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Electrical for New Construction

Eric_U | Posted in Building Code Questions on

Hey all, I’m in a minor pickle and hoping I can get some guidance. Below is some context for my situation, and below that is the meat.

I moved to Central NY this year and I’m hopefully starting construction finally either later this week or beginning of next. Prices up here are insane compared to where I’m from (South Carolina) so I’m doing a lot of the work myself as I do have some building experience (gutted and remodeled my entire last house by myself). However, because my electrical skills are limited, having really only done one wire pull once and some outlet and switch changes, I am having an electrician do the bulk of the electrical work. Going back to what I said earlier though, initial quote was around $24,000 just for rough-in, not even including from power pole, which isn’t going to work for me. Luckily, my dad is in construction in VA and works with an electrician with around forty years experience, who loves my dad enough to do my work for free labor, I just need to supply the materials. This is where things take a turn. In SC and VA, the power company runs power all the way to the house. Not so in NY. Up here NYSEG puts a pole in the ground and calls it a day. They also do not tell the homeowner or the contractor what wire or equipment to buy because they don’t want to be liable if code changes (quote un quote from the site planner). This means that my electrician doesn’t really know what to do to make my inspectors happy. I contacted a local electric supply company that mostly deals with commercial and the owner, who is a former linesman himself, is very helpful but not always on par with the electrical inspector that I found after the fact. For the last few weeks I’ve been playing middle man between the three and even contacted a second inspector who refused to answer any questions because he thinks I’m doing the work myself, and honestly I’m no where closer to getting electricity running even though I’ve had a pole for a month. 

This is where GBA comes in. I’m hoping someone here can help direct me so I don’t spend thousands of dollars on the wrong panels and wire. The house is an all electric, 320a continuous service, barndominium. My initial plan was to have a disconnect near the pole like a mobile home since that is what I’m used to, but then came up with a plan to have a meter board with all of my equipment, then run from there to the panel in the house. However, the electric supply company quoted me $3700 for a NEMA3 or $3200 for a NEMA1 disconnect and panel, respectively,  and there is a two month backorder. (PS, trying to get power ASAP because I’m living in an RV and winter is upon us. I’m burning generator gas and propane like crazy right now). So this has me wondering the big question, can I take the 400amp meter socket that NYSEG provided me, and split that into two 200amp panels? My electrician has done that before albeit with a different type of meter socket, but again I want to make sure I’m not buying the wrong materials. Also, to add to the complexity my wife wants me to buy a home standby generator, which will most likely be the Champion 14kW one (the only one they offer with a 200a panel). They have schematics for buying a second panel to run in parallel if it is hooked up to a 400a service, but if I can split to two 200’s I could save myself ~$1300 not buying a second automatic transfer switch. 

The one inspector that would talk to me said I could run either one 1000mcm AL conductor (which he said he doubts I would be able to find) or two 350mcm AL conductors. The guy who was a former linesman had told me single 500mcm CU conductor so currently the 50kVA transformer is prepped for that, but I’m assuming the power company could change that without too much hassle (site planner said it wouldn’t be a big deal). 

Attached is a picture of the meter socket which does not look like any of the schematics I could find on the NYSEG website. So how can I run two 350mcm conductors to this, then branch off into two 200a panels, one of which would branch off into the standby generator box?

Note that the total horizontal + vertical run from the house panel to transformer will end up being around 220ft, which I’ve been told is bad and to stay under 200ft but too late for that now. 

Also attached are some schematics I got from NYSEG, the file from my site planner, and a horrible sketch of the layout of the meter board

Sorry for the long post, but any help will be much appreciated!

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  1. kiwiscott | | #1

    I can’t help you with your technical question, sorry, but I can you I was able to find an electrician to do only the work I wasn't prepared to do. He wired up a new panel for me from the supply and left everything else for me. Of course he was helping me so he said I had to deal with the inspector which went fine. It might not be possible but just a thought.

  2. user-5946022 | | #2

    Typically, no matter where you are, the power company provides power to the meter, and you pick up on the other side of the meter.

    Meters are typically mounted to the house.

    You refer to a "pole." Typically, temporary power is provided to a temporary pole with a temporary meter. Is this what you are asking about?

    If in your area of the country, you really install your own pole, and the power company really installs a permanent meter on a pole, then you will need to get a feed from the pole to the panel. You can hire an electrician to this portion only.

    Or drive around to look what they are doing on other similar sized houses in your area, which should get you closer to what you need.

  3. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #3

    I think I understand what you're trying to do here. You CAN do what you show on your meter board, as long as those "200A" panels are really service disconnects, with 200A main breakers (or fuses) in them. You'd want the "TO HOUSE" conduit run to exit the ATS cabinet though, not the disconnect.

    This isn't an elegant solution. You'd be better off running the entire service to the house, then splitting things off there, which makes some of the ground/neutral bonding stuff easier. You should be able to run a pair of 250KCMIL conductors per hot and neutral (3 pairs total, ground would be a #1 aluminum wire) to carry that service, then break it out in the house.

    You can get 400A ATSes. Don't limit yourself to the Generac-derived home standby systems, there are far better systems out there. Asco makes suitable ATSes in their 300 series. Kohler makes better residential standby generators.

    A single 1000MCM (BTW, MCM = KCMIL) conductor is going to absolutely suck to work with. That's the biggest size I've every personally worked with myself, a copper one, and I used a pipe bender to bend it. The largest you commonly see is 600MCM. That still sucks to bend, and is about an inch in diameter for ONE WIRE. It will be much easier to run paralleled sets of smaller size conductors, which is permitted by the code and is commonly done.


    1. tdbaugha | | #6

      Bill, could you provide a bit more info on recommended ATS? I’m in a similar situation to the OP, and my local supply house only sells generac. I WAS going to get generacs 400a ATS with disconnnect so my backup power can run all circuits. Should I find a distributor that sells Kohler? Asco? Never heard of Asco. 320a service with backup generator, solar, and battery backup is very complex and I’m trying to get everything setup correctly the first time! Thanks

      1. Expert Member
        BILL WICHERS | | #9

        Asco has been around forever. They are the only ATSes I use on my commercial projects, usually their 962 and 7000 series switches. They are well regarded, and will serve you well. What they don't do is market to homeowners and the residential market, which is likely why you haven't heard of them. Remember that Generac is a leader in *marketing* much more than they are in the world of manufacturing generators. In the commercial world, you almost never see Generac products -- everyone uses Caterpillar, Cummins, Kohler Power, and sometimes one of a few other less commonly known manufacturers.

        You would need a 400A, 120/240V single phase (residential power is SINGLE phase, not "two phase") ATS, possibly service rated (which means it has an integrated main breaker) too, depending on your system layout.

        You can tie your solar system in ahead of the ATS so that it won't try to feed power while you're running on generator power (which usually causes problems). I'd avoid trying to do "battery backup" here.


        1. tdbaugha | | #15

          Bill, thank you! Would you be willing to chat privately with me about how to configure my service? The incorporation of multiple structures, 320a service, and multiple auxiliary power sources is very confusing and I have had a heck of a time finding straight answers.

          As far as the batteries go, I just want to be able to support “bidirectional charging” from an EV. The solar contractor said I would need at least one battery to make the system work, but I don’t have enough knowledge to verify that statement. Ford F150 lightning, GM Sierra/Silverado EV, and the cyber truck all have this capability. During an outage it would be very nice to run the house off the truck, and if it was a long enough outage, the generator could recharge the battery in 6-8 hours and then shut off, as opposed to running 24/7 needlessly burning propane.

          1. Expert Member
            BILL WICHERS | | #16

            I can help you out some with a basic layout. You need a map of your lot showing the rough structure placement, and the size feeder you want to use for each. Then I need a way to contact you :-) I can do some basic guidance/brainstorming for you freebie.


  4. Expert Member
    DCcontrarian | | #4

    You need to get someone local who's licensed to advise you and perhaps do that portion of the job for you.

    You speak of an "inspector who refused to answer any questions because he thinks I’m doing the work myself." Yeah, the service entrance isn't a spot for people who don't know what they're doing. Your dad's friend may be licensed in VA and NC, but this is a different state and he's no more licensed in that state than you are. The fact that he doesn't know exactly what to do should be an indication that random people on the internet aren't going to know either. You need local knowledge.

  5. Patrick_OSullivan | | #5

    New York is a weird state. As I understand it, there is no state electrical licensing, so it's left up to individual municipalities. I've seen in some areas various municipalities register electrical contractors and also recognize nearby municipalities' registration/licensing thereof.

    Someone out of state likely can't do the work without going through the hurdles. Not sure if your municipality allows DIY electrical work. (As a data point, neighboring New Jersey allows it statewide for all owner occupied single family dwellings.)

    The inspector not wanting to tell you what's needed is not a good sign. As has been stated, you need to find a local expert, unless you want to risk redoing things.

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #7


      "The inspector not wanting to tell you what's needed is not a good sign."

      My BI typically won't suggest remedies, or solutions. He just points out deficiencies and tells me what section of the code apply. I think that's both because of liability, and that he isn't there to design my projects.

      1. Expert Member
        BILL WICHERS | | #10

        It IS a liability issue. The city can't recommend you do things outside of "do this and that to get us to approve your permit". They will sometimes give you a hint, but they're supposed to be an outside third party that only inspects, so they won't normally venture outside of that area. The inspectors SHOULD be willing to tell you what you need to do to pass inspection though, such as "we require a 2" RMC service mast", or "you have to support the conduit at least every 5 feet", etc. Basically they'll tell you the same stuff you'd find in the code book.


        1. tdbaugha | | #17

          Bill, the other thread is maxed out on replies. My email is [email protected]. Thanks

  6. freyr_design | | #8

    As everyone has already said, you should get local electrician. That being said it seems like the easiest thing to do would be to get a combo meter panel with like 8 spaces and install two 200 amp breaker directly in that.
    Then run one of those out to ats and then to house.
    Something like this.

    But maybe you’re stuck with what you have. Generally all the panels I’ve seen are combo units, not standalone like the one pictured.

    1. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #11

      You can't usually put breakers of up over 100-120 amps or so in normal panels, since the breaker spaces usually can't handle that much. I didn't research this specific panel though. Normally what I like to recommend for this kind of thing is a small panel for one of the larger frame size breakers, such as Siemen's new-style 3VA series breakers. You can then have the meter feed that panel, which is your "main" panel, then feed downstream stuff from there with 200A breakers if you want.


      1. freyr_design | | #12

        Ya it seems like it does accept 200 a breakers but again, not an electrician. That solution seems nice, more of a commercial approach that is probably more bomber and configurable but maybe more expensive? Your talking about a switchboard breaker?

  7. walta100 | | #13

    One of reasons the inspector is being a pain is in most states licensed electricians are allow to do this work or the home owner can, some locations do require you to pass a test. Technically none of the people you mention are allowed to do this work only you personal.

    If you are going to pretend to do the work yourself to get the permit understand you are not fooling the inspector and he is likely to do everything he is allowed to make your life miserable.

    Often the inspectors are retired union electricians and unfriendly to DIYers and will not offer any advice and allow you to do it wrong and fail you at inspection making you do every over 2 or 3 times. The way they see it you are taking money away from their union brothers.


    1. Expert Member
      DCcontrarian | | #14

      I've had a similar experience using licensed subcontractors who weren't local. I remember one inspection starting with the inspector saying, "why didn't you use someone from town?" Um, no one would return my calls?

  8. dfvellone | | #18

    A couple thoughts for you:
    Although each township/municipality has codes officers who may not all agree, the one thing they will most certainly all agree on is the National Electrical Code, and if whoever you hire or utilize for info isn’t familiar with this or have reference to it, you definitely don’t want to go down that road. Likely, your local codes officer doesn’t even have this info stored away in his/her head, but will be reliant on a licensed electrical inspector’s approval of each step of your process (same with the utility - they’ll energize your end when that inspection is approved. They’re not in the business of electrical inspections). In most NY townships anyone can do the electrical work (I was able to do mine myself) but ultimately it has to be inspected by a licensed electrical inspector. The codes officer won’t do the inspection, but will be checking that you have the electrical inspector’s approval. If you’re in a larger metropolitan area they may require a “licensed” electrician to do the work, and your codes officer should be able to tell you if that’s the case in your locale.

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