I guess it depends upon:
1) What is meant by "upgrade ... to 200 amp". If it means putting in
a 200 amp panel, but keeping the 150 amp main breaker, you might be OK,
but I wouldn't call that an upgrade.
2) What your local building inspectors think. You are going to get a permit
for this work and it will get inspected. Right? Take a copy of the bids
that you got to the building inspectors office and see what they think.
Whoever you go with, make sure that the contract is written so that
they are on the hook for making it meet the inspectors demands and your
specs without extra charge. I have seen contractors bid stuff that
wouldn't meet code and then try to ding the customer when additional work
is necessary to pass inspection.
While the required wire size depends slightly on things that you didn't tell us,
like the type of insulation, whether these are single conductors suspended in
air, or bundled together in cable or conduit, etc., there is no way
(from my 1990 version of NEC) that you can get 200 amp through aluminum 2/0.
1. the two low-ball estimates were proposing to do it without permits
or inspections. This was also a point of discomfort for me. I spoke
with one of these guys and asked about getting doing the work by
getting cable and going through the official process of permits,
inspections, etc. and was told that if I wanted to go that route his
price was going to be just a bit higher than the guy who gave me the
"expected" answer the first time.
2. I think one of my problems with this situation was that I knew too
much. My position with Siemens is the safety manager for our
industrial service group...our folks go out and work on 480V and
4,160V, and 13,800V industrial equipment.
3. The final factor that was in the back of my mind was the fact that
the house next door (built by the same developer) burnt to the ground
6 weeks ago in an apparent electrical system fire.
It should be. I bet they wanted payment in cash, too.
Anyone who is a qualified and licensed electrician should have no trouble
obtaining a permit, and need fear nothing from an inspection. "No permit"
should be understood as "unlicensed," which in turn implies "unqualified."
"No inspection" should be understood as "unqualified, and knows it."
Consider also that your electric utility company needs to be involved in this
process: the lines from the transformer to the meter base are almost certainly
2/0 aluminum to support the 150A service that they know you currently have.
An upgrade to 200A necessarily includes stringing new 4/0 wire from the
transformer to the meter base -- and they're probably going to want to see a
permit before they reinstall the meter.
So in addition to being neither licensed nor qualified, he's dishonest too.
No such thing as knowing too much. Your knowledge, and that of the people you
consulted at work, saved you from an unsafe installation.
That could have any number of causes, though. If the house was more than a
couple years old, there's a good chance that the electrical system has seen
some modifications -- possibly by an unqualified homeowner, or maybe even by
one of the incompetent hacks that told you 2/0 aluminum was OK for 200A.
Like I said in my earlier post, the $3500 figure sounds a bit stiff to me. You
might want to solicit bids from one or two more qualified electricians or
contractors for comparison purposes, before you decide to go with that. But I
wouldn't have anything further to do with either of the lowballers.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Ah, yes, thus leaving the way open to squeeze you when you went ahead
and had the work inspected. Glad your bullshit detector went off.
You're exactly the type of customer these fly-by-night artists try to
avoid - the educated one. May not feel up to tackling the work yourself,
but you have the background to know when someone's trying to blow smoke
up your ass. What's a crook to do?
Yup. Seen a very small electrical fire onboard (had to do the technical
investigation for the Engineering Officer), in the hangar; never want to
see another one.
"Take sides! Always take sides! You may sometimes be wrong - but the man
who refuses to take sides must *always* be wrong! Heaven save us from
I think I'd find another electrician if I were you. You need 4/0 Aluminum
or 2/0 copper. You choose.
2/0 AL should not be used in a 200A feeder. I put in my own 200A service
and used 2/0 copper.
CU is more expensive than AL, but it was worth it to me. The Power Company
hooked up their side of the meter
with 4/0 AL.
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.