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Electrical loading question

1950 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  NJMarine
I had a fire in my commercial building in northern California in June of 2008, I signed a contract with a local contractor to have the building rebuilt and ready to move back in by the end of September, in the plans to have my building repaired I wanted to add some additional items which I figured would be beneficial to my employees and my repair facility, which were to include, an AC system for the office at 30 amps, upgrade the air compressor from a 7 hp quad piston 2 stage at 30 amps, to a 7 hp rotary with auto dry at 70 amps, an exhaust collection system at 30amps, outside electrical for signs at 20 amps, outside Christmas lighting sockets at 20 amps, 2-30 amp 220 circuits for a AWD dyno, 1-20 amp circuit for the water cooler pump for the AWD dyno, 1-30 amp 220 for a State emissions dyno, 3-20 amp circuits for overhead pull down electrical cords, 7-20amp home runs to service bays, 3-15 amp 220 circuits for the garage doors and a 20 amp service for an on demand water heater, everything was going to schedule, then during August I was told by the electrical contractor that the 200 amp electrical panel was not large enough to handle all the electrical circuits, and I was going to have to upgrade to a 400 amp service before any more work could continue, PG&E wanted 11,000 more to accomplish this, needless to say I was a little upset with this statement, BUT when I was told that because of my additional electrical upgrades the contractor could not continue with any more repair work until “I”, “ME,” contacted PG&E and made all the necessary arrangements to have PG&E upgrade from a 200 amp to a 400 amp service, the contractor then pulled of the job and waited until PG&E had completed the upgrade and the county had approved it, which took close to 40 days, also I had already purchased the replacement generator and another automatic electrical transfer switch rated for the 200 amp panel, so I was now stuck with a 200 amp power transfer system, to this day I do not understand why the burden of the electrical upgrade became my cross to bear and not the contractors, if the existing circuits in the panel were ok, and worked before the fire, and the contract was written to show all of the extra electrical circuit upgrades, and the additional cost for the time and materials, why then was it necessary to upgrade to a 400 amp after the work was well on its way, shouldn’t the contractor have checked way before any repair work was started to be sure the existing electrical load plus the additional electrical circuits were not going to overload the 200 amp panel? Again, why was this now my problem and not the contractors?
The existing 200 amp panel had 5-15 amp breakers, 10-20amp breakers, some of them were the mini, 2-20amp 220, 2-30 amp 220, and 1-70 amp 220. I guess what I need to know, (1), was the existing 200 amp panel already overloaded before the fire, and for a commercial building in California, and (2), if the contract is written to show the cost of labor and material for the additional electrical upgrades, should I the one who is somehow responsible for making sure some kind of electrical load calculation is performed before any repairs are made to a commercial building, or is that the job of the contractor? “HELP”
ANY COMENTS TO [email protected] please
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The service seemed to be sized appropriately before the fire. With the additions/improvements, I would agree that a 400A service was in order.

As for the timing and planning of the upgrade, I really cannot comment. I have no idea how things played out. Was everything (existing loads and upgrades) spec'ed out before construction during the bidding stage? Was it design build?

Usually, when something like this happens, it is the result of the customer not planning ahead, but a contractor needs to be proactive as well.
Load calculations are usually required to be submitted with the permit application.
This would show what the minimum electrical service would be needed. This is usually shown on the prints, that are submitted. If the additional items were included from the beginning, than load calculation should have included them. If they were added later than a new load calculation should have been done and the electrical permit updated to show the change.
Note: Some areas may not require permit updates, so refer to state or local requirements
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