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    Do it yourself information about the main electrical service panel in your home.

       Wiring Home > Electrical > Home Electrical Panel
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    Electric Shock Caution: To prevent severe shock or electrocution always turn the power OFF before working with wiring.

    Never Assume the power is off! Always double check, and test the device before you begin work.

    It is important to note that electrical codes change, and that in some areas local electrical codes are not the same as the National Electrical code. The local authority having jurisdiction in your area may have different codes than the national code. It is important to find out if the local residential codes differ from the national code, your local authority having jurisdiction is the final judge and jury.

    Home Electrical Service Panel

    If you intend to replace your entire existing electrical service by doing it yourself there are some things you will need to consider before you start, let’s go through some of the things you will need to consider.

    1)  Before you decide to "do it yourself", check the local codes in your area to find out if you are allowed to do the wiring in your home. Some areas require that a licensed electrician do the work.

    2)  Check and see if a permit is required.

    3)  Call your electric company and schedule a power disconnect and reconnect for the day you plan to do the work. Also check with them for any special requirements they may have at the service connection point and meter base.

    4)  Find someone willing to help you with the project, you really want to get it done the same day and a little help would be nice.

    5)  Next you will need to get a parts list together, some parts will depend what type of service you have and how bad of shape your existing service is in. You will need to decide exactly needs to be replaced. If you are upgrading your service you will basically need everything.

    Note: The New 2008 National Electrical Code requires combination Arc Fault Breakers for all 15 and 20 amp circuits in a home.

    Every electrical service can be different but here are some ideas for your parts list.

    Main Electrical panel – Make sure the ampere rating of the panel is the same as the ampere rating of the service cable providing power to the panel.

    Circuit Breakers – Take the cover off your existing panel ( Be careful not to touch any live power!) and check that the size of wire going to each breaker is the right size for each breaker. Ex. 12g wire connected to a 20 amp breaker and so on. This is to make sure who ever worked on it in the past did things correctly. Now you should have a list of what circuit breakers you will need for your new panel.

    Service cable – If needed.
    Service cable straps.
    2 8ft Ground rods 5/8” in diameter.
    2 acorn ground clamps
    2 pipe ground clamps
    #4 bare ground wire
    A meter base if needed.
    Connectors for service cable
    Weather head
    Hub for the top of the meter base
    Duct seal
    Romex staples
    Romex connectors
    Noalox® Anti-Oxidant Compound
    Wire nuts
    A junction box (just in case some of the cables are not long enough)

    The above list are only suggestions for you to think about, without seeing the work that needs to be done it would be impossible for me to give an exact list.

    Assuming you have taken care of everything above, let’s get some work done. Of course if you are replacing an existing service you will need to begin by removing everything that you are replacing. That is after the power has been disconnected.

    More Do it yourself Electrical Service Tips

    • If you do have help it is best to have one person work the inside and the other to work the outside.

    • The service cable needs to be strapped within 12 inches of the meter base and weather head, and in between the straps should be not more than 30 inches apart.

    • The new code requires 2 ground rods in certain situations, to make it easy just install two 8ft by 5/8” ground rods 8 feet apart, and run a #4 bare ground wire from one to the other and than to the electrical panel ground bar. Do not cut the wire at the middle ground rod connection, use a acorn clamp and have the ground wire pass directly through it without a break it the wire.

    • Put Noalox® Anti-Oxidant Compound on all aluminum service cable connections.

    • Make sure you connect the proper size wire to the proper size breaker. 14g wire – 15amp breaker, 12g wire – 20amp breaker 10g wire – 30amp breaker and so on.

    • In the main electrical panel the neutral wires and the ground wires connect to the same bar, only one wire per connection point. In a sub panel there needs to be separate bars and the neutral bar needs to be isolated.

    • In the service cable the neutral conductor is all the bare conductors in the cable, you will need to twist them all together to make your final connection.

    • Use Duct seal to waterproof the cable connector on the top of the meter base and cable entrances into the house.

    • If you have copper or and conductive piping you need to run a #4 bare ground wire from the electrical panel to the location your water enters your home, and within 5 feet of the entrance point you will need to ground the pipe. If you have a water meter you will need to jumper around it.

    • The meter base is usually mounted at 5 feet to center, check with your power company about this and other requirements they may have.

    • Leave enough service cable at the weatherhead for a drip loop.

    • Don’t forget to label all the circuits in the panel.

    • Schedule an electrical inspection by a licensed inspector.

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    Related Resources:

  • National Electrical Code Handbook
  • National Electrical Codebook
  • Stallcup's Illustrated Code Changes
  • The Complete Guide to Home Wiring (Black and Decker Complete Guides Series)
  • Wiring Simplified
  • Guide to Using the National Electrical Code
  • Residential Remodeling and Repair Professional Reference
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    Disclaimer: You understand that you are personally responsible for your own wiring, and that you're wiring should conform to the National Electrical code. The information provided is general installation advice. We make no claims about the completeness or the accuracy of the information as it may apply to an infinite amount of field conditions. It is the responsibility of the person or persons using this information to check with all concerned parties, owners and local authorities, etc. before doing an installation. Users of this information agree to hold Wireityourself.com or any of its agents harmless form liabilities of any kind relating to the use of this information. You also agree to the terms set forth in our terms and conditions.

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