I asked this question elsewhere and have checked the IRC for an answer. The only thing I could find on crawlspaces was E3802.4 I don't want to have a conduit running around the outside corner of the house. So, I was thinking of coming out of a ranch panel from the pass-through legs, route the service cable under the house (in the crawlspace), then back out and up to an automatic transfer switch located on the adjacent wall. I'm using XHHW-2 SE cable. Can I do this?

  • Please clarify your terminology What do you mean be a "ranch panel"? Is that one in a farm type environment where it is mounted on a pole or pedestal outside to feed multiple structures? If so does it have main breakers to provide overcurrent protection? If so, it's generally OK to run service cables within the structure for any length needed. Normal protections of the cable apply. I don't know the limits on service conductors w/o overcurrent protection, but it's short. You also mentioned an automatic transfer switch: Is that for a generator? Nov 24, 2022 at 15:00
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    If you're using a ranch panel, then the cable's a feeder, not a service, anyway...for that matter, what make and model of ranch panel is involved here? Nov 24, 2022 at 15:14
  • IRC is not where electrical stuff is found, there's another book called NEC or CEC, but it's not an instruction manual and says so right in 90.1. Get books on home electrical, Mike Holt's stuff or other secondary resources. Nov 25, 2022 at 1:51
  • Sorry for not being clearer. Pics always help. imgur.com/a/wQRu07s I want to use the cable pictured to leave the lugs of the ranch panel via the existing conduit (the wires currently in that conduit will be moved to the new fuse panel next to the ATS). I want to bring that feeder up to the ATS via (an as of yet uninstalled) conduit.
    – Doon1
    Nov 25, 2022 at 17:20

1 Answer 1


The "ranch panel" (main breaker + 4-12 breaker spaces for outbuildings + thru lugs + sometimes meter pan) is actually your main disconnect. Therefore we need to be clear:

  • From weatherhead to meter pan is service entrance wire
  • From meter pan to main breaker (ranch panel) is still service entrance wire (although it's a good idea to ground the meter pan; I do that with metal conduit between meter and main, super simple).
  • From main breaker to anything else is feeder

Service wires are 3-wire cable such as SEU. They do not contain a ground wire.

Feeders are 4-wire cable such as SER, MH for outdoor runs, etc. The feeder must have a separate neutral and ground.

If your plan is to use 2-wire+wraparound neutral SEU service cable for the feeder from meter-main to anywhere else, no, that's not safe and will fail inspection. John Ward has a great video on why it's a terrible awful very bad nogood idea to combine neutral and safety ground anywhere past where the ground rods tie in. We used to allow it to dryers (banned in 1996) and subpanels (banned in 2008) but John's scenario just kept happening. In Europe you don't have a choice about this setup, but you do here, so take it.

The only useful use of SEU in modern times is for service wires, or single-voltage (120V, or 240V without neutral) feeders or branch lines, like you might have to a wellhouse or EV charging station.

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