Main conductor wire size (AWG)?
The main cutoff outside my home has a 150A breaker. This feeds into a Cutler-Hammer panel rated for 225A. The main electrical conductor from the outside cutoff breaker and the main panel (in my basement) is Aluminum. The gauge of this main conductor is ‘1’, if I am reading the PVC jacket correctly.
I posted on another forum about starting preliminary endeavors for adding a subpanel, subtended off my main panel, as part of wiring my basement. When I mentioned the size of the main breaker (150A) it was suggested that for an Aluminum main conductor the gauge should be ’00’.
I never trusted the county’s chief building inspector (hard lesson learned well after purchase of my home in this county), and now I am wondering if my situation is dire in terms of the main conductor being undersized for the existing service–and really undersized for a main+subpanel setup.
Ideas, suggestions, enlightenment? This Sunday seems to have presented me with a ‘stupid’ feeling as I am having the hardest time finding the amp rating for an aluminum main conductor for AWG=1.
#1 Al =110 Amps
1/0 Al = 125 Amps
2/0 Al= 150 Amps
per NEC 310.15 B 6 Single phase 3 wire 120/240 V Dwelling service and feeder.
Great! This means the main breaker is 150A and the main conductor only good for 110A. Exactly how do counties sleep at night knowing people will die because of things like this? So much for this five year old spec-house.
BTW, how accountable is the inspector, both the county and the one I hired prior to closing on the home?
Are you sure it's aluminum wire? Copper wire will often have tin plating on the surface that makes it look like aluminum. Look for 'CU' or 'AL' marks on the jacket close to where you found the #1. Also, the serving electric utility will often size the wire on their side of the meter smaller than what Code would require, but it sounds like the wire you're looking at is on your side of the meter.
Sorry, I thought I had said wheat I read from the jacket earlier. My bad. It says 'Type AL, 1 AWG'. I could take a picture and post it if you think that would help.
That's okay, I just wanted to make sure if it were copper or aluminum. #1 copper would be appropriate for 150 amps, but #1 aluminum is undersized.
>>Are you sure it's aluminum wire? Copper wire will often have tin plating on the surface that makes it look like aluminum. I've only seen that on the old "rag wire" where the CU had to be protected from the sulpher in the rubber insulation. (And I've never seen a wire size stamp on rag wire)Is there anything like that being produced now?
Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace
Skip the reading wire gauges and designing feeders. Your not equipped for the task at hand and are going to get yourself, or someone else, hurt or cause a fire. Hire an electrician. They can tell you exactly what is going on, what is, or is not, wrong and how to correct or construct what you have or want.
Troubleshooting and judging the adequacy of the current installation and what you want to do over the internet is foolishness. Too many details and steps are likely to get left out.
I agree. If the original poster, or anyone else for that matter, questions 4Lorn1's post, they should find and read the first chapter of "Your Old Wiring" by Shapiro.If you haven't drawn blood today, you haven't done anything.
Regardless of what my attempt is/was, how does this make what is being discovered OK?
I find it completely unacceptable that anyone would deviate from this discussion just because I am not a licensed electrician. I don't have to be squat when two different sources say that for a main conductor to carry 150-Amps it needs to be 00 for an aluminum conductor and the #### that did the spec decided to use 1.
So, I go hire an electrician and he tells me the same thing. Before I move forward with MY project I still am required to resolve the matter that I got screwed by both the electrician that wired the home to begin with, the county and for-hire inspectors during the issuance of the certificate of occupancy and home purchase, and finally the cost of recovering from the mistakes of others.
I'd would have rather been advised how to approach the 'problem' and not the project that will come after the problem get's resolved. I'm not in the business or existence of 'forgetting' about bad electrician's and inspector's habits. Are you?
Ok, that's the Old #7 talking. Sorry.
I'll hire a certified electrician to evaluate the situation. If found that there is a problem then I'll contact a lawyer. This isn't about money. Its about someone short-sheeting the job and or simply making a mistake that could have had dire consequences.
How does one need to be qualified in life to have a legitimate concern for their own safety???
Likely there is no problem.Odds are your looking at the neutral and/or the conductor material is copper. Given the odds of the electrician, contractor and inspector all being wrong and you, despite your obvious ignorance on the subject, being right I would have to go for the odds and assume your misinterpreting what your seeing and jumping to conclusions. On the other hand perhaps the house was wired by a well intentioned but untalented and uninformed DIY enthusiast who sidestepped the permitting and inspection process. In which case no telling what you have there.
I think it's worth a quick second look at the jacket of the service entrance cable to make sure you saw the whole picture. It may say, for example, something like 2 conductors of 2/0 AWG AL (for the two hot legs) and one conductor of a smaller AWG for the neutral (which only has to carry the unbalanced current), in which case you are fine.
r and 4Lorn1 are both on the right track. Don't let frustration cause you to misunderstand that the people here are trying to help. There are some things that are too important to rest on the information you get from a web forum.
Like 4Lorn1 said, you are ignorant in this matter, not stupid, ignorant. You do, however, know enough to suspect a problem and smart enough to address it. I agree with him that you should get an electrician to look and see exactly what you have. Hope fully he will find something like what r suggested.If you haven't drawn blood today, you haven't done anything.
My apologies, everyone. Whiskey has worn off. This morning, I'll attempt to find out who the electrical subcontractor was for the construction of my home and then once know call someone else.
My use of this forum is based on what appeared to be qualified or confident previous experiences. I didn't realize that providing the PVC jacket and rated main breaker would be insufficient information to determine a condition that between the main breaker and main panel is a potential problem. I'm just too use to finding people on these forums as a wealth of information and whatnot.
Once I get a state licensed electrician that wasn't the original subcontractor and they make their own conclusion I'll proceed based on that analysis. Screw my project--its dead. I know have to resolve this problem before doing anything else.
Now you are scaring me. For those interested ... pics:
I still am unsure what you have. The first picture says ONE conductor is # 1 AWG (which I still think could be a downsized neutral).
What does the jacket say about the other TWO conductors ?
I checked and there isn't anything else that I can find. I stuck my head in a couple of other joist cavities and what has already been seen just repeats itself. Now this would be great news if its just what you described, which is a down-sized neutral conductor, but surely that PVC jacket has to denote the guage of the hot conductor, right? Let me go find some other joist cavities to stick my head into ...
Well, it didn't take much time typing what's on the PVC jacket into Google. The Stabiloy AA-8000 is an Aluminum conductor (see page #2 of this Adobe PDF file located here: http://www.acewirecable.com/pdfs/al18.pdf ), and the wrapped multi-conductor 'package' was also found (see page #1 here: http://www.acewirecable.com/pdfs/al15.pdf ).
Neither of these documents seem to suggest that the ground, neutral, or hot are of a different gauge.
Here is a link to the catalog for this cable. http://www.cable.alcan.com/AlcanCableLiveSiteAttachments/EN/Products/U.S/Stabiloy/Data%20Sheets/ser-w.pdfHowever, it appears that the markings have changed since it was made.They only give this one example."Marking
Three conductor cables with a bare conductor will bear
the following surface marking:
Alcan (Plant Of Manufacture) STABILOY « AA-8030
AL Type SE Cable Style R XHHW-2 600 V 3 CDRS
(Size) 1 CDR (Size) SUN-RES (UL) (Year Of
Manufacture)."Now depending on if it is SEU and if it is 2, 3, or 4 wire - plus ground - they have both a #1 AWG feeder-#1 AWG GND & 2/0 AWG feeder-#1 AWG GND.But since it only has one CDR marking it appears most likely to be #1/#1. But the only way to tell for sure it to look at the actual wires at one of the ends.
Yeah, I'm hoping his cable is marked just the way your post has it: 3 CDRS ( of size X) 1 CDR (of size Y) which in this case would mean the 2 hots and one neutral are all the same size (for Nuke's sake we are rooting for 2/0) plus a smaller ground (# 1 AWG).
I found it! And thank god! I put some gloves on and started pulling down all that insulation in the joist cavities and in one cavity close to the service-entrace exterior wall found the 2/0! Pic ...
...now go stand in the corner !!!"
Lol. I already work alone.
.......next round is on YOU !!I like Rob Roys"
Its a workday, which means I can only have a shot of Irish Cream in the morning coffee. burp!
you mean you go to work SOBER,?how can you stand it ?"
Well, I can't, actually. That's what got me started on the morning brew. Of course, I get up at 7AM and don't leave for work until 2:30-3PM.
My job isn't really any challenge, but I am thankful to have it. And let's be more clearn about my daily routine. Its really more like a half-shot and that goes into my six-cup coffee mug. Fifteen minutes to drink and fifteen more to react.
......whew ,alrighty then, I like "strong coffee" myself"
Excellent ! Glad your stress level is now reduced.