Not all home electrical service entrance requirements are the same. In the past I've simply had electrical meters professionally installed directly to my houses. However, out here on the island, my meter sits over 150 feet away from my house, on a post, inside a meter box, with its own breakers and an emergency shut off, whew... .
Truth be told, I wanted to have my service connection installed by a licensed electrician but when I got bids ranging from $1000-10,000 I thought the universe, and definitely my local economy, was telling me to visit the local library. With a couple of books, the internet, and some carefully queried advice from a local electrician from whom I bought some of my equipment, I was able to complete my service connection all by myself. It was my first one, had its physical trials and code-infused confusion, but I must have done a good job because I not only passed my initial inspection but had the local power company come out to photograph the work to share as an example for others.
As I mentioned, the work wasn't easy; there were plenty of irritating moments, muddy wet socks, sweat, mistakes, and a few choice words. But it wasn't so bad I'd never do it again (if my wife agrees, she did half the wire pulling!). Now that all's said and done I think the money saved was well worth the short bit of effort and time invested.
So what was needed?
- A permit from Labor & Industries.
- A backhoe, on site from my foundation work, and a shovel to dig the 18" deep trench.
- 2-1/2" schedule 40 grey PVC conduit, couplings, elbows, lock nuts, bushings, and PVC cement, installed underground between my service panel and interior breaker panel.
- 4/0-4/0-4/0 aluminum service entry (SE) wire fed thru the conduit connecting the two panels.
- 2/0 encased ground wire also fed thru the conduit grounding both panels together, to the ground rods (see below), and the UFER ground inside the house.
- 5/8" galvanized ground rods (2) driven into the ground and attached to my outdoor service panel with unsheathed copper grounding wire and acorn ground rod nuts.
- 200 AMP service panel with shut off.
- Anything else I forgot to mention!
Stay with me. Next time I'll walk you through how I did it and how to make it a little easier for yourself than I did for myself and my wife. In the meantime, why not get reading!
Your library is your electrician
I utilized a couple of electrical books from the library, mostly Wiring a House by Rex Cauldwell, which was decent for this aspect of electrical work, and a surprisingly well illustrated edition of The Complete Guide to Home Wiring by Black & Decker. The best resource was straight from my local power co-op, OPALCO. Their Meter & Meterbase Specification Pamphlet was superb and I highly recommend anyone considering a similar undertaking inquire about any available literature from their local power company.
The internet was mediocre at best as most of my searches yielded board conversations. But it offered some modest value.
Disclaimer: Although all of the electrical work performed was inspected by Labor & Industries for safety, I'm not a licensed electrician. Anyone considering doing any DIY electrical work should be well read on the subject and obtain the required permits and inspections.