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Old 12-06-2012, 02:03 PM   #1
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


Current 100amp Panel: Zinsco
Main Breaker: 60amps

The main breaker in our home is at 60amps and should really be a 100amp breaker since it's a 100amp panel.

Home inspector recommended changing the breaker from 60amp breaker to 100amp breaker.

I have some concerns about the existing condition of the panel and wanted to ask if it would be a good idea to upgrade to 200amps. Based on these concerns, can any of you electricians out there weigh in on what needs to be done?
  • Because it's an old Zinsco panel, it might be hard to find a 100amp breaker for that model.
    Zinsco panels are considered to be faulty and hazardous according to our home inspector and he would not pass the panel for safety reasons and recommends replacement of panel.
    Lights in the house flicker when dishwasher changes cycles.
    The current panel is already at capacity, and we need to replace all appliances.
    We also need to add new can (recessed) lighting in the house.

Based on this information, can you answer a few questions for me:

Since we have a 60amp main breaker on a 100amp panel, is it worth replacing just the breaker, or upgrading to 200amps?

Since we are adding can lighting in the home, will we need a bigger panel to control lighting?

If we decide to upgrade to 200 amps, what would be the process of upgrading to 200amp panel (in terms of upgrading service line, upgrading wiring, upgrading panel etc)?

How long does a typical upgrade take and how much does it cost?

Is it alot more expensive if we decide to bury the utility wire coming from the backyard into the home?

Thanks!
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:10 PM   #2
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


You should do a load calculation.
There is a nice spreadsheet here:

http://alihassanelashmawy.blogspot.c...lculation.html

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Old 12-06-2012, 02:26 PM   #3
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


That looks like a split bus panel.
The 60 amp breaker feeds the lower half of the panel, so I bet it is a 100 amp panel.
Like TTW said, the only way to tell what size panel you need is to do a load calculation.
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:31 PM   #4
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


That's true. But, we are starting a kitchen remodeling project with new appliances, recessed lighting everywhere, and the panel is already at capacity with no room to add.

So if I had to replace the panel, does it make sense to then just upgrade to the 200amps instead?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jbfan View Post
That looks like a split bus panel.
The 60 amp breaker feeds the lower half of the panel, so I bet it is a 100 amp panel.
Like TTW said, the only way to tell what size panel you need is to do a load calculation.
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:46 PM   #5
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


Only a load calculation and your wallet know for sure if it is worth upgrading to a 200 amp service from a 100 amp service.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:14 PM   #6
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


25-30 years is the dependable life of a panelbox.Zinsco panels had a bad rap since they were installed.A good upgrade would be to go to a 150 amp panel.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by bobelectric View Post
25-30 years is the dependable life of a panelbox.Zinsco panels had a bad rap since they were installed.A good upgrade would be to go to a 150 amp panel.
Yes, but there's not much difference in price to go to 200 amps. I got a quote for $3500 to upgrade to 200 amps (which includes burial of service line), versus replacing the Zinsco panel and getting a bigger 100amp panel for around $2500.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:41 PM   #8
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


If the 100 amp panel has enough amperacity for your needs, you could replace it with a new 100 amp panel with more breaker capacity (more slots). A load calc will answer the question bit a quick estimate can be made by the type of appliances you have.

Gas or electric?

Kitchen range?
Water heater?
Clothes dryer?
Furnace? (or oil)
Do you have central air?

Upgrading to 150 or 200 amps will most require all new wiring from the weather head to the meter to the panel. A replacement 100 amp panel can reuse all of these components except the panel itself.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:44 PM   #9
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


Quote:
Originally Posted by bobelectric
25-30 years is the dependable life of a panelbox.
Why's that??
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:57 PM   #10
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
If the 100 amp panel has enough amperacity for your needs, you could replace it with a new 100 amp panel with more breaker capacity (more slots). A load calc will answer the question bit a quick estimate can be made by the type of appliances you have.

Gas or electric?

Kitchen range?
Water heater?
Clothes dryer?
Furnace? (or oil)
Do you have central air?

Upgrading to 150 or 200 amps will most require all new wiring from the weather head to the meter to the panel. A replacement 100 amp panel can reuse all of these components except the panel itself.
Great question!

Cooktop range and Dryer are gas, everything else is electric.
We have central air.

Follow up question - if I do just a replacement of the panel, and don't have to replace any wiring or anything, in your humble opinion how much would it cost me roughly? If there's a huge difference, I would rather update the panel, get a bigger 100amp seimens panel and be done with it.

But I was told that there's not much difference in pricing of 100am and 200amp. Hence this posting.
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:06 PM   #11
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


Cannot give you a price as it varies widely by locations. Call 3 electrical contractors and get bids.

There is a large difference in upgrading to 200 amps vs replacing a 100 amp panel.

Are you saying you have electric heat?
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:35 PM   #12
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
Cannot give you a price as it varies widely by locations. Call 3 electrical contractors and get bids.

There is a large difference in upgrading to 200 amps vs replacing a 100 amp panel.

Are you saying you have electric heat?
No heat is gas.
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:42 PM   #13
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


IMO you are fine staying with a 100 amp service.
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:21 PM   #14
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


What you could do, because it looks like you need to replace the panel, is put in a 200 amp panel with a 100 amp breaker. That way, if you do upgrade the service from the pole, the panel will already be in place.
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:42 AM   #15
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


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Originally Posted by TTW View Post
What you could do, because it looks like you need to replace the panel, is put in a 200 amp panel with a 100 amp breaker. That way, if you do upgrade the service from the pole, the panel will already be in place.
That sounds like a good idea. I guess I will go with the 200 amp panel with 100amp breaker for now. But I am starting a kitchen remodeling project and it's a complete gutting of the kitchen. Should I do the panel replacement before or after the kitchen is done? Or does it not matter?

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