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Requirements to run 200A service through roof/attic/soffit to meter?

Requirements to run 200A service through roof/attic/soffit to meter?

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Old 02-23-17, 01:13 PM
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Requirements to run 200A service through roof/attic/soffit to meter?

Hey guys,

Bit of an issue here...

I've got 100A service right now, but planning on adding workshop, hot tub, sump system, electric water heater, etc and may run over what I can pull from the 100A service. I already have A/C, well pump, electric stove, whole house fan, dishwasher, multiple fridges, dehumidifier, electric dryer, etc. House is around 2000 square feet, multiple ceiling fans, TV's, computers, outdoor lighting. Even if I keep the 100A, I'm gonna need more spaces. So one way or another, I'm gonna have to have some work done.

I'm not too worried about cost difference between just getting a new panel, and an actual upgrade to 200A, but the quote I was given for the 200A included some work I'd rather not have done, but was told would be involved.

Here's my question/issue:

The electrical service goes 70ft from a pole (east of my house) to a weatherhead in the middle of my roof, through the attic, out the soffit in the back (West side) of the house, and down to the meter (also West side of house). Approx. 10 feet of the line goes through the attic.

I'm being told if I upgrade to 200A, we will have to remove all that. They want to run the service line to the outside of my chimney (south side of house), put the meter below that, run the service down into my basement (south side), and run 2"pvc conduit across my basement all the way to where the panel is now on the west wall (below the current meter). Due to the joists in the basement, this would require quite a bit of 2" conduit to be exposed and ugly across my whole basement. The other option would be moving the panel itself, but that would require rewiring everything to that (south) wall, and I have issues over there with where the furnace/water heater/etc are located.

I contacted the power company, and they say the service line (from pole to house) is already rated for 200A, and that it doesn't need to be touched. Is there not a way I can just have them upgrade the meter and line from the roof down? Where it is now? The way it is now? Is there a law or code against having a short run through my attic from the roof weatherhead to the back soffit? The house was built in the 50's and the current setup is original. I live in Illinois.

I'm not crying about cost, but if it can be done for less money, and actually the way I want it to stay, I'll be double happy.

Thanks
Brian
 
  #2  
Old 02-23-17, 02:13 PM
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It may have been OK in the 50s to run through the attic, but unfused service conductors running through the attic is not allowed any more. Any service work would require compliance with modern code. The code states that the service conductors must be "as short as practical" inside the building, which usually is interpreted as just enough to go through the soffitt into the meter, then directly into a main panel.

Only the power company can approve a legal location for the service drop to the weather head and meter location. They may have some rule governing its new location.

One option I'm not sure you investigated would be to run the 2" conduit along the outside of the building instead of the attic. Often it can be tucked right under the overhang.
 
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Old 02-23-17, 02:42 PM
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Here the breaker box is usually outside directly under the meter. You could do that and just run fused supplies to any interior panels. Those could be run through the attic or run underground to the needed location. The existing panel could be reconfigured as a sub panel (assuming it isn't in a closet, bathroom or cabinets).
 
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Old 02-23-17, 03:50 PM
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@ibpooks - Good info, thank you. As far as the conduit running under the overhang, there's an issue with there being a 4 seasons porch (all windows, no real overhang) between the "new" meter location and the old one where the panel is. I could run it along the inner edge of the house INSIDE the porch, but again that would be "too much" inside the house.. right? I hate code language... "as short as practical" in my case is exactly as long as it is! lol...

This may be a stupid question but would there be any way to change the service from "unfused" to "fused" outside? I heard mention of a cutoff needing installed as well. Would that suffice? So it can then enter the attic? Excuse the stupidity if that makes no sense. I just really want to figure out a way to keep this thing where it is. I'd rather run it down the side of the chimney, back up the chimney, and into the current weatherhead, than start all over and move the whole service to the wrong end of the house. At least then it would be hidden. I need a miracle loophole or genius idea at this point.
 
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Old 02-23-17, 04:22 PM
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would there be any way to change the service from "unfused" to "fused" outside? I heard mention of a cutoff needing installed as well.
The cutoff would be a breaker box below the meter box outside similar to what I wrote in my post. If you use a large breaker box any new branch circuits you need could be run from there and your original panel can be powered from there as a subpanel.
 
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Old 02-24-17, 11:15 AM
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A 200A meter/main box might look a little cleaner if any are approved with your power company. This could be located at the location of the new service drop as Ray suggested; then you can run a subpanel feeder through the attic to your existing main panel. The existing panel can be converted to a subpanel with a modest amount of work, but all branch circuits can be left as-is.

The power company should provide a list of approved meter bases as part of the distribution service design manual. Sometimes this document will be on their public website, otherwise if you get a call in to someone in residential distribution engineering department they should be able to send you a PDF. This type of manual will usually explain in excruciating detail where and how meter boxes, conduits, masts, etc can be installed including sizes, clearances and so forth.
 
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Old 02-24-17, 01:36 PM
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You could also mount a disconnect with overcurrent protection outside and then run a 4 conductor cable to the new panel. This way the conductors are fused and can be as long as needed.
 
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Old 02-24-17, 02:51 PM
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So I could technically upgrade my existing panel to 200A/40 spaces, leave it where it is, and use it there... and as long as I installed a breaker box outside along with the 200A meter upgrade, I could run a subpanel feeder to the (original) panel, through the attic where it is now? And I could use my "subpanel" (after a little work) as my main panel basically? I probably wont ever run any new branches from the new location. The one that's already here is way more centrally located.

I've never been familiar with the breakers being on the outside of the house.. seems like rain or robbers could really ruin your life that way. Resetting a breaker in a severe storm, or having an outdoor on/off switch to your home alarm system don't sound like very logical things. Is there some type of similar device that would just act as a go-between (that doesn't include breakers) in the outside breaker box's place? Or would that be the meter/main that ibpooks mentioned?

Thanks for the help guys, I'm totally clueless when it comes to main service. I'm learning though!
 
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Old 02-24-17, 02:55 PM
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The enclosures are made to be outside in the weather. The main will probably never trip so your fear is not really a concern. They can also be locked.
 
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Old 02-24-17, 02:56 PM
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Somehow I missed pcboss' (first) comment... I could just do that? Mount a disconnect on the chimney (or down the side of it) and run a 4 conductor through the current path to my existing panel location? That'd work for the upgrade? The only 4 conductor 200A rated stuff i saw was for burying. There's indoor kinds? That seems like a simple solution...

As far as the breaker being outside am I confusing a single switch with a breaker panel?
 
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Old 02-24-17, 03:29 PM
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am I confusing a single switch with a breaker panel?
Yes*. Outside there would be a breaker panel as stated in other posts. That could be in a panel that combines a meter socket and a breaker panel in one ubit or you can have a meter socket and a separate breaker box below it.
The only 4 conductor 200A rated stuff i saw was for burying. There's indoor kinds?
Yes. Either SE cable or NM-b cable but it can not be used outside even in conduit. If you can drop it through the wall and into the back of the box you can use it all the way. If you run in conduit down the wall you would use individual THWN wires in the conduit then transition to cable once you were in the attic.

*Technically you could have a fused disconnect switch with room for only one breaker and that would be a (fused) disconnect not a breaker box but it would still have a breaker. The breaker is required because it is dangerous to run unfused conductors. For only a little more cost you can use a breaker box with room for breakers for any new circuits you might want in the future.
 
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Old 02-24-17, 11:56 PM
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THANK YOU! I can have the service moved to the chimney, ran down to a meter/disconnect, back up into the weatherhead, through the attic, out the soffit, and back down to exactly where my panel has always been. That should actually cost me less than running the same lines around the house and through the basement, and will look way better and never bother me.

As far as the wire, is there any kind that would be ok for both outdoor air, outdoor conduit, and indoor through the attic? Some type of super wire? lol...

If I can make this work, the line would run from utility pole -> chimney -> down to meter (conduit) -> back up chimney (conduit) -> air to weather head at roof peak -> weather head to back soffit through the attic -> conduit down outside wall to where it comes into the basement.

Is that actually going to work out? I'm starting to think where there's a will there's a way.
 
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Old 02-25-17, 03:34 AM
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That sounds way over complicated. From the new breaker box you would run a new line directly to the old breaker box by the shortest practical route. Where is the box located? Note the original feed to the breaker box can not be used because it is three wire and you need four wire.
 
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Old 02-25-17, 09:06 AM
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One other option: Have the power company install your service wires underground, around the house, and install the new panel/meter located where the existing panel is located. It might be fairly expensive as the power company does not work cheap!
 
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Old 02-25-17, 11:44 AM
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Type SER can be used outside and inside to feed the panel.
 
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Old 02-27-17, 02:29 PM
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@Ray - The entire thing is over-complicated. Hence my post. There is no short, practical route from where my new meter/box needs to be to the old panel inside. I either have to run it around the house, through the basement in conduit (which there is no way to do without it being across the underside of joists and awful looking)... or I have to figure out a way to run it through the attic, down the soffit, and through the basement wall (exactly where it comes in now, the entire way). I explain where everything is in my OP. If I can fuse it near my chimney, I can run it through the attic and not move everything, but just replace the line itself. If I leave it unfused, it can't come in through the attic where it is.

@Tolyn - It would cost a ton

@pcboss - Thanks I'll check into it
 
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Old 02-27-17, 04:03 PM
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I'd say use cable through the basement. If run is perpendicular to the joists small hole in the Sheetrock at each joist to drill holes with a right angle drill and a hole saw in the joists for the cable.

Plan B would be a chase along one wall against the ceiling. It could be small no more than 6" wide x 2" deep. Of course if you primarily need to run the cable the same direction as the overhead joists not perpendicular as speculated on in the preceding sentences fishing with only a couple of small holes would be easy.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-27-17 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 02-27-17, 07:58 PM
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4/0 SER is going to need a 1 1/2" or more hole.
 
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Old 02-28-17, 02:19 AM
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The thing is, I'd much rather run it down to the new meter and back up a chimney and right in where it came in before, than move the entire service and route it around the house and drill holes in basement joists or run conduit through the whole thing.
Essentially, I have to put the new meter in a new location either way, but the route for the feeder from the meter to the panel is up for debate. One way would be finding a (legal) way to run a new line back up to the roof and into the weatherhead where the old line was, running it through the attic, out the soffit, and down the outside wall (and into the basement exactly where the panel is). The other would require.. well... a lot more conduit outside the house, a new hole drilled into the basement block, and cutting 2" holes through all my basement joists (or a lot of conduit down there). Not ideal.
Regardless, I can't help but to think it would be easier to just have the run go back up the chimney and in through the weatherhead that's already there. It would look better, cover less distance, have less live feeder wire running through my home, and would most likely cost less.
If the code preventing the service from being run through the roof/attic the way it is now (and always has been) is solely due to it being unfused, then the simplest option would be to just make that run of wire fused.. would it not? I want a 200A panel where my 100A panel is now. Nothing more, nothing less. The (code) problem is where the wires come into the house. I just need a way to make it legal/safe/code to put the new lines where the old ones were through the roof/attic.. and from what I understand, I can accomplish that by making the line that runs through the attic and down to the panel fused (and changing to a different type of wire).
Or is there something else I'm missing in translation here?
 
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Old 02-28-17, 09:38 AM
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I want a 200A panel where my 100A panel is now.
Please post pictures of your current set up. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...rt-images.html Maybe I'm misunderstanding because I can't see what you see so pictures please.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-28-17 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:50 AM
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Can you possibly bring the SER from the meter/disconnect into the basement and tuck it up next to the sill at the top of the foundation this would avoid drilling any holes.
Just a thought,as Ray suggested pics would help.
Geo
 
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Old 02-28-17, 03:12 PM
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run it down to the new meter and back up a chimney and right in where it came in before,
This I need to see. The way I visualize what you wrote was cable in free air running over the roof because earlier you wrote:
The electrical service goes 70ft from a pole (east of my house) to a weatherhead in the middle of my roof,
If I remember code correctly the cable would have to have been at least 10 feet above the roof to a ten foot mast. I can't imagine that. How far above the roof was the cable? Show us pictures.
 
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Old 02-28-17, 09:18 PM
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I'll get some pics in the daylight tmrw.. I should have just done that to begin with lol.. Tornadoes and hail here at the moment (and pitch black).

Its just a little (maybe) 2ft weather head near the peak of my roof. Goes straight in from the pole on the street. No ten foot mast...? The wire is in free air now all the way to the weather head.

brian
 
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Old 02-28-17, 09:20 PM
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Keep safe. We can wait on the pictures.
 
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Old 03-01-17, 08:09 AM
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The height of the service drop above the roof depends on the roof pitch and whether there is pedestrian traffic on the roof. The 10' number only applies if there is a roof deck pedestrians will be walking on (does not apply to roofers or other workers on the roof). Otherwise it is 8' clearance over a flat roof (less than 4:12 slope) or 3' clearance over a sloped roof (4:12 or greater). If you are near the edge of the roof the required clearance drops to 18" vertical and 36" horizontal.
 
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Old 03-01-17, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for the numbers Ben. I was just guessing.
 
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Old 03-09-17, 11:09 AM
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Sorry it took so long to respond...

I guess the attic/soffit thing would be a nightmare of code and sweat. I looked into a Lite version of what Tolyn suggested... burying it.

I can keep the service where it is, but move it over to chimney. Put the new meter there, and run the feeder underground, around the house, and to where the current panel is, for about the same cost as any of the other options. It'd be about 100ft of buried cable, but it would solve my issues.

So now my question is this:
Should I use aluminum wire for the underground portion? Or pay the extra for copper? It will be in 2" conduit either way (from what I understand).

I know the service coming from the pole is aluminum, so would there be any difference if I used copper from the meter ->100ft->panel or not?

Thanks guys.
Brian
 
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Old 03-09-17, 11:22 AM
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No issue with copper or alumninum. Aluminum is used more often since it's much more cost effective. As long as it's brushed and terminated with NoOx, it will work just as well as copper.

You'll have to up-size the Al wire, but other than that, no other changes.
 
 

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