Opinions on upgrading Electrical panel...

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I am thinking of having our 42 year old 100 amp fuse panel replaced with a 100 amp breaker panel.
Right now we cannot add new wires/circuits as the fuse panel is full. The panel has the stove and pot light and a/c and electric dryer fuses as panel of the "load centre" so we do not have separate sub-boxes for those higher amp needs. We have one sub-panel for a 230V x 15 A pool motor. We are a young couple and expect to start a family in the next couple of years and intend to stay in this house until the kids become adults.
Our home is a 42 year old 1700 square foot bungalow. We are considering switching our electrical stove to a natural gas stove and the dryer to gas as well although these may not be done right away but in a few years. Our water heater and furnace are gas.
What are the benefits of having a 200 amp panel installed? I want to add two or three new wires in the future to add lighting or to accommodate electronic devices in various rooms in the house. If we go with a gas stove will the need of 200 amp panel be less? If we go gas stove and dryer, is 100 amp more than sufficient for the next 20 years?
Another question: How are houses grounded these days. I have a grounding wire that is clamped to my municipal water (3/4" galvanized) that is 26 feet away from my panel box.
Also what GFCI needs should I consider. When we bought this house 7 months ago, there was not a single GFCI outlet in the kitchen or outside or in bathrooms. I was told to keep the protection at the outlet as the panels that provide protection at the breaker trip too quickly when you turn on hair dryers or power tools with 10 amp or more motors.
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To clarify the pool motor: It can run at 115 V x 15 amps or 230 V 7.5 amps. We wants it to run at 230/7.5.
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In your situation 100 amps should be fine. If you wanted to keep the electric range, dryer, then add central air, I'd opt for a 200 amp service.

By current Nec, you would add two ground rods, outside, six feet apart, connect them together with number 6 copper, and connect them to the neutral/ground buss in the panel

By current Nec, all bathroom outlets, all outside outlets, all outlets in unfinished parts of basements, crawlspaces, garages, within six feet of any sink, and all kitchen counter outlets, should be GFCI protected.

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RBM wrote:

A 1968 house with fuses? Are you sure it was built in '68, or is that just what the realtor told you? Sounds more like '58 to me. Here in flyover country, all new construction was breakers by early 60s.
IMHO, you would be penny-wise and pound-foolish to not go for 200 amp, even if you have to pay for a new service drop to do it. I know you plan to keep the place awhile, and having 'only' 100 amp will be even more of a turn-off to future buyers than it is now. Call your power company and discuss with them- on a drop that old, they are likely to be extremely friendly about upgrading the drop, since it is middle-age by weather-exposed wiring standards. They would rather change it in sunny warm weather, than in a January blizzard.
--
aem sends...

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Realtor didn't tell me anything. I have a copy of the builder's survey and the land registration title. Building of the house started October 1967 and was finished March 1968. I'm lucky. My house has copper wires. Most of my neighbors have aluminum wiring.
My wife's mother's house was built in 1972 with fuses.
your advice on contacting the power company is appreciated and I will do. They installed one of those smart meters here this winter. I wonder if they took any notes. power is above ground wires, not buried wires.
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aemeijers wrote:

Where I live, they charge extra for the drop for a 200 Amp panel. 150 is free. Something to ask the utility.
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My parents built the house where I grew up, in '59; 200A box with breakers. The main overcurrent devices were fuses, however.

Absolutely agree. I'd add that you might hint that the reason you're replacing the box is because you need more power. Power companies have been known to throw in an incentive.
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wrote:

Up here in Ontario, Canada fuse panels were still relatively common when my house was built in 1973. 100 amp for most, and 200 for electric heat.

And here there is no weather exposed "drop" because all the electrical services in our area are underground - to avoid all the ice damage and storm damage issues. Some parts of the city (older areas) still have overhead electrical service, but virtually nothing developed since the early '70s in urban areas.
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I'm in Georgetown Ont in a subdivision built between '66 and '69. Overhead wires and cable, but underground phone. They trim the trees on front yards like ours where the wires follow the street. I have an electrician to quote the job on Monday. Maybe he'll they me why.
My Mother in law in Mississauga had her house built in 1971 with underground wires and fuses.
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On 07/03/2010 09:09 AM, The Henchman wrote:

My parents' first house was built sometime between 1969 and 1972 and it had a panel with Edison type fuses. This was in western PA.
nate
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wrote:

My house in Md (1971) had fuses too, in type S adapters. The reality is, you could install a panel with fuses today if it had the type S adapters.
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On Jul 3, 10:41am, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

My house in the Chicago western suburbs was built in 1958 with breakers
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wrote:

Out here where folks land (<g>), upstate NY, I remember discussing the virtues of breakers over fuses with a friend who was building a house in 1973 or 4.

I'm with you. Sure as shooting, the minute your shiny new 100amp service is installed somebody will invent the 'gotta-have' gadget that wants another 60amps. [electric car, anyone?]
Jim
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RBM wrote:

I agree.
You could add a subpanel powered from the abandoned range pull-out for added circuits. Circuit breakers are certainly more convenient. I tend to think fuses are a little better protection.
If there is not a 100A fuse pullout, all the pullouts are all likely service disconnects (you have to pull them all to kill everything).

That is for a service that is installed now. (For a new house you would now almost always install a "concrete encased electrode" instead of ground rods.) What you have was compliant when installed and is still compliant - long as there is 10 ft of metal water pipe in the earth.

This is also for new wiring. Tghere have been a lot of changes in 42 years. But GFCIs are really useful protection and adding them is a good idea.
I am not aware that breakers are that prone to tripping. They are more expensive than GFCI receptacles. If there is wiring downstream from a receptacle, you can install a GFCI receptacle and connect the downstream wiring so it is protected by the GFCI. GFCI outlets are larger than regular ones, so it is sometimes difficult to fit them in the existing box.
--
bud--

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wrote:

In Canada ALL services have a main disconnect switch, which is fused, or a main breaker. Don't know why ANY jurisdiction would allow anything else.

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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

It is called a "split bus" panel. Some of the fused versions were called "main and range". When the 30A service was replaced when I was a kid, the new fuse panel was 100A with 4 pullouts (60, 60, 30, 30) that were all service disconnects. One of the 60s fed the plug fuses. Split bus circuit breaker panels were also made - often had up to 6 service disconnects, with one feeding the bus on the bottom for branch circuit breakers. These are all still explicitly grandfathered in the NEC. I believe you can still install a split bus panel with 2 service disconnects (one for the bottom bus).
The basic general rule is that you can have up to 6 service disconnects. (Actually you can have a few more.) This is fairly common with large services.
--
bud--


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wrote:

In Ontario( and I believe virtually all of Canada) such a panel could only be installed AFTER a full panel disconnect switch, which did not need to be part of the panel, and did not need to be close to the panel in the past. I believe it DID need to be within 6 feet of the door leading into the room where the panel was installed, either inside or outside of the room in residential applications, and it was sometimes on the power pole for farm/rural applications (which often had no meter back in the early days of 30 amp services)
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(bud--) writes: | RBM wrote:
| > By current Nec, all bathroom outlets, all outside outlets, all outlets in | > unfinished parts of basements, crawlspaces, garages, within six feet of any | > sink, and all kitchen counter outlets, should be GFCI protected. | | This is also for new wiring. Tghere have been a lot of changes in 42 | years. But GFCIs are really useful protection and adding them is a good | idea.
What counts as new wiring when you are replacing a panel? I assume that you don't have to provide GFCI breakers on circuits merely because those circuits include receptacles that should by locally current code be GFIC (but I actually like GFCI breakers better than receptacles). On the other hand, I assume you do have to provide AFCI breakers on circuits that would require them by locally current code. By the current NEC and for the typical "random" allocation of areas to circuits in older homes I would think that this could mean pretty much all breakers have to be AFCI.
Does something like an L14-20 outlet require AFCI protection (assuming in an area so requiring) since it has 120V available pole to neutral?
                Dan Lanciani                 ddl@danlan.*com
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Dan Lanciani wrote:

Excellent questions. I hoped Roy, John or Greg would answer.
I believe it is not obvious from the NEC and is up to the inspector.
You may have been arguing above that GFCI protection is required for receptacles, not branch circuits, but AFCI protection is required for branch circuits - which may work.
AFCIs are more important for older wiring, but new wiring of today will likely become the old wiring of the future. Logically, using AFCIs in panel replacements is more important than new installs (but it is certainly not in the code).
If the OP replaces his panel AFCI are another question and may be a real good idea with his older wiring..

As you likely know, AFCI protection is required for 15 and 20A 120V branch circuits supplying "outlets" (receptacles, lighting, smoke detectors, ...) in specified rooms in "dwellings". Generally receptacles that are required to have GFCI protection are not required to have AFCI protection. Older houses may have kitchen appliance, laundry and unfinished basement circuits that do not stray into rooms where protection is required. And maybe bathroom circuits.
The protection would be for the branch circuit (which includes the L14-20 receptacle).
--
bud--


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wrote:

That will really depend on how your "rehab" code is written and what they consider "existing". It is ultimately a local call.
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