New construction of small house (and shop)

Old 09-16-13, 04:17 PM
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New construction of small house (and shop)

Hello all. This is my first post. Seeking advice ...

I live in a very old house under some big old oak trees in Biloxi, Mississippi. I plan to build a new 1200 sf house under these trees (then remove the old house) so I need to decide on electrical equipment and service details for the new house. I may also build a small woodworking shop in the future, and if we hit the lottery an ingound pool would be nice ... but let's get back to reality:

As far as usage is concerned, we currently use natural gas for space heating, water heating and clothes drying. Our biggest electrical draw is one little 6000 btu window unit air conditioner, then our two refrigerators, and finally an old upright freezer. We may add other small appliances after moving into the new house, but other than a new mini-split a/c system to cool the new house we do not expect to add any other heating/cooling equipment.

I'm providing these details to ask if you think 100 amp service is enough for us? If not, what size main breaker load center would you suggest? I'm leaning toward 100 amp because it does not seem that we use all that much power in the existing old house, and we may use even less in the new house since it will be roughly the same size and far better insulated.

Or is it foolish to install anything less than a 200 amp load center in new construction these days?


I have another question that relates to how the power gets to the house:

Rather than attach the service drop to a weather head on the new house, I prefer to build a concrete pole at the property edge so the service can come through a weather head at the top of this pole, then run down the inside of the pole to the meter, then to a disconnect switch on the pole. From there I want to run underground to the utility room in the house where I will install a typical main breaker load center.

In case you're wondering why I hope to route the power in this manner:

Running underground from the meter pole will keep the service drop away from most of the low tree branches, thus reducing the possibility that a fallen branch will take my power out with it. I want the disconnect switch outside on my meter pole so that anyone can run to it and disconnect our power in an emergency. Another reason for the disconnect is to lock it OFF when power is lost during a storm or hurricane. Then I can safely crank up the generator, plug it into the house wiring, and know that no backfeed will occur.

Is this an acceptable service plan? Or if there is a better way to accomplish my goals please tell me. I am certainly open to opinions, suggestions, warnings, etc.
Old 09-16-13, 04:25 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Everyone has their opinions on service size. I have a 100a service as my house is all natural gas. I plan to replace it soon with a combination panel/transfer switch and I will be keeping it 100a.

The service needs to be sized to your current and future loads. It sounds like it would be fine for your hose but what about your shop. You should set aside some time to figure out what you will be putting in there and how much power you'll need in there.

If you have your service going to a drop on a pole like you want.....then by code a disconnect switch must be there as the distance between there and your house exceeds the unfused limit distance.

In the house install a combination panel/transfer switch like I'm going to and you'll have no future worries about backfeeding the utility. Do it right...... from the start.
Old 09-16-13, 06:01 PM
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Though I'm no electrical expert...except for the cost of the cable and the box...AFAIK it doesn't cost any more to install 200A service vs 100A. That's assuming the PoCo doesn't have to change anything on the pole or whatever. Sure, you may pay $200-300(?)more initially...but it won't cost any more ongoing.

I look at it this way...I'm buying a new truck. The new V-8 costs $300 more than the V-6, but gets the same mileage and uses regular gas. I hope to maybe buy and tow a trailer sometime in the future, which the V-8 could handle no problem, but the V-6 might struggle with. Why would I buy the V-6 now?

I have 150A service here in a 1600 sf home, with breakers labeled for stove and dryer....since those are both gas (as are heat and WH), I have quite a bit available if I need to add a spa or pool (like my wife would like).

Another thing to many spaces can you get in a smaller panel? I think I have 2 spaces left...more additions than that and I'd have to start using half height breakers.
Old 09-16-13, 07:01 PM
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Since you are thinking of an outside disconnect anyway look into a 200 amp outdoor panel. You can even get outdoor panel/meter combo units, but be sure to find your power companies meter requirements. Around here the power companies required meter sockets with bypass handles. With the outside panel you can then feed your future shop, pool, or any other outbuilding off of the 200 amp outdoor panel. I suggest getting something with 8 or more spaces/circuits.

I agree that a 100 amp panel for the house is likely adequate, but I also agree that getting the largest 100 amp panel you can find is a good idea. Many cases you can get a 30 space/circuit 100 amp panel for a good price.

As mentioned, the only legal way to install a generator to your homes wiring system is to use a transfer switch.
Old 09-17-13, 08:26 AM
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I prefer to build a concrete pole at the property edge so the service can come through a weather head at the top of this pole, then run down the inside of the pole to the meter, then to a disconnect switch on the pole. From there I want to run underground to the utility room in the house where I will install a typical main breaker load center.
Is a meter pole a requirement? I am having a hard time visualizing the building of a concrete pole as you describe. It would be a lot less expensive to just install an underground service from the utility pole to the house and install the meter socket on the house. Of course, this all depends on the power company service rules. I'd make it a 200 amp service for possible unknown future added loads.

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