for you. for someone else? maybe not. i have 200a service and all gas
appliances along with a solar system, and wish i had 300a and a larger box
(it's full and has 40 slots). i have 2 pottery kilns at 50a each that i
can't run at the same time, a large compressor for sandblasting, and i'd
like to upgrade to a 100a kiln.
Depends on how much natural gas you use. If your stove is ng and your
heating is ng and your drier
is ng then 60 amps will do you. But in todays BIGGER is better
society and for re-sale value, I would go with 200.
It's not just the box. If the OP was just changing the box, it would
only be $30 difference. He can put in a 100A breaker box using the
existing drop and cables from the head to the panel, because he
already has 100A service. If he was doing this job himself, his only
costs would be the box, breakers, and some connectors, clamps, and
misc odds and ends.
However if he upgrades to 200A, the entire service entrance stack
(conduit and cable) needs to be replaced, and likely the meter box
too. Plus the service drop from the pole needs heavier wire, and this
stuff is at least $3 a foot. These materials add up fast. Then
consider he is having the work done, not a DIY. An electrician who
charges $50 or more per hour can replace the box in 3 or 4 hours if
it's just a replacement breaker panel. But if they have to change the
service entrance and the power company has to change the drop, the
labor alone will take a full day if not more. 8 hours @ $50 is $400
You make several good points. Still, why not a 200 Amp box with a 100 Amp
When (and if) a future upgrade to an actual 200 Amp service takes place,
it's $30 now vs. $250 to swap out the box at the same time as the upgrade.
In my case it was about $120 more for the box, better put, the new box was
free because the electrician had a lot of rewiring work for all our reno
rooms and kitchens. He gave me the 100 A box for free. He wasn't going to
give a 200A box for free.
We have lived in this house 20 years and started having problems with the
"main breaker" tripping repeatedly.We have electric range, washer, dryer,
water heater, refridgerator and a seperate upright freezer, forced air
heater fan, central air in summer,2 assortment of computers,routers,
printers, large TV, smaller TV's microwave etc..
We have 100 Amp service and an old push panel breaker system. Electrician
# 1 said we are taxing the system and gave us an estimate of about $2100
to upgrade to 150Amp and including replacing the large wire that runs into
the house. We asked about 200 Amp and he felt we didn't need it.
Electrican # 2 just gave us an estimate for $6300 to upgrade to 200Amp
including replacing the outside wire. ( $6800 if we add an optional power
surge protecter at the box. I had heard there was not that much
difference ( ie a few hundred more) between upgrading to 150 versus 200
Now I'm questioning both estimates and whether we should go with 200 - it
sounds like we should but is $6300 reasonable?
Get more estimates, and make sure they are all quoting for the same
work. $2100-2500 I could believe, over $6k sounds absurdly high. By
same work, I mean the same size (and preferably brand) of panels and
breakers, the same amount of cable, etc. I'd also call power company and
ask what local practice is about replacing service drops. If you tell
them you are changing the main service, they may cut you a break on
meter base, weather head, and drop installation.
In many parts of the world the installation of the Service Entry
Conductors is the customers responsibility. Service Entry Conductors
are the conductors from the end of the service drop or Service Lateral
to the Service Disconnecting Means. The Service Drop or Lateral
conductors are utility property. Service Entry Conductors belong to
the customer. In some areas the meter base is supplied by the utility
but installed by the customer.
My point is that local practice and state utility regulations vary
I'd go with 200A and Electrician #1. The labor cost is about the same but
the wire for 200A is going to be heavier and more expensive. The 6800
sounds very high to me, but I've not seen the job either. The load you
potentially have warrants some additional service. Central AC with the dryer
and range going puts a good load. Toss in the dishwasher and water heater
and I can see you'd have problems.
Ask the guy who quoted $2100 for the 150 how much to go to 200. Should
not be a big difference in the parts, and the labour will be the same
unless he is only replacing the main in the panel, and not the panel
itself (which is possible in some panels - but not others - and most
likely not possible to go to 200 on the existing panel)
The question isn't "rushing out" to replace the panel, rather, the
panel *is* going to be replaced, what to replace it with? Often a
150A service can use the same drop as an existing 100A, so the cost
difference *is* the box. I'd certainly want the quotes both ways so
an informed decision can be made.
You need some information from the utility company.
Basically you have to know whether your existing "drop" is good for 200
amps. We had a similar situation to use: entrance panel was all fuses.
But I called the utility and they assured me that the "drop" (actually an
underground) was 200 amps.
After that it was a no-brainer.
If your utility says the drop is only 100 amps you can decide whether to
change out the drop "now or later." There is nothing illegal with getting
a 100 amp main breaker for your 200 amp panel. Just keep the 200 amp
breaker is a safe place. If you (or the next owners) needs 200 amps the
costs would be only slightly higher (accounting for inflation, etc.) than if
you had it all done at once. You might even "luck out" and the utility
upgrades the drop for its own reasons.
Don't look too far into the future: even if electric cars become popular
the odds are that you will end up with a separate, utility controlled
service in order to get a good rate.
OP follow-up: Due to overwhelming recommendation, I went with the
200AMP upgrade. I'm happy I did. You never know what future holds,
so why preculde yourself for a few hundred bucks. Many thanks to all
opinions, pro and con!
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