Question for my Mom.
She's looking at a 100 year old wood frame house with propane heat. Seems
not on a gas line. I'm betting she'll find 100 amp service, and propane
stove/hot water as well as the heat.
I'm pretty sure to convert to electric heat, she'll need 150 amp at least
and that 200 amp upgrade from 100 amp would be pretty close to same price as
a 150 amp?
Blanch, NC area and this would be entirely contractor work. Granted the
prices vary but if any have had this done and dont mind telling me the year
and overall price, it would be helpful in a rough estimate. I'm guessing
something like 2,500 for 150 amp and something like 3,000 for 200 amp
(exclusive of any internal wiring to outlets etc). Outlets off it once
installed, about 300$ each and Mom does all cosmetic coverups afterwards.
This may not be of much help, Carol, but last summer we almost had to
replace our outside main 200 amp panel. The quote was $3,200 on the nose.
Luckily we were able to get it repaired for $980. This did not entail new
wiring from the outside panel into the house, as that was already new. I
can't speak to rewiring the interior, although I had an additional ceiling
outlet installed within the past year for $150, however, it was easily
connected to an existing circuit nearby.
The difference between 150 A and 200A is only the price of the panel.
At the box stores that is around $40-50. Most power companies only use
200A sized drops to the meter base so that doesn't factor in to the
equation. WAG of bottom line, say $1500 for 150 A panel, $1575 for a
200A panel. Estimate your cost by getting the time allotted to the job
and multiply the hours by the labor rates you can get from the local
union for a journeyman and helper. Building inspectors can also be a
good source of information. HTH
Thank you Joe and Wayne both!
Reasonable variation there in prices dependant on area. As the area she's
looking at has a depressed economy (no jobs really) it's apt to be a little
cheaper, closer to your line likely but added to it will be she's looking at
a fairly remote house so the electric company will charge more for the
running of anything they have to do. (distance = time+ money).
Good enough for a very *rough* estimate on a need for a house she hasnt even
seen yet except in pictures. Heck, she might get there and find it's
already 200 amp to the house. The use of propane heat though tells me it's
She's probably doing to drive over in the next few days and get a solid
But in her prospective area, much cheaper. There's another aspect not
mentioned but plausable (keep in mind she hasnt seen the unit yet). The
propane is a sort of almost HVAC and she may have to heat all rooms in this
aparently 8 room house with that route but with electric, she can heat just
the rooms she needs (3, maybe 4) then keep the rest just above pipe
freezing. I will remind her to check that though and see if she can close
off the other rooms from the heat yet keep 'above freezing' in them with the
In fact, she might be able to relocate the thermostat to one of the
'unheated rooms' and set it real low, then augment the ones she needs that
2-3 months of heating time with electric?
Either way, no solid answers on what she will need, til she looks at the
actual property. For now, it was just a need for a guesstimate on what it
might cost to upgrade the electric if it is needed. No telling just from
the picture what they have, other than they do have electricity and there
seems to be a second line (phone probably).
There's other 'guesstimates' she will need, but they are far too variable to
do other than get locally so have not asked here. EX: Orkin termite
contract (depends on if it has an infestation or not), possibly chimney
repair (depends on how they look but one seems to have a liner and might be
for the propane now?), adding a laundry area with washer and dryer (may have
one, who knows just now?), capacity of well and proximity to a water line if
needed, status of septic tank (and possible proximity to city line there?),
status of driveway and possible repair (all she knows is it's a long
driveway and the end of a deadended street). None of those can be answered
at all here so it would be silly to ask anything about'em.
So when an electrician puts in a 150 amp panel he runs a # XX wire
from the panel to the meter and when he installs a 200 amp panel he
runs the same #XX wire???
OUCH! I hope you never do my electric.
Oh, and your $75 difference in panels is way way off. You obviously
dont run a business.
What? Where did you get that one?
Electric panels used to be 60 amp. Guess what? Thats what the drop was
to the meter. Then they moved up to 100 amp. Guess what? Now all those
drops got changed when the upgraded. Then panels went to 125 and 150
amp. Once again, the drops were not sized for that so they got changed
when the panel did. If you dont, it wont pass inspection.
Wrong again. You want the cost of changing out a panel? Call an
electrician and get an estimate.
Be easy friend. Mom's just getting general info prior to seeing the house
and will have many estimates before she buys (if she does). This is just
'rough idea' and in the case of the one you quoted, a fellow who had a local
licensed person who wanted parts then stipulated a labor total. No
particular markup for 150-200 amp in that case.
Heee im my area, everyone is wired for 200amp. Just some do not have that.
I am not electrically savvy enough to know if it's the internal panel or the
external or both (suspect both though from my perusal of here over many
I left her a list of stuff to check that she may not think of but she's NOT
a neophyte at this sort of thing. Just not used to houses much over 60
I'm worried the well may not service much water and it seems distant enough
she hasnt city water to fall back on.
We got several quotes and they ranged from 1800 to 2500 dollars. It turned out
we ended up meeting someone at a cookout who is licensed and he told us to get
all the parts (he told us what we would need) and he is charging us $500 which
includes the permit. The parts came to $780.00
You and your son can change out the service on a lazy Saturday. It'll take
about five hours - counting a trip or two back to the box store for
subradiant fleebangers (or whatever they call the things you don't have).
Parts should be less than $400.00.
That's for the service.
Stringing new outlets will take a bit more time and a bit more money. The
folks who install the electric heating system will usually be responsible
for wiring it up.
The difference in price between 100, 150, and 200 amp breaker box is
trivial. Like $10 to $30.
if she is converting to electric heat its likely 200 amps for
everything wouldnt be enough. my in laws home is all electric 200 amps
for heat, 100 amps for everything else. the last owner added oil heat,
cause electric cost so much.
they can heat with just oil, or just electric, or a combo of both.
water heating is electric.
Sadly thats the one skill myself, husband, and daughter lack. Electrical
stuff. I did look up a class though and am trying to get to it. Silly you
might think to need such but safer is better this time. Meantime, this will
be professionals contracted for the work.
There is a nominal monthy price added in my area for 200 amp, beyond
electrical usage. It's small. Like, 2.50$ a month.
Was looking at electric oil filled radiators possibly. She'd just need more
It's not rocket surgery. Heck, it's so simple a journeyman electrician can
do it. Follow these steps:
0. Buy breaker box kit at big box store. It comes with the outside box, a
common collection of breakers, and a bunch of mystery hardware. Sqare-D or
GE are the two most common. Either will work.
1. Drop power by removing the meter.
2. Take a bunch of pictures of the existing installation. Draw a map.
3. Label each (usually black) wire with a number.** Make a list of what size
breaker goes with each number.
4. Disconnect all the wires.
5. Remove old breaker box.
6. Mount new breaker box.
7. Attach old wires to breakers, matching new breakers to the same size as
the that to which the old breaker was attached.
8. Turn all breakers and switches OFF
1. Reinsert meter. If no smoke, proceed to step 2.
2. Turn on main switch. If no smoke, proceed to step 3.
3. Turn on each breaker, one by one. If no smoke, proceed to step 4.
4. Have beer. Pat self on back.
There may be some oddities* along the way, it would be nice to have an
non-apprentice friend you could call.
I admit the project seems kind of scary when first contemplated. And the
first one is the hardest. But it is a series of discrete, straightforward
steps. You complete one step at a time and pretty soon you're completely
*1. If you see any RED wires or wires with red tape, you have a 220
situation. This requires some head-scratching.
2. You may need an appropriate earth ground.
** You can get a little package of number labels for just this purpose at
the box store.
over the matter of dealing with the electric company, the local
inspectors, and OP's insurance company. In almost all areas, the work
described does require an inspection, probably a permit, and a licensed
electrician. When power company finds the seal on the meter missing, and
no matching work ticket in their records for a pull (they let
electricians pull them, in most areas, but they don't want anyone else
to put them back), their first thought is that someone is stealing
power. Inspectors want their cut, er, permit fee, and most insurance
companies will promptly cancel any coverage for unpermitted, uninspected
Oh, yeah- almost forgot- if existing service is only 100 amp (could well
be 60 or 75 in an old house), the drop and the meter base may need
changing as well. If the part from weather head to meter base isn't in
conduit, it DEFINITELY needs replacing for an upgrade. Any time you
upgrade a service over 10-20 years old, the drop should be inspected to
see if the insulation is crapping out. Like most things, the new parts
are only a small fraction of the cost, and if you have it apart anyway,
it is cheap insurance to make sure all the bits are good for another
20-30 years. Power companies are usually quite happy to accommodate
service upgrades- a sunny day in Sept is much easier on them than being
called out at 0200 in a January blizzard to replace a drop.
IOW, if you don't have the skill set, and the local practice doesn't
have an exception for work on owner-occupied dwellings, do it right and
call an electrician. Pretty much everyplace looks the other way at
adding an outlet or moving a lamp, but they would prefer pros handle
everything upstream from the breakers.
And no, I'm not an electrician- I just know enough to be dangerous.
Thanks for the observation. I keep forgetting about permits and inspections.
Step -1: Call the power company and request seal removal. Here, they will
respond within six hours. They'll remove the seal and note the usage. When
you finish, you call the power company back to re-seal the meter. In my town
they'll return within 24 hours.
Where I live, no permit or inspection is needed. As such, the insurance
company is not involved either.
'Course you may live in a larger city with greater bureaucracy (my town has
a paltry 5.6 million people in the metropolitan area). My ZIP code is 77036;
you can look it up.
We kinda stop there. Have no clue how to do that. I gather ripping it off
with your fingers aint what's intended <G>.
Grin, some stuff is DIY but you need a bit of background first. This
probably isnt one of the 'try it raw' sorts.
Depends on the meter, I suspect. The model used at my place - and several
million of my neighbors - works precisely as you describe. After removing
the large ring that holds all the parts together, you unplug the meter
exactly like a (very) large plug on the vacuum cleaner (except it has 4
tines instead of 2 or 3).
Here're some pictures. Picture 3 shows the hole into which the meter is
plugged. The 2 upper flanges are the incoming power to the meter; the two
bottom are for power leaving the meter and going to the circuit breaker box.
Obviously by removing the meter, you break the power to the breaker box.
Caution: Do not place tongue on upper conductors.
For a better view, visit some homes under construction in your area.
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