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Old 05-29-2012, 09:40 PM   #1
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


Hi folks,
I have a 2 story, 1834 sq ft home with a 125 amp load center in the garage and the main breaker is outside at the meter. The load center is a Sylvania Challenger 12-24 with tandems, 21 handles in use. Neutral bus lugs are full, unless I'm not seeing all of them. On the ground bus, I had to team up a few grounds per lug on two lugs. I know you can't do that on the neutral though, and I haven't. Is a neutral bus kit needed if I want to add?

I don't have air conditioning yet, but want to add that later. I have a all electric kitchen and I'm have installed LED recesed lights in most the rooms now. Just ran separate circuits to all (3) baths, so no more tripping breakers due to multiple hair dryer use. Also, I ran a separate 20 amp circuit to family room just for the entertainment system. I separated a crowded circuit into two with their own breakers. I want to build an outdoor workshop, with electrical to it, and will run a table saw or air compressor now and then.

Questions...

#1. Is it recommended to upgrade to a 200 amp panel?

#2. Or, maybe just a larger 125 amp panel like a 30-40 with AFCI's?

#3. Or, should I add to this panel? (Neutral bus lugs look to be scarce.)

A 125 amp panel wouldn't need to change the service wires or main breaker. and the POCO wouldn't need to get involved. I will be hiring an electrician for either panel change. I'm capable to add circuits.

Thanks for reading.
Rick

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Last edited by RM575; 05-29-2012 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:56 PM   #2
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


The best way is to perform a demand load calculation to determine the service size. You can add in the new expected loads.

If your service is large enough a subpanel is a good option.

You problem seems to be too many tandems. Twenty one tandems would equal 42 circuits, plus the single poles in a panel that is only listed for 24 total.

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Old 05-29-2012, 10:02 PM   #3
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


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You problem seems to be too many tandems. Twenty one tandems would equal 42 circuits, plus the single poles in a panel that is only listed for 24 total.
Do you know what "12-24" means??? How could he fit 21 tandems in a 12 spot panel? He is counting each circuit, as in 21 total handles.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:05 PM   #4
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


Yes, sorry for the confusion. It is a 12-24 panel, so I have 21 handles in use, not 21 tandems.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:08 PM   #5
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


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Yes, sorry for the confusion. It is a 12-24 panel, so I have 21 handles in use, not 21 tandems.
What size main breaker do you have outside, 100A?

You have many options. You can add a subpanel (easy), completely remove the existing panel and replace it with a 40 space 200A panel, this will leave you ready to go if you want to upgrade the service later down the line (harder), or you can completely upgrade the service and panel.

It depends on your load requirements. I'd like to say that if you are alright with what you got now then you probably won't need a service upgrade, but that's just an assumption.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:11 PM   #6
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


Quote:
Originally Posted by RM575 View Post
Hi folks,
I have a 2 story, 1834 sq ft home with a 125 amp load center in the garage and the main breaker is outside at the meter. The load center is a Sylvania Challenger 12-24 with 21 tandems in use. Neutral bus lugs are full, unless I'm not seeing all of them. On the ground bus, I had to team up a few grounds per lug on two lugs. I know you can't do that on the neutral though, and I haven't. Is a neutral bus kit needed if I want to add?

.
Rick
Maybe just reading the OPs post? Someone might have also used non-CTL tandems and exceeded the design limit on the tandems.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:18 PM   #7
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


IMO an upgrade to 200A is almost never a bad idea. You get (hopefully) all the breaker space you'll need and (almost) definitely the capacity.
For a home that size I pretty much don't care what your load calc is. Unless you install one of those HOG tankless water heaters, 200A is more than enough.

IMO putting a sub-panel on a 100A service is a band-aid kind of fix. Plus your utility area starts to get crowded.
Sure, it's easier to just get a few added breaker spaces, but a clean new upgrade is much more professional.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:21 PM   #8
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


Jeeze Macro, ease up. I don't know or care who you are on other forums. You're new here, Jim is a long time knowledgeable member here, and he DOES know what he is talking about.
Stop trying to goad him into an argument in every thread.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:21 PM   #9
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


Well, my main disconnect, according to the label on the panel door, is a Sylvania SMB-12 (2-4) meter socket rated at 125 amps continuous. The breaker looks like one large tandem, but I don't see any rating on either handle like the smaller breakers in the garage. So, I'm assuming the main breaker is a 125 amp as the label on the door indicates.

I just went back and edited my first post to clarify handles in use.

Last edited by RM575; 05-29-2012 at 10:34 PM.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:51 PM   #10
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


I just looked at my breaker panel in the garage and noted that the tandems I installed are Cutler-Hammer BD2020, Type BRD & A.

Before I added these I looked at the label in the panel to see what type of tandems were allowed and it said Type A. So, I think I am using the correct tandem breakers.

I only added 3 tandems, six handles, to this panel. All of the other breakers in the panel are tandems that were installed when the home was built.
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Old 05-30-2012, 02:18 PM   #11
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


I've done a search on this forum to see if anyone has used the usage info from their smart meters to calculate load. I looked at my usage for the past year and found my highest usage period was in the winter and I narrowed that down to a particular hour. My highest hour was January 8, 2012, 10 - 11 am and that was rated at 5.08 kWh. So, I think that is about 25 amps.

I know this is not like adding up all the appliances and figuring the load usage. But, the smart meter seems to be a more realistic picture of the usage, since not all my electrical devices will be operating at once.

So, my question is...would this method of load calculation, smart meter, be of any value when contemplating a panel upgrade?
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Old 05-30-2012, 03:06 PM   #12
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


I have a lot of breakers in my 200A panel because I like being able to isolate ckts if I need to work on something without having to shut down half the house. Additionally, if one trips, the possible cause is typically easier to find....but then again, I haven't tripped any breakers....yet.

So it sounds like your doing somewhat the same thing. A 200A panel is just going to give you more breathing room on your wiring.

Like Jim said...do a load calc....basically, you add up all the items that could be on at the same time....oven, microwave, Fridge, TV, AC, hair dryer. That gives you your max demand. In some cases, you almost have to put a clamp on amp probe on to get a real value. Yea, your oven might be protected with a 30A breaker, but it is not going to be pulling that.

You also have to look at your load balancing. If all your 120Vac demands are on the same leg of the 240Vac coming in....you could trip your breaker even though your not at your total load max. The info you get off your smart meter is total wattage. It will not tell you how much each leg is pulling....(at least mine doesn't)

Good time to make a spreadsheet and put down all of your ckts and the expected loads.

The PoCo just transfered the lines to my new SD panel yesterday....it has a lot more room than my old Murray 200A panel....and the door opens to the side vs up...

I hope I didn't piss the neighbors off last night....I was up on the roof at 10:30 last night pulling out the old weathhead and panel....
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:25 PM   #13
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


I tried to do a load calculation and this is what I came up with.

Sq. Ft. 1834 (will add outdoor shed 160 sq ft for total 1994 sq ft)
2 small appliance circuits (kitchen)
1 electric clothes dryer
Gas water heater (non-electric)
1 laundry circuit (electric washer and dryer)

Appliances Watts
Range 4500 (Old range soon to be replaced)
Gas Furnace 600 (Not from a label, used average based on web)
Fridge 780
Disposal 828 (Soon to be replaced)
Dish Washer 1032 (Soon to be replaced)
Garage door opener 400 (Average figure from web search)
Microwave 1500

I didn't list TV's, DVD players, Cable Boxes, Stereo tuner, computers, lighting, gas fireplace (blower), low voltage systems, etc. because I thought the on line calcultor factors the average load based on square footage of home.

The figure I came up with is 98.82 amps.

If I install air conditioning in the future, 2000-5000 watts, 115.4 amps.

Does this look close based on my data? Or should I have factored the other things above and a table saw, air compressor, power tools etc.?
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Old 05-31-2012, 01:32 AM   #14
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


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What does this mean that you have repeated in 10 of your posts?
spammer I suspect.....I report it each time I see it...
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Old 05-31-2012, 01:57 AM   #15
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Should I upgrade to a 200 amp panel?


Yep, thanks for reporting it!
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