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It’s not just the panel that needs to be upgraded

Posted by TomR on August 25th, 1998 03:19 PM
In reply to 200 AMP Service by Greg Cardelli on August 24th, 1998 06:22 PM [Go to top of thread]


Quotes from others seem to vary somewhat, and it may be because it is hard to define “normal conditions”, since the needs of the homeowner come into play, as well as the conditions of the home in general. I live about 30 miles north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We just completed an upgrade similar to what you are considering, and the initial estimate was $750.00 for a simple 200-amp upgrade. When finished, the total cost was $1060.00. This included more work than just the replacement of the panel, some we did because we wanted to, and some of which you may need to do as well

If you are going to a 200-amp panel, then your meter box and meter will no-doubt need to be upgraded as well. Your utility company should supply the meter free (ours did) but the new box is usually the responsibility of the homeowner. The price we paid included a new box.

You also need to find out if the supply lines from the street will handle 200 amps. In my experience most older 100-amp homes will need to have these supply lines replaced with larger wire, and part of this can also be the responsibility of the homeowner. In our case, we had buried cable, and we would be responsible for the excavation and filling of the ditch, and the electric company would be responsible for the under-the-street drilling and the cable laying to the house. We were lucky here, the original owner had some forethought, and the cable is in fact oversized. If you have overhead cables then your cost may be significantly reduced if not eliminated.

Our home originally had a 100 amp fused main disconnect located in the garage, with a sub-panel of circuit breakers located in the stairwell in the middle of the house. The meters (we had/have two) were mounted on a retaining wall just outside the garage where the main disconnect was. There were also several small sub-panels mounted around the main disconnect, added for various reasons over the 44-year life of the house. For $1060, we had the following work done (it took 3 separate days to complete):

A new 200-amp, 40-space service panel was mounted in the garage, replacing the main disconnect and surrounding small sub-panels.

A 100-amp, 20-apace panel replaced the old sub-panel in the stairwell. A 100-amp feeder from the main panel back in the garage supplies it.

Two new meter boxes, as mentioned earlier. In case you were wondering, what the second 100-amp meter is for, the electric company allows us to hook up any 240-volt appliance to what they call off-peak service. They charge us a discounted rate, but there are certain times of the day/night when power to that service is shut off.

A 30-amp separate disconnect was installed next to the main panel, which supplies the electric water heater, the only item we currently have for the off-peak service. The off-peak could conceivably be expanded up to 100 amps separate from the 200-amp main service, but that would probably require new service lines since both off-peak and regular service use the same ones.

As I always suggest, get more than one estimate, and check with your municipality for helpful advice and required permits. Good luck - TomR

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