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I have a line on a length of URD 2-2-2-4 at a local electric supply house. The smaller conductor, which I gather is intended as the neutral in some cases, would be my ground. One of the unmarked larger conductors would be my neutral.

Firstly, is this legal in a 100A, 80' sub-panel feeder situation in 1-1/2" pipe, and secondly, how do I identify and mark the neutral conductor?

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  • Beware, the linked item is AA-1350 alloy, generally outlawed on your side of the meter. Power companies can still use it. This is the alloy that caused all the problems in the 1970s. Since it's an underground run, the AHJ might waive it, but then, the trouble was at terminations, and you'll still have those. AA-8000 is the modern alloy. Dec 6, 2018 at 16:06
  • Hm. Ok. Unfortunately the guy at the supply shop wasn't a sparky and didn't sound much more confident than what I'd expect at a big box. I may have to get in touch with a local electrician.
    – isherwood
    Dec 6, 2018 at 16:09
  • Just make sure either your cable is AA-8000 (it will say right on the cable) or describe your application more specifically and someone who knows code for outdoor installs will chime in with whether 1350 is legal in your use. Code regularly says "that thing is normally the power company's bailiwick, so use these special rules we copied from their codebook", so it'd be just the kind of thing I would expect. Dec 6, 2018 at 16:20
  • Why are you running a cable within conduit here, instead of individual (presumably XHHW-2, but THWN would work too) wires? Dec 7, 2018 at 2:21
  • I had planned on running 4 wires, but the supply house suggested that cable. It's priced at less than half of what I expected to pay, presumably because it's a remnant.
    – isherwood
    Dec 7, 2018 at 2:33

1 Answer 1

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The AA-1350 here is legal, but tricky

URD cable is also known as type USE (Underground Service Entrance) cable, not to be confused with type SE style U (Service Entrance - Unarmored) cable. As a result, NEC 310.106(B) permits AA-1350 alloy to be used for it:

(B) Conductor Material. Conductors in this article shall be of aluminum, copper-clad aluminum, or copper unless otherwise specified.

Solid aluminum conductors 8, 10, and 12 AWG shall be made of an AA-8000 series electrical grade aluminum alloy conductor material. Stranded aluminum conductors 8 AWG through 1000 kcmil marked as Type RHH, RHW, XHHW, THW, THHW, THWN, THHN, service-entrance Type SE Style U, and SE Style R shall be made of an AA-8000 series electrical grade aluminum alloy conductor material.

Since it's AA-1350, though, you need to be picky about your terminations. Torquing the lugs at each end to manufacturer specifications with a calibrated torque wrench is essential here, and so is the proper use of anti-oxidant grease.

The neutral should be the striped wire

It appears that one of the wires in the cable should have a striped jacket. If so, that is your neutral wire -- there is no need for further marking.

If such a marking is absent, then since you are dealing with 4AWG or larger wire, you can mark the neutral wire at each end using wraps of white electrical tape (phase tape). (4AWG or larger wire puts you under 200.6(B) instead of 200.6(A) in the NEC, by the way.)

As to fitting it down the pipe...

Type URD/USE cables, as a rule, lack an outer jacket. As a result, they are governed by provisions in Chapter 9, Note 9, that allow you to use the sum of the individual conductor areas instead of the cable area for fill calculations:

(9) A multiconductor cable, optical fiber cable, or flexible cord of two or more conductors shall be treated as a single conductor for calculating percentage conduit or tubing fill area. For cables that have elliptical cross sections, the cross-sectional area calculation shall be based on using the major diameter of the ellipse as a circle diameter. Assemblies of single insulated conductors without an overall covering shall not be considered a cable when determining conduit or tubing fill area. The conduit or tubing fill for the assemblies shall be calculated based upon the individual conductors.

As a result of this, the cable you have comes up to 77mm2*3 for the 2AWG USE-2 insulated conductors and 21mm2 for the bare 4AWG ground, or 252mm2. Given that the smallest 1.5" conduit in terms of usable area (Schedule 80 PVC) can accommodate 442mm2 of fill, you should have plenty of space for this pull.

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  • Thanks, but it sure doesn't seem like we're dealing with a bare neutral there. Am I mistaken?
    – isherwood
    Dec 7, 2018 at 13:37
  • @isherwood -- the bare conductor is the ground (EGC) in this case while the striped insulated conductor (or any insulated conductor if none of them have suitable markings) is the neutral Dec 8, 2018 at 4:51

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