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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I do my own systems work ... electrical, plumbing, water/wastewater, etc. It was the only way to learn about, and then maintain or improve them, on my homestead (rural, off-grid, etc.). Made mistakes (usually led astray by something involved in purchasing) in some areas, and/or upgraded/replaced entire systems (as designs or technology changed).

For the electrical system, I use Square-D components, starting with their PoN Load Centers, feeding power into these (solar, generator), and sending it out from these (house wiring, devices).

Unlike the rest of the supposed "nanny state" world, Schneider Electric (SE) has this wording on many of their installation guides:

- Electrical equipment should be installed, operated, serviced, and maintained only by qualified personnel. No responsibility is assumed by SE for any consequences arising out of the use of this material.
- A qualified person is one who has skills and knowledge related to the construction, installation, and operation of electrical equipment and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved.

Very reasonable, as they aren't stating "must use a (master) electrician" ... only stating "think this thing through". Most other installation guides state "Must be done by an electrician". Electrician forums always state "Must be done by an electrician", and so on. Understandable, as they want to make money in/for their profession, just not a sustainable, DIY model for me.

If you step up to the whole task (safety, installation, best practices, code, etc.), then you are good to DIY. If you don't step up, or would rather pay to have someone else do it, then get an electrician.

Another key element of SE's wording is "Electrical equipment (the system) should be ..." Supposedly, any electrician will come in, recognize what was done before, and do the right thing for the current work. I don't always get this from an electrician. I usually get "the last guy did it wrong, I'm doing it this way instead, and it will cost X". So, on the current house I've built and am living in, we put in every single "system" ourselves, and hired folks for each system to "help". From here on out, we maintain each system, as we know how it was built, how to add on to it, and how to replace it.

For electrical, we got a journeyman electrician (not licensed in our state, for weird reasons) to help with wiring throughout (generator, load center, house wiring, solar, etc.) ... he knew all the tricks (ie: working with heavy-guage wiring), and I was grunt labor, parts acquisition, and so on. I ended up with knowledge of entire "electrical system", and have maintained it ever after. Swapping out generators, adding solar, reworking portions of wiring, figuring out THD and SPD impacts, etc.

Helps to live in a state where I am allowed to work on any of these systems, and am out in the rural areas, where there aren't as many "nanny-types" telling me what to do at each stage. Codes were applied initially, and skipped thereafter for all other work or projects, as the inspectors are all hit and miss, and mostly seem to say "equipment must be (insert testing lab stamp)" and/or "I interpret (insert code) this way, and you will do it the way I interpret it (if you want a sign-off)".

Your thoughts, on any system, but wrt electrical, generators, and what-not ... do you need an electrician, or just want one, or are required by your AHJ?
 

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it all depends if it is stand alone or grid tie system
and city or county.

county to county and state to state the rules are different.
so always check your local code as city and state.
then also look at the nec code.

with that said.
not all electricians are up to speed with modern power generation..
and this power stuff is changing by the minute.
so are the rules.
 

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There are times when you may not have the competence or confidence to take on the job yourself.
Then there are times when you really need the services of a licensed electrician, like when your jurisdiction requires a licensed electrician to sign off on the work you're doing.
In some states, like mine, there are plenty of electricians who will, for a fee, look at your work and give you necessary advice, deal with county building inspectors, and provide that sometimes vital signature from a licensed electrician. I've done that in the past and considered the modest fee the electrician charged to be well worth the money.

When I built my shop, I installed the hundred amp service and all the wiring by myself, even dealt with the county inspector myself. I will admit that for that job, I bought the current NEC bible and devoted a substantial amount of time studying it. I also bugged the inspector a lot with questions on what I could do and what I could not do. Worked out well.

If you feel intimidated by the job you're considering, or you're in a state where you can't plug in an appliance without big brother's approval, your options may be considerably more limited.

One caution. If you ever have a house fire, your insurance company might want to closely examine the electrical system in your house. Better have all your ducks in a row.
 

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There are times when you may not have the competence or confidence to take on the job yourself.
Then there are times when you really need the services of a licensed electrician, like when your jurisdiction requires a licensed electrician to sign off on the work you're doing.
In some states, like mine, there are plenty of electricians who will, for a fee, look at your work and give you necessary advice, deal with county building inspectors, and provide that sometimes vital signature from a licensed electrician. I've done that in the past and considered the modest fee the electrician charged to be well worth the money.

When I built my shop, I installed the hundred amp service and all the wiring by myself, even dealt with the county inspector myself. I will admit that for that job, I bought the current NEC bible and devoted a substantial amount of time studying it. I also bugged the inspector a lot with questions on what I could do and what I could not do. Worked out well.

If you feel intimidated by the job you're considering, or you're in a state where you can't plug in an appliance without big brother's approval, your options may be considerably more limited.

One caution. If you ever have a house fire, your insurance company might want to closely examine the electrical system in your house. Better have all your ducks in a row.
A retired Air Force man, then a pilot examiner, once gave me advice about not following the book. "The difference between a court marshall and a commendation is the out come."
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A great quote, and now added to my list of 'em ...

I've found that a bit o' research goes a long way in guaranteeing the outcome, and lack of it almost guarantees the opposite.

So, the trades will make plenty of money off of, and do good work for, those who don't/can't do that effort to grease the skids for diy. The few who can, will hopefully get as good an outcome as a tradesman.

Assuming one live in a state or AHJ, or otherwise have a scenario where you are allowed to diy. Colorado does allow us to diy, although we have to follow the inspection/code route during/afterwards ... it worked out for me.

No horror stories, or quotes, or services ... anytime I didn't diy, I did rack up a few such horror stories, in each trade.

Being rural didn't help any, as who wants to drive out 30 minutes or more, and struggle to find the location, before the work can be done? Easier pickings in town ...

Being rural, we are insurance-free ... a hard choice, but better for my sanity ...
 

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I've found that a bit o' research goes a long way in guaranteeing the outcome, and lack of it almost guarantees the opposite.
As a Systems Engineer, I've learned that doing lots of studying in any given field (not just reading on forums, although they can certainly be quite useful) is necessary in order to do any critical infrastructure installations. I have spent hundreds of hours researching generators and transfer switches and load center management, and I personally feel very comfortable doing almost any electrical work on my personal properties. I've done all the electrical work on multiple familial properties and will continue to do so in the future. I have also participated in similar, higher level work in the businesses that I've worked for or owned. That said, I'm certainly not certified to do work on other peoples' or businesses' property. I hire certified electricians for those situations. I have installed multiple generators, transfer switches, load centers, UPSs, line conditioners, etc. I totally agree with your approach. With sufficient study, any problem is solvable. Safely and within code.
 
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