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Old 06-11-2014, 01:38 AM   #1
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Help with desperately needed electrical upgrade


I just purchased a home in California which has original 55 amp all aluminum electrical(yes even the wire run to lighting and outlets). I am going to pull a permit and get my electric company to shut off the main before i start work, but want to check my plans for code worthiness. This is what I plan:


-Pull permit from city
-Get power company to disattach main lines
-install new weather head
-4/0-4/0-2/0 seu cable run to meter box, from meter box to safety switch and then on to my main panel
-new 200 amp non fused outdoor meter panel (current is non fused and supplies power through the back of the box into the garage where the main panel is located)
-install 200amp non fused safety switch in garage where power comes through the wall.
-Replace and move main panel to the left or right of safety switch in garage.
-Install 2 ground rods at least 6' from each other and connect continuously with 4 gauge solid copper to main panel.
---In the future, i will pull another permit, and replace aluminum wire in house with appropriate copper wire. manual safety switch will help make this easier.


Please advise on anything I missed, or might want to think about (other than hiring an electrician. I take this very seriously and have confidence in my ability. I want to make sure my plans are sound)

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Old 06-11-2014, 03:11 AM   #2
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Help with desperately needed electrical upgrade


I'm not familiar with CA requirements. Do you need to be a licensed electrcian to perform this type of work? This isn't really a job for a DIY'er. Ground rod wire only has to be #6 copper. Check to see if they want separate wires run to each ground rod, terminating in the panel. I'd also run #4 copper to the street side of the water meter. You may also have to "jump" the water meter. (Bond both sides together.) This way, if any of the rubber gaskets are preventing a good electrical connection across the meter, you'll create one. (Take some plumber's sand paper (an 1.5" wide roll) and clean up the spots where you'll be attaching the water ground clamps.) Why would you need a safety switch when the meter pan and panel are back to back and the panel has a main breaker? AL wiring gets a bad rap when it comes to wiring. Look at all the utilities that use it. It's the connections that cause the most problems. You don't have to replace all the wiring (unless you want to). You can use devices (switches and receptacles) that are rated for use with CU/AL and save yourself time and money. You can use the purple wire nuts that are designed for any connections that can't be covered by a device (light fixtures, etc.).

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Old 06-11-2014, 07:18 AM   #3
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Help with desperately needed electrical upgrade


Quote:
Originally Posted by alphajam View Post
I take this very seriously and have confidence in my ability. I want to make sure my plans are sound)
And your confidence is based on what? How many times have you done this before? What is your level of training? Your plan sounds like a soup sandwich.

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Old 06-11-2014, 07:35 AM   #4
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There is no need for back to back safety switches. You need to check with your power company to see what metering equipment they approve on their system.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:39 AM   #5
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Like Jim said, no need for back to back switches.
It may be cheaper to buy a meter main with a 200 amp breaker.
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Old 06-11-2014, 10:50 AM   #6
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Yeah, I wouldn't waste money on the extra switch. The main breaker in your new panel will be within 5' of the meter.
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Old 06-11-2014, 12:16 PM   #7
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petey_c:
Im using #4 ground wire, because i have it on hand already. I will jump the water meter, thanks for the suggestion.

jim & jbfan:
The meter panel is non fused, and i want to be able to open up my main panel for when i replace the original wire in the house without having 2 live bars above the main fuse. My additional thinking was that a manual safety switch would be convenient for future upgrades. 0 live wires in my main panel is better than 2 live spots when Im poking around? I will be turning the garage into a workshop in addition to the re wiring of the house.
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Old 06-11-2014, 12:47 PM   #8
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If you use the disonnect a 4 wire feed will be needed from the disco to the loadcenter.
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Old 06-11-2014, 03:28 PM   #9
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alpha,

I did a similar replacement on my old house. You've made it a little more complicated than it needs to be and you will have your power down more than necessary.

Get your permit;
Install your new meter box mast and weatherhead next to the old one (don't have power company shut off power yet);
install your new panel (one with a main breaker) in garage next to old one (ideally on back side of where the new meter box is so just a short conduit beteween them);
Install your new wires between panel and meter and between meter and weatherhead; install your new ground rods and ground wires;
Install a 50 amp breaker in new panel and a prepare a short 4 wire run to supply the old panel(don't hook this up yet)

Now you can have the power company come in and d/c the old power feed and hook up to the new weatherhead. While they are doing this you can d/c the old feed wire from the old panel (after they are dead) and attach the new 4 wire feed from your 50 amp breaker in the new box to the old box.

If you have any circuits with ground wires in the old box (your set up sounds old enough that you may have very few) these will need to be on a separate bar from the neutrals and your neutral bar should not be bonded to the old panel or to the old panel ground bar. This is because your old panel is now a subpanel. Look into your old panel ahead of time to make sure you are set up to do this right away because you shouldn't reenergize the old panel until you have separated the neutrals.

So your power will only be down for the time the power company switches from one weatherhead to the other and the time it takes you to run the already prepped new wire from new panel to old panel and separate the neutrals from the grounds.

You can rewire each circuit at a later time as you desired and have avoided moving the existing circuits all over to the new panel before you are ready to update that circuit.

I won't go into what wire gauges to use because that info is readily available. Your inspector will let you know when he wants to do any inspections.
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Old 06-11-2014, 03:43 PM   #10
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Help with desperately needed electrical upgrade


Yes, a homeowner can do his own work in CA....

But...before you do any work....you need a meter spot.

Contact the PoCo (Edison?). Tell them what your wanting to do....they will come out and tell you where you can put the meter....it's possible your plan will not fit their requirements....for example, the weatherhed has to be accessible from a ladder placed in your yard....not the neighbors. AMHIK

Once you have the meter spot...go get your permit and then start work.

I would suggest having a chat with the PoCo engineer when he comes out to your place...he will most likely be glad to help you find the best solution.
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Old 06-11-2014, 03:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphajam View Post
petey_c:
Im using #4 ground wire, because i have it on hand already. I will jump the water meter, thanks for the suggestion.

jim & jbfan:
The meter panel is non fused, and i want to be able to open up my main panel for when i replace the original wire in the house without having 2 live bars above the main fuse. My additional thinking was that a manual safety switch would be convenient for future upgrades. 0 live wires in my main panel is better than 2 live spots when Im poking around? I will be turning the garage into a workshop in addition to the re wiring of the house.
With a meter main you will be able to do that, and will be cheaper than buying a meter pan, safety switch and fuses.
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Old 06-11-2014, 05:00 PM   #12
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Thanks for the idea jogr. I didnt even consider making my old panel a sub panel.

ddawg, thanks for the suggestion. I will call PoCo, PG&E for me and ask to have one of their engineering advisors come out before i purchase anything to make sure my final plans are sound.

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