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sec cable code conflict

Posted By: jake2018

sec cable code conflict - 11/17/18 06:28 PM

i am checking on if this would meet code prior to installation. my local inspector has changed his mind 3 times, i am new to this forum, this is going to be a install in minnesota, heres my question,

a 200 amp sec is run to the house, it is installed in a midwest brand terminal 200 amp box, (all this is inside the the house in the basement) that box feeds a 200 amp breaker box within 18 inches (right next to it) and that wire is protected by pvc conduit, then the same terminal box feeds a garage that has a 100 amp breaker box, does the sec cable that feeds the breaker box need to be in pvc conduit all the way to the breaker box? or can it be unprotected behind sheet rock?

then the same terminal box feeds a 100 amp breaker box that is 18 feet from it, does that wire need to be in pvc conduit? that will be inside a wall behind sheet rock. the wire vertical not horizontal to the upstairsd.

also can a terminal box be used like this?

the inspector said yes then a day later he said no you have to use conduit, one county over it was "the wire must be protected in sch 80 but 40 will be ok if its behind sheetrock" then another inspector said not as along as its behind sheet rock. i looked at old nec and new so whos right?

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/17/18 07:19 PM

If the 200a is the service disconnect and the 100a is a feeder off of that (SER 4 wire) the cable only needs to be protected against physical damage and the drywall should do it.
If the 200a is double lugged and the 100a is a service entrance conductor, there are more issues than a sch80 PVC pipe can cure. (excessive service conductor inside the building for starters)
If these are both service conductors you would be better off tapping the service outside and running the cable down the outside wall, coming into the back of the 100a panel.
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/18/18 04:19 AM

thanks for your post,
maybe i can explain it better, i have seen in some houses up here that run 442 sec in the wall behind drywall from a LB that comes into the building from the power pole that has a meter on it. it then runs 15 feet in the building to the breaker box. some use conduit some dont. some outside , some inside.

but in this case the 200 amp cable comes into the house at ground level from the meter on the power pole, then into a 200 amp terminal box like i said. then a 100 amp feed to a breaker box in the garage and one feed to a 200 amp breaker box, so 3 inspectors have 3 ways to do this, i understand that most terminal boxes are outside, but is this case, one inspector said use sch 80 and your good, you can use a terminal box inside and he rambled about industrial applications do it, the others said no, so since it cant be a terminal box outside and then run into the house, there just isnt a way to do it, space etc. if it was up to me i would have just put it all on the power pole,terminal box then did feeders. neither mentioned excessive service conductor inside the building, they were more concerned about a nail hitting the sec. so any ideas? each state is different, but has any one did any work like i am about to do from a terminal box in a house basement?
any codes? thanks
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/18/18 05:25 PM

Your guys are more easy going than I would be about that 230.70 "inside nearest the point of entrance of the service conductors" language. I would be OK with the 18" if that was the best you could do but 15 feet after you have already hit a cabinet inside would be a no-go with me. I would have you making that first box a service disconnect for the full monte and the run to the next box would be a 4 wire feeder.
230.6 defines "outside of the building " as
"(2) Where installed within a building or other structure in a raceway that is encased in concrete or brick not less than 50 mm (2 in.) thick"
Unprotected conductors inside a building are the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night, even if it is not my building.
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/19/18 06:35 AM

greg thank you for your reply,
I wish i knew how to post a picture of a drawing i did, one inspector says that if the main conductor comes into the house and then goes to a 200 amp stand alone breaker, then feeds the terminal box and then i can run feeders off the terminal box to the garage breaker box and to the apartment breaker box above the garage. all must be in pvc conduit, ok i have been doing electric work for about 20 years and have never had to do one of these. would you think a "disconnect" like a 200 amp breaker would be ok? what about bonding? do you know how to post a drawing on here? are my inspectors not that well trained to have 3 not agree?

thank you again any help is really appreciated!

Posted By: ghost307

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/19/18 02:26 PM

I think the question comes down to the feed leaving the first box is if a service conductor or a feeder.
If it's a service conductor it needs to be 'legally' outside the building and the PVC conduit won't do that.
A service conductor has no overcurrent protection upstream so if it overloads there's nothing to automatically shut it down before the whole place catches fire.

If the wire is taken off before the breaker it's a service conductor, but if it's after the breaker it's a feeder and only needs physical protection (like the PVC conduit) since it is protected from overload by the circuit breaker.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/19/18 07:34 PM

I guess a 'terminal box' is a type of splice/junction box, with taps; not any type of OCP.

If that's the case, then I agree with what Greg stated, and what Ghost stated. Unprotected (No OCP) conductors cannot be routed within the structure. Putting the conductors in PVC, Sch 40 or 80 don't fly, unless you encase it in a min. of 2" of concrete on all sides. No type of raceway is compliant.

Yes, the Code does NOT specify an exact dimension of 'unprotected conductors' within a structure, it states "Closest to the point of entry". Yes, this is one of those 'gray areas', and left to the discretion of the inspectors.

The GEC (rod/water/ufer) is terminated to the neutral conductor at the main OCP, and SER ground conductor is terminated to a ground block (NOT the neutral block) in all the subpanels.

I'm quite sure IF you skim thru the Tech area here, you can find a drawing. Or, try Mike Holt website. If you are close to a local library, see if they have a copy of the NEC Handbook for whatever year NEC is adopted in your area.

Interesting that you cannot get three inspectors to agree? PS, I am an active inspector.

Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/20/18 02:38 AM

thank you both for your input, and your patience! i really appreciate it. i would not have been so involved with this mess but i am donating 100% time and 100% material to a ww2 90 year old female vet, so thanks for your patience and helping me solve this. very few ever give back, so your helping me give back to her! thank you!
i just need to be absolute sure when i do this, regardless of the inspectors as they can seem to make up there mind.

i talked to one the ahj or inspectors,
he said 200 amp breaker box outside house for the main conductor coming in/main disconnect, nothing else in the box just for the main conductor coming in and going into the terminal box in the basement.

he wont let me run 3 feet of sec in the basement and install a main breaker in the basement, my argument was all the area houses have 2-3 feet of sec into the house and then a main breaker box, he said thats not protected it might be the normal way, still not right. he said "this is not a normal main conductor to breaker box set up"

he said then you can route your wire in pvc protection from the main outside breaker disconnect there, to the terminal box, then you can feed the house, garage and apartment above garage off that, as long as your grounded and bonded and protected in pvc.

he said that 2-5 feet of sec to a main breaker box is the norm, but he does not like unprotected wire. ok i can see that the main line in goes to the house outside, 200 amp breaker protected, then to the terminal box in the basement, still protected by the main breaker, the feeders (house, apartment, garage) are reverse protected back to the outside breaker.

ok so whats wrong with this picture? anything?

the other inspector said you can do all the above, except if you run 22 inches in side the basement into a main 200 amp dedicated breaker mounted on the wall i will allow it. ok so 22 inches of wire is still coming in the house and this would be so much better and easier then trying to bend wire at 10 above. he said that since its under the house its considered outside according to nec 2005 code. i know it seems like i am asking the same question, but whats your suggestions?

thanks for your help
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/20/18 06:32 PM

Under the house is not "outside" unless it is under concrete. That rule is decades old, long before 2005.
If you come inside and hit the disconnect as soon as possible, it should be OK. Like John says, it is unspecified how far that can be but most inspectors see it as being as soon as possible with a back to back install being best. (Either straight from the meter enclosure or from an LB). You land the ground electrode conductor there with the service disconnect and bond the neutral there. Then everything beyond that will be a feeder (4 wires).
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/20/18 08:08 PM


It sounds like there is a bit of confusion somewhere regarding the term "Protection"

"Protection from physical damage" , and 'Overcurrect Protection"

There is NO dimension within the NEC, and I do not believe there ever was a specific measurement. IF SEC is 'inside' and NOT directly (Closest to the point of entry)into a MOCP device it must be encased in a min. of 2" of concrete on all sides. As I said, PVC, EMT etc. does not count.

A main panel, located either outside, or inside closest to the point of entry of the SEU solves that issue. In THAT panel, you land the grounds which bond the neutral there. Now, from that panel, you run SER (4 conductor) fed from a correct sizes circuit breaker to your SUBPANELS, each with a separate ground block. Make sure your main panel is capable of accepting the size (amperage) breakers you need for he subpanels.

The assumption is that this job has only one (1) utility meter.
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/23/18 06:06 AM

i really must be in the twilight zone with the local inspectors or they just really want to mess with me, so i asked the older inspector if i could just put a 200 amp single breaker outdoor right under the only meter on the pole (main conductor) and then everything is protected down the line, treat it like feeders, the 3 wire cable is there and travels 50 feet to the house, he said yes but... that wont solve my terminal box in the basement, he said as soon as it comes into the terminal box, you have to 4 wire it over to each panel from there.

i cant do 4 wire from the future breaker box on the pole to the terminal box in the basement, i would have to dig up all old wire, way to much work, so as long as a separate the neutral and the ground in the new terminal box in the basement and make it all 4 wire in that box and then feed wire to each panel 4 wire, i should be ok and in code right? then do i need pvc for physical protection or just as long as its under sheetrock????this is the easy way for me to do this. comments please!
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/23/18 06:53 AM

Why not put the service disconnect on the house. Then your service lateral going to the pole will be on the line side of the main bonding jumper and 3 wire is kosher. You could even put it inside where your terminal box is now. Best is back to back with the LB but they usually let you get away with a couple feet of SE inside if it is the shortest practical route.
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/24/18 02:40 AM

that was the whole problem to begin with, i wanted to go inside from the lb right next to the terminal box but the se cable would have to be 6 feet long. way to long. so the idea was a 200 amp breaker right under the meter, well i just found out that the main line from the pole runs to a 200 amp transfer switch in a out building that is used to switch a generator or main conductor from the pole. (there is no generator installed) and next to the transfer switch is a terminal box that feeds the house and 2 small buildings. all lines are 2 feet under ground. so this changes a few things.

i thought the main line from the meter went right to the house, no it does not. its fed from the building that has a transfer switch in it and there is no room next to the transfer switch it without tearing it all out and redoing it, so my solution is to just put a 200 amp breaker under the meter and then all lines are protected. there is 3 wire 200 amp direct burial cable that runs to each building, would i have to do anything else beside just install a 200 amp breaker at the pole to meet code?

thank you!
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/24/18 05:28 AM

You still have the problem that anything on the load side of the main bonding jumper is a feeder (4 wires) and the bonding jumper needs to be in the service disconnect enclosure.
Tell us more about the transfer equipment. Is it creating a Separately Derived System (switching the neutral).
That still may be where you want to set the service disconnect even if it is on the outside wall. You still have the 4 wire feeder problem tho.
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/27/18 06:21 AM

ok so here is the wires etc. as they are now,
the pole has a meter on it, right under that is a 200 amp line that is in pvc and leads to a 200 amp transfer switch about 100 feet from the pole, (cutler hammer/eaton DT363URK, the switch is a simple on off on, 3 wires go in this switch, and then in the middle position it is off, move the handle up its then connected to the generator, move the handle down its connected to the line from the pole. there no nothing hooked to the generator side at all. right next to the transfer switch is a midwest electric terminal box, that box that has a wire from the transfer switch, then the terminal box feeds 2 buildings each with100 amp breaker boxes, and the house 20 amp breaker box.

its all 3 wire, and was installed over 10 years ago, there is no 4 wire anyplace. i thought about doing the main disconnect outside the main building ( where the pole power line goes and the transfer switch is) but if its under the meter on the pole lit would be so much more easy. all is a 3 wire set up. i know that if the pole breaker has a main disconnect then its all 3 wire feeder downline. this was a common set up for solar power a few years back in my area. so i cant dig up all this wire and replace it with a 4 wire, the install was code at the time, yes i know but it was. it works fine and causes no problems.
so how do i make it work with a pole mounted breaker disconnect? i have seen so many electric coop drawings on line for excatly what i am describing. meter- pole mount breaker box, then feeds the house etc.
please give me your iinput.

thank you
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/27/18 06:15 PM

OK The code did allow 3 wire feeders to separate buildings back in the olden days. It was probably 250.24 in those days (Clinton administration). If you treat the feeder entrance like a service (Ground electrodes, bond the neutral, no other metal paths etc) you are legal under that code. If your AHJ will still let you keep that grandfather around you can stay with the 3 wire to the building(s). You still need another disconnect where it enters each building. Once you have that, standard wiring methods for feeders, taps and branch circuits should be OK. Physical protection usually ends up being in the eye of the AHJ so we can't say what the conduit requirements will be.
I would be OK with SE cable for a feeder.
These are not really service conductors since you have a 200a breaker upstream (on the pole or in the outbuilding with the transfer switch). You do bump into 225.31 about feeding one building through another and that requires a disconnect at each building entrance.
I see his concern that you have a feeder inside the building that is not disconnected with the local disconnect.
You can make that go away by taking the garage feeder off the line side of the 200 a breaker in the house. This is a feeder tap, so you use feed through lugs on the bus if the panel board supports them. The other option would be to add another disconnect for the garage feeder at the entrance to the house. If you can do this in the house panel it would be easier.
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/28/18 07:05 AM

ok i ran what you said past him, we went out to the pole and he said ok look, the rural coop says has a meter and a 200 amp service here, so you can add a 200 amp breaker as a disconnect right below the meter. the meter box is grounded into this wire that runs down the pole into the earth. ( i was wondering why he was saying this) then you just have a 3 wire feeder ok? i said yes. ok then he said we dont have any other metal conductive paths do we? i said no. he said ok old code but safe. got it? i said yes. then he said ok lets look at all 5 buildings. first the generator shed (where the transfer switch is and the first terminal box). he said ok simple switch, then it goes right into a terminal box and a breaker box for the first feed to this building right? i said yes, then he said ok the switch is inside but it is a non fused disconnect. so you have a main breaker box, thats one disconnect and the transfer switch that another disconnect. they both are as the wire enters into the building so were still in code got it? i said yes. ok then 4 other buildings is fed from this first terminal box and each has no conductive paths but the wire buried 24 inches in sch 40 conduit right? i said yes, ok then he said each building has a breaker box and a breaker in that box as your main disconnect correct? i said yes.

ok then thats code, now lets go to the house, there is a wire that goes in the house and feeds a terminal box correct?
i said yes. this is where he questions me more..

he does not like a feeder wire unprotected even if its pole protected, so he said some stuff is grandfathered in, so he said do you really need 100 amps in a garage? i said not really? he said if you dont, do a 60 amp breaker in the 200 amp box fed it through the wall and a mini box in the garage and call it done. you dont need a terminal box inside at all. your box is older and does not have feeder lugs, but if you want a full 100 amp box in the garage then you need a stand alone breaker/disconnect right after the terminal box even if your garage breaker box is only 8 feet away.

i said its all feeder wires, he said yes but what protects the wire out of the terminal box and going 8 feet into another building? i said ok so wire into the terminal box feed the main box right next to it, then a single breaker and feed the garage breaker box? he said yes. if you can find a 100 amp breaker instead of a 60 amp that fits into your main 200 amp box your fine, then feed your other box in the garage and save lots of work. ok so does this all meet code? there are no feed through lugs on the old main box. but he didnt say what protection for in the walls for se cable leading to each box. i was going to use sc40 not 80 but any ideas on not using any? its all behind sheet rock. and he never said if to bond the box to the neutral/ground bar. but all other boxes are already.

all there ahj said different things, but this old guy seems to have more sense.

so comments please!!

Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/28/18 07:20 AM

forgot to ask see any problem with running (2) 100 amp breakers in the main house box to feed garage and then one to feed apartment above garage? i know you can go above the box rating , since its 200 amp.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/29/18 06:07 AM

You can do it but I might want to see a load calc.
What is going in the garage? 15KW of toaster wire heat would certainly ring a bell. If you are just talking about a dryer and power tools I would not be as concerned for a regular dwelling. If this is all gas heat appliances it would not be as troubling at all
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/29/18 02:03 PM

in the garage is propane heater, 6 led lights and a fa, garage door opener, all under 30 amps if that.
the apartment under 60 amps total. furnace and ac unit, i didnt check locked rotor amps on motor but motors under 1/2 hp.
but i get no answer about does if 100 amp feeder wire has to be in pvc conduit behind wall or just wire holders? its just like running nm under sheet rock right? i know its bigger. whats the norm in your area for doing this??
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/29/18 02:04 PM

sorry yes all gas appliances
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/29/18 06:16 PM

The only issue I see is physical protection. A drywall screw into a 100a SE can get pretty spectacular.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/29/18 06:33 PM

Nail plates over any bored/notched framing and EMT conduit solves the physical damage issue.

I had a 'friend' years back who was hanging portraits in his condo; drilled a hole for a molly/toggle, hit the adjacent units 200 amp riser. Was not a pretty scene, and cost him about $2500!!

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/29/18 11:37 PM

I have always been against the idea of using stackers to move cables 1.25" away from framing horizontally but still right behind the drywall for just that reason. For some reason someone decided the 1.25" did not have to be back from the drywall. Harry homeowner hanging pictures may not be looking for studs, the Mrs says "right here" and that is where they run in the screw, nail or drill.
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 11/30/18 03:51 AM

thanks for the input, ok so emt or pvc sc 40 or 80?
the walls are 2 x 6 and i always use nail plates.

thank for all the help
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 01/07/19 03:34 AM

HI there, well I did the install with the advice on here, thank you all!!
i pole mounted 200 amp breaker, the old 3 wire feed to the back of the house from the pole, into a terminal box that splits a feeder into the garage, a feeder into the house, a feeder into a room upstairs above a garage. (terminal box has no ocpd) its just a terminal box, load calculations is all under max amps, ok so the inspectors liked that, as all lines protected to all out buildings. some stuff grandfathered in some not. terminal box is grounded to a ground rod thats all. ok i know needs more...

so heres my question, the garage, the upstairs room i want to run a ground wire to a 8 foot ground rod. one for each panel. space them 6 or more feet each, i want to make each breaker box a 4 wire. (i looked at nec 250, but?) the main house is a 3 wire bonded neutral/ground panel. grandfathered in, i know thats not a main ground return path??, any suggestions on where to ground the wire besides rods?

one inspector said if i take all grounds off each panel for each building old or new and have hot, hot, separate neutral and separate ground using a ground rod for each panel he would sign off, the other said no you cant. and i cant dig up the lines that go to each building. they met code in 1991.there are no pipes, lines etc except a propane copper line to all buildings but its not used as a ground at any location. so any suggestions? im 90% done except for the ground issue. i know im supposed to have 4 wire on all new work. thank you for helping.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 01/08/19 02:50 AM

You can't just drive a rod and call it a ground, it must be bonded the neutral.

(5) Effective Ground-Fault Current Path. Electrical equipment and wiring and other electrically conductive material likely to become energized shall be installed in a manner that creates a low-impedance circuit facilitating the operation of the overcurrent device or ground detector for high-impedance grounded systems. It shall be capable of safely carrying the maximum ground-fault current likely to be imposed on it from any point on the wiring system where a ground fault may occur to the electrical supply source. The earth shall not be considered as an effective ground-fault current path.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: sec cable code conflict - 01/08/19 06:33 PM

Reading thru this is causing my head to get ready to explode.

"one inspector said if i take all grounds off each panel for each building old or new and have hot, hot, separate neutral and separate ground using a ground rod for each panel he would sign off,"

"the other said no you cant"

My head hurts! How could this occur here in the USA?? These guys licensed?? Must they go for any CEUs?

OK, I see the point of an old, old situation, that is questionable IF it ever passed any inspections from day one. OK, sometimes the 'grandfather' thing can be used (here we call it REHAB, but....this sounds worse every post.

Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 01/10/19 07:45 AM

HI, yes it does get worse with every post, I have fought with these three inspectors from day one on this project. i am volunteering and i know what i am supposed to do, then the other inspectors come in change stuff, they are all in a "i know better then the last guy attitude" so i am 90% done, so far no ground rods at all the outbuildings. i did not unhook any old work that was grounded. i did not ground to any buried propane line, (there is 400 feet of it) i know boom..

the old 3 wire/components in the outbuildings did pass code in 1990 or 1991, it was done right for 3 wire, job looked great who ever did it. no connections by any metal to any other building, this whole project was a headache from the start, there is no way tie to the old buildings into a 4 wire system as digging up hundreds feet of wire isnt going to happen. i think it is safe there as 3 wire.

ok so the last 2 things is, there is a terminal box that is installed on the back of the house like i said earlier, and it is a 3 wire from the 200 amp breaker on the pole that goes into that terminal box.. so its 3 wire. i ran 4 wire from that outside terminal box to the garage breaker box and the upper, (call it a apartment) breaker box. hot, hot, neutral, ground. each ground is bonded to each box. neutrals are each separate, not bonded or tied to ground at the boxes.

so i thought i did each thing to code, then the 2nd inspector says ok, but i want each new box to have a ground rod.
ok sure 6 feet apart? do i really need them? its all 3 wire except the 2 new boxes. the old work he wants each box to have a ground rod too, i looked at section 250.

so before i take up up serious drinking etc, could some one please, please tell me what if anything i am doing wrong...
i really thought i was doing code before this mess now i wonder...
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: sec cable code conflict - 01/11/19 07:23 AM

Nobody ever got it trouble driving another ground rod as long as it is bonded to the grounding electrode system.
Posted By: jake2018

Re: sec cable code conflict - 01/12/19 12:36 AM

well i did that. i am done with this project.. thanks for your earlier help. this forum is great.
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