New main panel or add a sub to the existing?


  #1  
Old 03-30-04, 04:34 PM
fuller911
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New main panel or add a sub to the existing?

Ok, I think I've got figured out how many circuits I need to wire my house correctly. I 've figured 14 110vac circuits and 3 220vac circuits. Range, A/C and dryer. Problem is that my existing panel only has 6 open spots for 110 circuits, 12 if I use tandems. Should I upgrade to a larger panel or just add a sub down below?
 
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Old 03-30-04, 05:32 PM
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I'm personally not real fond of putting larger sub-panels on existing services, especially 100amp.
Do you have 100 amp or 200. If 200 a sub is not such a bad thing.
If you have 100 amps now an upgrade to 200 cannot hurt at all, except maybe for $$$.
Heck, you want to add 22(!) circuits. An average 100 amp panel is 20-24 circuits, although 32's are made.

Some will say do a complete load calculation but IMO if you have an average 1500-3000 sq/ft home with electric appliances, which you do, a 200 is proper. A 100 would work but is maxed out circuit wise and close ampacity wise.
 
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Old 03-30-04, 05:41 PM
J
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Ignoring costs, a larger main panel is usually preferrable. A subpanel is usually cheaper. There may be other reasons to replace the main panel, particularly if you want more amps or it is of an older design. Care to share any more details?
 
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Old 03-30-04, 05:51 PM
fuller911
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It's a 100 amp service. I don't know the brand exactly but I do know that there are some Seimens breakers in it. It was here when we moved in 5 years ago. There aren't seperate ground and neutral bars just one big one on the right side. If I get a larger panel could I just pull the meter to kill the juice then change the panel?

My house is like 1537 square feet. I'm confident on how to do wiring just doing it correctly code wise and following industry standards is where I'm in the dark. Have been bitten by electricity a few times at work so I greatly respect it. I don't think I need more amps its just all the dedicated circuits to meet code.
 
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Old 03-31-04, 04:56 AM
BuzzHazzard
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If it's currently a 100 amp panel and you are considering changing the panel to simply another larger 100 amp panel because that's all you need, then I'd give consideration to the following:

1) The cost differential between a 100 amp panel and (for example) a 200 amp panel is insignifigant. For the small cost, difference, you'll gain breaker space AND gain electrical capacity.

2) Having said that, if you do increase to 200, you'll most likely ALSO have to replace the feed from the meter to the panel to match the new capacity.

3) Now this is the part I'm not sure about so somebody fill in the blanks. The Power Company is responsible for the feed from the transformer to the meter. I asssume they'd have to come out and replace that feed, and depending on your setup (buried utilities vs. overhead utilities), this may or may not be a big deal. Also I don't know what cost is typically involved here. Any help here guys?

Now regardless of which panel you decide to go with, it's more complicated than you might think. You probably can't just kill the power to the panel (yank the meter) and make the swap. Some of the existing wires may be too short to reach their new destinations for example. Often in a panel upgrade, the old panel will in effect become a giant junction box where new wires are tied to old and then fed to the new panel.

Service upgrades can be expensive. There's a reason for that.

Good luck!
 
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Old 03-31-04, 06:27 AM
fuller911
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What gauge wire is needed for a 200 amp service? BTW its an aerial drop coming from the transformer to the meter.
 
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Old 03-31-04, 10:00 AM
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Demarccation point.

The demarcation point for public utilities is the point at which the utilities responsibility for the installation ends and yours begins. On overhead services that can be the drip loop splices or the meter that varies from state to state. It is likely that the splices between the drip loops and the service drop are the demarcation point because that is the most common arrangement. Many utilities have illustrations on their web sight that show what part of the installation is the owners responsibility and what part is the utilities.

I would strongly advise you to leave the meter alone unless you are experienced with the type of meter base that is involved and know that it is a feed through rather than a sampling meter. Some meters can be removed without shutting off the power at all and some meter cabinets have bypasses in them that you have to close in order to release the tension on the meter jaws to remove the meter. Please keep in mind that there is no ground fault or over current protection between the meter and the transformer that is supplying it. The over current and ground fault protection for the utilities transformer is on the high voltage side of the windings and considerable damage can occur for which you will be responsible if you cause a fault while pulling the meter. If you do fault out the service conductors the resultant arc flash can give you severe burns before you can react.

The minimum size of conductor that is needed for a two hundred ampere, single phase, residential, sevice is 4/0 Aluminum or 2/0 copper conductors.
--
Tom H
 
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Old 03-31-04, 10:50 AM
fuller911
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Called the electric company and they said that they will do the 200amp upgrade at the transformer for free. That's just part of the customer service. And they said the aerial wire is fine? Don't know the truth in this. Then of course the panel would have to be changed by a electrician. Any of this sound correct?
 
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Old 03-31-04, 11:08 AM
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Since the aerial wire is their problem you do not need to worry about it. The common term for the aerial wire between the last utility owned pole and your service head is service drop. Your electrician will have to install a new panel, service entry cable, grounding electrode conductor, and so forth. Depending on your state regulations and which utility serves you the utility may provide the meter cabinet to your electrician in advance or they may install it when making the permanent connections. Some states and utilities make you buy your own meter cabinet. Your electrician will make the temporary, or in some cases permanent, connections between the existing drop and the new service entry cable.
--
Tom
 
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Old 03-31-04, 11:40 AM
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Service standards KC, MO

Is Kansas City Power & Light your serving utility? If so you can find their service standards at http://www.kcpl.com/newconst/2004ess.pdf.
Here is a quote from that standard.

208. The neutral wire of single-phase, three-wire, 120/240-volt; three-phase, four-wire, 120/208Y-volt; 277/480Y-volt; and one wire of three-phase, threewire, 240 or 480-volt delta alternating current services shall be grounded on the customer’s premises by the customer. This ground shall be made to a metallic water pipe from the line side of the service disconnect in accordance with the National Electrical Code. The ground is to be attached to the pipe by means of approved grounding device at a point not more than three inches from where it enters the building and on the source side of any shut-off valve in the building. The National Electrical Code also requires that a second ground be established as a supplement to the water pipe (See NEC 250-50).

Take note that the utility service standard requires that the grounding electrode conductor must connect within three inches of were the pipe enters the building.

C. OVERHEAD SERVICE
509. For self-contained metering, the customer shall furnish and install the Company approved meter socket, conduit, and conductors from his service entrance and equipment to the meter socket; a conduit riser weatherhead; and service conductors to attach to the service drop. The Company will furnish and install the service drop. The customer’s service conductors shall run from the meter socket through the service conduit riser with at least 24” of conductor extending from the weatherhead to provide for connection to the service drop with an adequate drip loop. The Company will make the connections to the customer’s service conductors and install the meter. The service conduit mast or service hook shall be of a strength that is adequate for the span tension and of sufficient height to provide proper clearances for the Company’s service drop.
--
I hope that helps.
Tom H
 
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Old 03-31-04, 12:59 PM
fuller911
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Thanks for taking the time to look that up. But Missouri Public Service is my electrical provider. Here is some things I found on their website. Just for clarification, service entrance wires are from the meter to the breaker panel?


5. METERING
5.01 Meter Installations
A. The customer shall provide, and at all times maintain on the premises to be supplied with electricity, space for the
installation of Missouri Public Service's meters or other devices necessary to supply electricity to the premises.
Missouri Public Service shall extend service conductors to the line side of the meter. The customer is responsible
for furnishing and installing the meter socket, service entrance conductors, service mast, conduit, ground rod and
any associated materials for overhead service installations except for exceptions listed below. The customer is
responsible for furnishing and installing the meter socket, riser conduit, ground rod and all associated materials for
underground service installations including conduit from the underground distribution system to the point of delivery
to the customer except for exceptions listed below.
Exceptions: Missouri Public Service will furnish and install the meter socket, current transformers, potential
transformers and all associated instrument wiring for CT rated installations. However, the customer will be
required to furnish and install any required metering cabinets and associated hardware.
B. The point of delivery by Missouri Public Service shall be at the load side of Missouri Public Service's meter and at
the location designated by Missouri Public Service. The meter location may be on the customer's building, on a
pad-mounted transformer, on a pole, or other appropriate location designated by Missouri Public Service. The
customer shall be responsible for the installation, maintenance, protection, and proper operation of all facilities
beyond the point of metering except that at residences where Missouri Public Service elects to meter at a service
pole or at a pad-mounted transformer instead of at the residence. Missouri Public Service will supply one service to
the residence on the same basis as if the meter was installed at the residence. For all customers, the point of
delivery shall be at the meter location or at some point along a service that may be selected by Missouri Public
Service. Missouri Public Service shall furnish and install a meter to be used for billing purposes. Any equipment
furnished by or installed by Missouri Public Service shall upon installation become Missouri Public Service's property
and may be removed by it at any time after the termination of the Service Agreement or upon discontinuance of
electric service for any reason.

A. RESIDENTIAL SINGLE FAMILY:
1. Free of Charge – Basic Extension Request: All Applicants, classified as Permanent Service, will receive
the following installed basic facilities free of charge:
· first 100 feet of primary or secondary overhead conductor;
· one thirty-five foot wood utility pole with guy and anchor;
· 10 kva transformer including applicable mounting and protection hardware;
· first 100 feet of overhead service conductor and 200 amp meter;
 
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Old 03-31-04, 01:08 PM
fuller911
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Also, I wrote somethings down that were printed on my meter.

Form 2S, 200CL, 240V, 3W, 60HZ, TA30

Can anyone make sense of this.
 
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Old 03-31-04, 01:08 PM
BuzzHazzard
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Fuller911,

Sounds like you've decided, or are at least leaning toward the 200A upgrade. I think that's the right choice. I don't think you'll ever find someone who'll tell you they have too much capacity or that their service panel is too big.
 
  #14  
Old 03-31-04, 01:14 PM
fuller911
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Well, price depends the most because I don't think I actually need a 200 amp service. I still might go with a larger 100 amp panel. Just call an electrician out and have him do what it takes to kill the power in the house and I'll install a larger panel. I'm still up in the air.
 
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Old 03-31-04, 01:20 PM
fuller911
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Hope I'm not driving anyone nuts with all these questions. I just want to be as educated as possible before I decide what to do. You guys have been AWESOME!

Also, when I was outside looking at the readings on the meter. I noticed that the ground wire from the rod to the meter was only like 10 gauge and was barely connected to the rod. The rod also didn't feel very secure. I'm definately going to go buy a new ground rod. But does the small ground wire sound right?
 
  #16  
Old 03-31-04, 01:33 PM
pagerboy
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You may not need 200 amps but it will help you sell your house in the future.

We had 2 small panels of 200 amps and upgraded to one big one with room to spare, makes everything a whole lot easier.
 
 

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