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AssuredElectrical, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
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Experience:  Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade
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What Size Ground Cable Needed For 200 Amp Service?

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What size ground cable do I need to use for my 200 Amp service?

I've run 0/4 AL cable conductors from the weather-head to the meter socket and then to the breaker panel. The cable I bought came with an AL ground wire but the local service company says it must be Copper, so I must replace it. They also told me that since my breaker panel is further than 5' from the meter, I have to install a disconnect outside. I heard somewhere that the neutral conductor can't be cut inside the Meter socket but must be run straight through. I was hoping not to have to pull the cables back through to install a disconnect.

Welcome. I would be glad to assist.

Below is a diagram of an overhead service complete to the panel inside.

The neutral is connected to the meter can, there is a bar specifically for them.
I have never heard of an electric company having the authority not to allow the
conductors within a premade service cable.

I suggest you contact the local permitting inspections department , they have the local authority.

The utility company is most likely speaking of the main grounding conductor to your needed ground rods perhaps that is required to be copper.

Just reply if more info is needed.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Service company says that the neutral must pass solidly through the meter socket. I must install a disconnect below the meter socket, since I have moved the service.

Since this is residential, do I have to use a ground rod outside or can I simply tie the ground cable to the water pipes? I have installed a ground rod, but the ground conductor that came with the cable is aluminum and I must replace it.



The information I have posted is per the National Electric Code 2011, which is the latest code cycle.
If you are going to pass the neutral straight through the meter socket, you will have to pipe the overhead in conduit, the cable cannot be used with a separate neutral wire per code.

My diagram shows a meter/disconnect combination which is th emost commonly used item today. Most installations do not have a meter and disconnect anymore.

If you wish to do so, you will have to pipe from the meter base to the disconnect as well then pass the neutral through the meter base from the weather-head to the disconnect.

You will have the single conductors in the pipe 4/0 for hots, 4/0 for neutral. There is no ground in the overhead portion, it is picked up at the main disconnect outside.

Yes, you can run the ground to the cold water piping if it is definitely steel/copper pipe and extends outdoors in the ground. I believe you will find locally though, that the ground rod is also required in addition to the cold water piping.

Your local authority has the say on that part and it is up to them for inspection purposes.

For clarification:

The bare wire in the cable to the overhead section is the neutral wire.

You have 3 conductors from the meter to the overhead connection.

You install 4 wires from the main outside to the panel inside as per the diagram.

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