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Old 12-28-2010, 12:04 PM   #1
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


I am looking to upgrade my house from a 100 amp panel to a 200 amp panel. I would like to go ahead and replace everything from the weather head down to the panel as I am already replacing all of the other wiring in my house. Now I know that steps for such an undertaking would usually be:

1. Call licensed electrician
2. Pay licensed electrician for a job well done

due to the necessity of disconnecting all power to the house and the subsequent necessity of getting the job done quickly to avoid food spoilage and a sub freezing house.

In order to avoid the expense of steps 1 and 2 above but also avoid the possibility of a long period without power, I was thinking that I could set up the new service parallel to my old service, therefore I can take my time getting everything done right before the electric company even has to disconnect us from the grid. I could even have the inspector come and inspect the new set up to make sure that it will pass. Then when the electric company comes out all they are really doing is disconnecting the lines to the old service and reconnecting them to the new service that has already been set up and inspected, and then moving the meter from the old meter pan to the new meter pan. Has anyone else done something like this before and is there a reference online that anyone knows of that explains the steps to installing a new service entrance?

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Old 12-28-2010, 12:17 PM   #2
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


A new service is a MAJOR undertaking. Don't do this without a permit and an inspectors oversight. With a little help and some guidance yes you can do this, I hope this is not your first electrical project.

Yes it is posible to install a new service beside the old one so as to streamline the process. The only difficulty I see is moving all the branch circuits to the new panel after the change over, you are likely to find some willl be to short.

Alternatively you could install your old panel as a sub panel.

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Old 12-28-2010, 12:24 PM   #3
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


Other than the money factor, I think you are WAY over thinking this.

This is a one day job for a qualified electrician, and you will typically be without power for less than a full work day.

Unless you are very experienced in doing electrical work, and know the codes involved with doing a service upgrade, I say let an electrician do this job.
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:54 PM   #4
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


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Other than the money factor, I think you are WAY over thinking this.

This is a one day job for a qualified electrician, and you will typically be without power for less than a full work day.

Unless you are very experienced in doing electrical work, and know the codes involved with doing a service upgrade, I say let an electrician do this job.
Oh I agree that this is a one day job for a qualified electrician. I also know that under perfect conditions it could be a one day job for me as well. I also know that there is no such thing as perfect conditions and therefore I will undoubtedly run into problems along the way, which is what has happened with pretty much every circuit that I have run while rewiring this old house. The money factor is the issue. I am very good in terms of providing my own personal labor for a project. I usually just need someone qualified to provide some guidance as well as inspect my work to ensure that it is all up to professional standards. Problem is I have yet to find an electrician that is willing to just provide consulting services on a project.

I also love the manly feeling I get when I complete a big job on the house. You should have seen me bragging it up over the plumbing repair I did on my house last weekend.
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:59 PM   #5
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


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A new service is a MAJOR undertaking. Don't do this without a permit and an inspectors oversight. With a little help and some guidance yes you can do this, I hope this is not your first electrical project.

Yes it is posible to install a new service beside the old one so as to streamline the process. The only difficulty I see is moving all the branch circuits to the new panel after the change over, you are likely to find some willl be to short.

Alternatively you could install your old panel as a sub panel.
I agree that moving the old circuits could be a problem. I am trying to decide where to put the new panel and it may be right next to the old one. If that is the case I should have enough wire to make the connections. In the long run I will be replacing every single wire in this house so they will all get strung to the new panel wherever it may be.
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:22 PM   #6
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


New 200 panel: Main panel
Old 100a panel - make it a sub-panel

Plenty of space for circuits
No rush to convert circuits
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Old 12-28-2010, 05:16 PM   #7
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Problem is I have yet to find an electrician that is willing to just provide consulting services on a project.
Too much liability.


WHAT!!??? you want me to work for free??
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:29 AM   #8
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


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Too much liability.


WHAT!!??? you want me to work for free??
No I've offered to pay a flat rate for the consulting work but no one will even give me a quote on what they would want for it.
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:58 PM   #9
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


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No I've offered to pay a flat rate for the consulting work but no one will even give me a quote on what they would want for it.
Still a liability issue.... you ask a question to an electrician, and he gives you an honest and accurate answer (which you pay for), but, due to inexperience or a misunderstanding or whatever, you accidentally do the job wrong and your house burns down. Who's responsible?
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:03 PM   #10
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If I were you, I would redo the branch circuits first, at least the ones you really need. Make the wires extra-long so you can move them to the new panel. I can just about guarantee that some of those wires will be too short.

The good news, that the inspector porbably doesn't want you to know, is that panels are electrical enclosures. You are allowed to makes splices in electrical enclosures. As a temporary measure (and it's actually legal permanently, but I recommend agaist it), you can splice a wire from old panel to new.
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:19 PM   #11
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


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No I've offered to pay a flat rate for the consulting work but no one will even give me a quote on what they would want for it.
Thing is, we are not in the consulting business.

Situations like this put us in a difficult position. You want someone to put a price on years of experience and an investment of tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment? Just to help you save money do a job yourself? What good is all that equipment on a job like this? What is our experience alone worth? Heck, I could come to your house for a one hour service call and explain all there is involved with doing an average service upgrade, but I think that is worth far more than the $125 service call fee.

I get calls like this from time to time, and unless I know the person personally and know their capabilities, I also flat refuse the "consult" as well.
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:51 PM   #12
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


I understand the rational for a licensed electrician not wanting to work purely on a consulting basis. I was merely pointing out what you just said and that is that what I really want is someone to consult and ask questions of but most are not willing to provide their expertise on that basis. I am not in any way criticizing their lack of desire to provide that service. I understand from a business perspective it just isn't worth it to them. They can use their time better on a job that will be a full installation. That is why I appreciate so much the responses that I get on a forum such as this

As far as doing it myself, I am confident that I can do it. I am just not confident that I could get it done in one day. That is why my proposal was to set up the new service next to the old one. That way whether it takes me a day, a month, or a year to get it right it doesn't matter because the old service is still connected. Once I know that I have everything set up correctly I can call the inspector, hopefully pass but if not it is still not a problem because the old service is still connected. Fix whatever the inspector says to fix. Once that is all done I call the electric company, have them switch their lines to my new service, swap all of my lines to the new breakers, throw the switch and hopefully have a new working service. Then I can safely take down the old service because it will be de-energized, patch the holes in the side of the house and the wall on the inside, take down the old mast and weather head, take the old wiring to the recycler, and I am done. It's just that there are not many references on line that detail the steps involved in installing a new service which is why I originally posted my question.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:37 PM   #13
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


Your power company might have some info on their website about this, I bellieve mine does. I'm generally planning something similar, although I'm doing the new panel as a sub to the old 100 amp panel up front, then later planning to upgrade and move the service entrance.

Here's the process as it pertains to my situation:
Power company would turn off power
I do the work of installing the new panel, the service entrance cable, the service cap, the meter panel and such after having obtained my permit.
This stuff is inspected by my city.
The power company will come out to install the meter into the new meter panel and run cable from the telephone pole to the service entrance only after the inspection is done and approved.

If I'm doing the new panel and service in parallel, the shut-off isn't needed. The permit can be gotten of course before service is shutoff if I was just upgrading the existing panel of course, but the power company would need to shut off anything that was electrified unless there was a shutoff switch before the panel.
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:48 AM   #14
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Steps to performing a service upgrade


Wow, you guys got it easy. The electric company around here doesn't do a lot of that. We usually hook the wires into the lateral, hot.
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Old 12-30-2010, 07:48 AM   #15
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Contact the power co. as they determine where the the new meter can be located. Install everything. The old meter location will have a J-box where all the new wiring ties to the existing. The old service panel can serve as the J-box. Now comes the hard part. Jumper from or move the service drop to the new service entrance weather-head. Technically, this is illegal but that's the way it is done here and neither the AHJ or the power co. have a problem with it.
If you use a jumper, use #10 awg which will be a fusible link if you did something terribly wrong.
If you live through all of that, call for inspection.
If it sounds scary to you, don't even attempt it.

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