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#59199 - 11/29/05 05:04 PM wire size
Tripp Offline
Registered: 09/20/05
Posts: 101
Went to a house today to consult on a service upgrade. Problem is, I can't determine what I am upgrading from. There was no main disconnect either at the house distribution panel or outside at the meter. There was just a meter there! I think it's safe to assume, then, that if a house was wired back when this was considered legitimate practice, that it's probably a 60amp servive. However, I'd like to be able also to determine for sure what is the size of the existing wire, to see if it has to be changed to accomodate a 100a upgrade. But the wire from the meter to the distribution panel is unlabeled cloth-covered red and black, with uninsulated stranded neutral (no grounding wire). And of couse I can't tell what is coming into the meter from the mast since the poco is none too fond of us snipping off their little locks.

Any advice?
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#59200 - 11/29/05 05:40 PM Re: wire size
e57 Offline
Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: S.F.,CA USA
" meter to the distribution panel is unlabeled cloth-covered red and black, with uninsulated stranded neutral (no grounding wire). "

I think it is completely safe to assume you will be starting from scratch.... reguardless of wire size.
Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
#59201 - 11/29/05 05:54 PM Re: wire size
LK Offline
Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1721
Loc: New Jersey
I don't understand why you are concerned with wire sizes, of what is being torn out.
#59202 - 11/30/05 04:31 AM Re: wire size
cavo148 Offline
Registered: 01/19/04
Posts: 79
Loc: New Jersey
Determining wire size, insulation and ampacity used to be one of the test problems in the practical section of the NYC Electrician's exam. You have to measure the diameter of one strand with a micrometer, calculate the cross-sectional area and multiply it by the total number of strands in order to get the overall cross-sectional area of the conductor. You then have to determine the type of insulation. The old NYC code book is a bit different from our current NEC code book but you'll find the information in Chapter 9, Table 4 for wire size, then go to the ampacity tables.;)

BTW, this information is just for your reference, I'd rip the old stuff out too. The guy at the scrap yard only cares how much it weighs.

#59203 - 11/30/05 08:30 AM Re: wire size
lamplighter Offline
Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 101
Loc: Clawson,Michigan,USA
I wouldn't concern myself with what is existing. As long as you are upgrading the service, replace the SE cable with a four wire cable,(Two hots, a neutral and a ground) bond the water, the water meter, put in a new electrode, replace the meter can, add a main disconnect and charge the customer for all of it.
Sounds like the existing dates back to mid 1950's or earlier and I'm sure it's not up to today's code anyway.
In michigan, they still allow a 3 wire SE cable but, I know some states no longer do.
#59204 - 11/30/05 04:59 PM Re: wire size
Tripp Offline
Registered: 09/20/05
Posts: 101
Thanks for your responses.

LK - I was concerned with wire sizes because we have not yet determined what would be torn out. Also, I will want to determine if the service entrance wires (from mast head to meter) are sized for 100a. Sometimes, even where the service was 60a, the wire installed was capable of carrying 100a.

Andy - thanks. I was wondering if there was some sort of caliper for measuring wire, and since you mention a micrometer I guess that answers my question. But i never heard of a micrometer. Where would I find one? Do people still even use these?

Thanks again, folks.
#59205 - 11/30/05 05:28 PM Re: wire size
earlydean Offline
Registered: 12/22/03
Posts: 749
Loc: Griswold, CT, USA
micrometers are used by machinists to determine exact measurements of the thicknesses of metals. Check out this:
for some pics. (the micrometers are the ones on the right.)
#59206 - 11/30/05 08:11 PM Re: wire size
gfretwell Online   content

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9066
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
I like one of those plastic calipers for measuring wire. If you cut off the wire depth guage there is nothing metal in there so you can check wire live.
Greg Fretwell
#59207 - 12/06/05 05:46 PM Re: wire size
Tripp Offline
Registered: 09/20/05
Posts: 101
Gfretwell - can you tell me more about this "plastic caliper", or better yet, send a picture? Thanks.
#59208 - 12/06/05 05:52 PM Re: wire size
Clydesdale Offline
Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 139
sounds like another $1000 net profit day!
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