New Residential Electrical Service Box Questions, Please

Hello,
Will be replacing a quite old residential electrical service box with a new 150 or 200 amp one in the near future.
Haven't spoken to any electricians yet, but before I do, would like to gain a bit of knowledge as to what is state of the art, etc., these days.
e.g.,
a. What brand(s) do I want to ask for, and I guess what's more important, which to stay away from ?
b. Square D still the preferred one to go with ? If so, do they have a "good," "better," "best" kind of lineup ? Which should I specify ? Much of a price difference between ?
c. Not sure what bells and whistles to ask about. I guess I want GFE breakers somewhere. Where should they be put in ? Any potential problem in having one in the service box if there is already one or two GFE's on outlets in the circuit ?
d. What about "Arc-Fault" breakers, which I've heard about. What are they, and where would I want them ?
e. Is a ground rod required these days for the Gnd/Neutral, per Code ? Presently, there doesn't seem to be one.
Much thanks; appreciate it.
Bob
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Robert11 wrote:

Avoid stuff like Bryant like the plague.

Square D QO, not Square D Homeline. Not a huge price difference for a basic residential panel, probably add $100 to the materials cost. Get a 40 space panel, they fill up a lot faster than you think.

Do not put GFCI breakers in the panel, they cost 4x what a GFCI outlet does and don't provide any more protection. You will need to put AFCI breakers on any circuits serving bedrooms, but the AFCI breakers are more reasonably priced.
Other options to look at are the "Surge Breaker" surge suppresser, and the generator interlock kit if you want to provide a connection point for a generator.

Recent code requirement for circuits serving bedrooms.

Two 8' ground rods at least 6' apart.

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Pete C. wrote:

If you are going to post to multiple newsgroups use crossposting so your questions don't have to be answered multiple times.

Vastly expanded in the 2008 NEC.
--
bud--

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Not in all communities. Our power company specifies one ground rod. Check with your power company and get acquainted with your local building inspection department. For a major panel replacement. consider the advantages of converting to an underground service. Adds value to the property, input wiring is heavier gage, less chance of storm damage, often lower insurance rates, and looks much nicer. HTH
Joe
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Well, the power company may only require one, but if you are under the NEC, and if the ground rod is your only grounding electrode, then you better drive two. For the NEC, one ground rod is adequate if you can show that the resistance to ground is 25 ohms or less, but doing that is way more expensive than driving a second ground rod, so everybody drives two ground rods.
Cheers, Wayne
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I agree. It depends on the AHJ. In our town, they ONLY require the ground to the water supply pipe. I found this out AFTER i drove two 8' rods 6' apart AND ran solid wire all the way across the basement to the water inlet.
So the point is, check with YOUR local jurisdiction.
s
wrote:

Not in all communities. Our power company specifies one ground rod. Check with your power company and get acquainted with your local building inspection department. For a major panel replacement. consider the advantages of converting to an underground service. Adds value to the property, input wiring is heavier gage, less chance of storm damage, often lower insurance rates, and looks much nicer. HTH
Joe
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"S. Barker" wrote:

Codes are all minimum standards and there is nothing wrong with going beyond those minimums.
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majors are pretty decent. I never recommend a 150 amp service as the labor cost is the same as for a 200 amp and the material cost is negligible. I agree with Pete c that I'd want a "full size" 40 circuit panel, which you won't get with a 150 amp service, at least with a built in main breaker. I wouldn't install any GFCI breakers unless you're replacing ones in the current panel. I think it makes more sense to use receptacles where needed. New code requires AFCI protection for virtually everything in bedrooms, but unless the bedrooms were wired for AFCI protection, you could be opening up a can of worms, especially if multiwire branch circuits were used and your existing wiring should be grandfatherd. I wouldn't worry about ground rods and related stuff as that's why you have an inspector check the job, he'll do what's required in your area.
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Didn't you ask a bunch of questions about a service upgrade a year or two ago?
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Robert11 wrote:

Square D is fine. The difference between 200 and 150-amp service is about $5.00. You can get "kits" containing the box, master disconnect, an assortment of breakers, and (most of) the hardware. Take a census of what breakers you currently have and make sure the kit contains enough replacements for the sizes already in use.
Also, replacing the breaker box is a DIY job (assuming you don't have communists or trade-unionists running your local government). Take pictures of the set-up before (and after). Label the wires before you remove them as to what size breakers they belong and whether any are phase-paired.
Job will take about four or five hours (including a couple of trips to the hardware store for things an electrician will have on his truck). You'll probably need power from a neighbor to run a drill or Dremel.
In addition to reserving the upper-right double breaker for an emergency-power connection, you may want to add a whole-house surge protector (about $40.00) as long as you have the box open.
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In this part of North America AFIK 200 amp is minimum allowed for any residentioal/domestic installation. Only exception might perhaps for hooking up a temporary construction shack. If doing an extensive refit such as proposed it will probably be necessary, in most jurisdictions, to have it done or at least checked, by a registered electrician and then inspected. Also for example many codes now require AFCI for bedroom circuits. You may or may not be able to grandfather sectionas of your existing wiring etc. Sounds like the OP has a big job on their hands.
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A surge and lightning arrestor on the main panel and a simple 6 circuit generator transfer switch are a good idea. You need a very good ground for saftey. Even GFIs consume power 24x7, only install what you need.
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link to proof of this?
s
Even GFIs consume power 24x7, only install what you need.
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"S. Barker" wrote:

You don't need a link, it's common sense and you can prove it yourself with an amp probe. Both GFCIs (breakers or receptacles) and AFCI breakers have sensing circuitry that consume power. It's a pretty negligible amount of course so nobody should be very concerned about it. The same applies to all varieties of photocell controlled lighting, be it night lights or outdoor lighting.
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