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Electricians dodging my calls, can I do this myself? (14-50 install)

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by demundus, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. demundus

    demundus Member

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    First I'll say that I bought this house with a 7 year plan. This is not a forever home, it's simply to park cash and buying power and invest in myself with property. That's important because, I'm not trying to be cheap, I just feel sinking 3-4k+ into specialty electrical work adds no value to this home for resale, and is not a feasible expense for me right now.

    I bought a Tesla recently, and maybe jumped the gun in the sense that I didn't think it'd be this hard to get ahold of electricians, or get good honest estimates out of the ones that did call back (assuming the good guys are all tied up and not taking or returning calls haha). I even had two guys bail completely after seeing the pictures/understanding the job! AGGHHHH :cursing:

    Here's my situation:

    IMG_20150709_142610.jpg

    I've got enough space to yank an unused 30 amp and replace it with a 50 amp, setting aside the existing wiring and doing new wire of course. The 30 amp is a dryer outlet in the house that we don't plan on using.

    The real issue is the main box above couldn't be further from my garage (~40 feet). Two electricians that came out so far have wanted to trench in some way, one wanted to trench the entire length of the yard with a bobcat!!!!!! :crying: The other wanted to trench the distance between the house and the garage (13 feet).

    IMG_20150709_142517.jpg IMG_20150709_142511.jpg

    Currently there is a highly questionable, most likely illegal, conduit that provides basic 110v to the garage for outlets/lights/garage door. This obviously has to go.

    IMG_20150709_142452.jpg

    What I don't understand is why I can't run 6/3 Romex through the attic as is being done now for the 110v, and then get a much better/stronger/safer conduit to bridge the home and garage? Once I'm in the garage it's cake, and fishing the wire down the wall in the house shouldnt be bad either... the main box is on the master bedroom wall.

    Why won't the electricians do this? What am I missing? Can I do this myself? My daily commute is 50 miles round trip, so I can't imagine needing to plug in to charge for more than 2 hours tops at midnight anyway... Please help!
     
  2. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

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    I am not completely sure, but I don't think CA code allows you to run a line like that between structures without burying them. I know Santa Cruz county doesn't. Nor does LA, where I tried. If I am correct, that's where all your cost is. I was very lucky and had a sub panel in my garage that I had upgraded a few years back. So adding my outlet was easy, even with only 100amp service. Yes, it takes a little juggling, but I have never had an issue.

    Just postulating here: Run properly rated romex through alum conduit along the house. Keeps it nice and neat and is cheap. Dive down to the ground where you turn to the garage. Trench that. Then run into the garage. Not being an electrician, and knowing the basics only, it seems like a safer alternative to taking it through the air: if you go stiff with hard conduit, and earthquake could screw you. If you go loose, with flex, you never know what could happen. birds, possums (yep, had that problem), kids.

    Lastly, if you are worried about resale, think about the value of doing one way or the other. Will it add value? Doing it right-doubt it. Doing wrong-it'll take value away. So you could rip it all out. But most importantly, you want to be safe and not burn down the house, which is easier than we think!

    BTW, your panel looks old and degraded through time and elements.. Those breakers look ancient. That may be why the bailed because they have to pass inspection....If they are legit.

    It does suck to spend so much on a car and then have to spend more bank to plug it in.

    Good luck and I hope I was helpful.

    Oh..and congrats!!!
     
  3. Bangor Bob

    Bangor Bob Member

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    It's only 13 feet? Grab a shovel, it'll only take an hour. Electricians are much more reasonable when they don't have to provide the grunt work. Budget for a sub-panel in the garage. Maybe plan on 75-100 amps so you can have properly fed lights and outlets there. Conduit along the exterior wall, or an inside run sounds a better solution than trenching next to your gas feed.

    Our garage (not in Cali) has an aerial feed, but it is like the aerial service entrance to a house - with metal stanchions anchored to both buildings connected via wire rope, and the power feed hung from that.
     
  4. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    One thing you can try - ask the electrician to quote if you dig the trench yourself.

    I've had a subpanel installed in my shed, and the Electrician basically gave me a $800 discount for digging my own trench & then refilling it after.

    Digging it required a $60/day trencher from Home Depot, and $2 worth of Ibuprofen for after.
     
  5. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    A couple of things about running electricity to a detached building...

    First, if you require 120V circuits and the 14-50 in the garage, you *require* a subpanel in the garage... only one branch circuit may be run to a detached building without a subpanel. So plan to install one.

    Second, that conduit is indeed illegal as it is not supported properly. The right way to do aerial is to put up two weatherheads and use a reasonably supported aerial cable (with proper supports as required); as noted by CHG-ON local building or electrical codes may not permit aerial outbuilding feeds, in which case the conduit must be placed in the ground. I'm assuming the fence is not attached to the buildings, or you could consider running it along that fence.

    You will not be able to use Romex in conduit outdoors - it's considered a wet location. If you use a 6/3, you'll have to transfer to a junction box on the inside and convert to THWN-rated conductors (or use outdoor-rated direct-bury cable without conduit) on the outside.
     
  6. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    Is this specific to outdoors? Romex in conduit is one of those things that have been in dispute for years with people going back and forth on it.

    I think the latest thinking is that it's allowed - I've passed an inspection with 6 AWG NM-B in conduit (for whatever that's worth).
     
  7. tga

    tga Active Member

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    Yes, specific to outdoors. The interior of outdoor conduit is considered at wet location (ie, you can't make it watertight). Therefore any wire inside outdoor conduit must be rated for wet locations. Romex (NM-B) is not.
     
  8. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    Flasherz knows what he is talking about, heed his advice.

    I would rent a trencher to make the trench (not a bobcat, that's overkill, just a ditch witch, or a shovel). Typically, it should be 18 inches deep (so that landscapers don't dig it up at a later date when they install sprinklers, etc.).

    I would also replace that aerial conduit, that's just a disaster waiting to happen.

    So plan on a sub panel in the garage. You could get by with a 60 amp breaker to feed the sub panel. Do plan on using THWN wires for inside the conduit.

    If you decide to do this yourself, document what you are going to do, every step of the way, and you can get some friendly feedback on how it looks from this forum.

    I do like the idea of doing the trenching yourself and seeing if you can get an electrician to do the rest. It isn't rocket science to do this, but there are a lot of picky code rules that should be followed along with techniques that should also be employed.
     
  9. demundus

    demundus Member

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    Wow thanks for the responses guys!

    I expected to get lambasted for such a stupid situation, but just another reason why this car was the right choice.

    I'll be calling the electricians back and telling them to cross out ditch digging and we'll see what my quotes come to.

    Thanks!! :)
     
  10. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Member

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    +1 on just trenching between the garage and the house by hand. Buy a trenching shovel for 20 bucks and spend an hour doing it. The rest of the install sounds like a piece of cake.

    Heck if your soil isn't a rock, just dig the rest of the way by hand too, its really not hard. Plus digging a trench (once, not something I want to do every day) is rather rewarding, at least for someone like me who spends all day sitting at a computer.
     
  11. EVenthusiast

    EVenthusiast Member

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    Replacing a 30A breaker with a 50A breaker wouldn't put you over the limit of what your mains/panel can provide, right?

    I'm no EE or electrician (just like to learn), but I don't see anyone talking about it (and I've never seen a panel like that).
     
  12. Ampster

    Ampster Member

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    The Panel looks like it runs off a 100 A breaker.
     
  13. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    That panel looks to be a 100A panel with nothing but 120v loads on it, so there are no heavy loads. It should easily be able to take the 40A continuous load from the Tesla charger.
     
  14. electracity

    electracity Active Member

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    ^^^It will take you less time to do it with a shovel than to rent.

    Maybe try craigslist for an electrician. You should be able to see any problems with the install, so not much risk here.
     
  15. demundus

    demundus Member

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    Affirmative, I will proceed to get off my @$$ and start digging :)
     
  16. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    Yes, outdoor specific. Running NM indoors in conduit is fine, although you have to consider the cable as a single wire for the purposes on conduit fill and bend radius. This means that some tight fits may not be permitted. If you have conduit anyway, it's easier and cheaper to pull individual conductors.

    - - - Updated - - -

    It's required to be 18 inches deep (NEC 300.5), unless it's within 5' of the outside edge of a swimming pool or hot tub, in which case it's covered by article 680.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I'll have you over next time I dig a trench... you do it faster than me... :)

    Then again, I'd probably just rent the trencher anyway to save my back.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Finally, you could always consider direct-burying type UF cable instead of running a conduit, but then you need 24" depth minimum.
     
  17. LetsGoFast

    LetsGoFast Active Member

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    I had a very hard time getting an electrician to install my circuit and I didn't need a trench. The fourth (!) one I contacted finally did the job.
     
  18. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    You didn't get lambasted in part because your initial post was excellent. It described the situation accurately and with much detail and even had great pictures. Most posts asking for info are one liners that aren't even accurate. So, thanks for making it easy for us to help. Do let us know what you end up doing.
     
  19. snellenr

    snellenr Member

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    Since nobody else has mentioned it -- you probably want to get the gas company out there to mark where their line is located before using anything but a shovel to dig the trench. In most locations, it's a free service.
     
  20. markb1

    markb1 Active Member

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    That really depends. The soil at my house is so hard that you couldn't dig such a trench with a shovel over the course of a whole day!
     

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