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mbaldwin 03-28-2012 11:18 PM

changing to 200 amp service
I am in need of upgrading our electrical service. Well, I think I am at least. First I'll start out that I am not a licensed electrician, but I have done wiring. rewired my last house, and have rewired about half of this one. That being said, I will most likely hire an electrician for at least making the connections at the meter and such.

Okay. the house is about 100 years old. the previous owners did a little work, but even that is getting old. There was an addition added on about 40 years ago. The meter was moved to the west side of the garage on the addition, because it is closer to the pole. On the inside of the garage there is a breaker panel. I am guessing it is pretty old. It has push in style breakers. The breakers were for the addition, but when I redid the addition, I rewired it all and moved the breakers to the panel in the basement of the old part of the house. the panel in the garage has a main breaker for the panel in the old part of the house. The wire runs up to the attic of the garage, through a soffit, and down through the old meter location to the panel in the old part of the house. the panel in the old part of the house has a 150 amp main breaker. The wire to that panel is most likely to small. It seems to be a 4 gage wire. I got a little concerned when I noticed a buzzing noise from the panel in the garage whenever we use something like the electric dryer or range.

My village tells me I have 200 amp capabilities. What I would like to do is install a new 200 amp box in the basement of the addition, which is part basement and part crawl space. I want it there because it is closer to the garage and the meter, and that way I know all the new wiring I did in the addition will reach. All the circuits for the addition will be moved to this panel. I would install a 100 amp breaker and run wire to the panel in the old part of the house. then I could move circuits over to the 200 amp panel as I get them rewired.

For upgrading to 200 amp, I know I need a new meter socket installed, and a disconnect switch. the panel in the garage won't be needed anymore. My options would be to run the new 2/0-3 wire from the disconnect switch to the 200 amp panel in the basement via the attic or down to the ground, over about 20 feet, and through the crawl space, then a straight shot to the new panel location. I installed a 2" pvc pipe in the wall when I redid the addition for running wire. I could run the new wire up and through the attic and down that pipe and straight in to the panel. The first option would use less wire. The second option there would not be conduit running along my foundation. I guess I could put it under ground, but that would add a few more feet of wire to buy.

One electrician wanted to move the meter back to the old location, and not even mess with a new panel. There is very little clearance at the top or the one side of the 150 amp panel in the old part of the house, and we are considering upgrading to electric heat. We already have electric dryer, electric range, electric water heater, and electric baseboard heat in a few rooms.

If you were doing it, which way would you be most likely to do it? Is there any reason I should go with the 4/0-3 aluminum wire over the 2/0-3 copper besides cost? Any problems I need to look out for if I run through the attic or the crawl space? Does it have to be in conduit all the way in either case? Which type of wire should I be looking at? I am thinking of going with a Square D QO main panel. What brands are recommended for disconnect switches? I am guessing the village will tell me what meter socket to get. I will be installing a new ground rod or 2 for the 200 amp panel, instead of running the ground back to the disconnect switch. Is it correct the disconnect switch will need a ground rod to? There is currently no ground rod at the meter or the panel that is in the garage. The 150 amp panel in the old part of the house is only grounded at the water pipe where it comes in to the basement. Because the new 200 amp panel would be considered a sub-panel, because it is after the main disconnect, I leave out the bonding screw? this is what the inspector wanted at the last house when I consolidated 3 sub-panels in to one. Anything to lookout for or ask the electrician? I will hire an electrician to make the connections between my house and the village. I want nothing to do with live power. Of course the village likes me, so they might just disconnect me at the pole for a day for no charge. I am not sure, they might have to before an electrician can even do the work.


MisterZ 03-29-2012 12:34 AM

wow, lots of info. :)

my Q to you, do you really need a disconnect between meter and main panel??

someone else may assist you better than I, but i'll give what info i can.
200amp service requires either 4ought AL or 3ought Copper. obviously copper is much more expensive.
benefits to copper are: handles heat better than AL, and no oxidation.
with AL wire you will need to use "noALox" on all lugs and wires to prevent oxidation.
if you dont have a disconnect, the main panel will need at least two grounding rods.
ground comes from panel to each rod, and back to the panel

however, if you do use a disconnect i believe you would use 4 wire(two hot, neutral, ground)
from the panel to the disconnect, and use the same grounding rules for it.
in this setup do not ground the main panel to the rods, and remove bonding screw.
(unless disconnect is separate from building, then both require ground. if im not mistaken)

QO makes a panel with copper bus bars if you want to spend the extra dough.
if you go with a standard panel with Aluminum bus bars i recommend using the noALox on it as well.
this would help against arcing on the breakers.

the util co will probably cut power before the electrician installs a new meter socket.
i know guys who have done it "live", but safety first, right?;)

hope this is a little helpful. Pro's, please correct any info that is incorrect.

rrolleston 03-29-2012 12:50 AM

You will need four wire feed to all the sub panels after main disconnect. I would go aluminum for the sub panels because of cost of copper. You will have a separate neutral and ground in all sub panels.

2/0 copper can be used for the service to the meter and disconnect but if done properly 4/0 aluminum works fine.

I install the new socket panel and grounding then swap when ready. So there is very little time without power.

Jim Port 03-29-2012 08:00 AM

The power company typically tells you where they will allow the meter to be set. You do not just pick a spot for the socket.

The grounding and bonding would take place in the first means of disconnect after the panel. This is your service panel. Anything downstream would not be bonded and requires a 4 wire feeder.

On a side note, electric heat may not be the most economical way to heat your house.

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