DIY Installing Whole House Transfer switch at Service Entrance

My thinking is solidifying around deciding to use a whole house transfer switch such as
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumberB163
(200 AMP manual whole house transfer switch by Cutler Hammer)
The plan is to install it at the service entrance. I am aware that I will need to pull a permit and involve my utility to turn off electricity and to reinstall the seal on the meter. The question is, if I do it DIY, is it at all possible and how hard it is for an amateur.
My general skill level is that I was able to, say, build a shed or install an electrical subpanel in the garage, or repair a diesel generator. Not great, but I can follow instructions and use tools.
So... What is involved here, how many hours it could take etc.
Thanks
i
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Ignoramus5207 wrote:

A couple of things. Check and see if your inspecting authority and utility will allow an unlicensed person to do this job. They may have different rules when working on the mains. You will have to break in to the line between your meter and main breaker distribution panel. Do you have the tools needed to work any conduit that may be there. Most important, your power will be off till you finish the job if you run into a snag "ouch". Check and see if the utility will connect you back up before you are inspected, if not it could be a cold and depending on your wife dangerous night. Though you could use the genset to power up. Get an estimate from a few contractors on a labor only job, might surprise you. It can be tough to find one who is willing to give up the markup on the transfer switch but if you can it may save you some headaches. Good luck, Dave
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wrote:

I will ask them.

What might those tools be?

Good point.

I will check that. What I want is to have a better grip on just what work is involved here.
i
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I just had a 6 circuit put in for 200. The meter-power was left on . It is wired to my panel. Get a pre wired -labeled unit , it is easy and foolproof. Be sure you have 2 watt meters included on the panel to balance your load.
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Thanks. The problem is that 6 or 10 circuits is not enough for me. Our house has like 25 circuits, most of which I would like to be able to power if necessary. Not all at once, obviously, with a 7kW generator.
i
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There are prewired kits with as many circuits as you need.
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I will check, maybe I can do with a 12 circuit kit, but I doubt that. I tried counting once and the # that I wanted to have was something like 20.
i
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Ignoramus5207 wrote:

There is too little information here to give you a good answer. What wiring method was used to bring the wiring from the meter enclosure to the Service Equipment enclosure? i.e. is it rigid metallic conduit, rigid nonmetallic conduit, service entry cable...? Is the service equipment enclosure surface or flush mounted? Is there space right next to the service equipment enclosure to mount the transfer switch? If you have the ability to post pictures somewhere for us to look at we can be more help. -- Tom H
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Fair enough. I will answer your questions and I also can make good quality pictures of whatever you tell me is relevant and post them on a webpage. By the way, here my main panel:
http://igor.chudov.com/tmp/mainpanel /

Looks like rigid conduit, see pictures above.

Surface mounted. It is mounted is a box of sorts that is tall and narrow and shallow. Something like a 30" tall x 6" wide x 3" deep box.

I will try to do that tonight, if I can make pictures in the dark that is. I have the ability to post pictures, as such, see my generator pictures for example
http://igor.chudov.com/tmp/onan/Diesel /
But taking pictures in the dark after work is going to require some effort. Anyhow, I will do it as it is important to have good input into making decisions.
i
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Ignoramus30333 wrote:

Have you thought about locating the transfer switch at the meter box instead of at the main panel? Electrically, the switch goes between the meter and the main panel. Physically, it could go at either end or anywhere in the middle.
You *might* could mount it right next to your meter box with a 2.5" conduit nipple and not disturb the existing service conduit. (Depends on whether you can splice the hot service conductors on the LOAD side in the meter box. I have no idea if there is room for that, or if it would be permitted). You also would not have to bring the generator cables into the house that way.
BTW, short pieces of 2/0 wire are very hard to work with.
Bob
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Yes, I thought about something similar. Specifically, I am indeed considering installing a replacement for the meter enclosure, that would contain a hole for the utility meter, opening for the utility wires, opening for generator wires, and a double pole double throw transfer switch.
On ebay, they sell both automatic and manual versions of this.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item865661256

I have no idea about that, either. My meter box is locked.

This would be nice indeed.

No doubt! Itried flexing that wire yesterday, and indeed it was rather rigid, despite having several strands.
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Ignoramus30333 wrote:

Just judging by your service equipment enclosure photograph I would guess that you are in a conduit only local code area. If you can reroute the service conduit to either the bottom or top of the transfer switch enclosure and nipple between that enclosure and the lighting and appliance panel's cabinet you should be able to do it yourself, local law permitting.
Although it is not required by any code the best practise with transfer switches is to route the service entry conductors to the bottom terminals of the transfer switch so that they enter the transfer switch enclosure as close as practical to the botom terminals so that they do not have to be run inside the enclosure adjacent to the panel jumpers or the generator supply conductors. This is because any fault and resultant burn down of the service entry conductors will cause the least damage to the switch mechanism and have the least likelihood of destroying the generator supply conductors or the jumpers between the center contacts of the transfer switch and the lighting and appliance panels main terminals. Also any moisture that comes inside via the service raceway will end up in the bottom of the transfer switch enclosure were it will do the least damage and have the least effect of the switch mechanism.
If local code requires that the Service Equipment Over Current Protection be on the line side of the transfer switch or if the transfer switch is not listed as "suitable for use as service equipment" then you will have to install a main breaker or a fused switch or pullout ahead of the transfer switch. That would, in fact, be best practice but it can markedly increase the cost of the job. The unmodifed US NEC would only require that the switch be listed as "Suitable for use as Service Equipment" and be immediately adjacent to the Service Equipment Over Current Protection. If the Service Equipment Over Current Protection must be ahead of the switch than check if there is an enclosure available from your panel manufacturer; GE I think; that is suitable for use with your existing main breaker assembly. You will save money if you can order just the main breaker enclosure and a main lug kit for the lighting and appliance panel so you can relocate the main breaker to the separate enclosure.
Keep in mind that if you do have to locate the main breaker out of the lighting and appliance panel enclosure that the panel would no longer be service equipment. You would then have to remove the main bonding jumper that bonds the neutral buss to the panel cabinet and separate the Equipment Grounding Conductors (EGC) onto an EGC buss bar that is bonded to the panels cabinet. It would appear from the photograph that you may be able to remove the bar between the panel's left and right buss bars and use the left as the EGC buss and the right one as the insulated neutral buss. That has to be checked and confirmed very carefully.
Ther is no doubt in my mind that what you are proposing is a high challenge task for a DIY project. If you have more questions just ask. -- Tom H
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That is correct.

You are talking about installing the transfer switch in-house, right? I will try to paraphrase your suggestion, and you tell me if I got it right.
1. Mount a transfer switch near the service panel.
2. Re-route the main utility wire from the main manel to the UTILITY terminals of the transfer switch
3. Route the wire from the LOAD side of the transfer switch back into the main panel.
4. Connect the generator wire to the generator side of the input of the transfer switch.
Am I describing correctly what you are proposing?

Okay.
Makes sense, but I start suspecting that you are talking about mounting the transfer switch outside and not inside. If so, then, I do not need to access the meter enclosure to install the switch. I am confused.

That would be something to find out from our building department. I spoke to them about similar issues 2 years ago, and they did not mention this requirement.

I am confused, if the main breaker is outside of my panel, why should it be compatible with my panel?

I understand that.

I doubt that I have enough openings in one half of the bar to accommodate all neutrals from my numerous circuits.

I will definitely ask more questions. I will try to make good pictures of everything tonight.
Meanwhile, what do you think about this meter enclosure replacement:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item865661256
i
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Replies are in line
Ignoramus30333 wrote:

Yes
No, I'm still talking about an indoor installation right next to the panel. A common problem with service entry conductors is that water will leak or condense in the service entry cable or raceway and drip into the service equipment enclosure having run down the service conductors to the inside of the building. Were the main terminals of the equipment is located at the top of the enclosing cabinet the water drips onto the breakers and buss bars which maximizes the damage caused by the resultant corrosion. If any water that follows the service conductors inside can only drip into the bottom of the cabinet without passing over the panel equipment the only corrosion that would result would be to the cabinet rather than the panel equipment that cabinet encloses.

So that you only have to purchase the enclosure rather than a main breaker and enclosure. This would save around one hundred dollars.

If it is a GE it should have exactly the same number of terminals in the right side buss bar as there are breaker slots available in the panel. The only draw back is that you have to route one wire from each circuit to each side of the panel if the Equipment Grounding Conductor for that circuit is in the form of a wire rather than the conduit itself.

You will have to get the Manufacturer's specification sheet for that meter cabinet and make sure it is acceptable to the utility. Some utilities will not permit the use of mechanical lugs, for instance, in a meter enclosure. All utilities require that the meter enclosure meet certain utility standards. Download the installation manual and submit it to the utilities engineering standards office. The manual for that switch is located at http://www.electromn.com/pdf/LI105.pdf
The manufacturer states that the unit is listed by Applied Research Laboratories (ARL) in accordance with UL standard 1008/414. See if that is enough information for your power provider to accept the unit.
Good luck -- Tom H
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Thanks. Since my incoming wires are short, I would somehow need to extend them. Is that possible? They are quite large, after all.

I see. Thanks.

Got it.

My manel is ITE/Gould.

I see. So, I would talk to the utility and see if it is acceptable for them. Replacing the original meter enclosure with this one should not be terribly difficult. Is that correct?
i
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If you don't have any (successful) experience with main feed wiring, I'd hire someone. There are a lot of things mere mortals can't know and have no experience in doing, and (IMHO) that's one of the areas you really do need a licensed (experienced) electrician for.
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