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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We spoke with an electrician yesterday about running cable from the meter that's on a pole (200A) into the house and to the service panel. He said that the code requires to use 4/0 URD cable - 4 wire. The way he explained it to me was that this wire goes all the way to the panel box.
I don't know much about electrical, but I couldn't find anything directly mentioning URD in the NEC code. If I understood right, URD is made up of USE cables twisted together. I was under the impression that USE cable was not to be used to enter the house? I'm confused. Any help will be appreciated.
 

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Where is the panel? I would see the URD being installed underground, up a PVC sleeve outside the building, and then into a LB , a nipple, then the panel.
 

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URD cannot be used within the structure. You could set disconnect gear outside and bring your URD up to it in conduit, but anything that enters the structure from the gear will need to be sheathed service entrance cable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Bob - The service/breaker panel is in the basement. We're out on an acreage so our meter is on the yard light pole. We need to run Bout 100' underground cable to the house, run the line up to the rim joist and then it is about 15 ft to the panel itself.

Thekctermite - that is what I thought when I read the code about the USE cables. The law here in Iowa just changed to a new licensing program, and enforcing NEC state wide, and the electrician said that using this URD was a new requirement. So it should be URD from pole to ext of house, then connect to a sheathed se wire for the interior part of it? I'll ask the electrician again about the cable. Maybe I misunderstood, but I'm pretty sure he said he would run the cable to the panel but that it would need to be in conduit inside the house. He said that's what the state inspector told him at the last meeting.
 

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..., but anything that enters the structure from the gear will need to be sheathed service entrance cable.
Cable is not required. It can be conduit. But I am sure this is what you meant.


I have never, ever, EVER heard of an installation failing because URD was brought into the main panel inside a house. We do this ALL the time and so do most electricians. If an inspector wants fail it because of that he is a nit picker or has it in for the contractor.


Boontucky, is there a disconnect on the pole? If not then you DO NOT need four wires. You only need or want three. There is simply not need for, or any place to terminate a fourth conductor.
 

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The law here in Iowa just changed to a new licensing program, and enforcing NEC state wide, and the electrician said that using this URD was a new requirement. So it should be URD from pole to ext of house, then connect to a sheathed se wire for the interior part of it? I'll ask the electrician again about the cable. Maybe I misunderstood, but I'm pretty sure he said he would run the cable to the panel but that it would need to be in conduit inside the house. He said that's what the state inspector told him at the last meeting.
I am also curious as to your motives here. If an electrician is doing this installation what is your reason for questioning it?
It seems as if he is trying to do the right thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks Speedy Petey - It's more of a thing that I'm confused and need clarification for my own peace of mind, since what I read in NEC led me to believe that USE cables were not to enter the house.
My reasoning for questioning is that up until a few weeks ago, we had planned on tackling the wiring ourselves, so I've been reading up on the NEC quite a bit. On march 1, Iowa began to enforce the new law in that I can't do squat in my new house, hence now i'm talking to a licensed electrician. The program is so new that the electrician wasn't sure about a bunch of questions because the inspector said some things that were totally different than what has been common practice (and common sense) in the area. I'v heard from others about how anal one area inspector is about things being to code, so I'd like to avoid misunderstandings.

Yes, there is a disconnect on the meter box at the pole.
 

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The fact that the inspector might note the code violation just means that he's correctly doing his job of enforcing the NEC, not being "nitpicky" as Petey stated. Calling an inspector nitpicky is a weak argument and is a poor defense for work that doesn't meet the minimum standard set forth by code. If it is in the book then I don't want to hear about whether or not the inspector is being nitpicky.

As for the OP questioning his electrician's methods, good for him. He's advocating for himself and the truth is that many many many contractors do sub-par work and definitely don't advocate for their customers. I commend him for protecting his interests and ensuring that he's getting a code-compliant job. :clap: No reasonable contractor would have any trouble sitting down with their customer and a code book and demonstrating that the work meets code.
 

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I don't see bringing a URD cable into the back of an interior panel mounted on an outside wall as a violation. A URD cable can't be banjoed across the rafters for 100' into a panel, that's true. But really, if you consider the wiring space of a panel as being interior to the structure, then you have to consider the wiring space of an exterior panel as being an exterior space. In other words, it would be illegal to run romex into an exterior mounted panel. We know this is bunk.

If, let's say, someone came out of the ground with URD, sleeved it in PVC and used an LB to nipple into the back of an interior panel, then connected the URD to the panel lugs, I wouldn't consider that a violation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
InPhase277 - my question comes from the fact that my panel is not on an exterior wall. The meter panels is on a pole 100ft away, and the service panel in the house is in the mechanical room which is not adjacent to an exterior wall so the cable once it's in the house will travel about 15 ft. from the exterior walls before it gets to the panel. My main concern is that NEC 08 section 338.12 (B) says the following:

(B) Underground Service-Entrance Cable. Underground
Service-Entrance Cable (USE) shall not be used under the
following conditions or in the following locations:
(1) For interior wiring
(2) For above ground installations except where USE cable
emerges from the ground and is terminated in an enclosure
at an outdoor location
and the cable is protected in
accordance with 300.5(D)

To me that means it does not enter the dwelling at all.

Thekctermite - that is exactly why I ask questions and spend hours trying to at least understand what code is, because when I was going to do it myself, I wanted to do it to code. Now that I'm paying someone to do it, by golly they better know what they are doing. Like you said, unfortunately, there have been way too many times with other types of projects where I knew more about a subject than the person I'm trying to hire to do it.

And if a contractor gets testy because I question his methods and pick his brain for his knowledge, I find someone else who does not mind my 1000 questions.

Thanks for the replies.
 

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I would recommend an extra disconnect on the exterior. Run the URD into a PVC sleeve with a slip sleeve. (this allows for ground movement). Then use service cable for the interior. 15' is stretching it a bit for an inside disconnect. This makes a safer job from a fire safety point.
 

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The fact that the inspector might note the code violation just means that he's correctly doing his job of enforcing the NEC, not being "nitpicky" as Petey stated. Calling an inspector nitpicky is a weak argument and is a poor defense for work that doesn't meet the minimum standard set forth by code. If it is in the book then I don't want to hear about whether or not the inspector is being nitpicky.
You can drop the holier than thou crap.
It is not "weak" or a defense. I know my work is compliant, and so does the inspector.
If you think bringing 4-5 feet of URD inside conduit into a main panels is serious violation then fail the job. I'd fight you on it until the end of time.

Inphase know what I am trying to say.

No reasonable contractor would have any trouble sitting down with their customer and a code book and demonstrating that the work meets code.
I have NO problem with this...to a point.
If someone does not trust me to do the right thing after being reassured that I do they can find someone else to work for them.
 

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You can drop the holier than thou crap.
If you disagree with an inspector's interpretation of the code (which I might add is literal in this case) you call it nitpicky. If I disagree with your interpretation you call it holier than though. Exactly where do you stand, or is this just hypocricy?

It isn't a serious violation. But it is a violation nonetheless. You could fight the inspector for correctly calling it, but on what code-based argument would you substantiate the fight? The OP's talking about pulling it well into the building, as he made clear...Not popping it through the wall right into the panel.
 

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InPhase277 - my question comes from the fact that my panel is not on an exterior wall. The meter panels is on a pole 100ft away....
You said meter panel here. Does the meter box contain some sort of disconnecting means or circuit breaker?
 

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I'll very likely be blasted to bits for this, but I'm passionate enough about electrical safety to take the risk.

Which of the following installations presents the least possible hazard;

A) URD from a breaker on a pole run underground to a 3R J-box fastened to the outside of a building. Then, SE cable spliced in said J-box and ran through an interior wall to a panel.

B) URD from a breaker on a pole run underground to a 3R J-box fastened to the outside of a building, then THWN spliced in said J-box, run underground, and stubbed up in conduit inside of an interior wall to a panel.

C) URD from a breaker on a pole run underground and stubbed up in conduit inside of an interior wall to a panel.

Which of the above is code-compliant? (Hint; it isn't C!)

It seems to me as though the code-compliant methods result in a slightly more hazardous installation. Is it possible that blind compliance with written rules and regulations isn't always the best possible way?!??

This is just one example of where rigid enforcement of the code results in increased hazard, there are others as well.

Rob
 

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It seems to me as though the code-compliant methods result in a slightly more hazardous installation. Is it possible that blind compliance with written rules and regulations isn't always the best possible way?!??

This is just one example of where rigid enforcement of the code results in increased hazard, there are others as well.

Rob
I agree with you. Rigid enforcement without regard to intent is the worst possible way to go about any sort of public safety. It applies to police as well as code inspectors. I don't have a code book in front of me, and it has been awhile, but I have read the section on USE cable. Seems to me that the intent was to prevent the cable from being used for general branch circuit wiring purposes, such as from a panel to an A/C unit. I see no real harm in running URD cable in conduit inside a building to a panel for service.

So, can you run URD inside a building for a branch circuit? No. But what is the harm with it being in conduit from overhead or underground directly to a service panel?
 

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Rigid enforcement without regard to intent is the worst possible way to go about any sort of public safety.
Whereas I agree 100% that there is pretty much no hazard in doing what you describe, I have to disagree with the above statement.

People are litigious these days. So are insurance companies. So are attorneys. The sad fact is that the inspector has the responsibility of protecting the enforcement jurisdiction from having their bare butt exposed in litigation. I've been deposed before and I assure you that it isn't fun. Judges and attorneys have no interest in the intent of the code or an inspector's thoughts on the intent...They're only interested in what the code says. Even though the ICC and NFPA publish handbooks that describe the intent, they're not binding documents (contractors are often quick to point that out when it works in their favor). Aside from the enforcement jurisdiction's potential liability, the inspector can be held personally liable if the plaintiff can prove negligence.

I'll be the first to admit that I give quite a bit of leniency where I see fit. Rigid enforcement is often impractical and unrealistic. I don't see this as one of those circumstances because there's just no realistic reason that someone would need to use USE cable for the described application. When there's a better alternative there's no reason to violate code and come up with reasons that it should be ok. When there is no practical way to do it 100% code-compliant...That's where rigid enforcement needs to relax.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ok, so I finally got an answer to my question from the State Inspector:

URD is a utility cable and not recognized in the National Electrical Code (NEC). It cannot be installed inside a building in any case.
The service or feeder disconnect required at each building must be installed in a readily accessible location either outside the building or structure or inside nearest the point of entrance of the conductors. If the service panel is located on an interior wall of the house, it will usually require that a disconnect be located on the outside of the structure. After the disconnect, the wiring method to the interior service panel can be a jacketed SER-type cable or conduit with individual wires.

I wanted to get your opinions on what this actually means. If I understand it correctly, I will have a disconnect at the pole (there is a 200A breaker in that panel), another one at the wall to terminate the URD cable, then switch to SER or individual wires in conduit to the panel.

Thanks
 

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If you have a 200 amp breaker at the pole, you would not need to add a disconnect, but you need to put one on the building, then go with the ser into the panel.
 
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