Do I really need 200 A main service?

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I am building an addition to my house and thought of upgrading my 150 A service and panel to 200 A. However after weighing the cost (upward of $1500 in my area) and benefit I started having second thoughts. My 150 A service and panel are relatively new, 8 years old.
The house after addition is completed will be around 3500 sf plus finished basement.
I have gas oven, gas furnace, gas water heater and gas dryer in my house. I have a workshop with 50 A sub panel, I will have second central A/C installed, the sauna with heater and potentially steam shower. Both central A/C use 40 A breakers @ 220V (the second , sauna heater will draw max 25A @ 220 V and the steam generator will draw 35 A @ 220 V. Besides this I do not have anything special from electric load perspective.
Is 150 A service and panel enough to service my load or I really need 200 A upgrade?
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You could get by...most likely. But I doubt anyone would recommend it!
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First, I'd say that the existing 150 amp service you have, was a mistake. There is such an insignificant price difference between a 150 and 200 amp service, there shouldn't even be a 150 amp. Having said that, both my dad and I have 150 amp services at our houses, and we're both licensed electrical contractors. NO, we didn't install them, they came with our houses. However, in both our situations, the 150 amp is perfectly adequate for the size of the houses and our load demands. Eventually, I will replace mine out of sheer embarrassment.
In your situation, the 150 is probably adequate as well. Those heavy loads, the A\C and steam generators, and sauna are cycling on and off, and except for the A\C are used for only short periods of time. There certainly is no reason to go for the 200 at this time. I would connect all the new stuff to the existing service, and only replace it if you find the need.
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Thank you for your response. When I bought the house I didn't have enough experience and knowledge to push for 200 A upgrade. My 60+ year old house originally had 100 A service so I upgraded to 150 A following the HVAC installer advice.
The problem is that upgrading main service is the only part of wiring I cannot do myself. This makes me hire an electrician and they want close to $1000 to upgrade it just for labor plus it costs me around $500 for all materials. If I could upgrade service myself I would definitely do it. I replaced and upgraded all other wiring in my house myself.
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Thank you for your response. When I bought the house I didn't have enough experience and knowledge to push for 200 A upgrade. My 60+ year old house originally had 100 A service so I upgraded to 150 A following the HVAC installer advice.
The problem is that upgrading main service is the only part of wiring I cannot do myself. This makes me hire an electrician and they want close to $1000 to upgrade it just for labor plus it costs me around $500 for all materials. If I could upgrade service myself I would definitely do it. I replaced and upgraded all other wiring in my house myself.
In my area of downstate NY, 200 amp services are going for $2000-$2500. It's all about the bureaucracy
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From what you've said, a homeowner's permit would be reasonable. Whenever.

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wrote:

What is a homeowners permit?
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I assume he means "owner/builder" permit that allows the homeowner to pull a permit and do the work. YMMV on whether you can actually do this. In Florida you can.
The real break point would be to ask the utility what the rating is on their drop from the pole. If it is a triplex, I bet they say 200a, even though it is ~2ga aluminum. At that point it is replacing the SE from the panel to the service point and swapping out the panelboard if you stay in the same brand/model class. I think Cuttler Hammer even makes panelboards that fit in SqD cans. 150 and 200 usually use the same can. The advantage of using the same brand is you keep your old breakers. You are just replacing the bus bars and main breaker. He may also be replacing the ground electrode conductor.
It is more complicated if he wants to increase the breaker count. You need a new enclosure and you will be rewiring everything.
BTW it might be worthwhile reading the panel label. Some 150s may have 200a busses but I bet the 200 breaker is about the same as a panelboard or maybe even the whole load center.
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wrote:

That's not legal in my county, in fact I'm pretty sure there is a jail term for doing that, although the jail term may only be for doing electrical work in someone else's house. I could look at the laws, but they're really scary. I can't believe that half the stuff in them is constitutional. Hard to believe that you can't legally work in your own house.

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RBM wrote:

In less enlightened climes, you need no permit at all. I've done two: at my place and my son's. We replaced crappola builder-grade, Wesmokeless panels with 200-Amp Square-D ones.
'Course our town's so backward we don't even have zoning.
And, believe it or not, we don't have many fires started due to poor wiring. No, not many at all considering we're the 4th largest city in the nation. Hardly even make the news.
Now assuming the original poster doesn't need or can get the required permit (or is willing to work under a tent attached to the side of the house during the dark of the moon) and:
a) has some common sense, b) can use simple tools, and c) is relatively close to a big box store, then
he can do the job himself for about $350.
"Officer, I have no idea. I'm as bewildered as you. I came home from work and there was a large red ribbon attached to the box with an unsigned birthday card and a bottle of Champagne sitting on the ground. I drank the wine... Did I do something wrong?"
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Wow, that's pretty funny. Of all the reasons one might find to upgrade an electric service, "electric vehicles are on the way", is certainly not one I would have thought of. I suppose with the new "Volt" coming out with it's revolutionary 40 miles (best case scenario) on a charge, people will be just tripping over each other to buy one. We electricians will be backlogged for the next ten years trying to upgrade everyone's service to accommodate these technological wonders.
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On 12/5/2010 10:26 AM, RBM wrote:

My house has a 60 Amp service, I guess electricians thought that way back in the 50's too.
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What a "short sighted" statement...you must still have a V-8 in your machine?!
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wrote:

What a "short sighted" statement...you must still have a V-8 in your machine?!
Relatively speaking, the cork in a wine bottle has seen more improvement in the last 100 years, then the electric car. No, I don't think we'll all be running out and buying them anytime soon. And if I had a need for a V-8, I would have a V-8
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well electric cars are coming and at home resale time lack of capacity could discourage buyers. its not just the volt or the telsa, its the nissan leaf and others.theres a plug in version of the prius coming too.
electricity is more green than other energy sources, since its made in bulk and that makes scrubbing its exhaust easier. let alone solar panels and windmills..........
if your room addition needs a sub panel i would upgrade to 200 amps now, the cost of electrical upgrade is a tiny part of a big home addition......
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Not for my budget. I am doing most of the work myself and spending ~ $1500 on something I may not need makes a big diference for me.
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On Sun, 5 Dec 2010 08:46:24 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

I was pretty serious about an electric car since I thought I was the perfect candidate. I don't drive far but I drive everyday. I also have a truck and my wife has a "trip car". Unfortunately I still could not get the numbers to work out, even for a $10k kit conversion on my old Honda. The biggest unrecognized problem is replacing the batteries every 3-4 years ($1300-$1500). I was looking at a 10-12 year payback and not really getting much better in the out years, if the power was free. I didn't drive far enough. If you start with $10k, add 2 sets of batteries over 10 years and assume $3 gas against a car that gets 28 MPG (my Honda) your kit and batteries will buy gas for 33 miles a day, 365 days a year for 10 years. I will still get an electric bill on top of that. If you say 10 kwh (about 60% of 14 golf cart batteries) that is about $1.40 a day assuming no losses in the charger and 100% transfer of power in the car. I suppose the goldilocks situation is a commuter who has a 15-20 mile commute and does not need heat or A/C. Nobody has said what the range is with the heater on or running an A/C.
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On Sun, 05 Dec 2010 14:22:44 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

None of your battery costs apply to cars like the Prius or Volt. The Volt battery warranty is 8 years/100,000 miles. Prius is similar. Battery failures on the Prius is not related to the golf cart "conversion" batteries you are talking about. Same will hold true of the Volt. Here's something about hybrid failure rates. http://www.hybridcars.com/components-batteries/first-numbers-hybrid-battery-failure.html I was waiting for the Prius dead battery disaster to hit the fan. Still hasn't happened. For now "bleeding-edge" folks with bucks will hopefully get the electric/electric plug-in hybrid car industry in motion. Along with the usual government suspects. This should lower costs as economy of scale begin to do their work. Lower car cost and lower battery cost. But what will put it over the top is +$5.00 a gallon gasoline. And that is coming sure as the sun will rise and set. The numbnuts running the show should get their butts in gear ramping up nuke power, which is the only way to make electric work well.
--Vic
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On 12/5/2010 3:04 PM, Vic Smith wrote:

Hell, cars usually have that many miles on them before I buy them. Somehow I don't think there will be many 3rd or 4th owner hybrids, not if a refresh of the battery pack costs as much as putting a used engine in a real car.
--
aem sends....

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On Sun, 05 Dec 2010 14:04:39 -0600, Vic Smith

The prius battery is twice as much as 14 golf cart batteries and still does not provide nearly the same AH rating (range). I suspect the only way you know a Prius battery is going bad is the fuel consumption rises (they need more frequent charging so the engine runs more). None of this is really relevant to a pure plug in. In that case the owner is doing the battery management and they are more likely to run it until it drops, which is tough on batteries. Electric cars are really a pretty mature technology but it is all being done in back yards and home garages. I spent a lot of time looking at the experiences of people who have had electric cars since the Carter administration. The only new thing I see is a newer type of battery and computerized battery management. The LiON is better because of weight per amp hour and better life but that comes at a significant cost difference. It may actually be more expensive 10 years out and it certainly is in the first 6 years.
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