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Old 04-17-2009, 12:40 PM   #1
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Just bought a house... need electical advice...


Hello,

I just bought a split-level home that was built in 1977.

The electrical panel currently consists of a fusebox with a 100 amp service.

There is a thermopump that provides heating and AC. Additional heating is provided via an oil furnace when temperatures dip below -12c.

For obvious reasons, I'm looking at having an electrician change the fuse panel over to a breaker panel. However I am unsure of which way to go.

Being on a limited budget, I was originally going to replace the panel for a breaker panel, and retain the 100 amp service (estimated cost of ~ $900 Cdn). However the electrician thought that it would be wiser to upgrade to a 200 amp service, (estimated cost of $1850, + additional $300 from my electric company to change to 200 amp service from the pole), in case I decide down the road to change over to an electric furnace.

I'm trying to weigh the benefits of moving over to a 200 amp service since I have an oil furnace. The oil furnace and oil tank date back to 1996.

So my dilemma:
- Should I retain the 100amp service, and stick with an oil furnace?

- Should I upgrade to a 200amp service, just because..?

- Should I upgrade to a 200amp service and down the road change over to an electric furnace? <-- Will this yield any savings vs. an oil furnace? The cost to install an electrical furnace alone would be around $2000.

Thank you for any guidance.

Last edited by pure_energy1; 04-17-2009 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 04-17-2009, 02:13 PM   #2
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Just bought a house... need electical advice...


I'll throw out another option... do nothing. There is nothing wrong with fuses other than the inconvenience of having to replace them instead of resetting. Changing to breakers just because there are fuses there now, without any other upgrades is rather pointless in my opinion. Are there other reasons you are considering doing this?
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Old 04-17-2009, 02:17 PM   #3
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I'll throw out another option... do nothing. There is nothing wrong with fuses other than the inconvenience of having to replace them instead of resetting. Changing to breakers just because there are fuses there now, without any other upgrades is rather pointless in my opinion. Are there other reasons you are considering doing this?

The main reason I am considering this is because my insurace broker is giving me grief about there being a fuse panel. By having a fuse panel, I don't qualify for better coverage, and my insurance is considerably more expensive.

But yes, as you mentioned, I am considering just leaving it as it is for now until I decide what route I'd formally like to go...
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Old 04-17-2009, 02:32 PM   #4
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Just swap out the panel if you must, you don't need to upgrade to 200. Well, you could have a load calculation done.
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Old 04-17-2009, 03:04 PM   #5
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I don't qualify for better coverage, and my insurance is considerably more expensive.
How soon will the upgraded panel pay for itself in saved insurance premiums?

replace the panel for a breaker panel, and retain the 100 amp service (estimated cost of ~ $900 Cdn).
to upgrade to a 200 amp service, (estimated cost of $1850, + additional $300


If there is less than a 100(900/2150) = 44% chance or less you'll need 200A, don't do it.

I'm trying to weigh the benefits of moving over to a 200 amp service since I have an oil furnace. The oil furnace and oil tank date back to 1996.
Oil furnace lifetime = ~20 years.

Will this yield any savings vs. an oil furnace?
What do you pay per kwH for elec. and for oil? What is the Heat Value for your oil?

The cost to install an electrical furnace alone would be around $2000.
Benefit of doing that = ?
Lifetime of an elec. furnace= ?

Last edited by Yoyizit; 04-17-2009 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 04-17-2009, 03:23 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by rgsgww View Post
Just swap out the panel if you must, you don't need to upgrade to 200. Well, you could have a load calculation done.
I'm at about 95% load right now with the current installation.


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How soon will the upgraded panel pay for itself in saved insurance premiums?
In about 3 yrs.

But should I take into account the age of the oil furnace? It's about 13 yrs old now. What's the life expectancy of an oil heater anyways, without taking into account repairs like replacing a burner and such?

I ask, because if it comes time to change the oil furnace, it may be a better option to look into an electric furnace (also cheaper I think?) when the time comes; which means I would need to rip out a perfectly good 100 amp panel and spend over $2k to put in a 200 amp service and panel...

I'm also trying to look into the future and prepare accordingly, as well as favour any additional value to the home itself.

...and then there's other things that have to be corrected in the house, such as:
- replacing old wood fence
- lay ceramic tiles in kitchen
- replace floating floor on main floor in favour of hardwood floors
- install floating floor from main floor in basement
- replace original inefficient single-pane windows in living room

I guess I just don't know what would be the best way to go about it all...
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Old 04-17-2009, 03:33 PM   #7
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". . .we now sell our homes and move an average of every six years. . ."

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Old 04-17-2009, 03:36 PM   #8
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lol...
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Old 04-17-2009, 03:58 PM   #9
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If you just replace the main fuse panel with 200 amp main panel with 100 amp breakers installed (or make the new main a 200 amp sub-panel feed from a 100 amp disconnect main panel) I would think that would keep you closer to the original bid, and position you to upgrade to 200 amps later.
Does that make sense?
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Old 04-17-2009, 04:29 PM   #10
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Why is your insurance charging you more because you have fuses, i would question this. In my opnion fuses are just as safe as breakers. Of course any idiot can put a bigger fuse in but then the inusrance company can tell you to go fly a kite when your house burns down. But you can also put in a bigger breaker and have the same problem.

I would get a few more prices on doing just a panel upgrade. Do you have a fuseable disconnect between your meter and fuse box. If so you could consider getting a 200A main breaker panel and install it after your disconnect. Then your panel will be protected by your 100A fuseable disconnect and your 200A breaker will serve no real purpose. Then in the future if you upgrade you will already have the panel.
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Old 04-17-2009, 06:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Should I upgrade to a 200amp service, just because..?
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Old 04-17-2009, 06:54 PM   #12
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If your going to replace the panel, do it all at one.
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Old 04-17-2009, 06:56 PM   #13
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So the way I think about it... when have you ever needed less electricity than you thought...
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daxinarian View Post
If you just replace the main fuse panel with 200 amp main panel with 100 amp breakers installed (or make the new main a 200 amp sub-panel feed from a 100 amp disconnect main panel) I would think that would keep you closer to the original bid, and position you to upgrade to 200 amps later.
Does that make sense?
Yeah, I think I follow. I'll see with the electrician if this is possible.


Quote:
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Why is your insurance charging you more because you have fuses, i would question this.
It seems to be the norm here in Quebec. I called several insurance companies. Many didn't even want to insure a house that still uses fuses, and those who did would do so with a limited coverage instead of all risks.

Quote:
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If your going to replace the panel, do it all at one.
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So the way I think about it... when have you ever needed less electricity than you thought...
Hehehe... Yeah.. I'm contemplating it.
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Old 04-17-2009, 10:03 PM   #15
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Just bought a house... need electical advice...


Quote:
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Why is your insurance charging you more because you have fuses....
Several reasons:
  • Most houses with fuses in them already have larger fuses installed than the wiring is designed for
  • You have the electrical hazard of live exposed parts with fuse boxes without removing the cover(s)
  • Circuit breakers can trip faster than a fuse blows due to high-inrush current with some short circuit conditions. Fuses actually have to get hot to blow -- melting or burning of the fuse element is necessary.
  • Insurance companies keep track of such things, and have proven by claims histories that houses protected with breaker panels have fewer claims due to electrical fires than those with old fuse boxes, etc.

I have had some customers change out their panel due to insurance company surcharges of 50% or more, or dropping the policy altogether.
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