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Questions about installing a new breaker panel and some outlets

Questions about installing a new breaker panel and some outlets

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  #121  
Old 03-18-15, 04:28 PM
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Alright guys, I have gone with the 200A Eaton Meter Socket & 200A Square D Homeline (30 Space / 60 Circuit) Outdoor Panel. I think that this panel is a little big for my needs, but who cares as it did not cost much more than the smaller ones. Now, I've been doing my research, and have come up with some questions for you all

Oncor guidelines say that I must use at least 2" rigid steel or 2.5" IMC conduit for my mast. However, my meter socket has a hole that is about 2.75" in diameter on top... so I am wondering if that determines the size of hub and conduit I must use? I would prefer the 2.5" IMC conduit, as I am sure it would be the least expensive option. And where can I find the correct hub to go on my specific meter socket -- Home Depot? My googling is turning up short again.

Also, how do I know if I need to support my mast above the roof? And, if I do, what is the easiest way to get it done effectively?

Am I going to need to install a ground electrode? I came across a helpful video where they were doing something similar to my project, and that guy hammered two bigass copper grounding rods into the ground. Or will I be able to utilize the existing grounding setup?

Has anyone had any experience with this flashing that seals around the mast? Or where can I find the right materials to get this flashing part done -- Home Depot again? Am I going to need to pull up some shingles to do this correctly?

Someone I talked to told me that I should 'demand' the electric company replace the service wire when they come to transfer power. I am sure that the service wire is probably pretty old, ~50 years or so, but is this necessary? It was a random electrical contractor who I called that said this. Just curious.

I will leave it at that for now. I am sure there is more to come, but I have burdened you with enough! Thanks as always, gents.
 
  #122  
Old 03-18-15, 06:12 PM
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Oncor guidelines say that I must use at least 2" rigid steel or 2.5" IMC conduit for my mast. However, my meter socket has a hole that is about 2.75" in diameter on top... so I am wondering if that determines the size of hub and conduit I must use? I would prefer the 2.5" IMC conduit, as I am sure it would be the least expensive option. And where can I find the correct hub to go on my specific meter socket
I would use the 2" rigid heavywall mast with a standard RF-2 conduit flashing. The 2" rigid conduit fits nicely in a 2 1/2" hole through the roof you can cut with a 2 1/2" hole saw. Any electrical supply house will have the flashing. I am not sure about Home Depot, but I believe Lowes tells their customers to use a plumbing flashing. If you are going to do it, do it right and don't use plumbing parts that will leak in 3 to 5 years.

Blackburn / Elastimold RF2BB Roof Flashing; 2 In - Crescent Electric Supply Company

You would need an Eaton hub from wherever you purchased the Eaton meter socket, I'd use a 2" hub that would accept the 2" mast. The Eaton hub will screw to the top of the socket.

Also, how do I know if I need to support my mast above the roof? And, if I do, what is the easiest way to get it done effectively?
Your power company should have a book of service rules with drawings that will show you the mast above the roof with maximum height for each size and type of conduit. If a mast tieback support is required, it will be in the service rules.

Am I going to need to install a ground electrode? I came across a helpful video where they were doing something similar to my project, and that guy hammered two bigass copper grounding rods into the ground. Or will I be able to utilize the existing grounding setup?
You need one or possibly two ground rods. Consult the local AHJ and power company service rules on where the #6 copper ground wire should terminate. Some power companies require this be terminated in the meter socket and others require the termination to be on the neutral bus of the panel where the first main overcurrent protection device is located. You will also need to run a #4 copper ground wire from the neutral bus in the panel to within 5 feet of the metallic water service entry point to the house jumpering around pressure reducing valves and meters.

Someone I talked to told me that I should 'demand' the electric company replace the service wire when they come to transfer power. I am sure that the service wire is probably pretty old, ~50 years or so, but is this necessary? It was a random electrical contractor who I called that said this. Just curious.
You could ask, but that is at the discretion of the power company who probably sizes their equipment and overhead wiring by actual load. If your load hasn't changed, they may not change the service drop, but just attach it to the mast wireholder which you should furnish and install.

https://www.google.com/search?q=mast...Q&ved=0CCkQsAQ
 
  #123  
Old 03-21-15, 09:39 AM
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Thanks, Joe! I think I am with you on the 2" RMC. And I think I can handle the flashing job as well, doesn't seem too hard. But I am wondering what sort of sealant or goop I should use (and where) to make sure my flashing is good and sealed? Also, should I be using plumbers tape for any locations where I am coupling/screwing together my RMC?

For that matter, there is a lot of areas of this project where I am wondering what sort of tapes or goops I might need. For instance, one video I watched had this guy putting some strange gel on the end of some aluminum wiring that terminated in the panel -- it was to keep the metal from expanding or something. Do I need this stuff? What else along these lines (tape, goop, etc.) might I need?

It looks like I will need to install a couple of grounding rods. I honestly am not 100% sure if it will be required, but I would rather do it and not need it than vice-versa. All I can find in the ESG is this: "Customer's grounding electrode conductor (#6 Cu min.) shall originate in the service entrance equip. and extend to an approved ground electrode. The grounding electrode conductor is permitted to be routed through the meter socket enclosure but shall not terminate within. Company reserves right to refuse...upon an unsafe customer connection."

I honestly don't think that I will need to support my mast, but I am going to do it just to be safe. The ESG is pretty mum when it comes to this, basically saying 'just make sure your stuff is well supported' from what I can tell. I plan to get some small EMT and hammer the ends, and use that to support the mast on the opposite side of the service drop. Thoughts or objections?

You will also need to run a #4 copper ground wire from the neutral bus in the panel to within 5 feet of the metallic water service entry point to the house jumpering around pressure reducing valves and meters.
Please tell me I can skip this step? I am not sure what exactly you are talking about
EDIT: Wait, is this that bigass bare wire that goes through my attic in some places, and which I've always wondered wtf it was? Can I simply reuse this (if this step is absolutely mandatory)?
 
  #124  
Old 03-21-15, 10:58 AM
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But I am wondering what sort of sealant or goop I should use (and where) to make sure my flashing is good and sealed? Also, should I be using plumbers tape for any locations where I am coupling/screwing together my RMC?
I have never seen a conduit flashing need sealant, but it's possible it may need a little plastic roof cement. You can install the flashing and complete the electrical work and then evaluate the flashing and whether any sealant is needed. If you have any roofing nails securing the flashing that are exposed to the weather, you may want to seal them. No goop required on the coduit threads joining to the hub on top of the socket. Thread sealant is used in plumbing because water is under pressure, no pressure in this application. Just thread the conduit all the way into the hub and you are done.

I am wondering what sort of tapes or goops I might need. For instance, one video I watched had this guy putting some strange gel on the end of some aluminum wiring that terminated in the panel -- it was to keep the metal from expanding or something. Do I need this stuff?
That would have been antioxidant compound on the aluminum terminations. It isn't required by code, but is a good practice. You can get it at any big box store.

It looks like I will need to install a couple of grounding rods. I honestly am not 100% sure if it will be required, but I would rather do it and not need it than vice-versa. All I can find in the ESG is this: "Customer's grounding electrode conductor (#6 Cu min.) shall originate in the service entrance equip. and extend to an approved ground electrode. The grounding electrode conductor is permitted to be routed through the meter socket enclosure but shall not terminate within. Company reserves right to refuse...upon an unsafe customer connection."
The termination point at your service of the GEC is up to the power company. Some want the GEC terminated in the meter socket and some want it terminated on the neutral bus of the panel. Whether you use 1 or 2 grounding electrodes (aka ground rods) is usually up to the AHJ's inspector. You might want to consult the inspection authority and ask if they require 2 ground rods or just 1.

I honestly don't think that I will need to support my mast, but I am going to do it just to be safe. The ESG is pretty mum when it comes to this, basically saying 'just make sure your stuff is well supported' from what I can tell
Unless the rigid steel conduit mast height above the roof exceeds 28 inches, I wouldn't add any additional support. Some areas allow IMC conduit for a mast that would probably require additional support. IMC is not allowed for a mast in my area.


You will also need to run a #4 copper ground wire from the neutral bus in the panel to within 5 feet of the metallic water service entry point to the house jumpering around pressure reducing valves and meters.

Please tell me I can skip this step? I am not sure what exactly you are talking about

EDIT: Wait, is this that bigass bare wire that goes through my attic in some places, and which I've always wondered wtf it was? Can I simply reuse this (if this step is absolutely mandatory)?
If the water service to your house is metallic, this cannot be skipped by NEC. A 200 amp service needs #4 copper or #2 aluminum. Since the panel will be outside, I think you should use the copper wire.
 
  #125  
Old 03-21-15, 12:47 PM
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I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this. I have metallic water & gas pipe running through this house -- do I need to ground both? A couple of rounding rods is sounding pretty good right now lol. Whatever 2008 NEC code requires I guess, as that what my local code guy said we are using around here for now.

The gas entry point is right next to where I will be installing my electrical service equipment, but I have no clue where the water enters this place. That is what I am dreading... the water meter is out by the street, and that's about all I know.

Again, if this stuff is going to be required, I am wondering if there's any way I can make use of what might already be in place from the existing setup (e.g. water pipe grounding)?

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  #126  
Old 03-23-15, 10:37 AM
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The gas entry point is right next to where I will be installing my electrical service equipment, but I have no clue where the water enters this place.
The water service usually enters in the basement. If it's a slab house, look in utility rooms for the main water shutoff, that is probably where the water service enters the house. The jurisdictions I am familiar with don't require bonding the gas lines to ground as long as the gas furnace circuit is properly grounded at the connections to the furnace.
 
  #127  
Old 03-23-15, 12:23 PM
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If it's a slab house, look in utility rooms for the main water shutoff,
But this is Texas. Usually no utility room (or if there is it is at the back door) and pipes are in the attic not under the slab. The cut of, if there is one, will most likely be outside in front at the edge of the slab where the pipe goes in the wall and up to the attic. Usually a straight line shot from the meter at the curb to the cut off. Sometimes though they are in the wall in the garage. Not uncommon though in older houses to have no shut off except at the meter.
 
  #128  
Old 03-23-15, 12:43 PM
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Yea, slab house in stinking TX. My washer, dryer, water heater, all of it is at the back door, which is on the complete opposite corner of the house from the water meter (which is at the street). There is some pipe going through the attic, but I believe that there is only gas pipe up there... so the water must be underground and in the walls exclusively. I do not think I have a shut off anywhere in this house for water.

So, just to confirm, I absolutely have to find the water pipe coming into the house and tie my ground line to it? No way around this stupid water pipe? lol...

If that's the case, I guess I better dig up the old Geiger counter. Waiting (hoping) on a call back from the local code office guy to see what he says about this first.
 
  #129  
Old 03-23-15, 02:07 PM
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Check the pipes in the attic. If they are copper they aren't gas (or shouldn't be). Look above the kitchen sink. Do you see them going down into the wall? Find the cold water in the attic closest to the panel and bond there. Never saw a jumper around a water meter here probably because the meters are at the curb and the distance the pipe is buried is enough usually to meet code. As always though check with the AHJ if your unsure..
 
  #130  
Old 03-23-15, 06:08 PM
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Ok I might have said steel, but maybe I meant black iron pipes in the attic? I'm not sure. There's a drop at the gas furnace, stove, etc, so it has to be the gas. Looking all around the attic and I don't see any other pipes, not above the kitchen sink or any of the bathrooms. Is it possible that all of the water is in the ground & walls? bleh

There is that thick, bare wire running through the attic I am wondering about. Is this possibly some sort of grounding wire that I could hijack? It appears to terminate in one of the bathrooms, and then somewhere near the existing panel. Not sure what gauge wire this is... been a long day today heh. Also, not sure who was making cornbread in the attic...

Tried something with the images this time, hopefully it works. (EDIT: The image links are making me hit refresh to see them for some reason *shrug*)

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  #131  
Old 03-23-15, 06:49 PM
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In some areas of the country the water pipes run under or through the slab. My answers are based only on Harris county. Is your water heater in the utility room. Is that close to the panel?

If you can follow the wire try that. Does it seem to go toward the side of the house that faces the water meter?
 
  #132  
Old 03-23-15, 07:12 PM
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There are two (tiny) bathrooms in this place, and they are back to back in that corner of the house. This is the side of the house nearest the meter, and this is where the bare copper wire in the attic appears to terminate. I'm assuming it ties on to the water pipe somewhere in a bathroom after it drops from the attic on that end, but I don't know if I can 100% confirm that (what else could it be though?).

On the other end, I have traced this copper wire back to a termination on the current Zinsco panel on what I guess is the neutral bus. If it will work, I can cut this wire in the attic when needed and splice it to the new panel / grounding setup. Thoughts?
 
  #133  
Old 03-23-15, 07:37 PM
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You would need to use an irreversible splice. Exothermic weld or possibly a crimp connector. Pros will have to give you details on that.

Are there any access panels such as tub plumbing in the bathrooms?
 
  #134  
Old 03-23-15, 07:49 PM
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No access panels anywhere in this place. I'd love to be able to simply crimp this old ground wire over to the new ground wire (obviously leaving it as-is until the time comes). This would give me my ground connection to the plumbing. I don't have any welding equipment / experience, heh... so again I am rooting for the crimp!?

Thoughts, Pros?
 
  #135  
Old 03-23-15, 08:29 PM
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You can disconnect the wire at the panel, run a temporary test wire from any access to a cold water pipe and check if you have continuity..
 
  #136  
Old 03-24-15, 10:31 AM
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There is that thick, bare wire running through the attic I am wondering about. Is this possibly some sort of grounding wire that I could hijack? It appears to terminate in one of the bathrooms, and then somewhere near the existing panel.
My guess is this is a ground wire and that it terminates on the metallic water supply lines that enter the house through a slab inside a bathroom wall. I think if this is right there should be an access panel, but I've seen a few houses that didn't have one.
 
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Old 03-24-15, 04:43 PM
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Eureka!? I completely forgot about an outdoor access panel we have here, hiding behind some holly bushes out front. Never occurred to me that the access panel I was looking for might be outside lol! (Sorry guys, this is not my forte.)

Do I need to run a new ground wire, or can I just intercept/hijack this one up in the attic by cutting and crimping it to new ground cable going to the new equipment? Keep in mind what is simple for you may not be so simple for me lol... but whatever needs to be done!

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  #138  
Old 03-24-15, 05:51 PM
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Using that one should be fine.
 
  #139  
Old 03-24-15, 06:24 PM
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Do not cut that conductor. It needs to be continuous to the panel.
 
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Old 03-24-15, 06:40 PM
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Is it against code or something to have a ground cable spliced/crimped/etc. between terminations? From what I've gathered it is not, but I am not sure of that. If it is not, then I should be able to hijack this ground wire at some point and use it for my new setup, right?

pcboss, everyone, let me know if that is not going to work. I want to get this done already, but done right nonetheless.

EDIT: Just to be clear, my plan was to hijack this ground wire when I am transferring the power over to the new setup. Obviously this needs to remain in place until that point in time.
 
  #141  
Old 03-24-15, 07:11 PM
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Since you now have clear access to the pipe best might be to run a new #4 wire and leave the old.
 
  #142  
Old 03-24-15, 07:29 PM
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You could move it over the day you change the panel over.

If it needs to be spliced it must be irreversible as Ray has already said.
 
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Old 03-24-15, 07:35 PM
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Since you now have clear access to the pipe best might be to run a new #4 wire and leave the old.
You know what, all things considered I think you are right here. It shouldn't be too hard to make another run of copper on this same path, and it is not like this will be the hardest or most expensive part of this whole project. I am glad to have figured it out!

Now, to figure out how this grounding crap is all going to work. I think I will just need a single grounding rod, as I don't see any mention of two grounding rods in the ESG. Or do I even need a grounding rod if I am grounded to the water line? I still don't fully understand the rules / safety measures in this area of the project, heh.

I will double check the ESG and go from there. I've just reached a milestone with this whole grounding thing, in my book, so it's time for some champagne*!


* beer
 
  #144  
Old 03-24-15, 07:41 PM
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The water line ground needs to be supplemented with another electrode. The testing to prove a single rod is less than 25 ohms takes special equipment. It is easier just to drive a second rod at least 6' away. The wire can be a jumper between the two rods. This falls under the NEC, not your power company rules.
 
  #145  
Old 03-25-15, 04:17 PM
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Since you now have clear access to the pipe best might be to run a new #4 wire and leave the old.
If I recall correctly, your existing service is either a 60 amp aor 100 amp. What size is the ground wire you have found? If you have a 100 amp service, that wire is probably a #6 and you need a #4 copper for the new 200 amp service, like Ray mentioned. Since it is all indoors and out of the weather, you could also as a less expensive alternative use a #2 aluminum ground wire.
 
  #146  
Old 03-25-15, 05:36 PM
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Yea, I plan to run a new #4 copper ground wire I think.

Since it is all indoors and out of the weather, you could also as a less expensive alternative use a #2 aluminum ground wire.
Well, the breaker panel will be outside, and I will have to go from there (neutral bus) to the grounding rod(s) I have installed right? I have skimmed my Wiring Simplified but can't seem to find specifics that match my situation.

Also, I am wondering if the neutral bus on my panel must be the endpoint termination for this ground line? In other words, I am interconnecting 3-4 things here: the water pipe; the grounding rod (or two); and the neutral bus of my panel -- is there any certain order on the wire those need to be in, or do they all just need to be interconnected (and technically at 25ohms or whatever the code says -- not my area of expertise).

Also, if my bare copper (or possibly aluminum) ground wire runs outside at any point, do I have to cover / protect it with any sort of tubing?

Thanks as always, gents.
 
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Old 03-25-15, 06:28 PM
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I am interconnecting 3-4 things here: the water pipe; the grounding rod (or two); and the neutral bus of my panel -- is there any certain order on the wire those need to be in, or do they all just need to be interconnected
You don't interconnect them with one wire. You run #6 copper to the ground rods from the neutral bus. You then run the #4 copper from the water service point to the neutral bus.

if my bare copper (or possibly aluminum) ground wire runs outside at any point, do I have to cover / protect it with any sort of tubing?
Since it goes outside I'd recommend staying with #4 copper. If it needs protection, use PVC conduit. If you protect it with metallic conduit you get into a whole new can of worms involving bonding both ends of the conduit.
 
  #148  
Old 03-25-15, 06:35 PM
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If the water pipe bond wire goes through the back of the panel it isn't considered going out side.
 
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Old 03-25-15, 06:46 PM
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Aluminum cannot be used within 18" of the earth when going to an electrode.
 
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Old 03-26-15, 10:13 AM
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I am wondering if I can use #2 aluminum for the long part of this ground circuit (this particular segment will not go outside or be within 18" of the earth), and then switch to #4 copper for the segment between the panel and the grounding rods? The longer segment of the ground circuit will be about 20-30' length and run from the water pipe, up through the attic and down to the new panel. If I could use the two different metals then that might save me some $ here.

That brings me to my shopping list. Pretty much all I have right now is an empty panel, an empty meter socket, and a 2" bushing for my meter socket... so I need everything else! Here's my list so far, let me know if you guys notice anything I missed:

2" RMC conduit (10')
Conduit anchors/straps
2" flashing
Ground rods (size/type??)
Various clamps for constructing ground circuit
#4 copper ground wire
#2 aluminum ground wire (depending on above)
2" weatherhead
SE cable (size/type??)
plywood (depending on below)


EDIT: Also, Is it going to be OK for me to stick a piece of plywood behind my meter socket, between it and the wall? I just noticed that the path for my mast through the eave requires the meter socket to be a little bit further out from the wall... a plywood spacer shouldn't cause any problems right? Hell, that would probably make mounting everything a bit easier anyway...
 

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  #151  
Old 03-26-15, 07:43 PM
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Ground rods (size/type??)
1/2" X 8 Ft are the most common and minimum size allowed, but you may find 5/8" X 8 Ft are the only ones available. They are also fine. Add ground rod clamps (acorn clamps) to your list.

#2 aluminum ground wire (depending on above)
I believe by code you can connect the #2 aluminum to #4 copper for the grounding provided you use an irreversible connector approved for Al-Cu which you'll probably have to get from a supply house. The problem is the tool required to install it is not normally readily available unless you are willing to buy it. It would be cheaper to run all new #4 copper. If you do use the aluminum it would be a good idea to run that past the AHJ who will be inspectinig your service.

SE cable (size/type??)
I believe you could use either 4/0-4/0-4/0 OR 4/0-4/0-2/0 aluminum SEU cable.

plywood (depending on below)
I have never seen that done, but cannot think of a reason why you couldn't other than most plywood would delaminate over a period of years. The plywood would have to be treated, in my opinion.

I didn't see #6 copper ground wire for the ground rods on your list.
 
  #152  
Old 03-26-15, 07:57 PM
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You can buy solid vinyl boards. Use either 1x4 or 1x6 vinyl instead of plywood. Run two or three pieces side by side vertical. Or the cheaper way use treated 1x6 wood painted on both sides.

Shop Royal Mouldings Limited 1 x 6 x 10 Pre-Finished PVC Board at Lowes.com

Or the easy way. Use an offset coupling.

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  #153  
Old 03-27-15, 12:24 PM
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I need it to be a solid piece of wood and at least 1" thick (thicker the better) so I am going to have to cut some treated plywood and double layer & paint it. I am wondering if I can even get away with anchoring the treated plywood slab to the house, and then just screwing my electrical equipment into the wood really well (i.e. drilling some extra mounting holes in the back of the panel). Thoughts?

(EDIT: Just saw your update below Ray. That would definitely be easier, but I like the wood idea as that gives me something like a grid to plan this hole thing out. I'm just wondering about about conduit straps at this point, since my conduit will be further away from the brick.)

I think I have got the grounding situation figured out. There is only one spot for a ground wire on the panel, right next to the service neutral lug, so I will need to get another neutral lug since I will have two ground terminations on the neutral bus (one #2 aluminum coming from water pipe and one #6 copper coming from ground rods). Does all of that sound about right?

I am out of town for work next week and then hope to break ground on this project following that. I feel like I have more than enough information and equipment to get started -- thanks to all of you gents!

Here's a snap of my panel, in case you wanted to see

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  #154  
Old 03-27-15, 01:45 PM
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You can use any of the holes in the neutral bus to connect your #4 or #6 to the rods and water line.
 
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Old 04-11-15, 07:12 PM
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Alright guys, it is go time for this project. I have already done some trial runs as far as mounting the meter socket and panel, and I've managed to accurately map and support my mast using strut and conduit clamps. Grounding rods are in, and I cut the 2.5" hole through the roof / eave today which was surprisingly easy. All that really remains is to cut my two 2.5" holes in the brick for the incoming circuits, re-mount everything in a permanent fashion, and then tend to the wiring. This is where I am having a problem...

So I have literally everything that I need for this project except for my service entrance cable. I bought some 4/0 4/0 2/0 aluminum SEU wire, but that crap is NOT what I need. What the hell do I need though?? See images below for what I am working with.

This is a 200A panel, and the service is three wire single-phase (hot, hot, neutral or red, black, white). This stupid 4/0 4/0 2/0 wire has two solid wires and some metal cladding, which is not what I need. I need three wires!

Help and thanks, as always. I will make sure to post images of my end results!

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  #156  
Old 04-11-15, 07:23 PM
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As I recall you are using a mast so you need individual conductors such as THWN copper. Two black and one white, minimum 3/0.

This is an example. The description THHN is probably wrong. Look at the wire before buying to make sure it is dual rated THHN/THWN. http://www.lowes.com/pd_72619-295-20...uctId=50101592
Note code allows you to use three black and mark one on both ends with bands of white tape so they may not have white.
 
  #157  
Old 04-11-15, 07:52 PM
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Yes, I am using 2" RMC for my mast. It will be a solid piece about 8' in length or so. I bought some red & white electrical tapes for the purposes of marking the service wires.

So 3/0 THHN/THWN copper, to the appropriate length (times three)?

EDIT: If there's any way I can make use of the two Al wires in this SEU cable I bought, that would be nice! lol... if not screw it.
 
  #158  
Old 04-11-15, 08:30 PM
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If there's any way I can make use of the two Al wires in this SEU cable I bought,
No. They are not marked for individual use outside the cable.
I bought some red & white electrical tapes
No need to mark one red. Color doesn't mater so two blacks are fine.
 
  #159  
Old 04-12-15, 09:53 AM
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Damn this 3/0 copper is going to be expensive. I need about 45' of it if I'm going to be running the three conductors individually, and the those AFCI and GFCI breakers set me back a few hundred already! Oh well I am at the finish line here I guess.

I'll price shop locally for the 3/0 copper this week, to see if I can find a better deal that doesn't need to be shipped. Thanks Ray.
 
  #160  
Old 04-12-15, 10:11 AM
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XHHW 4/0 aluminum could also be used. I am lost. Why 45 feet. Do you mean the length for all three combined? For an eight foot mast that would be 3x10=30 feet. Or just use SEU you already bought. Please wait for input from a pro. I am beggining to doubt my answers.
 
 

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