Upgrading Service

Old 05-14-04, 12:33 AM
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Upgrading Service

Hello all,

I've been reading through posts here and learning a lot about home electrical systems. Enough that I think I can almost make some informed decisions when the electrician comes on Sunday. Almost is the key word. With a little help from the pros here, I think I'll be able to ask him to do what I need done.

I am remodeling my kitchen and have gutted the walls. I discovered a wall between the kitchen and bathroom that has rotted studs and bottom plate. Obviously, that wall will need to be replaced. The main breaker happens to be in that wall.

I have 100 amp service, and there are 4 open slots on that box. (It has a total of 12 slots.)

Next week I'm having central air installed, and the A/C unit will need two slots. I've been told my microwave should have a dedicated circuit. I will be installing a built in dishwasher as well. And adding two more outlets in the kitchen. And, I just bought a whirlpool tub for the bathroom.

From what I've read here, I'll either need to replace the main panel with a box with more slots, or add a sub-panel. I have a detached garage with its own subpanel.

I am wondering:

1) Should I upgrade to 200 AMP service since we are swapping out the box?
2) Is adding another sub-panel even an option?
3) Roughly how long will it take for the electrician to disconnect everything from the existing panel and re-wire the new one?
4) Can we run all the new wiring in the crawlspace? (I think we can..)
5) What would be a reasonable charge for his work?

In addition to the above, he'll be switching an existing outlet to GFCI, adding a GFCI outlet, and a regular outlet, and wiring for the microwave, dishwasher, and whirlpool tub.

I should be able to do all the rough-ins of the boxes myself, and I can probably handle drilling holes and running the wires through the crawlspace. I'll also be buying the supplies. (He's giving me a shopping list..)

This guy is an out-of-work licensed electrician. (He was referred by my ex husband's wife, and he happens to be her ex. She said he charges very little and has been doing this for over 20 yrs.) I had a co-worker offer to run the new wiring for almost nothing - but I was leery of his (lack of) credentials. He has done wiring for his in-laws properties. When I asked if any of his work has ever been inspected by a building inspector, his eyes dropped and he said no.. Another co-worker who was a licensed electrician but is no longer, can also do the job. He said he charges $50 an outlet, and estimated it would cost $500-$1000 just for the new wiring in the kitchen, (not taking into account swapping out the boxes). That seemed a bit high to me.

If anyone can give me a ball-park estimate of the typical cost, I'd be very grateful. I don't mind paying for good work, but I do hate paying too much for anything. The guy needs money, and he knows I am in a hurry to get this done since I can't move forward on my remodel until an electrician does his part.

Thanks for your help!
Old 05-14-04, 07:44 AM
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1. Yes.
2. Yes
3. Within one day
4. Probably
5. $800 to $2000 (perhaps less without a permit, but a permit is your only assurance of some minimum level of quality).
Old 05-14-04, 08:40 AM
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As long as he can pull the proper permits I wouldn't hesitate to use him with one exception, the electrical contractor should do a service calculation for your specific home. The amount of service provided to a home should not be a guess. It is a specific procedure layed out in detail by the NEC. I was told 200 Amp would be plenty for my small property even though I spelled out exactly what I was going to be doing with it. It wasn't and now I'm going to have to redo the service with another meter for the garage.

Unless you mentioned it in a previous thread you haven't said whether you have electric stove, dryer, heat or hot water. What's the square footage of the house? Any shop areas? Table saw, air compressor? If the electrician isn't asking these questions then I would either look elswhere or at least get the questions answered before you let him do the work. Again, the amount of MINIMUM service is layed out in detail by the NEC.
Old 05-14-04, 11:06 PM
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I have a permit to remodel the kitchen, which includes upgrading the electrical. Would we need a seperate permit to upgrade to 200 amp service?

My home is a 1 and 1/2 story cape cod. There are 4 bedrooms (one was converted to a laundry room.) It has about 1300 sq. ft.

I have a gas dryer, water heater, and stove. I'll be adding a 12 SEER central A/C unit next week, and a whirlpool tub in about two weeks. There is a gas forced air furnace. And a pump for the well in the crawl space. (That has a double pull breaker..)

During the remodel, I'll be adding a built-in dishwasher and over-the-range microwave.

In addition, we have all the usual electrical stuff - computer, 3 t.v.s, stereo system..

In the garage, there is an outlet for the heavy duty equipment, but I've never used it.. My circular saw is probably the only power tool I really use..

I'm planning to remodel the house and sell it in a year and a half or so.. Who knows what tools the next owners will bring.

Would it be better to install a bigger breaker box with more slots, or just add a subpanel??

Since I have no money at all - cost is certainly a factor I need to consider since the electrician will be getting paid cash..

Why "probably" on the wiring in the crawl? I think there's some down there, just lying around..

Thanks for you help!
Old 05-15-04, 07:14 AM
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Since I don't do this every day I'd have to break out the books to do a service calc for you and I just don't have the time but if memory serves you would be fine with a 150 Amp service. 1000 sq. ft. comes out to about a 100 Amp so with the extra footage, AC and wirlpool you are up a bit higher. The cost for a 200 over a 150 is so minimal you might as well go with the 200 Amp.

Since you have so many gas appliances you will NEVER actually use all of that current but I believe it is still required by NEC in case you would ever convert to electric appliances.

You can run in a crawl space but it needs to be mostly dry and their are building codes to be followed for running the wire. The electrician should be familiar with these.

The layout of the house will dictatate whether a sub panel makes sense or not. Either way you won't need more than a 30 space panel unless you run a dedicated line to every outlet.

Make sure the electrician has a current code book so your kitchen wiring is up to current code. It can help to sell a house if you have an inspection saying it meets current code.
Old 05-15-04, 11:12 AM
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When I do an upgrade I always go to 200. Its just not worth the dinking around not to.
Old 05-15-04, 09:43 PM
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The electrician will be here tomorrow.. and thanks to this site and your replies, I think I can make informed decisions.

It seems like upgrading to 200 amp service is the thing to do. And I'd rather swap out the breaker box for a bigger one, rather than adding a sub-panel.

As long as he knows the NEC, we'll be okay. That is the code where I live..

So thanks for all your help.. I'll let you know how it all turns out!

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