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200 amps from service post to breaker box

Posted by looneytoons (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 21, 08 at 17:30

I'm remodelling an old house and the electric company installed our new 200 amp service on a post in the front lawn. I bought a Square D (my favorite) home breaker box for the house, and I know how to do all the interior wiring. What I'm wondering is, how do I run the service from the post to the breaker box?

Thanks,
Laura


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

Overhead? Underground? How Far? Funny, but whenever I hear someone call a main or service or distribution panel a "breaker box", I wonder how much experience they really have.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

I would prefer to run it underground. The post is about four feet tall and it's about 20 feet from the house.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

For underground 200A service you need 2/0 copper conductors for the 2 hots and bare #3 copper for the single neutral wire. I would use 2-1/2" PVC buried 24" under any road or sidewalk, or 18" under non travelled ground. Check your local code on that. Where the power enters the home you'll need a 2-1/2" LB. Where the PVC enters the panel, you'll need a male 2-1/2" adapter and bushing. Since you're not using metallic conduit, a grounding bushing is not necessary. Again , check your local codes. For this I would still consult a licensed local electrical contractor who is familiar with local code requirements. These are rough suggestions and you may need additional items for your particular installation.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

Is there a meter on the post?

Is that the permanent installation? Sounds more like what we call the "saw pole", a temporary installation for construction. There's more to bringing in service than screwing down the wires to the "breaker box."


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

Sounds more like what we call the "saw pole", a temporary installation for construction.

I was thinking the same thing. I think there are some parts missing from this puzzle, especially since the run from post to building is only 20'. (I'd be more inclined to believe that it's a permanent service post if a longer run were involved that your POCO won't pay for as part of delivering service.)

It's not surprising that Bigbird's comments mention "local code" at least three times. That's not mere overcaution; it's reality: service entrance requirements tend to be intensely local and they factor in the customs and practices of the power utility as much as national electric code.

As a DIYer, you are likely to encounter real difficulties pulling this off safely and legally by yourself, without the assistance of a licensed electrician. Among other things, it'll involve coordination with the POCO to make final connections and some companies won't schedule that unless there's a licensed electrician at the other end. (Or they'll do it very reluctantly, applying every piece of red tape they can find.) There are also issues about breaking and making seals and so forth.

Getting back to the nitty-gritty of the OP:

1. Definitely DO pay the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction--your local permit/inspection office) a visit before you set any plans in concrete. Many electrical permit offices have pass-outs or spec sheets specifically covering local service requirements.

2. Given the choice, I'd also go underground and Bigbird's given a good initial template. Although I cannot recommend your trying to do a final hookup yourself, without a licensed electrician involved, you may be able to save some money by doing the trenching and other preparations yourself.

[But note that if this is only a temporary pole for construction, it's entirely possible--even likely--that the POCO will run the permanent service feeds directly to a meter on the house. If so, don't waste your time and money.

If the POCO insists on overhead service, other issues will come into play--such as mast and weatherhead, etc.]

3. When planning the run and the entrance, keep in mind that the service should (ideally) enter the building at, or very near, your main load center ("breaker panel"). The distance is often imprecise (local code & interpretations may vary), but it means that you can't run the feeder wires inside the building for more than a few feet unless you install a fused disconnect (a main breaker, really) at the meter. This will influence how the grounding system at the "main" load center is wired. (In effect, it becomes a subpanel.)

There may be a lot of ways you can save money by doing much of this yourself--by doing tasks such as driving ground rods and having the main panel be as service-ready as possible--but this task screams for professional assistance, IMHO.

BTW, is the house currently without electrical service except, perhaps, for a temporary service pole? If so, you shouldn't attempt to put permanent circuits in "piecemeal". That is, the normal (and legal) way is to use temporary power for power tools, work lights, etc. until the permanent box and circuits have been completed and inspected. Only then is the main panel connected to permanent power.

Good luck with your remodel!


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

A quick edit to remove a potentially misleading ambiguity:

Only then is the panel connected to permanent power.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

Yes, there is a meter on the post. The house is in the boonies, far away from the power company. The grey/green post has a main breaker, a few smaller breakers, and an outlet on it. They couldn't run power to the house when they installed it because we tore the house down and rebuilt it. The power can't be run overhead, the house is in the woods and trees fall frequently. We don't live in the house, it is a hunting shack. At least five feet deep of snow falls there in the winter. I wouldn't want holes in the walls for the meter readings.

Do the hots and neutrals need to be separated at all in the trench(s)?


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

This is almost DEFINITELY a temporary service! Talk to the power company and they will tell you what you need to provide for them to hook to.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

Hmmm. Four foot post with meter/disconnect/breakers and they get five feet of snow. Sounds like a problem to me.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

Do the hots and neutrals need to be separated at all in the trench(s)?

Uhhh, not sure I understand the question. Are you planning to lay individual conductors in the trench as opposed to Bigbird's (sound) recommendation to put all the conductors in conduit?

I wouldn't want holes in the walls for the meter readings.

Peep holes aren't necessary when the meter's mounted on the outside of the building.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

Bigbird,

Is the bare #3 copper neutral from the meter to the main disconnect common in Canada? I can see a reduced neutral, but #3 bare sound more like an overhead service drop run by the power co.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

The bare #3 is required for the 120V portion of your 120V/240V service. Without it you wouldn't have a neutral/grounded conductor connection back to the POCO's transformer. Whether it's an overhead service drop or buried laterals you must have a neutral/grounded conductor.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

Whether it's an overhead service drop or buried laterals you must have a neutral/grounded conductor.

Nods. To which I'd add... If the main breaker on the (presumed temporary) power pole remains in service, and the house feeds are derived downstream of that "main", then four wires are necessary. That is, separated grounded neutral and grounding conductors would be required.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

Bigbird,

I understand there has to be a grounded conductor. I have just never seen an underground service with a BARE grounded conductor 4 sizes smaller than the ungrounded conductors. A common triplex used here is 4/0-4/0-2/0 AL URD with the reduced neutral. Just wondering if the bare #3 is common in Canada.


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RE: 200 amps from service post to breaker box

If this is temporary service from the POCO, then eventually it will need to be removed and the meter base attached to either the building structure or a more permanent location. The POCO's feed will be triplex overhead. The feed from the meter to the panel could be, among other things, two 2/0 hots and a #3 bare neutral/grounded conductor. This isn't underground service entrance, it's just feed through from the meter base. For this we use #3 bare copper. For underground service entrance, we use the same thing you describe.


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