Author Topic: Can I install my sub-panel?  (Read 1842 times)

Jon Bon

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Can I install my sub-panel?
« on: January 10, 2018, 08:03:29 AM »
So my electrician is either busy or lazy or both, so I was thinking about doing my own sub-panel.

Backstory: Detached garage, panel will be approximately 40 feet from existing panel.  100 amp service into 150 amp main panel. 1.5 inch underground conduit already buried. I understand about not bonding the sub-panel, and I have run circuits myself before. This is all permitted and above board.  I have a very friendly code department (to the homeowner)

Questions:
1. Can I DIY?
2. What type of wire do I run to handle 100 amps?
3. Code Pitfalls to watch out for?


Ill take any nuggets of wisdom you might have, thanks all!



ncornilsen

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2018, 08:06:39 AM »
You should be fine to DIY this... in Oregon at least, you can do that work if you have a permit.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2018, 03:47:40 PM »
The first thing we did when we moved in was add 2 100-amp sub-panels (DIY'ed) for a total of 48 new available circuits. We've already used over half of those.

If I recall right, we used 1/0 aluminum wire.

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2018, 05:05:16 PM »
The first thing we did when we moved in was add 2 100-amp sub-panels (DIY'ed) for a total of 48 new available circuits. We've already used over half of those.

If I recall right, we used 1/0 aluminum wire.


Grow operation right? :-) I guess bitcoin mining would be more 2018.

Can anyone tell me what kind of wire I need? I think I need #2, but its got to be a different kind because it is going underground?

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwire-By-the-Foot-2-2-2-4-Black-Stranded-Al-Quad-Dyke-URD-Cable-55417399/205001803?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cTHD%7cG%7c0%7cG-VF-PLA-D27E-Electrical%7c&gclid=Cj0KCQiAkNfSBRCSARIsAL-u3X9LL1nHFohw1Ivxrl_PE55DcTp_eVT-ZpVwICxQsan4BJiS6gshQ28aAn8NEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CIf_nbfKztgCFZNqAQodl8YHwQ

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2018, 06:11:49 PM »
The first thing we did when we moved in was add 2 100-amp sub-panels (DIY'ed) for a total of 48 new available circuits. We've already used over half of those.

If I recall right, we used 1/0 aluminum wire.


Grow operation right? :-) I guess bitcoin mining would be more 2018.

Can anyone tell me what kind of wire I need? I think I need #2, but its got to be a different kind because it is going underground?

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwire-By-the-Foot-2-2-2-4-Black-Stranded-Al-Quad-Dyke-URD-Cable-55417399/205001803?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cTHD%7cG%7c0%7cG-VF-PLA-D27E-Electrical%7c&gclid=Cj0KCQiAkNfSBRCSARIsAL-u3X9LL1nHFohw1Ivxrl_PE55DcTp_eVT-ZpVwICxQsan4BJiS6gshQ28aAn8NEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CIf_nbfKztgCFZNqAQodl8YHwQ

I wish is was anything that exciting. Mostly its been things like the boiler and the washing machine should each have a dedicated circuit (and central vac and so on), not be on the same circuit . . . oh and adding a fully electric brewery (I guess that was exciting).

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 11:21:16 AM »
The first thing we did when we moved in was add 2 100-amp sub-panels (DIY'ed) for a total of 48 new available circuits. We've already used over half of those.

If I recall right, we used 1/0 aluminum wire.


Grow operation right? :-) I guess bitcoin mining would be more 2018.

Can anyone tell me what kind of wire I need? I think I need #2, but its got to be a different kind because it is going underground?

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwire-By-the-Foot-2-2-2-4-Black-Stranded-Al-Quad-Dyke-URD-Cable-55417399/205001803?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cTHD%7cG%7c0%7cG-VF-PLA-D27E-Electrical%7c&gclid=Cj0KCQiAkNfSBRCSARIsAL-u3X9LL1nHFohw1Ivxrl_PE55DcTp_eVT-ZpVwICxQsan4BJiS6gshQ28aAn8NEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CIf_nbfKztgCFZNqAQodl8YHwQ

I wish is was anything that exciting. Mostly its been things like the boiler and the washing machine should each have a dedicated circuit (and central vac and so on), not be on the same circuit . . . oh and adding a fully electric brewery (I guess that was exciting).

A brewery is very exciting! I've never done electric but the advantages must be pretty great.... Maybe ill include an extra 50 amp breaker in the garage......


Cadman

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 11:47:55 AM »
As long as your termination connections are sufficiently rated temp-wise, you should be able to get away with #2 copper. If you've got 60C terminations, then you're limited to 90A, and good luck finding a breaker that size.

Since you already have conduit installed, what you want is THHN wire. A quick check of conductor-fill in conduit and raceways shows 1-1/2" should be fine for your two hots, a neutral and the ground. It might be cheaper to buy a 100' roll of black wire than to try to figure out exactly how much you need and pay per foot (and come up short). That should cover both of your hots, one of which you can tag at each end with red electrical tape.  If you find an exceptional deal on wire, you can technically use black wire for the neutral (it's allowed by the NEC for conductors larger than #6) and tag it with white tape, but if white THHN is the same price, I wouldn't bother.

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 12:01:25 PM »
As long as your termination connections are sufficiently rated temp-wise, you should be able to get away with #2 copper. If you've got 60C terminations, then you're limited to 90A, and good luck finding a breaker that size.

Since you already have conduit installed, what you want is THHN wire. A quick check of conductor-fill in conduit and raceways shows 1-1/2" should be fine for your two hots, a neutral and the ground. It might be cheaper to buy a 100' roll of black wire than to try to figure out exactly how much you need and pay per foot (and come up short). That should cover both of your hots, one of which you can tag at each end with red electrical tape.  If you find an exceptional deal on wire, you can technically use black wire for the neutral (it's allowed by the NEC for conductors larger than #6) and tag it with white tape, but if white THHN is the same price, I wouldn't bother.

I spoke with the city and he suggested 2-2-2-4 aluminum that I listed in the link above. Why the difference?


Bourbon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 12:22:47 PM »
As long as your termination connections are sufficiently rated temp-wise, you should be able to get away with #2 copper. If you've got 60C terminations, then you're limited to 90A, and good luck finding a breaker that size.

Since you already have conduit installed, what you want is THHN wire. A quick check of conductor-fill in conduit and raceways shows 1-1/2" should be fine for your two hots, a neutral and the ground. It might be cheaper to buy a 100' roll of black wire than to try to figure out exactly how much you need and pay per foot (and come up short). That should cover both of your hots, one of which you can tag at each end with red electrical tape.  If you find an exceptional deal on wire, you can technically use black wire for the neutral (it's allowed by the NEC for conductors larger than #6) and tag it with white tape, but if white THHN is the same price, I wouldn't bother.

I spoke with the city and he suggested 2-2-2-4 aluminum that I listed in the link above. Why the difference?

I had a family member helping when we did our garage, but I was looking at that 2-2-2-4 aluminum feeder wire.  If it is what I am thinking of, that is intended for direct burial and is not good for conduit.  It was a slight savings over copper, but ultimately just got THHN, thankfully from a supply house with his discount.

Cadman

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 05:33:25 PM »
I spoke with the city and he suggested 2-2-2-4 aluminum that I listed in the link above. Why the difference?

Bourbon's right, 2-2-2-4 would be for direct burial, or in some cases, overhead use if marked. Typical terms are USE, URD, Triplex. etc. #2 aluminum is also pushing it for 100A (rated 90A at 75C service). Being the conductors are physically larger than CU, you'll want to check conduit fill and temp rise with that approach. But I tell you what, I wouldn't want to try to fish that stuff through conduit unless you had a pusher and it was a direct shot. There's also the matter of terminating the physically larger conductor in a breaker at your source panel.

If this were a couple hundred feet, I'd lean towards the AL for savings, but if I were in your shoes, I'd go with the cu THHN. But either way, I'd shop around. HD tends to be pricey on wire.

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 06:36:04 AM »
I spoke with the city and he suggested 2-2-2-4 aluminum that I listed in the link above. Why the difference?

Bourbon's right, 2-2-2-4 would be for direct burial, or in some cases, overhead use if marked. Typical terms are USE, URD, Triplex. etc. #2 aluminum is also pushing it for 100A (rated 90A at 75C service). Being the conductors are physically larger than CU, you'll want to check conduit fill and temp rise with that approach. But I tell you what, I wouldn't want to try to fish that stuff through conduit unless you had a pusher and it was a direct shot. There's also the matter of terminating the physically larger conductor in a breaker at your source panel.

If this were a couple hundred feet, I'd lean towards the AL for savings, but if I were in your shoes, I'd go with the cu THHN. But either way, I'd shop around. HD tends to be pricey on wire.

Thanks Cadman, could you um, include a link (HD, Lowes) for what you would buy?! Honestly this whole thing is pretty confusing me. I can wire up 12-2 outlets and circuits all day, but this is a little beyond my skill set in terms of sizing this correctly!

I appreciate it!


Cadman

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 09:20:34 AM »
No problem. What you're looking for is THHN / THWN /THWN-2 (most companies just make one version to the most stringent requirement and stamp multiple nomenclatures on it) in a #2 gauge (2 AWG).

Here's a handy ampacity chart, along with some calculators in the left column. At 40' with the load you're considering, voltage drop shouldn't be much of a problem.  http://www.cerrowire.com/ampacity-charts

If you really can get from one panel to the other in 50' or less, terminal to terminal, then you might consider buying a 150' roll of black and using that for all three runs if it's cheaper (marking with colored tape as appropriate). Otherwise, here's a couple links for 'by the foot'.

https://www.wireandcableyourway.com/2-awg-thhn-building-wire.html
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwire-By-the-Foot-2-Black-Stranded-CU-SIMpull-THHN-Wire-20502199/204632781

I see you're in the midwest, if you have a Menards around, they've got it for $1.59/ft. This week is 11% off plus use the Menards card for another 2% bringing it down to $1.38.

You're on your own for the ground conductor sizing. I'd suspect #4 would be adequate but run it by your AHJ first. And make sure you're comfortable with all of this before proceeding.

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 09:49:43 AM »
No problem. What you're looking for is THHN / THWN /THWN-2 (most companies just make one version to the most stringent requirement and stamp multiple nomenclatures on it) in a #2 gauge (2 AWG).

Here's a handy ampacity chart, along with some calculators in the left column. At 40' with the load you're considering, voltage drop shouldn't be much of a problem.  http://www.cerrowire.com/ampacity-charts

If you really can get from one panel to the other in 50' or less, terminal to terminal, then you might consider buying a 150' roll of black and using that for all three runs if it's cheaper (marking with colored tape as appropriate). Otherwise, here's a couple links for 'by the foot'.

https://www.wireandcableyourway.com/2-awg-thhn-building-wire.html
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwire-By-the-Foot-2-Black-Stranded-CU-SIMpull-THHN-Wire-20502199/204632781

I see you're in the midwest, if you have a Menards around, they've got it for $1.59/ft. This week is 11% off plus use the Menards card for another 2% bringing it down to $1.38.

You're on your own for the ground conductor sizing. I'd suspect #4 would be adequate but run it by your AHJ first. And make sure you're comfortable with all of this before proceeding.

Thanks Cadman, I am sure I can get the right wire, I am less sure I can get it thru the conduit! Ill check menard, half of my question is I can never see any of this stuff in the store.

I guess worst case I can run a 60 amp with a smaller wire. Ill keep you guys posted, aka I will come back when I have more questions...

**EDIT**

I need 4 connections, 2 hot 1 neutral and 1 ground, but half of my confusion on this is it says "number of connections 1" So would I need four of these wires?

Menards has them in stock I might just go pick it up there so I can put my hands on it. Also gonna stop by an electrical supply store hopefully someone can get me straightened out!

FWIW Money is no object if it means taking 20 mins to pull it thru the conduit or 2 days.





« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 09:58:01 AM by Jon Bon »

Cadman

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2018, 10:15:28 AM »
Not sure where you're seeing 'number of connections 1' but your original statement is correct, you just need 2 hots, 1 neutral and a ground (one conductor per). Menards will also have the pull lube and the polyester pulling line (don't use string, it'll stretch too much). You can suck this through the conduit with a shop vac if you ball up some plastic or bubble wrap to tape to the end of the pull line. Check out Youtube, there are some helpful vids.

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 11:55:41 AM »
Not sure where you're seeing 'number of connections 1' but your original statement is correct, you just need 2 hots, 1 neutral and a ground (one conductor per). Menards will also have the pull lube and the polyester pulling line (don't use string, it'll stretch too much). You can suck this through the conduit with a shop vac if you ball up some plastic or bubble wrap to tape to the end of the pull line. Check out Youtube, there are some helpful vids.

Ok I got you!

Some of those are just wire, but others are 4 wires sold in a set, so I was kind of confused about what I needed. By my math Aluminum is going to be $75-100 and copper is going to be north of $200.

Thanks so much I appreciate it!

Ill post back when I've spent a whole day trying to run the wire through the conduit and give up and call an electrician...


Bourbon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2018, 09:35:47 AM »
Not sure where you're seeing 'number of connections 1' but your original statement is correct, you just need 2 hots, 1 neutral and a ground (one conductor per). Menards will also have the pull lube and the polyester pulling line (don't use string, it'll stretch too much). You can suck this through the conduit with a shop vac if you ball up some plastic or bubble wrap to tape to the end of the pull line. Check out Youtube, there are some helpful vids.

I was just in process of writing this up and saw you already have it.  I tied a plastic grocery bag to the end of the pulling string and the shop vac sucks it through nicely.  Always easier if you are pushing and pulling.  They do make a lube for this purpose, but depending on your conduit size you should be fine without it.  Also depends on how many 90's you have vs straight pipe.

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2018, 10:36:28 AM »
Not sure where you're seeing 'number of connections 1' but your original statement is correct, you just need 2 hots, 1 neutral and a ground (one conductor per). Menards will also have the pull lube and the polyester pulling line (don't use string, it'll stretch too much). You can suck this through the conduit with a shop vac if you ball up some plastic or bubble wrap to tape to the end of the pull line. Check out Youtube, there are some helpful vids.

I was just in process of writing this up and saw you already have it.  I tied a plastic grocery bag to the end of the pulling string and the shop vac sucks it through nicely.  Always easier if you are pushing and pulling.  They do make a lube for this purpose, but depending on your conduit size you should be fine without it.  Also depends on how many 90's you have vs straight pipe.

Thanks! I ordered some lube (heh) for $7 so I figured might as well if it even helps a little.


So I just got quoted from my electrician (who woke up from hibernation I guess?) wanted 700 bucks for the job which feels pretty high since I already have ordered the wire.

A panel and a breaker should be $100 bucks from my big box store I guess I will try it this weekend!




Bourbon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2018, 01:42:29 PM »
Well?

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2018, 10:08:04 AM »
Well?

Don't you just hate it when guys talk about the planning of their project but never close to loop on it?!

Just got (mostly) finished with it. We had a few days of warm dry weather so I spent that time installing windows and doors. Turns out things like tape and caulk do not like temps below freezing!

I did the shop vac, and plastic bag trick to get a string through, and used it to pull a rope through. Then So I got the crazy huge spool of wire and tried to shove it through the conduit. Honestly it went super easy, until I got to a spot about 15 feet into the run. I was STUCK no amount of pulling would get it through, there were no bends and no breaks as far as I could tell in that spot.  I even tied a 2x4 to the rope and tried doing a squat while holding the rope, no dice!

So I pulled it back out and tried to do 2 of the #2 wires. No dice, same issue same exact spot. It was so strange because the rope went fine, my fish tape was down there no problem. What could be there that straight up STOPS the wire?

So I attempt it with 1 wire, boom goes through great! Try the second wire, get past that hard spot and still pretty easy. However trying to pull the rope back through (with the little piece of twine was getting really hard and I was worried about breaking the twine string. My neighbor had a roll of heavier duty stuff that we send down with the third #2 wire. So the third wire is getting harder, but still gets past the hard spot and makes it all the way through great! Now all that is left is the grounding wire, I think its #4 or even #6. So we go to pull that through. HOWEVER turns out that heavier duty spool of twine was just not quite long enough....As a result I currently have no pulling line in the conduit, just the three #2 wires (Hot Hot Neutral) so sure I can pull the wire I just did back out and do a longer piece of twine so I can pull back the rope when I get the wire all the way through but IM not sure I want to risk it! As of right now I have 2 hots and a neutral pulled through, I think I'd rather just get a grounding rod and wire for $50 and ground the sub panel separately.

So I think the hardest part is done. I never did figure out what the heck was down there. I almost went and bough one of those cameras that goes on a cord attached to a smart phone.

I am not worried about wiring up the sub-panel or the 100 amp breaker. I just purchased a square D panel for 50 bucks, so far so good. This is going to save me about $500 bucks which is a decent chunk of change.


Cadman

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2018, 12:21:40 PM »
What you use to pull the conductors can make a huge difference. I ran into a similar problem to yours on a very easy pull... felt like the line was going to break, tried lots of things that didn't work. It ended up being the 'string' I was using. I switched to the correct polyester pulling line which has zero-give and it was like night and day.

You could always attach your pull line to one end of an already pulled conductor, back it out at the other end, attach the ground and pull them both back through without losing ground. I like to wrap tape over the pull-line to conductor junction so it forms a smooth 'nose cone' for pulling.

If there's anything metallic connecting the two structures (phone line, coax cable, rain gutter, metal conduit), then you can't just drive a ground rod at the second panel and ground there or you'll set up a ground loop.

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2018, 12:25:28 PM »
What you use to pull the conductors can make a huge difference. I ran into a similar problem to yours on a very easy pull... felt like the line was going to break, tried lots of things that didn't work. It ended up being the 'string' I was using. I switched to the correct polyester pulling line which has zero-give and it was like night and day.

You could always attach your pull line to one end of an already pulled conductor, back it out at the other end, attach the ground and pull them both back through without losing ground. I like to wrap tape over the pull-line to conductor junction so it forms a smooth 'nose cone' for pulling.

If there's anything metallic connecting the two structures (phone line, coax cable, rain gutter, metal conduit), then you can't just drive a ground rod at the second panel and ground there or you'll set up a ground loop.

Thanks for the options!

I think I am just going to leave it alone, assuming that I pass all inspections. I just would hate to pull one of those out and not be able to get it back in!

Yeah next time I will use a different type of pulling line, I actually looked for a poly pulling line, but was unable to find it.

Yes this will be right next to my garage that I just had built, so I know what is down there, so a grounding rod should not be an issue.


Bourbon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2018, 10:33:41 AM »
Agree with what Cadman said.  Thankfully I got to steal professional tools.  We were able to pull all the wires at once with thy nylon thread, in 1.5" conduit(I think).


Also did a ground rod near the garage,  drove ok-ish with a sledge but lots of gravel near the foundation.  Thankfully again my brother had pnuematic hammer thingy from work that just took it straight in.  I think a hammer drill with a nut driver on it may do the job.

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2018, 08:10:19 PM »
So today I took a crack at the sub-panel wiring.

1. That grounding rod was much harder then I anticipated! I have about the rockiest soil possible so I guess that makes sense.

2. Lets talk Ground and Neutral Bus Bars

So everything I have read says DON'T connect the neutral and ground in the sub panel like you would in a main panel. Sounds good, no problem there. However I think my panel had a "Neutral belt/strap" that came that way right out of the box.  There was a piece of aluminum connecting the two. It came out relatively easily 2 screws and a little bending.It also had a large lug in it like to connect a large neutral

So currently my ground bar is connected to the grounding rod outside. My neutral bar is connected to the big #2 neutral that goes back to the house. Both bars are mounted in plastic therefore isolated from my panel. The hots are in the 100 amp shut off obviously.

I think I am set up correctly I am going to have the inspector look at it next week before I even try to turn it on. So its all hooked up at both ends, but its also off at both ends. Ill snag a picture and you can let me know what I did wrong! Hopefully nothing goes boom!


Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2018, 10:21:30 AM »
Safe or goes boom?

I have my screw driver pointing to where the neutral strap is, and about where it was attached before.

Cadman

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2018, 10:39:16 AM »
Yep, you do not want the bonding strap installed.

I'd remove the blue tape from the hot conductors, and I'd pick up a roll of white electrical tape to properly mark that neutral. Otherwise looks good to go.

I also see why you had such a hard time pulling those conductors...they're aluminum! Hopefully you sized them for the 100A breaker rating. 

Jon Bon

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2018, 01:37:47 PM »
Yep, you do not want the bonding strap installed.

I'd remove the blue tape from the hot conductors, and I'd pick up a roll of white electrical tape to properly mark that neutral. Otherwise looks good to go.

I also see why you had such a hard time pulling those conductors...they're aluminum! Hopefully you sized them for the 100A breaker rating.

Sounds like a plan! Is copper somehow easier to pull?

Yes I used #2 as was recommended by the inspector.


Cadman

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2018, 06:39:45 AM »
Yes, CU is much more flexible and easy to work with. #2 AL won't quite carry 100A and would be flagged in many jurisdictions, but if your inspector suggested it, I wouldn't complain.

Clara Smith

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Re: Can I install my sub-panel?
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2018, 12:56:20 AM »
If you really can get from one panel to the other in 50' or less, terminal to terminal, then you might consider buying a 150' roll of black and using that for all three runs if it's cheaper (marking with colored tape as appropriate). Otherwise, here's a couple links for 'by the foot'.

https://www.wireandcableyourway.com/2-awg-thhn-building-wire.html
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwire-By-the-Foot-2-Black-Stranded-CU-SIMpull-THHN-Wire-20502199/204632781

and yes, CU is easy to work with and more flexible in comparison.