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jptkaczyk 02-12-2011 08:06 AM

Service entrance for farm house.
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I am rewiring a home I recently bought and am looking for best options for the service entry. I removed the front white porch that the current service cable was rubbing on, wrapped in foam insulation. The service entrance is still too low, I can just about grab it. Once it enters the house, it travels across the ceiling as a cable to a FPE box mounted near the ceiling, which is has a with 30 amp and 20 amp 14 gauge K&T lighting circuits :no:. The service meter is on a pole in the middle of the farm yard. I will call the power company to make sure, but who is responsible for the line coming from the yard pole to the house? I would like to run the new service up the side of the house on the right to get the correct height, but the service line would have to be replaced. If I can't do that, can I install an entry to go through the roof, then run the service cable in the ceiling through conduit to the new breaker box on the inside wall? Thanks for the help!

brric 02-12-2011 08:30 AM

Generally, the POCO is responsible for the connection from the transformer to the service connection point at the service conductors be they overhead or underground service laterals.
Once you enter the building from the meter you need a disconnect. If you are going to run conductors inside the house any appreciable distance you will need a fused disconnect adjacent to the meter on the outside of the building.
Personally, I prefer underground laterals from the pole or transformer if the POCO is willing to do it with no extra charge.

AllanJ 02-12-2011 09:29 AM

First thing, no permits needed. Replace all of the branch circuit fuses in the fuse box with 15 amp fuses.

The following part should be done by a professional electrician and usually requires a separate permit. You can have the service entrance head (where the overhead wires enter) higher up on the side of the house. From there a conduit runs down to the first floor or basement where it enters the house. Put a new 150 or more amp breaker panel there on the inside wall. A panel of this size compared to your fuse box will almost certainly need a new service drop (from the yard pole to the house and perhaps also from the yard pole to the street pole) They do make entrance heads that go on the roof with the conduit going down from there.

The following parts are do-it-yourself if you wish but usually require a permit.
Run a 6* to 10 gauge Romex from a pair of 60 to 30 amp breakers in the main panel over to the old fuse box. This cable may be on the surface of the walls or ceilings concealed by Wiremold or similar decorative cover. Gradually replace the knob and tube wiring with new Romex cables run down to your new panel.

* Depends on the ampere rating of the main fuses in the fuse box.

jptkaczyk 02-12-2011 10:00 AM

Thanks for the replies. There is no power on out there right now and won't be untill things are done right. Some of the existing previous work was amazing, taped splices all over the place, and a few runs of rotted interior wire hanging around the outiside of the house. I am in the process of removing all the old wiring to start new at this point and trying to correctly locate the new service panel. The power cable in the picture comes from a breaker box mounted under a meter can on a pole about 150 feet out into the yard. The existing service wire was replaced in 2008, the poco came out and looked at it and said it is good for 200 amps. If I can use this existing wire, I would like too, it will save money. I bet that I am responsible for it because it comes after the meter can, but I know that the poco must have replaced it in 2008 for the previous owners because there are five of six new wire runs around the farm and the previous owners would not have been able to afford that. Can I run a service mast in the front of that porch, conduit in the existing ceiling under the drywall, and run to my new breaker box in the house which I would like against the inside wall, a distance of about 30 feet from where the current wire comes in? I haven't found much about running service cable in walls. I will hire things if I need too, but have industrial electrical experience and there are no permits required. If the overhead wire needs to be changed out, I would prefer to dig a trench to the pole.

AllanJ 02-12-2011 10:30 AM

Correction, if you have a breaker box with a breaker or switch for the whole house out on the yard pole, then the line from there to your house is a subpanel feed as opposed to a service drop. It probably has a steel support wire that also serves as a ground but it needs a third insulated conductor, the same size as the other two, for a separate neutral. (Stringing that line must follow the rules of a service drop to the extent to avoid water and weather problems).

The new panel, regardless of size, in your house would then be considered a subpanel.

jptkaczyk 02-12-2011 11:11 AM

Yeah, the house and garage are subs, there are 4 or 5 other lines from the main breaker box that are fused from that box going to the barn and other buildings that are all fused together in the main. The house will be a feed through 200 from the pole breaker box, the garage will be on a 100 amp breaker then a 100 amp panel with disconect, about 10 feet from the pole. I have to look at the rest of the wires, they are currently set to a 30 amp breaker, and includes a well pump(not for house water, it is city water), an animal barn, and a few small sheds, which I will unhook and leave off untill re-wire when the house is done. Lot's of work to do!

Stubbie 02-12-2011 11:21 AM

Looking at your picture I can't tell if that is a tri-plex messenger drop or duplex.

How many insulated wires are wrapped around your messenger cable ?

Messenger is the bare wire rope one also serving as your neutral.

I'm concerned you have an old 120 volt drop and not 120/240 single phase.

AllanJ 02-12-2011 12:11 PM

With no breaker or switch for the house feed out at the yard pole, the house panel is the main panel and the support (messenger) wire can be both neutral and ground and just two wires need to be wrapped around it.

If the existing overhead cable seems too short, you could check the National Electric Code to find out how far away from the house the cable conductors can end and be spliced to wires reaching way out from the entrance head.

Stubbie 02-12-2011 01:20 PM


With no breaker or switch for the house feed out at the yard pole, the house panel is the main panel and the support (messenger) wire can be both neutral and ground and just two wires need to be wrapped around it.
I agree but did he not say it originates in a 'breaker box' mounted under the meter on the farm pole?

The wiring method in the farm home is knob and tube and in that era the original service could have been 3 wire all the way to the home. Doesn't really matter as he must meet current code if he changes the service location to the connection point.

Farm poles can be either equipped with a single isolation device if multiple connection points are fed from the pole .. in which case service equipment/disconnects with overcurrent protection are located at each building. Or instead of an isolation device the service equipment enclosure(s) can be mounted at the pole either as a group or single overcurrent device feeding the house and buildings with 4 wire power feeders.

I question that no permits are required but that is irrelevant as to his questions. Under his circumstances I see no reason he cannot relocate the entrance point to his liking as long as he has obtained approval from the power company and he lands on a disconnect pretty darn quick after he enters the home with the feeder. Looking at the picture it seems feasible (if wanting to use the existing drop) to enter the porch thru the porch roof with a mast and boot and weather head to the right of the porch door with a disconnect or panel with disconnect on the inside wall. Of course other locations might be possible since it is hard to tell the length of the drop and where it will reach a new connection point.

At any point he needs to be aware of all clearance requirements from the drop to roof , drop to grade, clearance from windows, drip loop and so on.

kbsparky 02-12-2011 02:06 PM

Anything connected after the meter is your responsibility, not the power co.

I'd get rid of that overhead wiring from the pole, and bury a line from there to the house, or any other destination.

You'll need 4 conductors from your service panel on the pole to any panel it feeds -- whether its in the house, a garage, barn, pump shed, etc. (IF you want 120/240 Volt service).

mem 02-12-2011 03:38 PM


Originally Posted by kbsparky (Post 589702)
Anything connected after the meter is your responsibility, not the power co.

I'd get rid of that overhead wiring from the pole, and bury a line from there to the house, or any other destination.

You'll need 4 conductors from your service panel on the pole to any panel it feeds -- whether its in the house, a garage, barn, pump shed, etc. (IF you want 120/240 Volt service).

That's what I thought too. A few years ago my service entrance cable shorted out inside the standoff. The power company, a Co-Op, Informed me that their responsibility ended at the weatherhead. Everything after that, except the meter itself, was mine.

I'd bury them too if at all possible. When I bury mine I'll have to spring for a new bottom entrance meter box too.

jptkaczyk 02-12-2011 04:46 PM

Thanks for all the advice, its really helping me think it all through. It is a three wire cable, two conductors and ground. I took a really good look at it today. At the pole #6 copper leaves the FPE box. It runs through the meter head up a mast, to about 30 feet, then to the house. At the house, it connects with bare copper, then to #6 romex that runs along the ceiling in that front porch and enters an FPE sub, which is mounted near the ceiling. I don't like working at that height or messing with wires going back through the meter can, so I am going to get some bids and see what I find. The feed to my barn and other buildings goes through the meter head as well. I like the idea of going underground with the cable, plus we are already hiring a trencher to redo the water main, so it might not cost much more for some more digging. Once I have the breaker box in the house, I am pretty comfortable from there.

Stubbie 02-12-2011 04:53 PM

I'm all for trenching also but you cannot use the existing overhead wiring in the underground trench ... it is not rated for direct burial or underground in conduit.

jptkaczyk 02-12-2011 05:01 PM

Yeah, I know, and new cable is expenive, especially when I wanted to re-run all of it. I could not find any numbers on the cable besids what the #6 it connects to at both ends, it is maybe a bit heavier, but odds are it will need to be upgraded to the house to handle 200 amps. I removed the wires going to the garage already, they used 12 gauge for two thirty amp circuits. The other four buildings around the farm share thirty amps at the pole breaker, and are all incorrectly wired at the buildings, with no breakers in some up to 70 amps for the one building.

AllanJ 02-12-2011 05:24 PM

Six gauge copper from the yard pole overhead to the house? You can jsut squeak out 100 amps (free air current capacity) transitioning to 2 gauge copper upon entering the house. More than that (150 or 200 amp service) and your existing overhead line from the yard pole is no good.

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