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  • Turning power off at meter

    Hello everyone,

    I own a mobile home in a very rural part of wisconsin. In this township that Im in they dont even require electrical inspections unless it's related to wiring in your primary house.

    So, because this is a mobile home the meter is mounted on a 4x4 post near the mobile home and not on the home itself. Becuase of this there is a cutoff panel on another 4x4 post right next to the meter. It is my understanding according to my research that this cutoff panel is considered the main panel and that all other panels downstream of this one would then have to be wired as subpanels(my mobile home and garage)? Currently they are not wired as subpanels there are only three wires hot,hot,neutral/ground going from the main breaker in the cutoff panel outside on the 4x4post to the mobile home and garage. This wireing was done back in 1986 and I only recently took ownership of the property last year.

    So, my questions are, do I need to wire the panels in the house and the garage as subpanels since the cutoff panel next to the meter outside would be considered the main panel. And second, if I do I want to change out the cutoff panel to a main lug panel that has room for more breakers so that I can have the mobile home on its own breaker and the garage on its own breaker. Currently the wires from the mobile home and garage terminate on the same 100amp breaker in the cutoff panel.

    Lastly, to change out the cutoff panel I would need the power turned off at the meter. I take it that I would need to contact the power company to get power shut off at the meter. Is this correct? Also, is this a big hassle or a pretty easy process?

    Thanks for any advice.


    Mike
    Wisconsin

  • #2
    Re: Turning power off at meter

    Mike

    Please if you can try to post some pictures so people understand just what you currently have. I'm assuming right after the meter that you have a steel rain resistant box with a 100 Amp 2 pole breaker inside. Is that correct? If you wanted to have the mobile home and the garage on their own main breakers, you'll still need to have a main breaker near the meter or change to where some manor of stationary building has the main breaker within. All breaker panels fed from that point would be sub panels and need to have neutral and ground kept seporated. In some cases the electric company grounds neutral out at the pole but never count on it. You need to have a grounding rod in the ground near where your MAIN breaker is and connect a heavy copper wire from it to the grounding bar in your cut off device or the Main panel. From there treat all other panels as subs and feed them from the main panel. You want lug feed only for the subs and not the main panel which needs a main breaker. While some may say it's not to code, you can feed a main breaker small panel as a sub and thus have an easy way to shut off power in your garage or mobile home.

    I really think you would do well to have a licensed electrician come by and take a good look at everything. He/she can recommend what's needed and what needs to be done by the local electric company. In your case more than likely there's a disconnect on the transformer that they can open for you. The other choice is to be sure all of your breakers are off and then pull the meter out of the socket. Be sure you have on safety glasses just in case something goes wrong and there's an arc. Electricians are used to pulling meters, but normally a DIYer is best not doing such.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Turning power off at meter

      Thanks for your response. I wont be able to post pictures for about a week as this place is only a weekend house but everything you said is right on.

      Just to make sure I understand, I cant use a main lug panel as a cutoff panel because there needs to be a single main breaker that would shutoff both the mobile home and the garage at the same time near the meter?

      I am going to have a local licenced electrician more familiar with this particular area come look and give me an idea of what needs to be done, but Im trying to get a better idea of exactly what I want to have done before I start the ball rolling.

      Also, I dont think I can pull the meter myself. There is a tag/ring on the meter panel that if broken I believe the power company considers it tampering with their equipment, but Im not sure about that.

      Thanks,

      Mike

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Turning power off at meter

        Mike

        Somewhere after the meter you need either a main breaker load center (load center = breaker panel) or an enclosed, fused safety switch. This is so you can shut off all power and also for protection from overload. If you went with the fused safety switch then you can use lug fed breaker panels. I'm thinking of cost issues and trying to keep this simple. Is the garage staying put? If yes, that might be the place for your Main breaker load center to be located. From there the mobile home would be fed from a 2 pole breaker from the garage and a sub panel installed in the mobile home. I bet there's one in it now. You have several ways this can be done and normally you really would do well to get the meter socket mounted on an outside wall of a building that's staying put. Then run a cable inside to the main load center <aka> breaker panel. In it would be a breaker to feed a cable running to your mobile home and also it would have breakers for circuits in the garage. If you ever build a house, you can either change things around or feed the house from the garage. I would recommend having a main breaker in the house load center, but to run seporate ground and neutral. This is something the electrician can better discuss with you. Think of your plans for now, one year, 5 years and longer. I would recommend that you might want to upgrade to 200 Amp service from your transformer in. Later on you'll be glad to have it and especially if you need electric heat, water heater, clothes dryer, stove and such. Try to think of what you'll want things to be like several years from now and plan for it. It's a pain to have to change things in a few years. Good luck and please keep us updated.

        I think what you have is called (in my area anyway) Temporary Service like when building a house or building and they want electric power with intent to update it once the building is finished. Is there a special receptacle on the 4 x 4 post that you use with a super extension cord for the mobile home? Is the mobile home on wheels or on a base now?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Turning power off at meter

          "Also, I dont think I can pull the meter myself. There is a tag/ring on the meter panel that if broken I believe the power company considers it tampering with their equipment, but Im not sure about that."

          That is the case in my neck of the woods and probably holds true in your state too. Your Electrician will know the answer for sure. He may be able to pull if he gives prior notice to the utility, but I doubt it. The whole purpose of the seal is to detect tampering.
          "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006

          https://www.youtube.com/user/PowerToolInstitute

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Turning power off at meter

            In my area a licensed electrician may pull an electric meter but he/she needs to give notice to the electric company. Normally they (electric company) don't bother to reseal the meter sockets. I think this is bad news. They are sealed to prevent tampering. If a meter is removed from it's socket be sure to place cardboard over the socket and tape it in place. You don't want fingers, birds or such getting into it.

            If it can be done it's safer to have the electric company pull the disconnect on the transformer. Normally there is a high voltage fuse included with this to protect the primary winding in the transformer. In most rural settings you have your own transformer so this will not interupt other customers power.

            Your electrician should know about this and be able to work with it. Your being there to help should save you some money.
            Last edited by Woussko; 05-21-2007, 08:29 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Turning power off at meter

              -
              *
              Robert Wilber
              Licensed Philadelphia Electrician
              Philadelphia License # 3516 - 16765
              *
              LIFE SAFETY WARNING! [disclaimer]
              Electricity is dangerous!
              You can be injured or killed!
              Improper installations can cause fire, injury and death!
              Are you qualified to do this work?
              *
              National Electrical Code definition, NFPA 70 2005 Article 100 I: Qualified Person. "One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training on the hazards involved."
              *
              You are more likely to be killed by 120 volts than any other voltage [120 volts creates the PERFECT fatal current through the human body's electrical resistance!]
              TURN THE POWER OFF WHEN WORKING!
              *
              So much for covering my back ...

              I agree that it is critical to see photos of the existing install
              After the existing disconnect, does it go aerial or underground?
              doesn't matter much though ...
              If these are physically separate buildings, there is no need to bring the ground along and isolate the neutral. Simply derive a separate ground at each building and set each panel up as if it were the service entrance location.
              I would be inclined to install a main in each building, for nearby local control of power in each building.
              Check with your utility. With the metering at a remote exterior location, there may be no requirement to have a disconnect where the meter is, only at the point of entry into each building.
              If you need the disconnect at the meter, you are probably required to run a separate ground, though.
              This sounds like one for the AHJ. Shame you don't need inspections there [I take it that there is therefore nobody to perform inspections].
              Sounds like an interesting challenge.
              Last edited by RobertWilber; 05-21-2007, 09:28 PM.
              Licensed Philadelphia electrician
              Philadelphia emergency lighting certification

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Turning power off at meter

                Hi guys thanks for your advice.

                Im going to contact a local electrician to find out about turning the power off and believe they are allowed to with prior notice in my area.

                Regarding the wiring to the mobile home. It's definitly not temp service. From the cutoff panel next to the meter there is what I will call thicker then 2 guage aluminum wire run to the panel inside the mobile home via 2" rigid conduit. And from the meter to the cutoff panel about 3'-4' away the cable is even thicker probably 2/0 guage or more. I think the cabling is already in place for 200amp service but only 100amp is being used cause thats what the panel in the mobile is rated for. And the cabling for the garage was put in about 10 years after. For my new garage I just want 50amp service so probably 6guage copper.

                The reason why the meter is on the 4x4 post next to the mobile is because even though to most people this type of home is permenant the codes and HUD rules require the meter to be located off the house cause the mobile home can be moved away, generally unlike a regular house. Because of this the cutoff panel is required next to the meter. Ive seen what you meant with thick extension like cords in RV parks and this is definitly not that.

                I guess what Im really trying to understand is why the panels after the cutoff breaker next to the meter were not run as subpanels. This is something Im going to get an opinion on from a local electrician. Im hoping to use the electrician as a consultant. I work in the telecom industry and I run fiber optics all over the dam place. I know how to do the work, running wire and terminations of all different kinds I just want someone with more experience with high voltage looking over my work as I go.

                Lastly, the beauty of what I want to do now is that someday when I do build a permanent house probably in 10-12 years I wont have to replace all this cabling. The current spot I want to build I will just have to cut the current wire and conduits back about 20' to where the new house will be not having to run anything new. Atleast that is the plan

                Thanks again,

                Mike

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Turning power off at meter

                  I can go take pictures up there in about a week. Ill post them when I can.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Turning power off at meter

                    Robert,

                    By not having the ground and neutrals after the cutoff panel seperated is this a real safety hazard that needs to be corrected right away? The house has probably been wired that way for 20 years and the old garage was for 10 years. What can happen when they are not seperated?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Turning power off at meter

                      down load this power point presentation and I think it answer your questions,

                      Bob Ludecke created this Microsoft PowerPoint presentation on grounding and bonding,
                      http://tirebiter.net/downloads/ludecke.html

                      addition visual aids in grounding and bonding.

                      http://www.mikeholt.com/graphics/touch.gif
                      http://www.mikeholt.com/graphics/touch2.gif
                      http://www.mikeholt.com/onlinetraini...16665767_2.gif
                      http://www.mikeholt.com/onlinetraini...16666050_2.gif

                      one more power point, high voltage shock
                      http://fineelectricco.com/HiVoltageShock.pps
                      Last edited by BHD; 05-22-2007, 12:48 AM.
                      Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                      "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                      attributed to Samuel Johnson
                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                      PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Turning power off at meter

                        Thanks for posting those links. They were very informative.

                        One question I do have. I have read elsewhere that if you do not have any metal inconnecting between seperate buildings such as water pipes etc. that you do not have to install a seperate ground wire between buildings. Meaning that you would only have the 2 hot wires and the grounded neutral ran between buildings configured like a main panel along with a ground rod. Is this correct?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Turning power off at meter

                          You pretty much always need a ground wire. If say you have a detached garage and a house. Line comes from the street hits the house then the garage. For the main panel you have to provide appropriate grounding(such as two grounding rods etc.) from the main panel you would run two hots a neutral and a ground to the garage sub panel.

                          If you have something against the ease of just running a ground you could not do the garage as a sub panel and do it as a main panel and provide appropriate grounding there too.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Turning power off at meter

                            The way you describe it I understand, but is not how my system is. There is a cutoff panel next to the meter which are both on 4x4 posts not attached to either the mobile home or the garage. From the cutoff (main) panel outside there are no other metal pathways between each structure (water pipes etc). Being as such you shouldnt have to install the 4th wire that being the seperate ground because there are no other pathways that could have a lower impedence back to the transformer if I understand this correctly.

                            All this wire is ran already and was done so about 20 years ago. Ive just been on a quest to understand why only 3 wires were run to the mobile home and the garage from the cutoff panel next to the meter.

                            Since I am in the process of rebuilding a new garage in the same spot as the old one if I needed to replace or do something the right way this would be a good time to do it.

                            Im still gonna have a local electrician look this over to make sure everything is ok.

                            Please correct me though if you think Im not understanding this right.

                            Mike

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Turning power off at meter

                              NEC 250.32 (B)(2)
                              which basically allows for no ground wire being ran if there is not any Parallel grounding return paths,

                              but there is a section on mobile homes and manufactured housing,
                              NEC 550 is the section

                              I am not sure as there is a lot of sub sections, about this
                              But the way I am reading it, a lot depends on if it set on a foundation or it has the wheels under it and is set in so it can be moved again, on how it is to be wired, and if it is not set on a permanent foundation the way I am reading it, I thinking it will need the 4 wire system two hots neutral and ground ran to the house, from the box on the pedestal and the house has to be with in 30 feet of the disconnect.

                              I know we ran into this on my sons double wide and had to run a the ground wire from the disconnect to the trailer, but as far as changing the internal boxes with the grounds and the neutrals the inspector never said a word on them, in the old section of the trailer, (this was about 5 years ago), and we had rebuilt the one section of the double wide, gutted it and rewired it, it was up to the current code of the time, the other section was left as it was built.
                              but again I am just reading the book, not a electrician,
                              Last edited by BHD; 05-23-2007, 12:19 AM.
                              Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                              "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                              attributed to Samuel Johnson
                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                              PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                              Comment

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