In today’s generation it is not very common to go without electricity or at least not have electricity to the degree that we are used to! When we first moved to the property we had a 20 acre hay field that hadn’t been mowed and baled in a couple of years! It was raw land.
Then we purchased the RV that we would use for temporary living arrangements while we built our apartment and eventually the house. The RV had a 12v battery that needed to be charged. Having a little experience with solar electricity and installation I decided to look on craigslist for a solar panel. I found a 240 watt panel and purchased a solar controller and inverter off of the web so I could utilize the sun to charge the battery. We were able to get this to work on some things but not others. We could run a space heater for a little bit (hahaha), we could run the vacuum but not the carpet cleaner. We could also run the coffee pot but not at the same time as the hair dryer. Needless to say these were annoying since neither one of us have ever had to do without electricity in our lives.
In comes the gas powered generator. Since we wouldn’t be getting electricity for 3-4 weeks we purchased a 4000 watt generator. I was thinking that 4000 watts would be sufficient to get us by for a month. What I didn’t realize at the time, lessons learned, was that the generator had two 13.5 amp circuits and the 30 amp plug didn’t mean that the generator would put out the full 30 amps! Even though it had a 30 amp RV twist connect plug it would still only put out the 13.5 amps! Well, that next month was brutal since I work from home. Yes, I was able to charge my computer and phone and do my work but I sure sweat a lot.
While we were waiting on the electric company to run our lines we had to file two easements with the county and provide those to the electric company. Then we had to set a permanent power pole for the meter base to sit and it had to be6′ tall and 5 ‘ deep encased in concrete. The underground run needed to be in 4″ conduit and the depth I believe was 39″ (if I recall correctly).
We had to either have an outdoor disconnect or outdoor panel tied to the meter base and everything had to be grounded to a ground rod. I decided to use an outdoor panel with pass-through lugs because the disconnects were around $350 and the outdoor panel was about $100. Running the electricity is pretty expensive. I spent about $1500 on materials and then $5 p/foot for the electric company to run it (@ 900 feet). The first 300 feet they provide so it their part cost $3000.
The electric company does not waste time. When they were scheduled to come install the 900 feet of poles and cable and run the underground to my pole, it only took them about 2 hours! I was impressed beings it had probably taken me about 40 hours to get it all ready.
We also ran a 6/3 direct burial cable from our power pole over to the apartment and RV. We used a 50amp breaker off of the outdoor panel and then wired that to a sub-panel. On the sub-panel we installed another 50 amp breaker and cabled that over to a 50 amp outdoor RV plug where we could connect the RV. We also installed a 20 and 30 amp breaker and wired the apartment’s electricity to that. We haven’t had any real problems living off 50 amps for the last 11 months so all is good!
Wiring up electricity is not all that difficult. I had some previous experience with electricity in the Navy and then with my job at Northern Telecom. If you want to do it yourself find a friend that has experience with electricity and ask a lot of questions. I asked questions and looked to youtube for some ideas. Friends and relatives are a wealth of knowledge. Get an electrician to check your work if you are unsure.