disconnect is to 2 8' ground rounds on a continuous run and the panel box will be grounded with he 4th cable in the SER.
Yes, that sounds correct. Assuming that by "the grounding wire" you mean the equipment grounding conductor, that is, the one bonded "to 2 8' ground [rods] on a continuous run."

Outside, at the service entrance, the neutral and the ground are bonded together. If you go with the meter socket/disconnect combo, it will be done there. If you choose the separate disconnect, it may be there but probably not - probably still in the meter socket. Regardless, the neutral and ground are never connected after that. All metal enclosures are bonded to the EGC and the neutral is kept separate. If you mount a separate disconnect and the bonding is done in the meter socket, you will need a pass-through or duplex lug in the disconnect for the EGC wires. If you install that lug, be certain to scrape or sand off all of the paint behind the lug so that the disconnect cabinet is bonded to the EGC.

Your inside panel is the same. Even though it has a main breaker in it, it is now a subpanel. And that means, as Ray said,
Ground bonded to the box at a seperate ground bar and neutral isolated.
You will need an isolated bus bar where the neutrals are connected and a bus bar bonded to the cabinet for the EGC wires.
 
  #33  
Old 04-20-12, 11:06 AM
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Are both of these options going to be kosher with the NEC and if so, which one do you think would be cheaper?
See post #2, as my recommendations are per code. But, your jurisdiction can modify the NEC. I believe the meter with main disconnect is cheaper, but it depends on your area. It will also look cleaner!
 
  #34  
Old 04-20-12, 03:55 PM
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By grounding wire I mean the #4 bare copper wire. Originally we had it connected to the neutral lug inside the panel box but, since the main disconnect will be outside and we are using SER which has an extra wire for grounding, I was told it wasn't necessary to run that bare copper wire to the panel box anymore. But then again when I asked him he said connect that 4th wire to the lug on the grounding bus bar in the panel box but the bare copper grounding wire was connected to the neutral lug. That is where I got confused. That is really the only problem I have now is how to ground it.
 
  #35  
Old 04-20-12, 04:02 PM
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Also we were told we had to do load calculations before they would come inspect. We have a home owners electrical permit and have no certified electricians working there. How do they expect home owners to do load calculations. And before someone comes out and says "well if you dont know how to do it then you shouldnt be doing the work yourself" I bet there is plenty of home owners who apply for home owner permits that dont know how to do it so why allow home owners to get permits and do work with our being certified? Sounds stupid.
 
  #36  
Old 04-20-12, 04:23 PM
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You can find load calculators on line. Just search Google.

A combo meter socket/disconnect will likely be about double the cost of a separate meter socket and a 200 amp disconnect. We just priced a one with a 100 amp main and bypass handle (which is required by the PoCo here) was about $400. A 200 amp meter socket with a bypass handle is about $110 and a 200 amp disconnect with a main breaker is $120 PowerMark Gold 200 Amp 10 in. Enclosed Outdoor Circuit Breaker-THQMV200NRE at The Home Depot The one SeaOn posted is way too expensive and required the purchase of 200 amp fuses which is not needed.
 
  #37  
Old 04-20-12, 04:39 PM
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We are just using a regular $35 200 amp meter socket. What kind of switch would we need because I am trying to find one for cheap but all the ones Ive found are 4 pole 3 phase switches. Im pretty sure it has to be fusible single phase right?
 
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Old 04-20-12, 05:20 PM
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What kind of switch would we need
As Tolyn posted just before you did,
a 200 amp disconnect with a main breaker is $120 PowerMark Gold 200 Amp 10 in. Enclosed Outdoor Circuit Breaker-THQMV200NRE at The Home Depot.
And it's complete: No need to purchase fuses.

That is really the only problem I have now is how to ground it.
You can reread Post #32. That explanation us good according to code. But your jurisdiction or PoCo may have their own requirements. Ask them, and ask if they have a drawing that you can have.
 
  #39  
Old 04-20-12, 05:29 PM
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I found the load calculator online... but i can't really know the exact loads of everything until i actually have all the appliances, water heater, garbage disposal, washer, dryer, dish washer, a/c, furnace, range etc. If we cant get a power release until we find all this out, does that mean we have to go out and find or buy all of these things before we can get a power release?
 
  #40  
Old 04-20-12, 06:03 PM
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Do what others do...make an educated guess. With 200 amps you could run a small machine shop so it is not going to matter much other then to get your approval.

Note: Your A/C will be the largest of your heating/cooling loads so you do not need to add the furnace unless it is electric.
 
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