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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My original thought with my new home rennovation was to replace the old Federal Pacific Zinsco Stablok panel with a new 200 amp square D panel with 200 amp service. I just found out from the POCO (Dakota Electric) that with out them sending out a crew, the wire in the ground is probably only 2/0 and good for 150 amp service (there is 2/0 in the main panel, so I would assume this is correct). With Dakota Electric, the Customer is responsible for the wire all the way to the transformer, not just to the meter. The transformer is in my front yard next to the driveway, but the run underground is probably about 250 anyway.

Looked at one price on a spool of 4/0-4/0-2/0 aluminum feeder cable 500 feet was like $1700 just for the wire! That is more than I am looking to spend on this upgrade right now so my thought is to proceed with the 200 amp panel upgrade, but to install a 150 amp disconnect between the panel and the meter. Then when I am ready to replace the underground wire and the meter can, the panel will be all ready for the upgraded service.

What are your opinions? Does Sqaure D make a bus breaker capable of 150 amps and 2/0 wire to just backfeed for the time being? Or is the disconnect a better choice? I'd be looking at installing a disconnect inside the house rather than outside.
 

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Bring the 2/0 into the meter, then leave the meter to your disconnect or panel with 4/0 Al. Install your 200 A main. You only have to comply with wire sizing rules on the load side of the meter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Bring the 2/0 into the meter, then leave the meter to your disconnect or panel with 4/0 Al. Install your 200 A main. You only have to comply with wire sizing rules on the load side of the meter.
Really? Is this documented somewhere like a code reference? The power company says I am responsible for ungrading the wiring in the ground to the meter for the upgraded service. I have no problem buying and putting in the 4/0 from the meter to the new panel, that's less than 5 feet.

My concern would be when I have the final electrical inspection that they will red-flag it becuase the line side of the meter wiring isn't capable of 200 amps. I would love to do it this way and not install a disconnect/OCPD between the panel and the meter.
 

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Really? Is this documented somewhere like a code reference? The power company says I am responsible for ungrading the wiring in the ground to the meter for the upgraded service. I have no problem buying and putting in the 4/0 from the meter to the new panel, that's less than 5 feet.

My concern would be when I have the final electrical inspection that they will red-flag it becuase the line side of the meter wiring isn't capable of 200 amps. I would love to do it this way and not install a disconnect/OCPD between the panel and the meter.
The inspector isn't looking at the line side of the meter. The assumption is that the POCO knows what they're doing and that they will size their wire appropriately. What I'm saying is, there is no NEC code regarding what the POCO has to run. For instance, I have a 200 A service at my house fed from #4 triplex overhead. I replaced a burned out 150 A service a couple weeks back. It was fed with 2/0, 2/0, 1/0 underground, and I told the POCO I would be replacing the service with a 200 A. They said no problem, the 2/0 was fine as far as they are concerned.

You likely will never approach 200 A, and even if you do, the size of the conductors is overrated anyway. There is a large margin factored into the ampacity tables of the NEC. Unless you are adding a significant amount of new load, or are experiencing large voltage drop, I see no reason to upgrade the conductors to the transformer.
 

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Uh.... while technically correct (in that you are responsible for your wiring from the meter into your house), I wouldn't load up service with a substandad line from the transformer to your meter. The POCO WILL cut your power if they find out. I don't know about your area, but the inspectors here cross check the amperage of the service with the utility service. They won't permit a mismatch except to allow you to install service smaller than the utility can provide. (You can install a 150A service on a 200A line, in other words, but not the other way around).
 

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Uh.... while technically correct (in that you are responsible for your wiring from the meter into your house), I wouldn't load up service with a substandad line from the transformer to your meter. The POCO WILL cut your power if they find out. I don't know about your area, but the inspectors here cross check the amperage of the service with the utility service. They won't permit a mismatch except to allow you to install service smaller than the utility can provide. (You can install a 150A service on a 200A line, in other words, but not the other way around).
The utility undersizes their wire all the time :laughing:
They replace the wire or the transformer when they go
I know people with large Christma displays (200-400a) & the POCO said no problem.
So far a couple transformers have gone....no wires....ever
 

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They try to keep their wire at all times here, There was a tree that crashed through some lines, the fix was over 5 butt splices all over the phases.
 

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According to SouthWire's ampacity charts, direct-buried underground 2/0 aluminum wire is good for 245 Amps, and their 4/0 is good for 315 Amps.

The poco won't have to change out anything for a simple 200 Amp upgrade in most cases.

Since the utility is not subject to the provisions of the NEC, the limitations placed on utility owned conductors ampacity from table 310.16 do not apply. :whistling2:
 

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Since the utility is not subject to the provisions of the NEC, the limitations placed on utility owned conductors ampacity from table 310.16 do not apply. :whistling2:
Absolutely correct. The POCO is exempt from the NEC, which is why I didn't mention the ampacity chart. It is irrelevant as far as the POCO is concerned. I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the OP was told by the POCO that his service was undersized from the transformer. The required service line is whatever the POCO says it is. The OP should check with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well when I called to setup the service in my name for the new house, I asked about upgrading to a 200 amp panel. They got back to me this morning saying that without sending out a crew to pull the meter and check the wire that it is probably 2/0 which she told me was only rated for 150 amp service. Per both the electrical inspector and the POCO, the customer is responsible for the wire from the transformer to the meter and into the service panel with Dakota Electric. If I was with Xcel Energy, they do it for you.

My concern would be that the installation would be flagged by the inspector and being without power until its fixed properly. I would agree that the underground wire would be adequate, especially since I won't be using 200 amps all the time.

I did one year put up 37,000 lights on my parents house, nearly 120 amps worth of holiday lighting very carefully balanced out on a 100 amp service and a dual pole 60 amp breaker. I did manage to pop the main (100amp) breaker a few times during the balancing load process. The winter time would be the only time of the year that the panel/underground wiring would see an increased load.

One year I noticed that the lights would actually trip the sub panel breaker when the weather got too warm, it actually needed to be cold in order to keep the wires and breaker cool enough to keep from tripping. Turning the lights on in the day to test them was not an option without turning some of the breakers to the lights off first.

150 amp service would be an upgrade to what I had to deal with at my parents place, but I would rather just go to the full 200 amp to have the flexibility. The only thing that will be electric is the dryer for the time being until I get a gas dryer installed. Everything else is gas (furnace, water heater, stove).
 

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I don't want to suggest that you do anything sneaky or underhanded, but in reality it isn't that big of a deal. Just call the POCO and tell them you are swapping the service out. Tell them it is an old service and you are modernizing it. Not adding any more load or new equipment. Make the application to the permit office. If they ask what size service on the permit, tell them the truth, 200 A.

I think what has happened is that you have opened a can of worms by even mentioning upgrading the wire size. If you hadn't said anything, the POCO wouldn't have said anything. I have swapped out I don't know how many services, or installed them new, where the utility feeder is 2/0, or smaller if overhead.

Get your permit. Call the POCO for disconnect. Build your service. Get the inspection. Call for reconnect. Of course, have it in the budget to get the wire, just in case the POCO does demand that it be upgraded. But as it stands now, there really is no reason to waste the money, unless they make you do it. You stay quiet, and likely it will go smoothly.
 

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I think what has happened is that you have opened a can of worms by even mentioning upgrading the wire size. If you hadn't said anything, the POCO wouldn't have said anything. I have swapped out I don't know how many services, or installed them new, where the utility feeder is 2/0, or smaller if overhead.

Get your permit. Call the POCO for disconnect. Build your service. Get the inspection. Call for reconnect. Of course, have it in the budget to get the wire, just in case the POCO does demand that it be upgraded. But as it stands now, there really is no reason to waste the money, unless they make you do it. You stay quiet, and likely it will go smoothly.
Inphase is wise in the ways of bureaucracy. In my office this scenario (described above) happens a lot. Just proceed forward, be truthful when asked questions. Let them bring up wire size. If they bring it up, politely ask them about the NEC ampacity chart.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Haha, sounds good. I think as far as replacing the wire, I'd rather just install a 150 amp disconnect/OCPD, that would be a lot cheaper than the wire would be.

I have already filed the electrical permit or "Request for Electrical Inspection" as they call the form to do a rough-in on the bathroom and bedroom wiring downstairs, and then a final once I replace the panel and hook it all up. I am also supposed to submit this permit to the power company before I proceed with the service change, so hopefully they don't put 2 and 2 together there.

I am hoping to have the rough-in inspection done next week so that the sheet-rock can start going up in the basement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I found a 150 amp main breaker that I could use in one of the 200 amp square D panels I have, though I'd want to get the 40 space panel verses the 30 space I have now. It looks like I can just un-bolt the 200 amp breaker and bolt in the 150 amp. Then when I do upgrade the wire and the service I can put the 200 amp breaker back in.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Square-D-150-Am...s=66:2|65:15|39:1|240:1318|301:1|293:1|294:50

Yeah I know its an ebay link, trying to not spend a ton of money on this panel upgrade. This seems like a better idea than installing a separate 150 amp disconnect, or waiting until I can upgrade the wire in the ground to the transformer.
 

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I just cannot see how a service lateral is the HO's responsibility. What if you had a pole mounted XFMR. Are you supposed to run that lateral? You cannot access their XFMR. On the ground or 30 feet in the air.
Or, do they do the work, then charge you for the materials and labor? I know every jurisdiction is different, but this is a bunch of you know what!

Are they saying you must do it, or are they saying you must pay for it? Because you CANNOT do it. Period.
 

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I just cannot see how a service lateral is the HO's responsibility.
It sounds as if they make you responsible for it, not that you are actively expected to repair it!

In my area of PA, we are responsible to keep our sidewalks free of breaks and root damage for someone tripping although it is the rule that the county owns the pavement! Same goes for the water line from the neighborhood trunk line to your house before the meter- The homeowner is responsible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The way I understand it, with Dakota Electric it is my responsibility as the customer/homeowner to upgrade the meter can, and underground service lateral up to the transformer. Whether that be done by me or by an electrician its my responsibility. They would have to take care of disconnecting the old lines and connecting the new lines once its inspected. If I was with Xcel Energy, they take care of everything up to the meter can.

We measured the distance to the transformer and its about 120' and I found Menards sells the 4/0 4/0 2/0 alluminum for $2.47/ft which is not that bad, and at 120' thats about $296.40 though i'd certaintly get a few extra feet just to be sure I have enough, nothing like being a few feet short on a run that long.

I told the inspector that I talked to the power company about doing a "panel replacement" and they said "go ahead" and he said that "they will shut you down if the service doesn't match the service latteral." I tried to convince him that the poco said ok (even though they didn't, haha) but he basically said the panel has to match the ungerground latteral, though I could go smaller (but why???).

I think at this point, I am going to buy the 150 amp main breaker for this QO load center I have (I found a new in box never used breaker on eBay), and then when I go to do the 200 amp upgrade later, I will already have a 200 amp breaker to put back in the panel and only have to change the service latteral up to the panel. I certaintly don't want to buy any breakers for this FPE panel.
 

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Well do you really need 200 amps?

People are using more computers and electronics, but at the same time, CFL lights and more efficient appliances are reducing other areas of energy usage.... so really you may not need a lot more capacity in the future.
 
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