What determines how many amps you have?

I own a VERY old house and the wiring is a combination of fuse boxes and small breaker panels and some individual breakers, sort of added as they were needed. I am considering a replacing all this and rewiring. My question is: is the power coming into the house standard? Can I buy a 200 amp breaker panel and then have 200 amp service or is this determined by the wires and meter running into the house?
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Jrludi wrote:

Call your electric company and they'll tell you the existing capacity, if you need larger feeder the electric company will install the larger feeder from the street to your meter at no cost to you, past the electric meter it is all your responsibility.
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Where I live, 150 amp is free, 200 amp cost $150 from the utility.
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Jack wrote:

Are you sure you didn't mean to say re$pon$ibility.
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wrote:

If it's an underground installation, anyway.
For overhead installations, typically the power company handles everything up to the rain head at the top of the service mast; everything from there onward, including from the rain head to the meter, is the homeowner's responsibility.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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That's only if you have the meter mounted at the top of the service mast.
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Ummm.... no. Maybe you should think about that a little more.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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The latter. Wayne
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In short NO.
Most places will require that you obtain a permit before starting and likely require that you contact your electric supplier. The Electric company needs to determine if their transformers and wiring have sufficient capacity for your new service and update if needed. They/You need to determine if the wire going from the power company to your home is sufficiently rated for the new service. And you need to work out the change over.
I did my own some years ago. I had a friend who was a professional to keep me in line, but it all turned out to be rather easy. That being said I did not really like working on a latter cutting the wires to the existing power and re-attaching them to the new power with the power on.
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Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
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wrote:

You will need to upgrade the wire all the way from your service disconnect to the service point, where the utility connects their aerial "drop". That is past the meter. You own that part going up the side of the house too. Their drop may look too small but they operate under different rules since this is "free air". Generally speaking, if it is a twisted drop, it is good for 200a.
Coordinate your service upgrade with the utility. They will cut the power, you do your upgrade, then they hook it back up. One triuck you can do is to install your new box and service entrance next to the old one plus any new circuits you are adding before you have them cut the power. Have it inspected for temporary power (assuming you need that) then call the utility. They will swing over the power in one visit. Then you move your circuits into the new box, tear out all the old stuff and get your final inspection.
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yes, yes, and yes.
s

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Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
The OP's questions in order, with *correct* answers:
Q: Is the power coming into the house standard? A: No. Not in terms of the service amperage provided, anyway. Many older homes have service laterals that are capable of providing only 60A. Some newer ones go as high as 400A.
Q: Can I buy a 200A breaker panel and have 200A service? A: Not if the feed from the power company isn't capable of providing 200A.
Q: ... or is this determined by the wires and meter? A: It's determined by the lowest-capacity component in the chain: power company transformer, power company service lateral, service drop from the lateral to the meter, meter and meter base, feeder from meter to service entrance box, rating of service entrance box, rating of main breaker. To have 200A service, *all* of these components must be rated 200A or higher.

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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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And _I_ stand corrected. I can admit when i'm wrong. I sped read the message and totally fouled up the answer.
s
wrote:

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Additionally, I was told by the utility once that if you change to 200 amps and don't notify the utility, you may be responsible if the transformer blows. They check for sufficvient capacity when you notify them, and replace the transformer if needed.
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The service size is determined by the size of the service entrance conductors. These are the wires that you own, that bring electricity into your house, as gfretwell said, the utility owed wires, both overhead and underground are sized by different authority. In a garden variety single family home, you will have one service disconnect, which will be sized for the entrance conductors as well. Who pays for a service increase varies wildly from one location to the next. you need to contact a local electrician or the utility company to get this information
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I want to thank everyone that responded to this post! I had no idea there would be so much involved. Like I said, this is a very old house and it has NO main breaker. The power comes down to the meter on the outside and from there runs into the basement where it goes into several different boxes. It's very hard to trace what's going where. Some of the original wiring is still present in the house, in one of the upstairs bedrooms there is an outlet that has one round, sideways, recepticle, and another bedroom still has a pushbutton lightswitch. I think I'm gonna end up calling an Electrician for this one. Thanks again!
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