Total house amp/electirc question

Can someone explain what the amp ratting on electric breaker box means. I think mine is 100 AMP. Is that a limitation of the box or the power coming in to my box? What does it take to upgrade to get more ampage? My house is full of electronics including 2 fridges, 1 freezer, 2 AC units, plus tons of DJ / computer equipment. I am always seeing voltage drops and I am afraid its just the entire power system is inadequate. What is involved in upgrading my system?
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Bob wrote:

When do you see voltage drops? When some big appliance, like A/C kicks in? Keep in mind that it is not unusual, especially in hot weather when you and your neighbors on the same transformer, are all using a lot of power. The problem me be outside your home.
What is the rated amps for those two A/C units?
I wound not be too quick to upgrade your power. To do that you will need a new panel and likely a new drop from the electric companies transformer. It can be expensive.
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The limit is set by the size of the wire feeding your house, and the main circuit breaker. For most houses, 100A is adequate and has been for many years. Central Air being one of the larger uses, followed by an electric range, then a dryer.
There are other limitations of the system though. You can have 200A or 600A coming into the main box, but if the distribution is a bottleneck, you will still get voltage drops on a given line. I have about the same number of "stuff" as you have, but add a wine cooler too, plus 3 AC units total. . The motor driven appliance take a lot of power compared to the electronics. When the AC compressor kicks in, I do see a slight dimming of the lights ON THAT circuit for a second.
You really need to check out how many breakers you have, what is on a given circuit, and, what is the real voltage coming in from the street. I get a full 120v most of hte time, but if you are some distance from a sub-station, you may be getting less, especially in the summer. That adds to the dimming.
You can buy a volt meter fairly cheap. That would be my first step. Voltage can and will vary in many places. Then I'd look at the distribution to wee what is on each circuit. In older houses, it was common to have three for an entire house, where 12 - 16 is not uncommon now. If a new box was installed in an older home, it may have been difficult or impossible to break down the lines to multiple circuits.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

You think 100Amps is adequate for most homes with AC, dryer, electric stove and all the other typical loads we have packed into our homes today?
.
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Well I have one larger AC not sure of the AMPs but its one of the larger window models. What I did was convert an old 220 line that was under that window to 110. Changed the breaker and the box on the wall. So it has its own direct line with nothing else attached. What happens is my backup ups system trigger and the lights dim every time the AC kicks in. Since that has its own circuit I figured it was the main power that was not handling the current. I also notice the same affects when the microwave is used and other appliances kick in that are on diffent lines.
I took a GFI tester and tested all my outlets including the one I converted and they are said good except for one that had a bad ground but I don't use that outlet.
Not sure what to do next.

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Bob wrote:

I'd try connecting that air conditioner to the other leg in your panel (move the breaker down one slot usually does this) in case the total load is imbalanced and the grounded service conductor (neutral) is doing too much of the work.
I'm probably wrong, but it's an easy test.
Bob
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Some years back, I had this problem. The local electric company (central NJ) nicely put a recording volt meter on my line. They re-routed me to a different transformer. There was building in the area, and additional houses made a difference. I was out at the end of the drop. No cost to me, and simple answer.
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wrote:

I'm suspecting the pole transformer is not handling the load. I'd call the electric company and have them do some tests it. You could also throw a meter across your mains (wires entering the house), but then you got to sit there and watch it. The power company usually has a recording meter. I am not sure exactly how they work but somehow they record the voltages during a period of time. That sounds like a tool I'd like to own, but I can imagine the price.
Mark
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You can buy a multi-meter with PC interface for this purpose (add computer). Radioshack has one for around $70, albeit it has an archaic rs-232 port. I'm sure there is one with USB somewhere.
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Hey, I like the sound of that..... How does it record the data on the computer? Does it create a graph, or is it a text file with the time of day and voltage reading, which is read at pre-determined intervals?
Thanks
Mark
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That is the total amps available at 240v. If you have gas appliances like the stove, water heater and furnace this might not be unreasonable. The A/C units are probably the biggest load. To upgrade you will need a new meter base, new service panel and new wiring, possibly all the way back to the pole. YMMV on cost, depending on where you live.
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Your use does not seem excessive from what you describe, I used to double that usage from your description. You need to do your own energy audit to see what you realy use, a Kill-A-Watt and good clamp on digital amp meter is a good place to start. I would guess upgrading to 200a you are looking at 1-2000$. Your voltage drops could be individual circuits being overloaded. Maybe you just need things split up and a few new circuits run.
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