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moneymgmt 05-09-2007 01:03 PM

Increasing service up from 100amp
My house currently has a 100amp service on a 30 space panel; about 20 of the 30 are open. Here are a couple questions:

1. Could the panel be 150amp 30 space, but have only a 100amp breaker in it? How would I know whether the box is 100 or 150? I'm confused why anyone would put a 30 space panel in with only 100amps.... huge waste of space I think.

2. Any idea on cost of having an additional 50amps wired into the box? It is at most 30 feet of wire from the meter to the box. I called an electrical company and he told me ballpark $1500.... which I think is insane.

I'm great with electrical work but anything before the breaker box I'm not touching! Thanks for the help!

hbsparky 05-09-2007 02:12 PM

1500 is really actually cheap. Upgrades are usually done in 100 amp increments, so you would actually go up to 200. And the answer to your upgradinging your current panel is absolutely not. That panel is rated at 100 amps, Not 150, not 75, 100. The reason for the 30 spaces in a 100 amp panel is because usually a person is not going to use the full capacity of the circuit say on a 15 amp circuit, you may only be using 3 amps, or sometimes less, so that is why. Certain things are suppose to be dedicated, whether you use the entire potential of the breaker or not doesn't matter, it still has to be dedicated.

moneymgmt 05-09-2007 02:31 PM

sparky I appreciate the input!

The reason I ask about the panel is because the previous owner was a total cheapskate and if he could have put a 100amp breaker in a 150amp panel and save $20 he would've done it.

About the $1500 being cheap, now I'm curious. A friend just had her entire service replaced from fuses to a 100amp breaker box (complete overhaul from meter to panel) and it was $900, which is right with the competition. Why would it cost so much for an additional 50-100amp wire and a new box? I guess I just don't understand where all the cost comes in (is it the wire, the box, the labor?). I also wonder if things are proportional to you living in California vs me in the midwest!!!??? LOL

hbsparky 05-09-2007 02:36 PM

look up copper prices right now, that should be all I need to say, number 2 copper is what 100 ams needs, it is a lot cheaper than the 3/0 wire that you are going to need for 200 amps. I think I am paying 3.00/ft, maybe a little more for that wire right now. and I think I am paying about half that for number 2. You also have to take into consideration the wire before the meter up to where it connects to the service. multiply the footage by 3 (2 hots and a neutral). It gets really costly. The 200 amp panels I use are around 125 not including the breakers for the individual circuits. so your cost could be between 6-800 dollars for parts, not including the stuff if the Power company spots the meter on the other side of the house from where it is currently, yes, the Power company tells YOU where to put the meter. Then there are permit fees, inspections, etc, etc. the list could go on and on.

I was giving you midwest california, upgrading from 100 to 200 amps usually runs from 1800-2200 dollars

elementx440 05-09-2007 04:04 PM

perhaps someone just had that panel laying around and they used it. no harm done. do you really need 200amp service? are you having problems with 100amp.... how many hairdryers/women you got in the house???

sparky (great name for an electrician) so how do you know what service capacity is installed? I mean you may have a 100amp main breaker, but what if some yahoo homeowner installed it on a 60amp service run? How can you know for sure what the lines up above are rated at? just wondering...

hbsparky 05-09-2007 08:25 PM

if he is running a 100 amp service on a 60 amp feed, then he would be in even more trouble running 150 or 200. we could go all day with what-if's. If the OP really wants this done, he needs to have an in-home consultation that way the contractor can actually look at what needs to be done and can give him a more accurate quote.

moneymgmt 05-10-2007 09:03 AM

Good feedback, I appreciate it.

I need boosted service to run an electric tankless water heater, probably 60-80 amps just for that. I could run it on 100amp panel but I think that would be pushing the limits. Sorry, no hairdryers in this house (yet)!!

I do appreciate the math, I didn't think about needing 3x the length. To get into the details, all I need is wire run from where the main line touches the house into the panel; 30' at most. I don't even need 200amp rated wire, an additional 50 or 100 amp wire alongside what I have is fine (unless that's just simply against code which I will check on). I don't need breakers, I already have them. If I need a new panel, ok. Last weekend I ran a circuit to the garage, put in a 30amp panel, wired 3 lights and 3 outlets in a few hours for under $200; guess I just can't see how this is a $2000 job. I'm really not trying to sound frugal, I really really want to understand how this is difficult, time consuming, or expensive to the tune of $2000.

I certainly will have someone come out and check it out but I figured this is a good place to bounce things off of other people because 2 heads are better than one!

hbsparky 05-10-2007 10:32 AM

you will have to replace the wire, you cannot run paralell like that.

elementx440 05-10-2007 04:07 PM

$2000 sounds high... just because someone charges it, and finds someone to pay it... doesn't mean their services are worth that... shop around, call the poco.

And I don't think you'll be able to get by without upgrading from the street transformer... Your box should have wiring matched to the capacity of the line... you can't just ad wire after the meter, it should already be the same gauge.

joed 05-10-2007 06:33 PM

That price quoted sound like a completed panel replacement. Depends on where you live. From what I have seen the prices in California seem to be double those on the east coast.
The model number of the panel will tell the rating. Is there a make and model number on the panel somewhere?

JohnJ0906 05-12-2007 07:43 PM

Did that quote include any charge from the Power company? With a sevice upgrade (as oppssed to a fuse-to-breaker panel change out) they might charge to upsize your incoming wires

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