This came out of another post I made, but is something I never really
considered. I currently have 100 amp service, with 7 blanks in my
electrical panel and will be adding 6 new circuits as I finish my
basement. Someone suggested upgrading to 200amp service. I don't
want to overload my existing capacity, but I figured I have a gas
water heater, gas clothes dryer, gas furnace, gas range, etc. The
only major electrical load I have is A/C in the summer (that I can
think of right now at least). Therefore, 200amp service had never
crossed my mind. Any suggestions/opinions? Also, if I did upgrade to
200 amp service, what is the cost and process? I assume that it
doesn't cost more to have 200amp service once you get it hooked up,
it's still the same rate per kWh, just that there's the potential to
use more, right? Thanks yet again!
More circuits does not necessarily mean you need the 200A. The best way to
find your actual use is, buy or borrow an Amprobe. This is a meter you
clamp around a wire to see what is being used. Turn on everything in the
house, including the AC, and see actual use. You can also add up what is
running individually but it is not always as accurate.
No, it does not cost more once installed. You need a new meter, new main
breaker, perhaps a new panel. My guess is that you don't need it unless you
are adding some big loads.
One other way to see roughly how many amps is to use your existing
Utility power usage meter.
Meters record KilloWatt hours so you need to do a simple calculation
to check out the power you are using now. So you need to do the
following when you have everything on.
Step 1) Take a meter reading ==> READINGONE
Step 2) Wait 10 mins
Step 3) Take another meter reading ==. READINGTWO
Amps = (READINGTWO - READINGONE) * 0.05
I am the oler who raised the issue of a new panel.
some things to consider.
how old is existing main panel? who made it? If FBE stab lock replace
immediately its a fire hazard! is the existing main properly grounded
to current code? hows the physical cndition of the entrance cable and
breaker cabinet? around here they rust. is yours even a little rusty?
I wouldnt fill the cabinet, it leavves no room for expansion and WILL
be a BIG negative at home resale time. even a sub panel might be a
now after looking at these issues get quotes for new 200 amp service
and compare to sub panel installation cost wise,
Now I have installed my own sub panel, but your not comfy doing that
so pro help is necessary.
lets imagine a new 200 amp service is 1300 bucks, but a new sub panel
You state your not going to live there forever, if you want top resale
dollars then give some weight to a new service
Now before someone trashes me imagine 2 identical homes for sale, one
with 200 amp service the other 100 amp with sub panel. the homes
prices are identical, and conditions identical.
which home would YOU BUY?
Much depends on the age and condition of your existing panel and note
knock outs for more breakers on the panel doesnt necessarily mean they
will fit. My panel has 6 knockouts available but is completely full.
I certainly understand your points, but this is a townhome and other
than finishing the basement I dont think many people buying these
houses really consider adding tons of extra circuits. And actually
the existing panel is only 10 years old, in great shape, and is made
by GE. So...I guess I'll price out adding a subpanel versus running
the longer runs of 12/2 cable. It may not actually be that much more
to add a subpanel, and I guess it really isn't much different than any
other home run. Thanks again for the advice.
On Oct 31, 9:03 pm, email@example.com wrote:
The next buyer might not be thinking about adding extra circuits, but
they might be thinking about having enough power to run a media room
in that newly finished basment, along with computers, electric
appliances, etc. In that case they might be happy with the number of
outlets, but might want a 200 amp service.
On Oct 31, 8:03?pm, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
well we now know your panel is pretty new and up to date, something no
one else asked:(
so while getting prices for sub panel vs longer 12 2 runs why not get
price for 200 amp upgrade just for the heck of it.
You might want to check with your local utility. Some set the fixed portion of
the bill based on the service size. There can also be additional install charges
should the local transformer not be able to hadle the additional load.
"Tell me what I should do, Annie."
"Stay. Here. Forever." - Life On Mars
It certainly doesn't sound like you have any need to upgrade to a 200A
service. An upgrade decision would be based on the addition of large
loads, or the need to replace the existing 100A panel if it were failing
(cost to replace nearly the same 100A or 200A, mostly labor).
A typical house only draws on the order of 10A (per leg) of the service
most of the time, and without multiple large electrical loads that may
be active at the same time there is no problem with 100A service. Based
on what you indicate, your likely peak loads would be around 50A (per
leg) if you had the A/C running, a lot of lights on and someone using a
hair dryer. If you had electric items such as a water heater, dryer,
range, etc. The potential peak loads would be vastly higher.
The only thing I'd consider, if the basement finishing will nearly fill
your existing main panel, would be to install a small sub panel for the
basement. A small sub panel would be inexpensive and the connection
would only take two spaces in the main panel so it would still allow for
future additions. Depending on the location of the main panel and
basement area being finished, it may also make for easier wire runs.
I would guess the suggestion was made to give you a chance to consider
upgrading now vs. sometime later when you might end up replacing what you
are doing now. I would suggest that anyone needing a new entrance or box
consider taking that step now, but it would appear you don't really need to
at this time, but keep it in mind. Maybe adding a few tools in the garage
and freezer in the basement next to the dehumidifier etc. ...
Thanks for the quick advice. The original post that I made where the
200Amp service question got raised was actually regarding adding a sub-
panel versus nearly filling in my existing panel with new breakers.
The truth is that if this was a single-family home or one I'd plan on
staying in forever, I would probably either upgrade to 200Amp service,
or install a subpanel, or both. But in reality, I think that this
basement finishing project is probably the last/only electrical
addition I'll do to this house, and I'm fairly comfortable adding the
new circuits on my own, while adding a subpanel (while not really that
different from adding a circuit as far as I can tell) is something I'd
be more comfortable hiring it out, and probably costing an additional
$200-300. I probably be here for another 4-6 years before moving
on...so I think I'll be okay with only one remaining blank after this
addition considering I don't plan on adding tools or a hot tub or
anything major. I certainly appreciate all the advice. Thanks again.
If you are not going to live there the rest of your life and have not had
the main breaker trip up to this point, then no need for a 200 amp panel.
If you are going to stay there forever and are replacing the main panel
anyway, then not much more to upgrade to 200 amps and get plenty of extra
Then the other "test" is thanksgiving: People visiting, everything on in
house, range going, water heater going, washing machine going, dishwasher
going, TV on, kids in bedrooms using electricity, grandpaw in garage trying
out that band saw, etc. (If this blows the main breaker, then need to get a
higher amperage main panel.)
If you are only in one room at a time and don't use electricity in other
rooms while in that room, then no extra "total load" at one time!
This is a complex question. I recently was faced with bringing in another
200 amp panel for an addition. When I had a very qualified electrician
friend of mine come and examine it, I found that I had adequate equipment to
add the casita, plus an AC to my main residence, and then some more.
There's nothing like having a pro give you an assessment.
That said, almost as good is IF you can, build a little bigger for the
future. Ten years ago and twenty years ago, people had NO clue they would
have as many appliances as they commonly do today. Hence, they put in what
was adequate. It costs, but it's worth it down the line.
The utility may charge to install bigger wires to the house, in addition to your
costs for the panel and wiring..
Consider buying "double" breakers for the new circuits in the current panel.
These are double 15 or 20 amp breakers that take the space of single breakers.
This will slow down the filling of the panel.
On Wed, 31 Oct 2007 06:00:18 -0700, email@example.com wrote:
Many in the electrical business would have you upgrade to a 10,000 amp
service of they could. They want your money !!!!!!
If you had all those gas appliances as electric, then you might need
more. Add your breakers and leave the rest alone.
You do not need the main to be equal to the sum of adding all the
breakers. They are just there to protect individual circuits. Unlike
the old days where two fuses handled the whole house, these days many
breakers are used for protection and keeping one appliance from
blacking out the whole house.
Why dont you add up your usage on a regular basis.....
There are lots of homes that still have 60A service and they work just
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.