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Old 12-07-2012, 10:53 AM   #16
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


We just bought an older house with a 100 amp panel and service, and I had them upgrade the panel and service entrance to 200 amps. It cost me about $2000, although obviously what needs to be done on your house may be very different from mine. If you're going to redo a significant amount of the house, you should consider upgrading to 200 amps, as it may be cheaper than doing just a panel upgrade now and service upgrade later. If you're going to consider central air eventually, definitely get 200 amps. For us, the power company is responsible for upgrading the wire from the street to our service entrance, so that saved us some money, particularly because it's above ground.

I'd definitely do the panel upgrade before the kitchen, because you're likely to need new circuits, i.e. you need 2 circuits for just the counters, a seperate one for the refrigerator, one for lights. We have 5 planned for the kitchen, so if you don't have room now, you should plan for a new panel/service upgrade.

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Old 12-07-2012, 12:02 PM   #17
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


I agree, get the panel before you do the kitchen.

Also, you really should do a load calc. you may not need 200 amps.
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:31 PM   #18
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


I was told that for 100 amp service you could have no more than 20 breakers, 150 = 30 200 = 40. If that is true, then you also need to consider how many circuits you will have/add etc... we found we ended up using more circuits just to logically divide up the house, than we would really ever need load wise. i.e. we need 31 circuits by my current estimate, but realistically that's way over compensating, and we may not even use 60 amps. If that makes sense, all I wanted to point out that I believe that the number of breakers you can have is based on service size as well.

Is this correct?
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Old 12-07-2012, 01:20 PM   #19
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


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Originally Posted by Ocelaris View Post
I was told that for 100 amp service you could have no more than 20 breakers, 150 = 30 200 = 40. If that is true, then you also need to consider how many circuits you will have/add etc... we found we ended up using more circuits just to logically divide up the house, than we would really ever need load wise. i.e. we need 31 circuits by my current estimate, but realistically that's way over compensating, and we may not even use 60 amps. If that makes sense, all I wanted to point out that I believe that the number of breakers you can have is based on service size as well.

Is this correct?
Not true at all.
The only limit tothe number of breakers is the size of the panel.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:08 AM   #20
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


There is no main breaker for the entire panel. It is a split buss panel and utilizes the "six motions of the hand" rule. The 60A breaker is the lighting main for the bottom section of ther panel. ZInsco breakers are notorious for failures. I once had a 15A breaker hold until the 200A main tripped. The panel meets code at the time it was installed. Barring any changes made after the initial installation.
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Last edited by electures; 12-12-2012 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:16 PM   #21
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


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Originally Posted by electures View Post
There is no main breaker for the entire panel. It is a split buss panel and utilizes the "six motions of the hand" rule. The 60A breaker is the lighting main for the bottom section of ther panel. ZInsco breakers are notorious for failures. I once had a 15A breaker hold until the 200A maiin tripped. The panel meets code at the time it was installed. Barring any changes made after the initial installation.
Thanks electures. So from reading your response it sounds like my panel definitely is a 100amp panel, and having the 60amp 2pull breaker as the main (even though there's no real main) is by design and not an error on the previous electrician.

Now the question is only whether I should replace the Zinsco panel to a Siemens or better, and while doing so is it worth the extra 500 or 1000 for the upgrade to 200 amps.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:57 PM   #22
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


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Thanks electures. So from reading your response it sounds like my panel definitely is a 100amp panel, and having the 60amp 2pull breaker as the main (even though there's no real main) is by design and not an error on the previous electrician.

Now the question is only whether I should replace the Zinsco panel to a Siemens or better, and while doing so is it worth the extra 500 or 1000 for the upgrade to 200 amps.
Unless your house is all electric, I usually do not recomend a 200A service. Save your money and upgrade to a 150A service. Remember, the 60A is only for the bottom half of the panel. Combined with the other breakers up top thay all are considered the main shut off. (what is called the "six motions of the hand rule").

Interestingly, the only code violation I see is the doubled up wires on a few of the single pole breakers. The panel is otherwise compliant for the NEC in effect during construction. Your home inspector is a moron.
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Last edited by electures; 12-10-2012 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:10 PM   #23
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


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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?
Take out the two single pole breakers at the top. Install a 2 pole 60A and install a subpanel. Reconnect the two single pole circuits to the subpanel and call it a day. When it is all done, you will be able to shut the dwelling down with three motions of the hand. Now you have time to plan the service upgrade after performing a service calculation.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:12 PM   #24
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


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Originally Posted by electures View Post
Unless your house is all electric, I usually do not recomend a 200A service. Save your money and upgrade to a 150A service.
Just to give you an idea, my house has the following:
  • 2500 sq ft
  • Central Air
  • Electric Hot Water (50 gal)
  • Electric Range
  • Electric Dryer
  • 2 20+ cu ft refrigerators
  • Well
And I have a 150A main breaker which does just fine.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:38 AM   #25
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave632 View Post
Just to give you an idea, my house has the following:
  • 2500 sq ft
  • Central Air
  • Electric Hot Water (50 gal)
  • Electric Range
  • Electric Dryer
  • 2 20+ cu ft refrigerators
  • Well
And I have a 150A main breaker which does just fine.
I just got a quote from an electrician to update the Zinsco panel to a 100amp Seimens panel from home depot:

This is his estimate:
Service Upgrade 100 Amp

Installation of new 100 Amp Siemens panel 30 spaces
Pass the electrical pipes to the new panel
Installation of new breakers

Price include all material and labor

Siemens 100 Amp 30-Space 30-Circuit Indoor Main Breaker Load Center
Model # P3030B1100CU Internet # 203027295 Store SKU # 593867


He is charging me $1000 even. The panel only costs $87. Do you think I could find someone else who will do it for cheaper than that? Does this too much just to update the panel?
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:48 PM   #26
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


The only way to know, is to get 2 more bids.

Do you want cheap, or done right ?
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:54 PM   #27
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


Price sounds good but make sure he gets a permit and the inspection. If he tries to get you to pull the permit, be wary.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:42 PM   #28
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


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Originally Posted by Oso954 View Post
The only way to know, is to get 2 more bids.

Do you want cheap, or done right ?
I want it done right for sure! I think I will get 2 more quotes I guess just to make sure I'm not overpaying. My only concern here is:

The lights in the entire house flicker when the dishwasher changes cycles, or when the fridge starts cycling back up. Will the panel upgrade fix this issue? Or is this a load capacity issue? The house is getting 100 amps already, but it's a 100 amp split-bus panel with a 60 amp 2-pole breaker. So I just need to make sure that if I upgrade the panel to the one I mentioned in my previous post, that the lights will stop flickering.

Can someone comment on what causes/might cause the lights to flicker? Is this because of the breaker is not 100 amp main breaker, or because 100 amp service is not sufficient?

Thank you.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:33 PM   #29
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


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Originally Posted by electures View Post
Unless your house is all electric, I usually do not recomend a 200A service. Save your money and upgrade to a 150A service. Remember, the 60A is only for the bottom half of the panel. Combined with the other breakers up top thay all are considered the main shut off. (what is called the "six motions of the hand rule").

Interestingly, the only code violation I see is the doubled up wires on a few of the single pole breakers. The panel is otherwise compliant for the NEC in effect during construction. Your home inspector is a moron.
I agree
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:37 PM   #30
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Questions regarding 100amp service and panel upgrade


Is that price for a real service upgrade, or a panel change? I'm guessing the latter.

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