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Thread: Question about feeding electricity to house

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member dcf1999's Avatar
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    Default Question about feeding electricity to house

    I live on a 2+ acre parcel with a house and an outbuilding. I'm planning on putting up a 50 x 90 pole building. In that pole building I'm putting in a wood shop and personal auto repair shop. The shop will have a lift, welder and tire machines. I'll need multiple 220 outlets and such. I'm planning on putting a 100 amp box to service the building.

    Currently the electricity feeds my house through the meter on the side of the house. In my breaker box I have a 220 line that goes out to my outbuilding (detached garage). It works for now, but when I build the pole building, I don't want to put a 100 amp breaker to feed the pole building.

    I've seen on other "farmette" type properties, they have a wooden panel (a wood board supported by 4x4ís I guess is a good way to describe it) outside near the pole. On that panel is the meter. The meter then feeds two 200a service disconnects. One goes to house, the other to the barn (or whatever). I don't know what this setup is called or even if it has a name. With the situation I explained above (adding the pole building), I was thinking that doing a setup like that would probably be the best bet. I'd have two 200a disconnects from the meter. One feeding the house and the other feeding the barn. The barn would then have a 200a panel in it. I would feed the other detached garage off the barn's 200a panel. Does that seem like a good solution? Overkill? I'd obviously have to have an electrician do the wiring and would have to get the electric company involved. Iím guessing the electric company would do the wiring to the meter and then the electrician would do the rest.

    I also figured that if I do install a whole house generator, it would be easier (and maybe cheaper) to have them hook it up right after the service disconnect to my house. The generator would be near that panel.

    Maybe I'm over thinking this whole thing, but I'm trying to pre-plan what I have to budget for on this project. Plus I donít mind spending extra money if itís something that will help me out in the future. The other thing is that I donít want to fill my house panel up with breakers incase I decide to remodel and add more circuits. I know I could add a subpanel if I run out of room, but Iíd rather not. I have a 40 space panel and there are only 3 spaces left. By doing the above mentioned thing, I would free up 3 to 4 spaces in the panel for future circuit expansion.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A second meter may incur a second customer charge and billing. Depends on where you live and the utility company. With the potential load in the new building, if it would potentially overload your existing run, you can either do what you plan, or upgrade the service to the house, and then run a subpanel from it to the new building. If the existing panel can't handle the load, then it would need to be replaced as well, so that may factor into it as well.

    See what the pros have to say, as I may have missed something here, and maybe call your utility company. If you can split the service after the meter, then run it to the existing panel and to the new building, you wouldn't incur a second customer charge. Not sure if that's okay or not.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member dcf1999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    A second meter may incur a second customer charge and billing. Depends on where you live and the utility company. With the potential load in the new building, if it would potentially overload your existing run, you can either do what you plan, or upgrade the service to the house, and then run a subpanel from it to the new building. If the existing panel can't handle the load, then it would need to be replaced as well, so that may factor into it as well.

    See what the pros have to say, as I may have missed something here, and maybe call your utility company. If you can split the service after the meter, then run it to the existing panel and to the new building, you wouldn't incur a second customer charge. Not sure if that's okay or not.
    That's what I'm looking at doing is splitting the service after the meter. I don't think I need more than 200 amp service as I researched that part of the equation already. I just don't know if it's better (with my new building setup) to split right after the meter with one going to new building and the other to the house, or just keep my current setup and run a 100 amp breaker to feed a 100 amp panel in the new building. Seems easier to just split the service right after the meter and have two 200amp panels... one in new building and one in house. Just don't know if it's an overkill operation or a smart decision to do it or if it makes no difference? Maybe it's better for upgrades in the future? I see a lot of farmettes and farms in general have a setup like this. I'm the type of guy that would pay to have something setup that I may not necessarly need "right now" but will make life easier/cheaper down the road if I do upgrades (add new buildings, add a pool, etc...).

    Thanks

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    DIY Senior Member dj2's Avatar
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    Get a licensed electrician to do it for you - it will be money well spent.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member dcf1999's Avatar
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    I'm trying to find a picture on google to post lol but i'm not sure exactly what to search for. I may have to just drive down the road to a farm house and take a picture of the contraption.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member dcf1999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dj2 View Post
    Get a licensed electrician to do it for you - it will be money well spent.
    Well obviously I'd do that, I'm not going to mess with that kind of job myself. It's a little more complicated / dangerious than installing a breaker. Now installing the panel and circuits in the new building I will do myself as it's not that complicated and I've done it before. I'll might even have an electrician run the service lines to the panel but I'll do the rest. We'll see how feel about it at the time.

    That wasn't my question though. My question was, in you're opinion, which is the best way to power both buildings and gives the the most flexability in the future:
    A. Split the service after the meter using two disconects.
    B. Keep current setup and run a 100amp breaker from the panel to the new building
    C. I guess I could get new service to the new outbuilding (new meter) but that seems un-necessary

    From what I'm reading now, it seems like I can't have two 200 amp services (one to each building) from the meter. I'd have to split it into two 100 amp services to each building. One of the properties I was going to buy did have this setup with 200 amp service coming into the meter (there was a 200a breaker on it) and then two seperate 200a disconects. One to garage the other two house.. maybe this is illegial?

    I'll have to snap a picture next time I'm out and about. I can't, for the life of me, find a picture of the setup on google howerver they're everywhere up there on residential farmette properties. In fact, 3 of the previous properties I looked at had this setup. One of the properties didn't have an outbuilding, just a house, but it had the panel that I'm talking about. It had the one disconect going to the house and a second disconect was there just no line coming out of it. I guess for future addition of an outbuilding.

    BTW... in all of these settings the meter isn't attached to house, it's attached to a plywood panel near the pole. There is a wire drop from the pole to the panel where the meter is.
    Last edited by dcf1999; 11-20-2013 at 06:40 PM.

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member bluebinky's Avatar
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    On thing to consider if you "split" your service upstream like you are talking about.

    You will need to run four wires (including a new ground wire) from the first panel to your house and reconfigure the old main panel as a sub-panel. Unless your existing panel allows you to isolate the grounds from the neutrals (by removing a bonding screw, etc) then that panel will need to be replaced by a sub-panel with a main breaker...

  8. #8

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    Unless you need 200 amps in the shop, I'd do a 100 amp subpanel fed from your house.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    What you are looking for is a disconnect/meter panel such as the ones used in mobile home parks to feed to the unit's main panel.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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