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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just bought a house... need electrical advice...

Hello,

I just bought a split-level home that was built in 1977.

The electrical panel currently consists of a fusebox with a 100 amp service.

There is a thermopump that provides heating and AC. Additional heating is provided via an oil furnace when temperatures dip below -12c.

For obvious reasons, I'm looking at having an electrician change the fuse panel over to a breaker panel. However I am unsure of which way to go.

Being on a limited budget, I was originally going to replace the panel for a breaker panel, and retain the 100 amp service (estimated cost of ~ $900 Cdn). However the electrician thought that it would be wiser to upgrade to a 200 amp service, (estimated cost of $1850, + additional $300 from my electric company to change to 200 amp service from the pole), in case I decide down the road to change over to an electric furnace.

I'm trying to weigh the benefits of moving over to a 200 amp service since I have an oil furnace. The oil furnace and oil tank date back to 1996.

So my dilemma:
- Should I retain the 100amp service, and stick with an oil furnace?

- Should I upgrade to a 200amp service, just because..?

- Should I upgrade to a 200amp service and down the road change over to an electric furnace? <-- Will this yield any savings vs. an oil furnace? The cost to install an electrical furnace alone would be around $2000.

Thank you for any guidance.
 

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I'll throw out another option... do nothing. There is nothing wrong with fuses other than the inconvenience of having to replace them instead of resetting. Changing to breakers just because there are fuses there now, without any other upgrades is rather pointless in my opinion. Are there other reasons you are considering doing this?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'll throw out another option... do nothing. There is nothing wrong with fuses other than the inconvenience of having to replace them instead of resetting. Changing to breakers just because there are fuses there now, without any other upgrades is rather pointless in my opinion. Are there other reasons you are considering doing this?

The main reason I am considering this is because my insurace broker is giving me grief about there being a fuse panel. By having a fuse panel, I don't qualify for better coverage, and my insurance is considerably more expensive.

But yes, as you mentioned, I am considering just leaving it as it is for now until I decide what route I'd formally like to go...
 

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Just swap out the panel if you must, you don't need to upgrade to 200. Well, you could have a load calculation done.
 

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I don't qualify for better coverage, and my insurance is considerably more expensive.
How soon will the upgraded panel pay for itself in saved insurance premiums?

replace the panel for a breaker panel, and retain the 100 amp service (estimated cost of ~ $900 Cdn).
to upgrade to a 200 amp service, (estimated cost of $1850, + additional $300


If there is less than a 100(900/2150) = 44% chance or less you'll need 200A, don't do it.

I'm trying to weigh the benefits of moving over to a 200 amp service since I have an oil furnace. The oil furnace and oil tank date back to 1996.
Oil furnace lifetime = ~20 years.

Will this yield any savings vs. an oil furnace?
What do you pay per kwH for elec. and for oil? What is the Heat Value for your oil?

The cost to install an electrical furnace alone would be around $2000.
Benefit of doing that = ?
Lifetime of an elec. furnace= ?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just swap out the panel if you must, you don't need to upgrade to 200. Well, you could have a load calculation done.
I'm at about 95% load right now with the current installation.


How soon will the upgraded panel pay for itself in saved insurance premiums?
In about 3 yrs.

But should I take into account the age of the oil furnace? It's about 13 yrs old now. What's the life expectancy of an oil heater anyways, without taking into account repairs like replacing a burner and such?

I ask, because if it comes time to change the oil furnace, it may be a better option to look into an electric furnace (also cheaper I think?) when the time comes; which means I would need to rip out a perfectly good 100 amp panel and spend over $2k to put in a 200 amp service and panel...

I'm also trying to look into the future and prepare accordingly, as well as favour any additional value to the home itself.

...and then there's other things that have to be corrected in the house, such as:
- replacing old wood fence
- lay ceramic tiles in kitchen
- replace floating floor on main floor in favour of hardwood floors
- install floating floor from main floor in basement
- replace original inefficient single-pane windows in living room

I guess I just don't know what would be the best way to go about it all...
 

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If you just replace the main fuse panel with 200 amp main panel with 100 amp breakers installed (or make the new main a 200 amp sub-panel feed from a 100 amp disconnect main panel) I would think that would keep you closer to the original bid, and position you to upgrade to 200 amps later.
Does that make sense?
 

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Why is your insurance charging you more because you have fuses, i would question this. In my opnion fuses are just as safe as breakers. Of course any idiot can put a bigger fuse in but then the inusrance company can tell you to go fly a kite when your house burns down. But you can also put in a bigger breaker and have the same problem.

I would get a few more prices on doing just a panel upgrade. Do you have a fuseable disconnect between your meter and fuse box. If so you could consider getting a 200A main breaker panel and install it after your disconnect. Then your panel will be protected by your 100A fuseable disconnect and your 200A breaker will serve no real purpose. Then in the future if you upgrade you will already have the panel.
 

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So the way I think about it... when have you ever needed less electricity than you thought...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
If you just replace the main fuse panel with 200 amp main panel with 100 amp breakers installed (or make the new main a 200 amp sub-panel feed from a 100 amp disconnect main panel) I would think that would keep you closer to the original bid, and position you to upgrade to 200 amps later.
Does that make sense?
Yeah, I think I follow. I'll see with the electrician if this is possible.


Why is your insurance charging you more because you have fuses, i would question this.
It seems to be the norm here in Quebec. I called several insurance companies. Many didn't even want to insure a house that still uses fuses, and those who did would do so with a limited coverage instead of all risks.

If your going to replace the panel, do it all at one.
So the way I think about it... when have you ever needed less electricity than you thought...
Hehehe... Yeah.. I'm contemplating it.
 

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Why is your insurance charging you more because you have fuses....
Several reasons:

  • Most houses with fuses in them already have larger fuses installed than the wiring is designed for
  • You have the electrical hazard of live exposed parts with fuse boxes without removing the cover(s)
  • Circuit breakers can trip faster than a fuse blows due to high-inrush current with some short circuit conditions. Fuses actually have to get hot to blow -- melting or burning of the fuse element is necessary.
  • Insurance companies keep track of such things, and have proven by claims histories that houses protected with breaker panels have fewer claims due to electrical fires than those with old fuse boxes, etc.
I have had some customers change out their panel due to insurance company surcharges of 50% or more, or dropping the policy altogether.
 

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If you decide to stay with 100a service at least install a 200a panel instead of a 100a panel. At least that way if you do decide to go to 200a you won't need to change another panel

My oil boiler is over 20 years old, still running
My wife's grandmother just had her system replaced - 50 years old :eek:

Ours is due to be replaced per our Oil guy ( I agree)

Around here Oil heat is still cheaper then electric
Even before oil prices dipped
Do you have Hydro electric power - less expensive?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If you decide to stay with 100a service at least install a 200a panel instead of a 100a panel. At least that way if you do decide to go to 200a you won't need to change another panel

My oil boiler is over 20 years old, still running
My wife's grandmother just had her system replaced - 50 years old :eek:

Ours is due to be replaced per our Oil guy ( I agree)

Around here Oil heat is still cheaper then electric
Even before oil prices dipped
Do you have Hydro electric power - less expensive?
Ok, just spoke to the electrician.
Apparently, it's illegal to install a 200amp panel with a 100amp service here in Quebec, so he won't do it.

I'm not sure what it would cost to heat that house with electric only, so I can't say whether it would be less expensive or not.

To give you an idea...

Hydro electric costs around here are:
$0.054 per kWh for the first 30 kWh per day
$0.0733 per kWh for remaining consumption.

Oil costs for this past winter at that house were approximately $600.

Ours is due to be replaced per our Oil guy ( I agree)
Will you be replacing yours with an oil or electric furnace?
 

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Ok, just spoke to the electrician.
Apparently, it's illegal to install a 200amp panel with a 100amp service here in Quebec, so he won't do it....

IF you take a so-called 200 Amp panel, and replace the main breaker with a 100 Amp one, you now have a "100 Amp" panel.

Easy to upgrade to a 200 Amp later by simply replacing the service cable/drop and then swapping out the main back to a 200. You won't have to replace the whole panel next go-around.
 

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I'm not sure what it would cost to heat that house with electric only, so I can't say whether it would be less expensive or not.

To give you an idea...

Hydro electric costs around here are:
$0.054 per kWh for the first 30 kWh per day
$0.0733 per kWh for remaining consumption.

Oil costs for this past winter at that house were approximately $600.
If a gal. of oil puts out 115,000 BTU, then
115,000 BTU = 34 kwh for electric heat = $2.40
115,000 BTU = 11 kwh for heat pump heat = 80 cents

Virtually all of the elec. energy into your house goes into heating that house.

The clearing time for fuses and the trip curves for breakers are tailored to protect the wiring, assuming the fuses and breakers still meet factory spec's.
The insurance companies may be nervous about other problems correlated with fuses vs. whatever risks the use of breakers present. The fuses themselves may be blameless, and fuses [being simpler] may actually be more reliable.
 
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