New Service Box Questions

Hello:
Will be contacting a few local contractors in the area to put in a new Service Box for us, as our present one is about 30 years old. Present capacity is 100 amps; imagine 150 or 200 would be adequate. I have 2 central A/C's, though, in house (the split type with the condensers outside)
Before I do, would like to learn a bit more about what is involved.
I guess my main questions are:
- What do I want to ask him ?
- What do I want to be sure to get ?
- GFCI's and ArcFault breakers (good idea; for where ?)
- whole house Surge Protector ? What brand and type ?
- Brands, and which to avoid ?
- etc.
Wandering around HD, it seems that a new 200 amp box, loaded up, should be no more than about $250. Think I can get a "good" installation for $1,000 or so ? (Boston area)
Any thoughts on what to be sure to discuss with him would be most appreciated.
Thanks, Bob
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Just for a comparison, in the burbs around NYC a garden variety overhead 200 amp service with 40 circuit panel runs between $2000 and $2500. Don't even bother with a 150 amp, it's the same work and only a few dollars cheaper on materials.

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Instead of asking the contractor, you might be better off coming up with your own specifications. That way when you get competitive bids each contractor will be bidding on the same job rather than their own interpretation. You will also be more likely to get what you want. Forget about 150 amp. 200 amp is almost the same price.
For instance:
200 amp 40 circuit panel (Full spaces) with main. Square D or GE? There is a slight price difference. Require that the contractor upon acceptance provide you with a certificate of insurance. Require that a permit be taken out and the job be inspected. Do you want service entrance cable (Aluminum or copper) or conduit (PVC, EMT, or Rigid). Aluminum is not a bad way to go for the service entrance conductors whether in cable or conduit. There are many brands of surge protectors which can add a few hundred dollars to the overall cost. Not a bad idea if you live in an area subject to transients, spikes, and lightning. 2 ground rods 16' feet apart is much better than the code minimum required 6', but will require a longer grounding electrode conductor. All grounding electrode conductors and bonding jumpers should be copper. Aluminum is permitted, but I don't recommend it. Specify that the water pipe and gas pipe points of connection be cleaned with sandpaper or emery cloth for good contact. If you're thinking of putting an addition on or plan to refinish the basement, you could specify the installation of a subpanel somewhere for future use.
Not sure about the Boston area, but in NJ you should figure $2000.00 - $3000.00 depending if you go cheap or decide to live it up. I'm assuming that this is an overhead service.
The total material cost could be around $500.00. There are many more components to a service upgrade than just the panel box.
There are probably more things I could suggest, but I can't see your house from here.
John Grabowski http://www.mrelectrician.tv

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You want him to write specifications, but you present him with an array of choices that make no sense to the average homeowner. Perhaps each electrician will have his own interretation and reasons for it. Talk to them and ask why their method is better than others. Then make a decision.
He is more likeley to get what he wants with a spec, but the problem is, he does not know what he wants. That is what you rely on the professionals do know and help you with.
Aside from all of this, only a person seeing the job can determine if circuits should be broken down, new one run, etc.
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entrance
decision.
he
do
Touche Ed. I guess I got carried away. :-) At least he has some food for thought. It is always difficult to determine if someone wants a good job or the cheapest price possible with minimum standards.
Since he had posted a problem previously with a furnace circuit board and surmised that a surge protector would prevent it from happening again, I suggested the grounding upgrade which would also provide protection.
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You wnat to ask him what needs to be done to upgrade to a higher amp capacity. It is more than just the service panel. In most cases, the main line to the meter must be replaced, possibly the meter box. Why do yo want a new panel? What problems are you having? Future plans?

Any outside or near water applications must have GFCI. If you hae GFCI recepticals, you don't want the breaker. If you go witht he reaker youcan change out recepticals. Your electrician can help. That is what he does for a living.

Depends on many factors. How far from the street? That new service cable is not cheap. Overhead or underground?
You can end up with double your projected cost.
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