Originally Posted by Redrum Ninja
I was thinking about changing my own panel, but not right away. At the moment I am trying to gather information.
Ok, then there are some additional things you would be wise to do...
You have the option of upgrading your electric service to say 200 amps. If you plan on doing any room additions, getting an electric kiln, buying an electric car, or doing anything else which might use more electricity, then you may want to consider that. Otherwise 150 amps might be just fine.
And when you replace your panel, you may be required to bring everything (electric service related) up to code...
With that said, my electric company has a document called "Electric Service Requirements". That says the way everything must be [now] for electric service overhead wires, wire height, wires running over roofs/driveways, roads... Where a panel can and can not be located, and on and on.
Anyway it could be that something was done in the past which is not now allowed. For example the electric service wire might be going over a roof at a low height and that might not be allowed now. And you might need to raise that to bring things up to code...
So best to get a copy of that or whatever your electric company has and see if there might be anything you will need to change.
Also if you want to increase the amperage on your service, you need to call the electric company and ask if you can do this.
You also may want to have the electric company come out and look at your electric service. See if anything will need to be changed to bring it up to code. (The electric company guy has a handy dandy measuring stick to check the height of overhead wires.) Then a good time to ask questions about removing power so you can safely do your work.
Then also take pictures of your entire electric service, wires coming into house, meter, main panel, grounding, near and far away pictures. Then go to your local electrical inspectors office, ask to speak with an inspector, then show him the pictures.
Tell him you are going the change out the panel. Ask if you will need to upgrade/change anything. Discuss every exact detail of grounding including ground wire sizes, if run in conduit, ground rods and their sizes, bonding to cold water pipe, etc.
Do the above, then you will not have any "surprises"!
Also it is common for aluminum wire to be used for the main service conductors. You need to apply anti-oxidation goop to these wires before connecting them to the panel. (Sold in the electric department.)
Main high amperage electrical connections *must* have the lugs tightened
to a certain tightness, otherwise the connection can heat up. The panel instructions will say to tighten the lug nuts to a certain "inch pound" tightness. Use a torque wrench for this.
12 inch pounds = 1 foot pound. Automotive torque wrenches may not "click" below a certain foot pounds and may cause you to over tighten it. I prefer one of those cheap automotive torque wrenches with the needle indicator rather than the "click" kind. Then you can see low inch pound readings. And you can get "hex" (or flat blade screwdriver) sockets at an automotive store or tool store. Take a lug nut with you to get the right size.
Also torque wrenches can keep certain "king kong" men from tightening things too tight and stripping the threads. I have a friend who does this, so I make him use a torque wrench so he will not wreck things!
In my area, you get an electrical permit to do this work, then the electrical inspector comes out and looks at everything, then places a sticker on the panel saying it passed inspection. THEN the electric company will connect the electricity.