do I need to upgrade to 200 amp service?

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This came out of another post I made, but is something I never really considered. I currently have 100 amp service, with 7 blanks in my electrical panel and will be adding 6 new circuits as I finish my basement. Someone suggested upgrading to 200amp service. I don't want to overload my existing capacity, but I figured I have a gas water heater, gas clothes dryer, gas furnace, gas range, etc. The only major electrical load I have is A/C in the summer (that I can think of right now at least). Therefore, 200amp service had never crossed my mind. Any suggestions/opinions? Also, if I did upgrade to 200 amp service, what is the cost and process? I assume that it doesn't cost more to have 200amp service once you get it hooked up, it's still the same rate per kWh, just that there's the potential to use more, right? Thanks yet again!
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More circuits does not necessarily mean you need the 200A. The best way to find your actual use is, buy or borrow an Amprobe. This is a meter you clamp around a wire to see what is being used. Turn on everything in the house, including the AC, and see actual use. You can also add up what is running individually but it is not always as accurate.
No, it does not cost more once installed. You need a new meter, new main breaker, perhaps a new panel. My guess is that you don't need it unless you are adding some big loads.
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And possibly new main feeds depending on the size and material of the existing ones.
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One other way to see roughly how many amps is to use your existing Utility power usage meter.
Meters record KilloWatt hours so you need to do a simple calculation to check out the power you are using now. So you need to do the following when you have everything on.
Step 1) Take a meter reading ==> READINGONE Step 2) Wait 10 mins Step 3) Take another meter reading ==. READINGTWO
Amps = (READINGTWO - READINGONE) * 0.05
Best, Mike. Best, Mike.
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I am the oler who raised the issue of a new panel.
some things to consider.
how old is existing main panel? who made it? If FBE stab lock replace immediately its a fire hazard! is the existing main properly grounded to current code? hows the physical cndition of the entrance cable and breaker cabinet? around here they rust. is yours even a little rusty?
I wouldnt fill the cabinet, it leavves no room for expansion and WILL be a BIG negative at home resale time. even a sub panel might be a deciding factor...
now after looking at these issues get quotes for new 200 amp service and compare to sub panel installation cost wise,
Now I have installed my own sub panel, but your not comfy doing that so pro help is necessary.
lets imagine a new 200 amp service is 1300 bucks, but a new sub panel is 600........
You state your not going to live there forever, if you want top resale dollars then give some weight to a new service
Now before someone trashes me imagine 2 identical homes for sale, one with 200 amp service the other 100 amp with sub panel. the homes prices are identical, and conditions identical.
which home would YOU BUY?
Much depends on the age and condition of your existing panel and note knock outs for more breakers on the panel doesnt necessarily mean they will fit. My panel has 6 knockouts available but is completely full.
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I certainly understand your points, but this is a townhome and other than finishing the basement I dont think many people buying these houses really consider adding tons of extra circuits. And actually the existing panel is only 10 years old, in great shape, and is made by GE. So...I guess I'll price out adding a subpanel versus running the longer runs of 12/2 cable. It may not actually be that much more to add a subpanel, and I guess it really isn't much different than any other home run. Thanks again for the advice.
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On Oct 31, 9:03 pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

The next buyer might not be thinking about adding extra circuits, but they might be thinking about having enough power to run a media room in that newly finished basment, along with computers, electric appliances, etc. In that case they might be happy with the number of outlets, but might want a 200 amp service.
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On Oct 31, 8:03?pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

well we now know your panel is pretty new and up to date, something no one else asked:(
so while getting prices for sub panel vs longer 12 2 runs why not get price for 200 amp upgrade just for the heck of it.
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You might want to check with your local utility. Some set the fixed portion of the bill based on the service size. There can also be additional install charges should the local transformer not be able to hadle the additional load.
-- "Tell me what I should do, Annie." "Stay. Here. Forever." - Life On Mars
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You're fine the way you are. Fill the box. You'll not over load it without a dryer or range.
s

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

It certainly doesn't sound like you have any need to upgrade to a 200A service. An upgrade decision would be based on the addition of large loads, or the need to replace the existing 100A panel if it were failing (cost to replace nearly the same 100A or 200A, mostly labor).
A typical house only draws on the order of 10A (per leg) of the service most of the time, and without multiple large electrical loads that may be active at the same time there is no problem with 100A service. Based on what you indicate, your likely peak loads would be around 50A (per leg) if you had the A/C running, a lot of lights on and someone using a hair dryer. If you had electric items such as a water heater, dryer, range, etc. The potential peak loads would be vastly higher.
The only thing I'd consider, if the basement finishing will nearly fill your existing main panel, would be to install a small sub panel for the basement. A small sub panel would be inexpensive and the connection would only take two spaces in the main panel so it would still allow for future additions. Depending on the location of the main panel and basement area being finished, it may also make for easier wire runs.
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I would guess the suggestion was made to give you a chance to consider upgrading now vs. sometime later when you might end up replacing what you are doing now. I would suggest that anyone needing a new entrance or box consider taking that step now, but it would appear you don't really need to at this time, but keep it in mind. Maybe adding a few tools in the garage and freezer in the basement next to the dehumidifier etc. ...

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Joseph Meehan

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Thanks for the quick advice. The original post that I made where the 200Amp service question got raised was actually regarding adding a sub- panel versus nearly filling in my existing panel with new breakers. The truth is that if this was a single-family home or one I'd plan on staying in forever, I would probably either upgrade to 200Amp service, or install a subpanel, or both. But in reality, I think that this basement finishing project is probably the last/only electrical addition I'll do to this house, and I'm fairly comfortable adding the new circuits on my own, while adding a subpanel (while not really that different from adding a circuit as far as I can tell) is something I'd be more comfortable hiring it out, and probably costing an additional $200-300. I probably be here for another 4-6 years before moving on...so I think I'll be okay with only one remaining blank after this addition considering I don't plan on adding tools or a hot tub or anything major. I certainly appreciate all the advice. Thanks again.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Two notes:
- Wiring a sub panel is no more difficult than wiring any other circuit.
- If it's a two (or more) family house with tenants, you may not be able to legally do the wiring yourself.
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If you are not going to live there the rest of your life and have not had the main breaker trip up to this point, then no need for a 200 amp panel.
If you are going to stay there forever and are replacing the main panel anyway, then not much more to upgrade to 200 amps and get plenty of extra slots.
Then the other "test" is thanksgiving: People visiting, everything on in house, range going, water heater going, washing machine going, dishwasher going, TV on, kids in bedrooms using electricity, grandpaw in garage trying out that band saw, etc. (If this blows the main breaker, then need to get a higher amperage main panel.)
If you are only in one room at a time and don't use electricity in other rooms while in that room, then no extra "total load" at one time!

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re : ... the other "test" is thanksgiving...If this blows the main breaker, then need to get a higher amperage main panel.
Or have Thanksgiving at somebody else's house next year.
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This is a complex question. I recently was faced with bringing in another 200 amp panel for an addition. When I had a very qualified electrician friend of mine come and examine it, I found that I had adequate equipment to add the casita, plus an AC to my main residence, and then some more.
There's nothing like having a pro give you an assessment.
That said, almost as good is IF you can, build a little bigger for the future. Ten years ago and twenty years ago, people had NO clue they would have as many appliances as they commonly do today. Hence, they put in what was adequate. It costs, but it's worth it down the line.
HTH
Steve
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The utility may charge to install bigger wires to the house, in addition to your costs for the panel and wiring..
Consider buying "double" breakers for the new circuits in the current panel. These are double 15 or 20 amp breakers that take the space of single breakers. This will slow down the filling of the panel.
Bob
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

How about installing a sub-panel. Probably most power eater there is a/c and freeer/fridge. Gas appliances don't consume much power.
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On Wed, 31 Oct 2007 06:00:18 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Many in the electrical business would have you upgrade to a 10,000 amp service of they could. They want your money !!!!!! If you had all those gas appliances as electric, then you might need more. Add your breakers and leave the rest alone.
You do not need the main to be equal to the sum of adding all the breakers. They are just there to protect individual circuits. Unlike the old days where two fuses handled the whole house, these days many breakers are used for protection and keeping one appliance from blacking out the whole house.
Why dont you add up your usage on a regular basis.....
There are lots of homes that still have 60A service and they work just fine.
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