Upgrade to 200AMP or keep 100AMP?

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Dear Readers, I'm getting contractors' quotes on replacing my existing main electrical panel (The subpanel for the house distribution is circuit breakers, but the main panel is old 100amp fuse block, not circuit breakers.). Some of them are saying that replacement of the line from the power company to my main box must be done with such a replacement, and that I should upgrade to 200AMP service while I'm at it. I've been just fine with 100AMP service. My house is 1500sqft. I ran calcs (following guidelines in an electrical load design book) that showed even if I "finished" my basement and had window air conditioners in most rooms, and the electric stove blaring, I would not exceed 100AMPS. I can't imagine I will ever install central air, and my property can't fit a pool. So, my opinion is I have no big electric loads in the foreseeable future.
Question #1: to replace main panel, is it standard procedure to replace service line drop? Question #2: If #1 is NOT true, should I upgrade to 200AMP service now just because they're doing the work right there? Is there a realistic benefit other than looking good on a real estate listing when I sell in 20years?
Thanks
Theodore
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millinghill wrote:

do you ever want to get a large compressor in your garage? how about your wife wanting to get into ceramics? how about the next owner? making it 200a now would definitely make a resale easier, and make it more cost effective for you if you ever want to get into a hobby that requires higher power.
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-snip-

Don't know if it is standard-- but if mine was 20 years old & I was about to spend a couple grand, I'd spend the extra couple hundred for a new drop.

I would just because it would increase the cost so little at this point-- but if they come out with that 3-D printer for your home that draws 100amps- you'd be ready for it.
[More realistic amp suckers might be a Hot Tub, welder, electric car; - and who knows, if they perfect solar cells, maybe all-electric houses will come back in vogue- then you'd want to heat with it.]
Jim
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On Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:47:42 -0700 (PDT), millinghill

Local codes have a lot to do with it. When I lived in Chicago my service line was burned off when a neighbor's garage burned down. The city required me to put in a 100 Amp circuit breaker box. Power company put in a new meter.
Many service lines on older houses are only rated for 100 Amps. When I moved into my current home I wanted central air. I had a 200 Amp service put in for $1200. 12 years ago. That included running a 240v line and box to where the furnace would be placed. And a big honking pipe through the roof. The power company put in a new meter, but I don't remember who ran the new service lines.
The electrician was happy to get the 6 old 15 or 20 Amp circuit breakers from the old box. Said they are really hard to find and worth about 30 bucks each. He also split some of my existing circuits saying they needed splitting. There's 12 now. And he ran a 120v run all the way to the back of the basement for my workbench. Think he was paying me back for the rare old breakers he scored.
You should really shop around because electricians rates can widely vary. And find out what the real answer is about the new service drop.
I also remember the electrician telling me he was putting in a big circuit box for the price of a smaller one at no extra charge, because it was better - and because it was the only one he had in his truck. It can hold 30 breakers. The city inspector was a little shocked when he saw it. If I ever get my power splits like I want them I might use 20-22.
Besides the A/C, it's handy to have 240v ready in case you want, say, a 240v air compressor. So you have to find out the real cost difference. Personally, I wouldn't have seconds thoughts until it got past a few hundred dollars difference. Gives you a flexibility you might need later.
--Vic
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On Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:47:42 -0700 (PDT), millinghill

A lot of home inspectors will beat you up for not having 200a but generally speaking they are not very knowledgable about electric stuff. If you go one for one 100 to 100 I can't imagine why the PoCo would need to upgrade your service drop and if it has been changed in the last 2 or 3 decades (twisted triplex vs the three standard strands in the olden days) it is probably OK for 200a. The thing that would have to be replaced would be the "service entrance" between the service head and the panel (via the meter).
The actual difference in price between 100, 150 and 200 is insignificant tho so if they are replacing the SE cable, it might be worth doing the upgrade.
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If you didn't have to touch it, I wouldn't even consider upgrading to 200 amp. In your situation you'll probably never need it, but since your having most of the service replaced anyway, the cost difference between 100 and 200 really is negligible. 150 amp services are just stupid in my opinion.
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On 9/13/2010 9:05 PM, RBM wrote:

Call your power company to discuss- if your drop is old anyway, they may cut you a price break on the upgrade. Cheap insurance for them- a lot easier to change on a sunny September morning, than at 0200 in a January blizzard.
--
aem sends...

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Some will do it free (the drop, not the panel), with the expectation of higher bills.
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Go with the 200. You can only put so many MOS (multiple outlet strips) into one outlet before it gets complicated.
And visually interesting.
Steve
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What is the cost difference? If only a few bucks more, I'd go for 200. If it was a bundle more, I'd stay with the 100. Some time pack in the 50's or so, 100A service started to become the common service and is still adequate for most of us. What will the future hold? Who knows, but if you can get it for a reasonable price, do it and be ready.
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On Mon, 13 Sep 2010 22:34:10 -0400, "Ed Pawlowski"

I only have 60A to my house. I'm on a farm that has 200A service, but the house only had a 60A fuse panel which I replaced with breakers. I just put a 60A breaker outside in the Main Box (on the main pole). Otherwise I would have had to spend a couple hundred more for new wires. 60A is all I need to the house. Now I have 100A to the garage and barn. I have a welder on that box which uses a 50A breaker. Yet I have never blown the main.
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On 9/14/2010 12:01 AM, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

a perfect example here folks. Listen to it. I have a rental that i completely rewired and used the old "main/range plus 4" as a disconnect. It has 60A fuses in it and it feeds a new 100a square-d panel. The tenants have the usual array of modern appliances including central air, electric stove, dryer, computers, big screen tv etc. Been three years now, and haven't blown one of those 60 a fuses. Power requirements are just NOT what people think they are.
--
Steve Barker
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On Tue, 14 Sep 2010 07:34:42 -0500, Steve Barker

I should add to this. With the cost of electricity, I sure as hell hope that I never draw 100A at once. I'm not very good at math, but using 100A for an hour would cost a fortune. I know that motors starting up and things like that draw excess loads for just a fraction of a minute, but still, 100A or even 60A at full usage is one hell of a load to be pulling at one time. I know my Arc Welder has a 50A at 220V breaker, which would tell me that it sucks a lot of power to require a 50A breaker, but at idle it dont use much, only when I'm actually welding. Now, if that welder was actually welding for hours, I'd go broke on the electric bill (actually home type welders will only weld for a few minutes at a time or they overheat and shut down for a few minutes, it's called their _____ (something) cycle.
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Twice that, actually (240V). $.25 is a real rip-off. We pay $.10/ kWh, which is on the low side.
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On Wed, 15 Sep 2010 07:21:44 -0700, keith wrote:

It's about $.08 here, in one of the (few?) parts of Texas where you aren't allowed to choose the company.
BTW, I also have 100A service (for a 1600 square foot house) and have never been limited by that.
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Keep it that way. I can shoose the company but my total for generation and delivery is 18¢. Generation is .103
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On Wed, 15 Sep 2010 23:02:06 -0400, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

BTW, the number I gave is the actual amount I pay (total amount of bill divided by usage), which is about twice the amount the company says it charges (plenty of added fees).
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On 9/13/2010 9:34 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

My house was built in the 50s and it had 60 amp service up until a few years ago. I have central air and a well pump and never had any issues. I finally got upgraded to 100 amp service after a lightning strike, since current code required a minimum 100 amp service. I have gas appliances, so I really don't have a current draw requiring a higher service.
What with house prices trending downward for the foreseeable future, I would only pay for a 200 amp upgrade if it cost just a little more money, or if I thought I'd be using it myself. Expensive home improvements generally don't pencil out in terms of resale value right now, and upgraded electrical service is not a sexy selling point. A lot of buyers will decide they can live without it, at least for the time being.
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On Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:47:42 -0700 (PDT), millinghill

I dont see why you need to change the power wires from the pole if you already have 100A service and just change the panel from fuses to breakers. All you do is pull the meter, remove all the secondary wires (to the house), then remove the mains, and swap boxes, and put it all back together. If the mains are too short for the new box, you just replace those wires from the meter to the breaker box. That's it....
Now, if you want more amperage, then you have to replace everything from the pole to the breaker box (possibly even the pole transformer). A much bigger job and many more costly parts.
Jw
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On Sep 13, 11:55pm, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

Because it's the right thing to do. 100A is marginal these days. As long as he is going to the expense of changing the main he might just as well upgrade the service. As others have said, he'll likely be able to go to 150A with no changes to the service. An upgrade to 200A may be cheap, or even free.

That's all. Ten minutes and your done.

Not necessarily.
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