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Electrical configuration for property

user-2069108 | Posted in General Questions on

Attached is a diagram of our property. The barn is build and most of the driveway is in.
Our electricity supply comes from the street to the south. It is to be buried, and a transformer will be placed near the house/garage.
We will want power to the house, barn, garage and water pump. Solar panels will likely be on the steeply pitch roof of the garage.
Any insights on how this might be configured/ located?
Utility room om the house is in the NE corner.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Your question is unclear. Are you unsure of where to install the transformer?

    As the owner, I'm sure your preferences will be listened to, if you are concerned that the transformer will be unsightly. Otherwise, this sounds like a simple matter: have a quick meeting with your electrician and excavator, and mark the desired spot.

  2. user-2069108 | | #2

    Sorry for not being as clear as I should have been.
    Likely, I would have the transformer north of the house.
    I guess I would like to get an idea of how to configure the the wiring to the tree sub-panels, particularly since I could have power running both directions from the garage. Would it be transformer to main at house and then two branch lines to the barn and garage. Or, because of the solar panels, would it have to be transformer to garage to house and barn?
    Also is it a problem having the inverter and any other solar equipment in the garage - an unconditioned space?

  3. charlie_sullivan | | #3

    Electricity is pretty cooperative about following wires wherever you run then so there's not much issue there. If some panels are larger or smaller (50 A vs. 100 A vs. 200 A, for example), you'll need bigger wire going to the bigger panels, so it might be cheaper to locate the transformer to make those as short as possible, but that cost is likely to be pretty small anyway.

  4. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #4

    Unless your unconditioned garage is in Fairbanks AK and needs work at dawn on the coldest day of the year with the garage door open all night or likely to hit 150F indoors in the blazing sun, most inverters would be happy in the garage.

    Climate matters only if it's fairly extreme, but it's also possible to specify equipment (or build custom enclosures) for the extreme temperatures, if that's what you have. Inverters are not lossless, and will raise the average temperature of the garage a few degrees when significant amounts of power are running through them. How much depends on the equipment, and the particulars of the garage itself.

  5. user-2069108 | | #5

    So, I guess electricity is like water - it will simply "flow" from a source to where it is needed. Thank you Charlie.
    Dana, we are building near Lancaster OH (central Ohio). We lived in Edmonton AB for a number of years and decided that was way too cold. We live on the Gulf coast now, and it is way too hot. Ohio is our "Goldilocks" location. No extremes.

    Thank you, all.

  6. SwitchgrassFarmer | | #6

    Steve, have looked at your site plan, appears to be a beautiful property.

    I have 1000' of buried electric company high voltage run up along our farm lane, and a non-adjacent house and barn location, so I have thought about (and am still thinking about) some of your questions.

    1. There is no denying the beauty of having utilities underground to your home. However it is more expensive than an aerial installation, and can be constraining. For instance our telecom provider was unwilling to share a conduit with anyone else, so if we ever had the option of cable Internet something would have to give.

    2. Underground utilities through a wet or pond area, another kettle of fish. I don't have that situation, but my friend across the road avoided that problem by using overhead until he was past the creek.

    3. Early on I did have issues with water shooting out the lower end of our conduit until the fill settled. It only takes one weak glue joint to let that water in. Any water and dirt infiltration will make it hard for the electric company to pull in their special coaxial high voltage cable. They get cranky if they have to come twice (ask me how I know). The previous owner had done the empty conduit install, so those were the cards I was dealt. However if I had it to do over again I would have daylighted a cheap flex drain line and put in some sort of drain hole configuration on the end of the conduit when we set our one electric company pole.

    4. Utility transformers do "hum", so keeping that unit away from the house is a good idea. The flip side is that it's better that it be near your driveway so that the electric company can set the transformer within the reach of the crane on their truck. Also remember there is typically something like 10' safety clearance needed in front of the transformer.

    5. Remember the meter reader. Ours has the combination to our gate, but I am not clear what will happen when we go to a smart wireless meter next year. I don't know if those can be read from 1/4 mile away.

    6. You mentioned your well. It's probably best that your well pump be powered from the house, especially if it has any sort of variable speed controller that modulates based on a pressure monitor. (Your well isn't that far from your neighbor's leach field. Yes, it's likely code distance, but I would ask that your well casing be grouted just in case.)

    7. Your building/electrical inspector may have some views on where disconnects need to be for a future solar operation. Having them proximate to the electric meter will probably make the fire department happy. I am still pondering this issue myself; the best place for solar at our farm is 400' away from our meter. Speaking of solar, if you have land, a ground mount might be preferable. (Our house was designed for solar panels on the roof but it's unlikely I would use that approach.)

    8. I know many of these solar components are rated to be outside. Check each one though. For instance our "Sense" electrical load monitoring transducer isn't rated for outdoor weather extremes. Shame, because I would like to mount it at our utility main so it can monitor both our house and barn.

    9. Remember ground rods and surge suppressors, more of an issue when things are spread across your property.

    10. Finally, don't be too sure you know exactly where every building is going to go day one. I changed my mind on those locations a few times over the last ten years. It takes awhile to get the "lay of the land"

    *** Last minute add: The UPS units here in the house just all beeped, a power dip, which reminds me that I forgot to mention that having a generator might be useful too!

  7. user-2069108 | | #7

    Thank you for your detailed response, Andrew. Sorry that I am so tardy but my SPAM blocker caught the notification that there was activity on this question.
    I am required to have underground wiring - land purchasing covenants. I hope that I can drop my cable and telephone lines in the same trench - perhaps up by the buried tape, above the conduit.
    The pond is not in yet. Hopefully we can bring the conduit up near the driveway. I researched the electric company, and it looks like they will design the wiring for me. They may even install some of it but I can trench the line.
    Another thing that I learned over the last few days is that the Health department will design the septic and well plan. We will likely move the well away from the undeveloped neighbour's lot, and leaching field - probably moving it west somewhat.

    What are your concerns about roof-mounted solar panels? Lack of adjust-ability?

    Grounding (a dark science if there ever was such a thing) and whole panel surge protection are definitely on my radar.

    We have had the land for a few years and visited it several times. My wife is pretty certain about its location ;-)

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