My house gets a 3-Phase power upgrade

I’ve made a decision not to limit the type of equipment and machinery that I can install in the because of their power requirements. Who knows what I will have or want in the future?

Milling machine, Lathe, Laser Cutter, CNC router, 3D printers, server, electric bench saws, planner, dust extraction, compressor etc. Most of these are on my wish list, some I already have, you name it, most workshop machinery requires electricity and power in one form or another. For the larger items lots of it. The power supplied to my makers workshop is its lifeblood!

Add to this all the current household needs all future requirements in the workshop/house, i.e. air-conditioning, a planned second bedroom and a single bathroom extension will join the workshop to the existing house. 60A just doesn’t seem so much now.

Electricity Supply here In Western Australia

The electricity supplier here in Western Australia is Western Power. They supply all houses with a 60A single phase 240v incoming lead-in as the default. Newer suburbs this is all underground, much cleaner (and more expensive), in my case it’s an aerial conductor connecting the street overhead powerlines (located just out the front door on the street) to the house’s connection point, know as the point of attachment.

From the point of attachment, a cable connects to the power meter and the electricity providers main fuses that are located on right side of the main switch board. So far all this is all under the control of Western Power, with all their equipment sealed against tampering for obvious reasons.

The demarcation point is the main switch of the switchboard and is where any licensed electrician can perform modification to the houses wiring and switch board. Therefore both the Electrician and Western Power need to perform the work required on the property for the .

Scope of Work

  1. Aerial Cable from street power requires upgrading
  2. Cable from house connection point to the meter requires upgrading
  3. Power meter on main switchboard requires upgrading
  4. Main switch replaced and re-wired
  5. 32A 3-Phase breaker installed in main switchboard
  6. Dig a trench and lay the conduit to the workshop slab location

Power Upgrade underway

The application and permits have now been submitted early to Western Power with the view of an approximate 10 week lead time in getting the upgrade completed.

The retired builder helping has given an estimate of about two weeks for us to complete the build. With this in mind I don’t want to wait for upgrades after construction finishes. All upgrades should be completed by the time construction is finished, all that will be required is to connect the workshop up.

I’ve engaged a local electrician who is helping me with the licensing and legal requirements our state regulators require. He’s lodged all the required permits, while I’ve lodged the application to get my incoming supply upgraded through Western Power

The electrical contractor is also amicable in letting me do as much of the work where legally possible. I was a licensed electrician in my previous life, however, have let my license lapse due the cost of maintaining it as I no longer work in the industry. My electrician will still connect up and sign off anything required legally just to make everything kosher for the regulators and insurance companies. It’s not worth the risk to save a few dollars doing it a dodgy way.

The application will give me 3-Phase power to the house, 3x60A@240v delivered to my house, right at the front door(literally). A 32amp 3-Phase circuit is run up through the roof from the main switchboard, out the back of the house and down via a 600mm deep trench across the backyard for about 15-20m to the sub-board located in the workshop. The workshop and the planned extension is fed with all their power requirements, balanced across the 3-Phases from the sub-board in the workshop.

Trenching

As previously mentioned, the backyard has been cleared six month prior thinking I’ll be straight into it the build, I just wasn’t aware of the delays around the permit process would occur. So our sandpit backyard has now started to re-grow all the vegetation, especially the grass and weeds.

Over the course of a weekend I hired a kanaga digger, that came with a trench digger (bonus!). Rather than sweating it out with a shovel in very sandy soil on a hot day I did it the easy way.

Digging Conduit Trenches
Digging Conduit Trenches

In the space of 1/2 hour I now have a trench closer to 700mm deep running from the house to the concrete pad location at the end of our property, approximately 20m from the house.

Power and Data requirements

Running the power cable connecting the house to the workshop is via a 50mm electrical conduit. For my data data requirements I’ve allowed for 20mm conduit. This allows me to run a run a multi-mode fibre in the future to connect the two buildings and will cover all of my data requirements, now and into the future, my backup will be wireless in the event of a failure.

Both of these conduits will need to come up though the concrete slab in the workshop floor. To achieve this I’ve measured from the southern and western boundaries the distance calculated from my plans. If I’ve calculated correctly it will come up in the middle of the bottom of a 90mm stud wall at the edge of the concrete slab on the northern wall. 

Additionally, a safety requirement of the electrical authority, is a warning tape buried approximately 200mm or so above the conduits in the trench. This tape warns anyone who could be digging in the vicinity of electrical cables buried below. If they get down that deep they’ll see the tape first before hitting the conduit.

Conduit for Data and Power on the right, Stormwater pipe on the far left waiting to be buried

3-Phase is connected to the house

In less than two weeks since submitting the application I now have 3-phase power connected to the building! With a new 3-Phase smart power meter greeting me at the front door.

It looks like a future project now I can potentially measure my power consumption. 

Costs

All project costs are tracked under the maker workshop project archive.

Itemcost
electrician, includes new breakers, main switch and wiring$900
conduit$120
electrical connection upgrade by electricity provider$800
digger hire for the day (was also used to clear the block)$250
Total$2,070

 

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