What type of wire for 50A overhead service from house to garage?


What type of wire should I use to make a 50 foot over head run from the house to the garage? This will be a 50A 240V circuit from the main house panel. Right now we have separate service from the electric company to the garage with a separate meter (1 meter for the house 1 for the garage). The electric company now wants to charge a 30 dollar per month service charge for the garage. We can't afford that. To go below ground would we would have to deal with a 4 foot across driveway and a gas line, that's why we want to go overhead. Do we need 4 conductor wire that being 2 hots a neutral and a ground? What about 3 conductor (2 hots and a neutral) and a ground rod at garage panel? Do we need to enclose the wire in a pipe to run up the house then leave it open till it reaches the garage then more pipe down to the garage entrance?
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I think you'd be better off going underground. You can bang a pipe under the driveway. To go overhead, you'll need to run a conduit or ser cable from the panel in the house up the side of the house to a service head. You'll need 4 conductor messenger cable to go from the house to the garage. Three insulated and one bare. Then you need more conduit or SER cable at the garage, from the second service head to it's panel, and you do need ground rods
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*As RBM noted you will need to make two service entrances; one at each building. You will not need a meter socket or disconnect outside since you will have over current protection in each circuit breaker panel. For overhead you can run multiplex wire which has the neutral as the support and you would splice that at each end to the wire coming out of your service head. You can use SE cable or conduit for the service entrance on each building and you will need strong hooks to carry the weight of the overhead wire. The overhead wire needs to be at least 12' high and cannot pass over a pool. You will need 4 conductors and at least one ground rod at the garage.
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John Grabowski wrote:

(not saying you are incorrect, just adding some info)
I just had a 200 amp service run to my garage and a pole moved. I asked if the bare wire was aluminum (it looked like it was but I thought it would stretch). He said it is aluminum with the center strand steel so it holds the weight of all three wires.
To avoid having 2 meters and being charged a monthly service charge plus a higher business rate for the garage, they installed what they call a "current transformer" and put one meter out on the pole with the transformer and jumpers and a blank where the old meter was. It cost me a hundred or so dollars for the new service and even more for the current transformer hook up, but it's cost will be made up in less than 1 year without the surcharge.
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I think what you have is sometimes called a farm service. One meter on a privately owned pole, and multiple overhead drops to different buildings. It may be possible for the OP to do something like that, but typically this stuff is determined by the serving utility company.
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RBM wrote:

Possibly the same thing. The key difference is that the actual power I use doesn't go through the meter. Just a small percentage from the "current transformer" feeds the meter. If I pulled the meter I would still have power. Re-reading your post I'll mention that I do not own the pole.
The rules about the poles and wires here. Any trees before the transformer the power co. will cut themselves (to avoid people like me felling a tree onto the high voltage 17Kv lines). Any trees after the transformer and meter pole, I am responsible for... sort of. If I cut a tree and it downs my lines, I am responsible for the damage. But if I first call the power co., they will comes and disconnect the lines, I cut the tree, then they hook up the lines again, no charge. However if a storm knocks down a tree which takes out the low voltage lines, then they will repair no charge.
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That all makes perfect sense. Usually if the service is over 200 amp, they use current transformers, as you describe, with a bypass meter socket. In my area in NY, the customer pays for everything, materials and labor, with the exception of the current transformers and the actual meter. The utility company won't even install the pole. I mean, you can't even pay them to do it, it has to be done privately.
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John Grabowski wrote:

As both RBM and John said, starting with the 2008 NEC you need 4 wires, one of which is a ground wire. When you run a ground wire you need to remove the neutral-ground bond that should be in your existing garage panel. Sometimes it is an easily seen strap from the neutral bar to the enclosure. Often it is a hard to distinguish screw that looks like a mounting screw for the neutral bar. The neutral bar should be isolated from the enclosure/ground.
You should already have a ground rod at the garage - verify it is there.
--
bud--

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gorehound wrote:

Update! Turns out the run was about 100'. We rented a trencher to do the long run, and we used it to dig a trench beside the drive (unfortunately not quite long enough) so we could lay the pie in to beat it under the driveway. What we didn't think about was the swing factor for the sledge, and had to dig back a few feet using the maddock because we already took the trencher back. Pounding that pipe under the driveway was not easy, but it worked. We used 6/3 UF to get from the house to the garage. Tomorrow we will finish up and hopefully no fires!
Thanks for all of the suggestions!
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#8 will handle 45 amps. #6 wil handle 60 amps.

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