The fact that after it's been explained to you several times, and you
still don't get it, means you really really really should NOT be
touching this. AT ALL.
Call an electrician. Pay attention to what he does, take notes, learn.
Don't go after this on your own. You will get fried.
All a 200 Amp service means is that the wire from the pole to the
breaker box is of heavy enough gauge to conduct 200 Amps of electrical
current. You need to know the gauge of the wire from the pole to the
breaker box to find out how big a service the house currently has.
The fact that there is only a 100A main breaker in the panel simply
limits the current that the house can draw to 100 Amps.
Farmhouses have often had their services replaced. The extra wires you
see are likely remnants of the old service.
I believe someone suggested reading the wire size as printed on the
wire. There isn't information on what the wire size is. My guess is it
is rated 100A and then is required to be protected at the source end
(pole) at 100A (instead of 200A). It is possible the original intent was
to parallel 2 sets of 100A wire (but according to the NEC the wire is
not large enough to parallel). The crawl space is under an addition. The
wires may have all been connected before the addition.
That's just screwy. Why one in their right mind would place two sets of
three conductors (cables), each with an ampacity of 100, instead of the
VASTLY more typical set of three conductors with an ampacity of 200
From what you describe (200A breaker at pole and 100A in house) implies
much or nothing at all, particularly if, as is typical in farm
installations, it's all "beyond" the meter - often on the main pole in
the center of the farmstead.
Rural and farm electrical wiring, particularly if it's beyond the meter
(power company demarcation point), is notoriously DIY and, as such,
probably NOT to code, not inspected and potentially dangerous.
Still, I can't imagine even the most brain dead DIY farmer leaving LIVE,
bare wire on the ground UNDER his dwelling. My guess is they're dead.
I'll still bet they're from a previous, now-abandoned service. My guess
is that that inside the breaker box on the pole you will find only three
If there are powered outbuildings, how are they fed? Aerial?
Underground? From the house or the main pole?
Take a long screw driver into the crawl space, too. You can jam it into
the ground for a (duh) ground to use for your tests. While you're in
there, carefully inspect the cable jacket and record any information
that is visible. You may need a rag to wipe them off in order to see
the print. This will reveal the type and gauge of the cable. Inspect
all six conductors for such information - after you have verified that
the exposed conductors are dead.
If it's relatively modern cable and the insulation is in good shape,
killing the power is probably not absolutely necessary although it never
hurts to err on the safe side.
Calling a professional, licensed electrician might be a worthwhile
investment although, given the rural location and the crawl space he
must enter, it won't be cheap.
Please leave your usenet log-in and password by your computer so your
widow can let us know how it went. <big grin>
Okay, you've got one end of the cable. The other end has to be somewhere.
See if you can find it.
If the other end is hooked up to a transformer, you've got a set of live
wires. If the cables are just dangling on the pole, it's dead and you can
sell the wire to a copper salvage company.
From the crawlspace, the cables run through the ground in conduit to the
pole. The conduit comes out of the ground, runs up the pole, into the 200
amp breaker, and then into the a service panel (mounted on the pole). I'm
assuming the cables are in the panel but not connected (of curse I'll test
this first). Anyway, the "other ends" are not vidible.
There are non contact voltage testers available at any good hardware
or home center. Simply holding the tip of one of those these against
the insulation should be enough to tell you if it is energized. In
order to use your multi-tester you would have to remove or pierce the
insulation which would expose you to accidental contact with the
conductor itself. Given the low cost of a non contact voltage tester
I would think it a worthwhile investment. The two hundred ampere
breaker at the yard pole can usually be exposed without a great deal
of hazard. If the breaker enclosure is in good condition and you can
readily make out how to remove the cover you might consider doing so.
Your description; "The conduit comes out of the ground, runs up the
pole, into the 200 amp breaker, and then into the a service panel
(mounted on the pole)."; is puzzling me. Can you describe the thing
you are calling a service panel? Does the conduit from the crawl
space end at the enclosure for the two hundred ampere breaker? Does
that enclosure appear to contain only the two hundred ampere breaker?
What does the service panel contain. If you have anyplace you could
post pictures it would be real helpful. You could even send me the
pictures and I would be happy to help you puzzle this out. I am an
electrician by craft and I have farm and ranch wiring experience.
I hope that is helpful.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.