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Wiring Your New House Part 4 – Installing Your Electrical Service

March 8, 2007

In part 2 of this series, I showed you how to calculate what size electrical service you need. The calculation for this hypothetical house came up to be the 100 amps minimum. However, I highly recommend installing 200 amps. Two Hundred amps is going to allow for future growth and add resale value to your house.

I am going to assume this house is in a new subdivision where the utility company’s power is underground. I am also going to assume that you have an electrical permit and local code requires a disconnecting means on the outside of your house.

So, let’s get started. The first step is to mount the 200 amp meter main to the outside of the house. This needs to be mounted 3′ away from any window and between 5′ to 6′ above grade to the center of the meter. It is best to coordinate the location with your local utility company. They will typically connect to it wherever you mount it. However, if the utility company’s transformer is nearest to the left front of your house and you decide to mount your meter main to the right rear, it will probably cost you more money.

Now before you mount the meter main, there is a little prep work involved. There are concentric knockouts on the bottom, sides and back of the meter main. On the meter or utility side, you need to remove the knockouts up to 2″ on the bottom. On the main breaker side, you need to remove the knockouts up to 2″ on the back.

Next you need to drill a 3″ hole through the siding of your house. This hole is for the cable that will come out of the back of your meter main and feed the breaker box or load center. Next you install a 2″ SER connector and plastic bushing in the 2″ hole you knocked out of the main breaker side.

The easiest way that I have found to mount this meter main by yourself is to temporarily fasten a 12″ piece of 2×4 where the bottom of the meter main will be. Then just set the meter main on top of this 2×4 and screw it to the wall. Then remove the temporary 2×4.

Now let’s mount your 200 amp main lug breaker box. We typically mount these in the basement, in a utility room, in a mechanical room or in the garage.

Now you may install the 4/0 SER cable between the meter main and breaker box. Install another 2″ SER connector and plastic bushing in the top center of your breaker box. When terminating the wires in your breaker box, be sure the grounds and neutrals are separated. Sometimes there is a green screw that bonds the neutral bar to the breaker box’s frame and sometimes there is a bonding strap. Do not install these in your breaker box.

Aluminum wire will oxidize very quickly. So, you need to place a little de-ox on the ends of the aluminum wires before terminating them. When terminating the wires outside in the meter main, the grounds and neutrals connect to the same neutral/ground bar.

Finally, you need to ground the system. For this you need to run a # 4 copper ground wire either to within 5′ of the water meter or to a concrete encased electrode. If you connect to your water line, this must be a metallic pipe extending atleast 10′ outside of your house.

When connecting to your water line, I recommend connecting to the street side of the meter and with a continuous loop connect to the other side of the meter as well. The reason for this is most water meters have either rubber or neoprene bushings that break the continuity of the water line on each side of the water meter.

You also need to install an 8′ ground rod right near the electrical service and run a # 6 copper ground wire to it.

Now call the electrical inspector and get this inspected and call the utility company and get your power turned on.


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6 Responses to “Wiring Your New House Part 4 – Installing Your Electrical Service”

  1. Charles shockey on May 16th, 2007 1:34 am

    I am upgrading my service from a 100amp over head, pole service to a 200amp over head, side of house mount. I will feed the current 100amp service box off the new 200amp I am installing on the side of the house.
    I see how to mount the meter box, and 200 amp panel inside, what size wires do I use to come from top of pole down to meter?? And from the meter box to the 200amp panel??
    I think it would be easier to insert the wires into the pole and then put the pole up??

  2. Greg Garthwaite on November 20th, 2009 9:23 am

    I am a Residential and Commercial Inspector. I am curious as to why you would not install the bonding screw or strap in the breaker panel if this is the main panel. According to code only subpanels downstream from the main must not be bonded and neutrals and grounds must be separated.
    Maybe I misunderstood and there is a main disconnect outside at the meter.
    Thanks have a great day.

  3. Wayne Gilchrist on November 20th, 2009 9:58 am

    I believe that you misunderstood the article Greg. In this scenario, I’m using a 200 amp meter main on the outside and a 200 amp main lug load center inside. The meter main is the first point of disconnect, so the neutrals and grounds are connected together here and not in the load center.

  4. ron on May 14th, 2010 4:21 pm

    hi im looking to upgrade from 100amp panel to 200 when i install the #6ground to the ground rod where does the other end go?does it go to the ground side of the panel or does it go to the meter can?and do i need to install 2 ground rods?i heard in pa you have to.thanks for your help.

  5. Minister John pegram on February 15th, 2011 9:22 pm

    i have a dble wide trailor 15 feet from the house is a pole with a meter 200amp shut off box that carries current to 200amp panel box inside home. is it possible the outdoor breaker is only giving the inside panel box 100 amps because when heat, stove, h2oheater are used theres a dim or surge. Hva man installed new unit an said the outside 200amp breaker is only giving 100 amps. please give me some suggestions guidance help. i have depleted most finances and imm pretty skilled in construction. please help me and my family. i was thinking to just change outside 200 amp box with new one God Bless u

  6. Mike on November 10th, 2011 5:49 pm

    I want to put the meter box on the outside wall and the service panel on the inside wall directly opposite each other with only the wall dividing them. Can I then connect the wires through the wall and directly into the back of the service panel?