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Old 02-20-2012, 02:31 PM   #1
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


My house is a 60 year old 3000 square ft. farm house in rural SC. The previous owners did some of their own wiring that seems pretty dangerous to me so Im planning on upgrading everything and switching things out myself.

First off, the service panel is only 100 amps but I have a 2/0 type XHHW aluminum wire servicing it which means I can upgrade to a 150 amp panel (if I read the chart correctly). The other problem is that there's another wire running from the meter besides the 2/0 aluminum. The other wire has no shut off whatsoever, it goes to a small panel with 5 breakers in it and no main breaker.

On to my questions: Is the 150 amp service panel acceptable for the 2/0 aluminum wire, or would I need to take it back and get a 125? The wire isnt buried or anything.

I was also told that I needed to add a grounding rod so I went out and bought a 1/2" rod but im not sure if I need another. I read that you're supposed to just hook the wire up to the neutral/ground bar in the main panel but would I also need another bar for each sub panel? Cant I just connect the subpanel ground bar to the main panel neutral bar or does the ground need to be continuous?

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Old 02-20-2012, 02:41 PM   #2
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


Without knowing the AMP rating on your service drop and meter socket trying to upgrade to 150 amps may not be a wise thing to do. Could also be that your panel inside is fed by the panel outside.

Please post some picture of what you have.

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Old 02-20-2012, 05:48 PM   #3
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


A subpanel ground bar is connected to the ground wire (equipment grounding conductor) going with the feed back to the main panel. It is not connected to the neutral bar. A 125 or 150 amp main panel needs a #4 copper wire (a grounding electrode condutor) run from the Neutral bus non-stop to a metal cold water pipe (if any) within 5' of its exiting the house and going 10 or more feet underground, or a #6 wire running non-stop to two ground rods at least 6' apart and each driven 8 feet into the ground. Once one of these fat ground wires has been run non-stop, the other must also be run (if the pipe was metal) but may be spliced to the first if that is shorter or more convenient.

A subpanel in the same building does not need a ground rod; a subpanel in a separate building needs one ground rod.

The separate feed to the panel with 5 breakers in it is okay by itself but if that panel serves the same building then it must be possible to switch off power to both panels (the whole building) while standing in one place. For example there is a master disconnect switch for the large panel next to the 5 breaker panel.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:49 PM   #4
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


Pic 1: Picture of the meter, theres no outside panel or shutoffswitch. The wire goes from weatherhead to meter to service panel in basement.

Pic 2: Pic of the subpanel that is run directly from the meter with no shutoff or main breaker.

Pic 3: Heres a closeup of the wire that comes from the service to the meter, and the same type wire heads down to the basement to the 100 amp service panel.

Pic 4: Pic of the service panel in basement

Pic 5: Service to the weatherhead
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Last edited by Madix; 02-20-2012 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:48 PM   #5
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


Not a sub panel. Looks like someone went to some really extreme DIY. Douple tapped meter wire that goes into the panels not secured properly and one is missing a cover. You still have to contact the power company to see how much your service from the pole is capable of. And if you end up doing this they will have to pull the meter for you. And Here they require 2 x 5/8" ground rods. I use copper coated.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:59 PM   #6
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


So if I call them and they tell me I have 150 amp service would the wire I have be sufficient?

I knew they wanted to pull the meter but Id like to get everything I need so that Im not without power for longer than a day.

Thanks
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Old 02-21-2012, 05:49 PM   #7
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Dont like bumping my own threads but I need to know if this wire will be large enough for my 150 amp panel.



I read some charts that said XHHW is only 135 amps, but if its for a main panel that you can use 150 amps. Just want to make sure.
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:05 PM   #8
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


Looks like it will work for 150 amps for service entrance. Should also check your meter socket.
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:36 PM   #9
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


Where's the panel with the 5 breakers? All I see in the second picture is a junction box with serious issues.
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:40 PM   #10
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


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Where's the panel with the 5 breakers? All I see in the second picture is a junction box with serious issues.
From his post that is the panel with five breakers and no main. I am surprised they even turned the power on there when he moved in.

Afraid to see how they double tapped the meter socket.

Wonder if they stole the buss from a breaker panel and put it in that junction box. It does seem like they breakers stick out too far for a cover.
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:55 PM   #11
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


Can't really see breakers in the picture....although something shiny is there amidst the wiring. Hopefully the new panel will have more breaker spaces and that mess can be eliminated.....at least turned into a junction box, and that cable running to it disconnected.
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Old 02-22-2012, 03:58 PM   #12
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


Sorry about the darkness in that pic. The little box is in a really weird place, almost like they tried to hide it. It actually holds all the breakers for the kitchen; 40 amp stove and a few 20s for fridge, microwave, and wall sockets. I think that the wire feeding it from the meter is only 60 amp too (impossible for me to tell since its so old that it has not markings). Seems like it could easily overheat if I had everything in the kitchen on at once.

The new main panel has double the capacity for breakers so I plan on eliminating the small panel like you said.

This house kind of reminds me of that movie the Money Pit. Im not sure how it could've passed inspection.

Thank you guys for the info. I tried looking this stuff up using the NEC online but it seems like they write that stuff in another language.

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Old 02-22-2012, 04:03 PM   #13
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


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Originally Posted by Madix View Post
This house kind of reminds me of that movie the Money Pit. Im not sure how it could've passed inspection.
Most likely all this was done with no inspection at all.
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Old 02-25-2012, 05:12 PM   #14
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


Okay, I had an electrician come out and look at what I had. He told me the service feed was only 100 amps and that in order to get 200 amps I would need to increase the hight of the weatherhead to 12 ft and also add a meter/panel combo so that there's a cutoff switch outside.

Would I be allowed to run a new meter, wire, and everything myself and have it run parallel to the existing stuff? Will the power company switch out the 100 amp wire from the old line to a 200 amp wire for the new line, given that I do everything correctly with the new line and have it inspected?

My biggest fear is that they'll leave me without power for whatever reason. I could get the electrician to do it for $2,500 but I dont have the money right now.
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Old 02-25-2012, 05:34 PM   #15
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Upgrading panel and adding grounding rod


You are responsible from the weatherhead down. 2500 is a fair price to fix that cluster. Also when done correctly double tapping your meter is perfectly legal.

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