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Metering technician for utility company
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Discussion Starter #1
Please excuse my ignorance. I'm a bit new at this. I have only done one panel upgrade and the house had like 3 circuits in it. It was pretty easy. If I'm upgrading a panel with multiple circuits (100 to 200 amp) what's the process? Is it as simple as having utility disconnect in morning, install new panel, connect existing ckts to new panel. Or take ckts back and splice in a junction box? I guess each circumstance is different. Also, where does the inspection take place if you are disconnecting reconnecting the same day?
 

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As you stated it all depends.
I've replaced panels where all the wires were long enough to reterminate.
I've replaced panels where most of the wires were long enough, but some made into the panel box, but just a bit short.
Spliced in panel so wires would reach.
Then I've done panels where I had to install a junction box in the attic and install new home runs to there.

Depending on the authority having jurisdiction or the utility company other things come into play.
I've done panels where the power company pulled the meter, I installed the new panel,
called them to say I'm done, the power company looked it over, plugged meter back in.
Typically this was done out in the county, no permit required, but an inspection had to be done by the authority having jurisdiction, in this case the utility company.

I've done panels where the entire service had to be upgraded and brought up to current codes.
Old style gooseneck service mounted on eve, installed a through the roof service mast.
Service damaged during hurricane Ike.
Typically inside the city limit, permit required, city inspection prior to utility powering the service back up.
If a residence, people are living in, the utility will power up a service " temporarily" pending inspection.

That last one was on my parent's house, the one I grew up in.
The only thing I missed was a bond wire to the cable TV block.
Inspector passed the service, but I had to promise to install the bond.
Not bad considering it had been 10 years or more since I did the actual work.
 

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Metering technician for utility company
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Discussion Starter #5
As you stated it all depends.
I've replaced panels where all the wires were long enough to reterminate.
I've replaced panels where most of the wires were long enough, but some made into the panel box, but just a bit short.
Spliced in panel so wires would reach.
Then I've done panels where I had to install a junction box in the attic and install new home runs to there.

Depending on the authority having jurisdiction or the utility company other things come into play.
I've done panels where the power company pulled the meter, I installed the new panel,
called them to say I'm done, the power company looked it over, plugged meter back in.
Typically this was done out in the county, no permit required, but an inspection had to be done by the authority having jurisdiction, in this case the utility company.

I've done panels where the entire service had to be upgraded and brought up to current codes.
Old style gooseneck service mounted on eve, installed a through the roof service mast.
Service damaged during hurricane Ike.
Typically inside the city limit, permit required, city inspection prior to utility powering the service back up.
If a residence, people are living in, the utility will power up a service " temporarily" pending inspection.

That last one was on my parent's house, the one I grew up in.
The only thing I missed was a bond wire to the cable TV block.
Inspector passed the service, but I had to promise to install the bond.
Not bad considering it had been 10 years or more since I did the actual work.
Cool, thanks this is super helpful. Out here we have to pull permit and inspect them. Just wondering if they do the inspection after the work is complete or if one is needed before they reconnect the power. I'll have to make a couple phone calls to find out. If that's the case I would have to schedule all in one day. I know some people around here just do the connections at the weather head themselves, but no suppose to.
 

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Estwing magic
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If I’m disconnecting/reconnecting same day, the inspectors here aren’t looking for branch circuit connections, they’re looking at the service, the panel and the grounding. I will often get a call from the inspector sometime during the day to see how it’s going.

Here, definitely the utility needs an inspection before they reconnect. The inspector makes the call to the utility after inspection.

I arrive early and identify the branch circuits with white tape on the cable according to the panel directory while it’s still hot. Then I yank out the branch circuits. By that time the utility usually arrives to shut it down.

Like you say, every one is different. If I need to extend circuits I like to use screw cover splice boxes. Some guys use multiple 4 X 4 or 4 11/16 boxes but I don’t see the value in that.
 

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Metering technician for utility company
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Discussion Starter #8
If I’m disconnecting/reconnecting same day, the inspectors here aren’t looking for branch circuit connections, they’re looking at the service, the panel and the grounding. I will often get a call from the inspector sometime during the day to see how it’s going.

Here, definitely the utility needs an inspection before they reconnect. The inspector makes the call to the utility after inspection.

I arrive early and identify the branch circuits with white tape on the cable according to the panel directory while it’s still hot. Then I yank out the branch circuits. By that time the utility usually arrives to shut it down.

Like you say, every one is different. If I need to extend circuits I like to use screw cover splice boxes. Some guys use multiple 4 X 4 or 4 11/16 boxes but I don’t see the value in that.
Thanks! I'm sure it's similar process around here. Is it necessary for 2 ground rods for 200 amp? I've been looking at new services in my area and I sometimes only see 1 ground rod near where the water enters the house. I put 2 on the service I did, but just not sure it was necessary.
 

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Estwing magic
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Thanks! I'm sure it's similar process around here. Is it necessary for 2 ground rods for 200 amp? I've been looking at new services in my area and I sometimes only see 1 ground rod near where the water enters the house. I put 2 on the service I did, but just not sure it was necessary.
I’m Canadian so I can’t comment. The only time I pounded in ground rods for a house was when ground plates were back ordered.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks! I'm sure it's similar process around here. Is it necessary for 2 ground rods for 200 amp? I've been looking at new services in my area and I sometimes only see 1 ground rod near where the water enters the house. I put 2 on the service I did, but just not sure it was necessary.
I’m Canadian so I can’t comment. The only time I pounded in ground rods for a house was when ground plates were back ordered.
Understood. Thx.
 

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I have seen many posts about panel and service changes and here is what I know: every jurisdiction and POCO has different rules. My service area is a 30 mile circle around my house that includes three counties, 13 permitting jurisdictions, and three POCOs. Every one of them seems to have different rules. You must call each jurisdiction and POCO you will be dealing with and have an in-depth discussion on the procedure they want you to follow and what is allowed.

Ideally, you will be allowed to pull and re-install the meter yourself*. This allows you to work at your own pace. If you have a POCO do it, they sometimes don't show up until 10am to pull and some expect you to call them by 3pm to get a same day reconnect. A panel change is usually a 5-6 hour job assuming nothing goes wrong. Leaving a family in the dark overnight will get you bad reviews. Some POCOs don't allow you to pull the meter so you are stuck working on their schedule. You will hear some ECs say they cut the overhead drop rather than pull the meter.

Ideally, you can replace the panel and turn the power back on prior to the inspection. Ideally, you can schedule that inspection one or more days out so you don't have to worry about the inspector showing up before you complete enough work for him/her to look at. Some jurisdictions require inspection before the power can be turned back on.


*I suggest you wear lightweight arc flash gear when pulling a meter. Always turn off all loads before pulling or reinstalling a meter. Always check that you are installing the meter right side up.
 

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Estwing magic
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We can’t pull meters. It can get tricky. Inspector’s last call is around 4 pm. At that time of day the utility switches to night crew. I have had the reconnect done close to 8 pm.

One time I got disconnected, started taking things apart and realized I could not finish by inspection time. I had to put it back together and get it inspected before it could be reconnected. Then I had to go to Plan B and re-schedule.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
We can’t pull meters. It can get tricky. Inspector’s last call is around 4 pm. At that time of day the utility switches to night crew. I have had the reconnect done close to 8 pm.

One time I got disconnected, started taking things apart and realized I could not finish by inspection time. I had to put it back together and get it inspected before it could be reconnected. Then I had to go to Plan B and re-schedule.
Oh man, stressful. I just spoke to my buddy at the utility out here. They come and disconnect in morning and won't reconnect until inspector passes it.
 

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I don't like doing them because standing in one spot for 8 hours is hell on my knees and lower back. But they still keep on happening. Such is the electricians life.
 
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One of the biggest hassles now is in the past all the neutrals and grounds all landed on a bus bar together. Now with AFCIs they have to go to the breaker. Often they have to be spliced in some way.

Same process in commercial/industrial. With VFDs one of the most annoying problems is that in the past usually the incoming feed terminals were either midline or high up. Now they are almost universally at the bottom. No big deal for 10 HP. It’s a big deal at 200+ HP where you are often doing multiple 250-500 MCM feeders. Makes houses seem tame.
 

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One of the biggest hassles now is in the past all the neutrals and grounds all landed on a bus bar together. Now with AFCIs they have to go to the breaker. Often they have to be spliced in some way.
Connecting old circuits to AFCI's or GFCI's is a recipe for disaster. You are very likely to get a circuit that won't hold. The NEC allows the conductors inside the panel to be extended up to six feet without adding AFCI's. I do everything in my power to stay within that six foot limit which is difficult if you have to relocate a panel.

If you don't want to spend extra hours troubleshooting, it's also very important to put panels back together exactly like they were. This means: all hots should be on the same phases they came off; not putting a white conductor from a two pole breaker on the neutral bar; and if a red conductor is grounded, ground it. The only change I will make is to downsize a breaker that is too large for the wire it's connected to.
 

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We can’t pull meters. It can get tricky. Inspector’s last call is around 4 pm. At that time of day the utility switches to night crew. I have had the reconnect done close to 8 pm.

One time I got disconnected, started taking things apart and realized I could not finish by inspection time. I had to put it back together and get it inspected before it could be reconnected. Then I had to go to Plan B and re-schedule.
I remember that frustration working in Edmonton.

I'm glad they do it different here.

Utility still has to do the disconnect and reconnect, but it has to be booked in advance. Usually, disconnect at 9am and reconnect at 1pm. Gives me enough time to get the new service put in, and then I can finish the branch circuits off in the afternoon.

Inspectors only come down here on Thursdays, and only if you schedule them. So it is independent of the reconnect. Sometimes a couple weeks or a month afterwards.

Sent from my SM-G960W using Tapatalk
 

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Service change outs can be a pain some times. Mostly because you have to schedule with the utility company and the city building department to set up an inspection date.
Personally I would not cut a ring seal or remove the ones that require a tool. I don’t think SCE would allow us to do it in our area.
I did a residential service change out 2 years ago and the inspector came early and passed it but the utility company took until the next day because they had an emergency somewhere else.
Usually it all works out but as 99cents pointed out there is always a plan B.

It’s always better to have 2 “competent” electricians on a service change because it speeds things up and the low man can run parts and get lunch.
 

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Did my first service change last week. Had a meter outside and main panel was 25’ away in the laundry room. Installed meter main outside and changed laundry panel to sub panel. Homeowner was in a hurry so disconnect occurred at 1 pm. I had meter main mounted and wired at 3:30. Passed inspection at 4. Poco energized at 5 and I had the new SER and sub wired by 7. Called in for final the following day. It was pretty damn stressful.
 

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Pull meter , label circuits accordingly, swap panel, reinstall everything in reverse. Has my brain gone in defunked mode ?
 
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