Rewire 200A service entrance
Hi all. I'm renovating an old farm house that has had all of the major mechanical systems updated prior to us buying. Unfortunately, the main service cable (200A) goes right through the basement stair well - I have to duck or it bumps my head - how some idiot got away with this, I'll never know! What I need to do is lengthen the cable, in order to wrap it around the stair well and keep it out of the way.
The cable comes into the building and directly to a service disconnect - the disconnect is on the other side of the house from the breaker panel - about 30'. What I would like to do, rather than buy 50' of cable, is to put a junction box in the basement, near the breaker panel, and simply add the wire need to go around the stair well. I'm competent with branch wiring, lighting, general purpose stuff, but have never worked on the larger side. Having the service disconnect obviously makes this much easier and safer. Questions please:
1. What are some of the code issues with installing a junction box of this size - same rules as branch wiring? Size it properly, don't bury it...
2. I've noticed some sort of "grease"? on the service lugs in the panel - is this something that I need to apply to the connections in the junction box?
3. What are the other code rules specific to service cable that I might not be aware of.
If the panel is a load side panel ("sub panel") panel -ie. there is an upstream service disconnect between the meter and the panel - you can relocate the panel and extend the feeders to the panel for any distance allowed by the capacity of the feeders, and protect them in any manner allowed by code.
If this panel contains the "service disconnect" (the first means of disconnecting power after the meter), the panel is required to be located as close as possible to the entry of the service entrance conductors through the building - around here that would means within within a few feet distant at most from the entry most - and as close as possible in this case means as close as physically possible, not "as close as is convenient based on other concerns".
This is the situation in my own house: I wanted to relocate the service panel to the same side of a wall on other side of a 36 inch door - that is move the panel around 4 feet - so I was required to install a service disconnected the meter, run the feeders in conduit to the relocated panel, and rewire the panel with and grounds neutrals separated, as it was now a load side panel.
There is a service disconnect where the cable enters the house - so the main breaker in the panel is the second disconnect point.
Why would I move the panel and create dozens of splices for all of the branch wires, when I can make 1 for the service cable? - Is it not allowed?
I just wanted to be sure how things were currently wired, for example I wanted be certain that what you we referring to as the "main service cable" was in fact a feeder to load side panel, not the service enterence conductors to the service disconnect - without pictures it's all to easy to "assume" what someone means.
Anyway, Assuming the local AHJ approved it you could splice the feeders, appropriately secured to an appropriate junction box.
But... what will you be using to connect the conductors? Self-insulating (ex: Polaris Insul-Tap) connectors are expensive, and split bolts are messy - by the time you were done with it you might be better off just buying the cable and never having to worry about the integrity of the connections.
Use the proper splicing hardware, big enough Jboxes, proper box connectors and you are good to go.
Tip: If you bring the cables in the same side of the box, the wires will "make up" cleaner and easier than if you come in the top and out the bottom.
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