My thinking is solidifying around deciding to use a whole house
transfer switch such as
(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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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:
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
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.
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.
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
On ebay, they sell both automatic and manual versions of this.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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?
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:
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
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
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.
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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