How do I deal with this engineer?

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DaveBowden

Senior Member
Location
St Petersburg FL
A wholesale fish operation is moving to a new location and needs to have the service upgraded from the existing 100Amp single phase to a 400Amp 3 phase.
The load calculations come up to about 360 Amps with everything figured at 100% (no derating).
The customer naturally wants to keep costs to a minimum since he is just leasing the property,
The engineer he hired to draw the electric for permitting (riser diagram, load calcs, and panelschedule) wants to parallel two 4 inch conduits with 4 250MCM Cu in each conduit. When I asked him why he wanted to oversize the wire so much he said its because he doesn't know what they may "plug in" in the future.
I think paralleled 3/0 THHN CU in 3" conduit, since it would be protected with a 400 Amp main breaker, is adequate and is all that needs to be installed.
How do you convince a customer that the civil engineer (not electrical engineer) that they paid to draw this print is costing them unnecessary money? How do you convince the engineer that you don't need to ignore all the testing laboratories findings as far as protecting wires are concerned by oversizing everything by more than 25% ?
I tried to explain to him that there is no danger in running 400 Amp wire for a service that is rated for 400 Amps and protected at 400 Amps, but got the "That's how I do it" response.
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
Remind this "engineer" that the most they are going to plug into that 400 amp service, is...400 amps. No sense oversizing the conductors unless you are going to oversize the service too.
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
For starters, you contact your state's professional licensing board, and inform them that a licensee is performing work outside his area of expertise. Perhaps an official reprimand, coupled with a fine, will wake this person up to the fact that he is violating both state law and professional ethics, and that he should stick with civil engineering projects. Then you inform the client of your actions. Finally, you bring a copy of the NEC to your client, and you show him Table 310.16.

My only question is whether there is anything on the load list that has to be treated as a continuous load. My concern is whether the 360 results are too low, and that a 400 amp service might not be enough.
 

raberding

Senior Member
Location
Dayton, OH
Occupation
Consulting Engineer
I'd put out two prices...
1. the (civil) engineer's way
2. your way
Either would be code-compliant. Let the customer decide.
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
For starters, you contact your state's professional licensing board, and inform them that a licensee is performing work outside his area of expertise. Perhaps an official reprimand, coupled with a fine, will wake this person up to the fact that he is violating both state law and professional ethics, and that he should stick with civil engineering projects. Then you inform the client of your actions. Finally, you bring a copy of the NEC to your client, and you show him Table 310.16.

My only question is whether there is anything on the load list that has to be treated as a continuous load. My concern is whether the 360 results are too low, and that a 400 amp service might not be enough.
Here in CA a Civil is allowed to do electrical and many other disaplines also. It's in the B&P Code.

I was actually kind of wondering about the size of the service too. I don't usually like to cut it that close.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
A wholesale fish operation is moving to a new location and needs to have the service upgraded from the existing 100Amp single phase to a 400Amp 3 phase.
The load calculations come up to about 360 Amps with everything figured at 100% (no derating).
The customer naturally wants to keep costs to a minimum since he is just leasing the property,
The engineer he hired to draw the electric for permitting (riser diagram, load calcs, and panelschedule) wants to parallel two 4 inch conduits with 4 250MCM Cu in each conduit. When I asked him why he wanted to oversize the wire so much he said its because he doesn't know what they may "plug in" in the future.
I think paralleled 3/0 THHN CU in 3" conduit, since it would be protected with a 400 Amp main breaker, is adequate and is all that needs to be installed.
How do you convince a customer that the civil engineer (not electrical engineer) that they paid to draw this print is costing them unnecessary money? How do you convince the engineer that you don't need to ignore all the testing laboratories findings as far as protecting wires are concerned by oversizing everything by more than 25% ?
I tried to explain to him that there is no danger in running 400 Amp wire for a service that is rated for 400 Amps and protected at 400 Amps, but got the "That's how I do it" response.
Is it really your job to convince the customer of anything?

In some respects, it is not even really any of your business. It would seem to be between the engineer and the customer. It may not go well for you to meddle in a relationship you do not know a whole lot about just because you think you have a better idea. You made your point and the guy doing the deciding turned it down. Move on.
 

rbalex

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Mission Viejo, CA
Occupation
Professional Electrical Engineer
cowboyjwc’s response in post#2 is about as good as you can get.

While charlie b’s post is correct to the extent that the engineer should only be practicing within his competence, cowboyjwc also noted that he may well be. Many (most, in fact) States only license “Professional Engineers” without reference to discipline and each engineer determines their own range of competence.

petersonra’s point is also well taken, “value engineering” is none of your business if you follow cowboyjwc’s advice – talk to the engineer, not the customer. In fact, if you are attempting to circumvent the engineer on a service that requires a licensed PE’s seal (for example, 400A is the base in several California jurisdictions) then it is you that may well be cited for practicing engineering without a license. Only if the load calcs indicate inadequate sizing should you do anything beyond suggestions to the engineer.
 

BJ Conner

Senior Member
Location
97006
Civil Engineers

Civil Engineers

Here in CA a Civil is allowed to do electrical and many other disaplines also. It's in the B&P Code.

I was actually kind of wondering about the size of the service too. I don't usually like to cut it that close.
What's the chapter and verse on that? Does it mean I can do civil engineering in CA?
 

renosteinke

Senior Member
Location
NE Arkansas
With the load calc coming in at over 320 amps, a "400" amp meter base will not be sufficient. The PoCo will insist upon putting in a CT, etc. Make sure you have that covered. The 'amp rating' of the meter socket is only for intermittent use; the continuous rating is only 80% of that.

I'd at least run the larger pipe. Pipe is cheap. Replacing pipe later is not.

Otherwise, let's sum thing up:
1) He's an engineer;
2) Engineers have offices;
3) Offices have suspended ceilings;
4) Your customer sells fish;
5) Enough said :D
 

roger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Fl
Occupation
Electrician
Otherwise, let's sum thing up:
1) He's an engineer;
2) Engineers have offices;
3) Offices have suspended ceilings;
4) Your customer sells fish;
5) Enough said :D
And in many cases a seafood wholeseller makes more money than an engineer does so they can probably afford his fee and design flaws.

Roger
 

rbalex

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Mission Viejo, CA
Occupation
Professional Electrical Engineer
California has some of the most arcane engineering licensing laws in the country. If you want to wade through the entire load see here. The California Board has a fairly good summary here. See starting page 5. For cowboyjwc see here. (PG 4)
 
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DaveBowden

Senior Member
Location
St Petersburg FL
As far as the load is concerned:
Existing building (office) has a 100 Amp single phase service. No changes in this building
Building is about 1000 square feet, no laundry facilities, no kitchen facilities, 1 3000W water heater, a 2 ton central AC system with a 5kw heat strip, no existing sign circuit, no show windows
Additional added load:
2 ice machines 16000 VA 3 phase 240 Volts
1 cooler : 26300 VA 3 phase 240 Volts
1 future ice auger: 7300VA 3 phase 240 Volts

As I understand it, any licensed engineer can design and draw electrical plans in Florida regardless of type of engineering degree or experience.
As a state certified electrical contractor, my license allows me to design and draw up to an 800 amp service.
I'm going to price the job both ways and let the customer decide which way he wants to go.
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
As far as the load is concerned:
Existing building (office) has a 100 Amp single phase service. No changes in this building
Building is about 1000 square feet, no laundry facilities, no kitchen facilities, 1 3000W water heater, a 2 ton central AC system with a 5kw heat strip, no existing sign circuit, no show windows
Additional added load:
2 ice machines 16000 VA 3 phase 240 Volts
1 cooler : 26300 VA 3 phase 240 Volts
1 future ice auger: 7300VA 3 phase 240 Volts

As I understand it, any licensed engineer can design and draw electrical plans in Florida regardless of type of engineering degree or experience.
As a state certified electrical contractor, my license allows me to design and draw up to an 800 amp service.
I'm going to price the job both ways and let the customer decide which way he wants to go.
Here in CA an EC can design and draw anything as long as he is the one doing the job also, he cannot sell his plans.
 

cdslotz

Senior Member
Don't deal with the engineer at all!

Going after an engineer by questioning his expertise is a very bad idea.
It will sure make for a miserable job if you do.

Why don't you just offer a deduct to the owner for a 400A feeder with 3/0 vs what the Engineer designed?

Base Bid as Specified..............$*********

Voluntary Alternate Deduct-Use 3/0 vs 250................($*********)

That way the owner makes the call.

Oh, why do you need 3"? You can run (2) 2" for that feeder. Even more savings.
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
OK I may have to revise my answer about the Civil being able to sign plans (I got bad info I think from my BO). I will know in a day or two and I will update you then.
 

rbalex

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Mission Viejo, CA
Occupation
Professional Electrical Engineer
OK I may have to revise my answer about the Civil being able to sign plans (I got bad info I think from my BO). I will know in a day or two and I will update you then.
John, I beleive you are referencing the PE Act:
6737.2. Supplementary practice by civil engineer
Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a civil engineer, registered under the provisions of this chapter, from practicing or offering to practice any engineering in connection with or supplementary to civil engineering studies or activities as defined in Section 6731.
However Board rules 415 state:
415. Practice Within Area of Competence.
A professional engineer or land surveyor licensed under the Code shall practice and perform engineering or land surveying work only in the field or fields in which he/she is by education and/or experience fully competent and proficient.
 
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