Second panel direct from meter for workshop

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Old 05-08-19, 01:17 PM
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Second panel direct from meter for workshop

Hey Folks --
I am building a pole barn work shop about 100' from my service entry to the house. Inside the house is a 200 amp panel. I want to run a second panel, but not as a sub-panel from the main panel, rather as a direct connection to the meter box itself and place the panel directly in the shop. In the shop, I plan to have a 100 AMP 110/220 breaker box, with assorted breakers living under it. Basic estimation of MAX load would be around 60 AMP max. Dust collection, light, saw - it is a one man band - but having head end seems safe and smart. 12/2 etc for basic wiring inside, 12/3 for 220 plugs.

I am NOT going to be making the connections to the meter box or directly to the second panel main breaker myself, as I plan on using aluminium SEC wire and do not want to risk any issues with corrosion or not having the tools to bend/crimp etc. as needed. I will have an electrician swing by to make those connections and probably give a quick glance over the rest of the wiring I will be doing as a sanity check.

I read, somewhere, that it is within NEC to run a separate panel directly from the main entry meter box as an exception if you are running a secondary location with some number of breakers attached to it. (terminology is off, but that was the gist.) But darned if I can find that info now. So #1 - Did I interpret that correctly?

#2 - Given the load and distance, it is my understanding I can/should use 1-1-1-3 Aluminum. Is that correct and/or overkill? AL over copper purely for the price.

#3 - Is 1 1/2 inch metal conduit big enough to hold that wire? OR - should I use some other piping for burial? As I understand it - burial depths were 6" if metal conduit (or fastened to a wall, etc), 18" if plastic, and 24" if I used direct burial. I do not feel comfortable doing direct burial even if it is in code. I would like to do metal along the house (to keep the trenching more shallow), then switch to plastic for the main run from the nearest corner of the house to the building. Not sure if that is a good idea or not. I'm sure there will be some opinions on best burial practices. I should be able to trench everything with only minimal turns, but using plastic would make snaking things a little easier as opposed to the rigidity of metal. If it is significantly cheaper I should be able to do a deeper burial near the house and use plastic the entire run.

#4 - Anything I am overlooking? Yes, I plan on putting warning tape on top of the wire burial, and there should be nothing other than a much deeper sewer and LP gas line to cross (which I will go under as it is shallow buried [copper sheathed in PVC @ about 6 inches]).

*** If it matters, this is in SW VA, out of town. Shop is a no habitation dwelling, and will have GFCI outlets (lead outlet) not GFCI breakers. I will have the county inspect the electrical for insurance reasons.

Thanks for any insight!
 

Last edited by bassun; 05-08-19 at 01:52 PM. Reason: *added location info
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Old 05-08-19, 05:54 PM
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You can come off the meter if there are a second set of lugs to use.

If you mean SER or SEU cable, that type wire/cable is not allowed to be placed underground even if in conduit. I suggest using Al XHHW-2 individual conductors.

For 100A you will need 3 conductors of #1 Al and at least a #6 Al for the equipment ground.
 
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Old 05-08-19, 06:58 PM
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You can't come directly off the meter. It must be protected at the meter.

You should have a disconnect panel at your meter location with a breaker for the house
and a second breaker for your shop.
 
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Old 05-09-19, 06:25 AM
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This is a good application for a combined service entrance device (CSED) also known as a meter/main combo. An electrician can replace your current meter box with one that has main breakers integrated to feed each building.

I'd say well over 95% of the underground conduit I install is PVC due to cost and ease of install. It is very durable, and even if you have an area you want extra protection you can use schedule 80. Installing threaded rigid metal in a trench is a huge PITA and it only used where absolutely necessary.
 
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Old 05-09-19, 09:15 AM
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PJmax
You can't come directly off the meter. It must be protected at the meter.
Not correct. Where are you getting this from? Being an outside feeder there is no NEC restriction requiring it to be protected first at the meter. There are unfused length limits from the meter to the panel when the service entrance wire runs inside the structure.

Outside feeder taps are allowed under NEC 240.21 (B) (5)
 
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Old 05-09-19, 10:01 AM
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I would agree that he cannot come off the meter because the existing service is 200 amps and 200 amp meter sockets are not made with a capability for 2 barrel lugs.

ibpooks suggests a good application for a CSED device, but I believe it would be less expensive to install a NEMA 3R, 200 amp main breaker panel with 4-8 spaces and feed through lugs adjacent to the meter. Then refeed the 200 amp panel from the feed through lugs and the new 100 amp barn panel from a 100 amp breaker. Both 200 and 100 amp panels will be subpanels and must follow subpanel rules.
 
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Old 05-09-19, 11:42 AM
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I've seen 200A meter sockets with sub feed lugs.
 
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Old 05-09-19, 04:48 PM
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The services need to be grouped. You will need to add two disconnects at the meter and make the current panel a subpanel.
 
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Old 05-10-19, 12:19 PM
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ALL: first off thanks for the input!

Pattenp - I was thinking SER cable (1-1-1-3 AL SE), I looked at NEC 338.2 and it specifically spells out SE or USE. I now understand I would need USE not SE, I appreciate the tip. BUT - I did not see any specifications calling out types (XHHW, RHW etc.) I did find a post quoting UL White Book Std 854 which says USE-2 includes XHHW-2. I assume that is correct based on your statement to use XHHW-2. (it seems ONLY -2 variant thought) THANKS!
As for wiring, is there a specific reason that one should go smaller on the ground? (I get cost and weight, but if I can get a better deal buying bulk #1 aluminum per ft, vs #6 or larger AL) is there any regulation disallowing that? I know not a likely scenario, but just thinking ahead. As it stands, I would likely just go #1's and #4 both in aluminum.

Ibpooks - that does sound like a possible solution indeed. But, would it not be to code also to use the ancillary lugs (if present - or install a new meter with lugs if not)? I kind of like having the additional breakers outside in case of emergency so that power can easily be cut from outside. But, if I have a 200Amp service drop, and 200 AMP main breaker in the (now main/only load center) would I be able to have a separate 100Amp breaker to run the building? I don't know the code as I am not an electrician (obviously) but if I have a standard 200 AMP meter, can I legitimately have 300 AMP's worth of protection? One 200AMP for the main house, and 100AMP for the building? If so, cool... if not, then I think the dual lugs are my only option [although to me that is the same thing...300AMPs of potential draw...]. (And maybe that is a bad idea for some other reasons.)

CasualJoe -- I may be looking at the wrong thing but Eaton Type BR 8-Circuit 200-Amp Main Breaker Load Center (Meter/Loadcenter) is 117 and the Eaton BR 200 Amp 8-Space 16-Circuit Outdoor Main Breaker Loadcenter with Cover is 109. Not a big difference but does add in additional work and components. I don't know the cost or rules associated with replacing a meter box vs adding in a new main and considering utilizing the others as subpanels. I also do not know if the existing meter box has dual lugs...if so, then that decision seems to already be made. I will need to look at that before I proceed with any plan. The other consideration is I do have a generator connected directly to my main. It does have an interlock, so anything from that panel would be isolated from the rest if I close the generator circuit - but IDK if there are restrictions to utilizing that on a sub-panel even if it has an interlock. I assume it would be fine, but I don't know.


As for pipe - I will just go 100% plastic. I also stumbled across a chart that says even 1 1/4 would suffice for what I need. I will probably do 1 1/2 regardless. Glued up before pulling wire, of course.

Oh, if anyone has specific suggestions for a replacement meter box, I will certainly consider those. And to reiterate, I WILL NOT be doing anything related to the meter-box myself. I don't mind running the wire, and wiring in the shop from the panel there, but I do not feel comfortable working with the meter. I am actually beginning to think I may be better suited to just have an electrician come look at things and get a hands on opinion. I hate to spend money for nothing more than an opinion, but this is one of those areas that I do not take lightly.
 
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Old 05-10-19, 01:23 PM
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USE-2 is a direct bury wire. Some wire such as URD (Underground Residential Distribution) is rated only as USE-2 and is not allowed to be installed inside of the structure and must be terminated outside. There is MHF (Mobile Home Feeder) that has a USE-2/RHH/RHW-2 rating and can be direct buried plus it can be installed inside the structure when in conduit. Since you are running conduit you don't need USE-2 rated wire is why I suggested XHHW-2 which is rated for inside and for wet locations such as conduit underground. The smaller #6 wire for ground is just what is the minimum required for 100A but larger can be used.

If your existing meter socket has a set of auxiliary lugs then you can use those to directly feed the work shop unless your local inspector says otherwise.

I highly suggest not using conduit smaller than 1.5". If any of the conduit where above ground is subject to possible damage use sch.80. It's best to use sch.80 where exposed outside above ground.
 
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Old 05-10-19, 01:27 PM
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K thx. I will be going with XHHW-2 in #1 and #4. I appreciate the info.
 
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Old 05-10-19, 01:40 PM
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When using aluminum wire be sure to use noalox anti-oxidant paste on the wire ends at connections.
 
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Old 05-10-19, 02:11 PM
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Yeah, I found that as a necessity. I, however, plan on having an electrician do the con's to the box and meter regardless. But thanks for the reminder, none the less!
 
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Old 05-10-19, 04:30 PM
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The.meter.or combo service.equipment will need to be on the power company approved list.
 
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Old 05-11-19, 05:50 PM
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Good point pcboss, I will have to double check that. Thanks!
 
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Old 05-14-19, 01:56 PM
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Does anyone have any suggestions on the best (ie cheapest) place to buy XHHW-2 1AWG wire? All total looks like about 500 feet of wire... (150' x 3).
 
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Old 05-14-19, 02:37 PM
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An electrical supply house would be a good option in your city. Home Depot/Lowe's probably won't stock #1 XHHW, but they can almost certainly order a 500' spool. There are also a couple online sellers that will ship retail cuts of wire, Platt comes to mind but there are others too.

Price usually doesn't vary too much on wire as it is basically tied to the market price of metal. In your case you're so close to 500' you will probably get a better price buying a whole spool than 450' at the per foot price, so check both options at whichever supplier you choose.
 
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Old 05-14-19, 05:06 PM
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Check out "Wire and Cable Your Way" online

https://www.wireandcableyourway.com/...0ft-spool.html
 
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Old 05-15-19, 05:58 AM
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Thanks guys - I found wire your way earlier, and then skycraftsurplus. Their prices and shipping prices are the best I've found. ($0.35/f XHHW-2 AL #1 $0.19/f XHHW-2 AL #4 (min 200ft). I don't know if they always keep stuff in stock though...
 
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