What kind of service do I have?

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  #1  
Old 07-18-04, 01:47 AM
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What kind of service do I have?

Can anyone glean from this image of our fusebox what kind of service we have?

http://home.comcast.net/~dklink913/fuseboxj.jpg

Here's a higher resolution image:

http://home.comcast.net/~dklink913/fuseboxjh.jpg


I have a neighbor who works for a commercial electrical contractor and one day I asked him about our main line into the house and our meter. He said we have 2 gauge running into the house, and the meter is rated for 200 amps. He asked me how many circuits we had and I said 12 and a main. He told me that 99% of the houses around here have 100A service, and 12 circuits were too many for 60A. Then his wife called him home. We live in a development that was put up in '67-'68, copper wiring.

I made a layout of our fusebox and one person said we have 60A, another said 100A. The fusebox was made by Square D, with a 125A rating. Our main breaker consists of 2 60A cartridge fuses. One of the 240V blocks has two 35A cartridge fuses, the other has two 30A cartridge fuses. The latter is unused. There are 5 15A 120V circuits and 5 20A 120V circuits using S type plug fuses, except for one.

I would appreciate any and all input!
 
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  #2  
Old 07-18-04, 02:06 AM
lagunavolts
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Looks like an old school fuse panel. What are you concerned with??
I have never seen that type of square d panel.
 
  #3  
Old 07-18-04, 08:49 AM
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In the second picture, it's easy to see the "60" printed on the fuses for the main disconnect. You have 60A service.

Looks identical to the panel in the house I grew up in.

Except that one had all the edison fuses swapped for "mini-breakers."
 
  #4  
Old 07-19-04, 08:26 AM
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This may be a 2 "pull-outs" Service panel.The P-O's serve as both a dic-connecting means and as a fuse-holder. One P-O will dis-connect the range, and the other P-O will dis-connect the plug-fuse section on the enclosure.

It's possible The P-O's may be indentified as "Main" and "Range".
 
  #5  
Old 07-20-04, 12:22 AM
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So this would be considered 60A service then? I just found it odd that two 60A fuses would be required for a 60 amp service. One backs up the other or something, I guess?

I don't have any actual concerns, but I was thinking about upgrading if it is indeed 60. I do some woodworking in our garage, which runs off of one 15A circuit. Bought a new table saw, and although it draws 15A like my old one, it draws more at start up and blows the fuse.

Thing is, my wife's got it in her head that fuses are safer than breakers because her electrician cousin told as much. He's been one for 30+ years, and she trusts his word. He told her it's easier to reset a breaker than change a fuse, but breakers have a higher tolerance before they trip, so there's a slightly lower chance of damaging the conductors the circuit's running through. Something of that ilk.

So, now she's averse to changing the fuse box over to a breaker panel. She also doesn't want to spend the $$$.

I guess I can take the 240V circuit the range is on, and route that out to the garage, since the TS can be wired for 240. She doesn't like electric stoves, and hasn't had one for over 20 years. It seems to be my only option without upgrading.
 
  #6  
Old 07-20-04, 05:30 AM
Rlfrazee
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First a breaker box is far better than a fuse panel. Second not sure what you mean by a 60 amp fuse backed up by another 60 amp fuse. If you are talking about the bottom right pull out suspect this is not part of your main but is protecting a 22O volt appliance such as a range. The one pull out at the bottom left is the protection for the air conditioner. An upgrade to at bigger panel would be a big plus, say 150 amp depending on your load needs. Consult your utility or check their web site for the requirements when doing an panel upgrade. If you decide to do this check back with the forum as their are many things to consider......RL
 
  #7  
Old 07-20-04, 07:39 AM
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I just found it odd that two 60A fuses would be required for a 60 amp service. One backs up the other or something, I guess?
If all the loads in your house were 240-volt loads, then 60 amps flows in on one hot wire and out on the other. And if all the loads were 240 volts, you would really only need one fuse. Since some of the loads in your house are 120 volts, however, the current on the two wires can be unequal. For example, one of the wires might be carrying 40 amps and the other try to carry 70 amps. Since you can't predict which is which, you need separate fuses, one to protect each wire.

Thing is, my wife's got it in her head that fuses are safer than breakers because her electrician cousin told as much.
The story isn't that simple. Each has its advantages. The main advantage to a fuse is that it is immune from any mechanical problems (but mechanical problems with today's breakers are very rare). The main advantage of a breaker is the convenience of resetting it. However, a breaker also has one more significant advantage--it has both a thermal trip (same as a fuse) and a magnetic trip (which a fuse does not have). In the event of a short circuit (i.e., tens of thousands of amps), the breaker will trip more quickly, since it does not need to wait for thermal changes. Furthermore, breakers give you access to more advanced technologies such as AFCI, which fuses will never be able to provide. Finally, it is harder to replace a 20-amp breaker with a 30-amp breaker than it is to make the same ill-advised change to a fuse, so it is less frequently done. Only an old electrician would recommend fuses.
 
  #8  
Old 07-20-04, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Rlfrazee
First a breaker box is far better than a fuse panel. Second not sure what you mean by a 60 amp fuse backed up by another 60 amp fuse. If you are talking about the bottom right pull out suspect this is not part of your main but is protecting a 22O volt appliance such as a range. The one pull out at the bottom left is the protection for the air conditioner. An upgrade to at bigger panel would be a big plus, say 150 amp depending on your load needs. Consult your utility or check their web site for the requirements when doing an panel upgrade. If you decide to do this check back with the forum as their are many things to consider......RL
My notion of one backing up the other is one based on conjecture and inexperience, not necessarily in that order. I called our utility and asked them what the prerequisites would be for upgrading our service, and they sent a man out to install a new service. I wasn't home at the time, and was only expecting a phone call back to begin with. I guess we got "our wires crossed". Upgrading the panel would probably be the course of action, and fear not: I'm not one to venture into something like this haphazardly.



Originally Posted by John Nelson
If all the loads in your house were 240-volt loads, then 60 amps flows in on one hot wire and out on the other. And if all the loads were 240 volts, you would really only need one fuse. Since some of the loads in your house are 120 volts, however, the current on the two wires can be unequal. For example, one of the wires might be carrying 40 amps and the other try to carry 70 amps. Since you can't predict which is which, you need separate fuses, one to protect each wire.


The story isn't that simple. Each has its advantages. The main advantage to a fuse is that it is immune from any mechanical problems (but mechanical problems with today's breakers are very rare). The main advantage of a breaker is the convenience of resetting it. However, a breaker also has one more significant advantage--it has both a thermal trip (same as a fuse) and a magnetic trip (which a fuse does not have). In the event of a short circuit (i.e., tens of thousands of amps), the breaker will trip more quickly, since it does not need to wait for thermal changes. Furthermore, breakers give you access to more advanced technologies such as AFCI, which fuses will never be able to provide. Finally, it is harder to replace a 20-amp breaker with a 30-amp breaker than it is to make the same ill-advised change to a fuse, so it is less frequently done. Only an old electrician would recommend fuses.
That's a very comprehensive explanation, and it's much appreciated. I think what threw me was the fact that the main and the individual 240V circuits for the range and A/C both have 2 fuses installed in the pullouts. It doesn't help that I had two different responses from individuals that sounded rational, although they didn't necessarily ring true to my ears. Hence my inquiry.

Can I have you speak to my wife on the advantages of breakers over fuses? AFCI is a term I'm not familiar with. GFCI, I've heard of and understand. Both her cousin and the gentleman I spoke with are indeed older electricians, which probably had something to do with their assertions, although the one self-admittedly wasn't up to par with residential work. He's done strictly commercial work for over 15 years, and made no bones about the fact that he wasn't the best person to ask about residential upgrades. The only other time I've heard a fuse/circuit breaker analysis was in '76 or so, so I shouldn't be surprised if there have been considerable advancements made in the technology.

From what I've read, some of the important considerations in upgrading is the quality and type of the existing wiring, adding GFCIs to bath, kitchen, garage and utility areas, the incoming main line, and the meter.

Our wiring is solid copper NM, which as I understand doesn't have as high a temperature rating as NMB. The incoming main line that runs from the line from the pole to the house needs to be replaced as it is, as the jacket has become frayed over time. GFCI outlets I had planned on, and as I've read, there can be one placed at the beginning of a run. The meter is newer, CL200, 240V. The only circuits I would likely add in addition to our existing ones would be to our garage, which is attached, located approximately 45 feet from the meter/main panel.

I truly appreciate the responses you gentlemen have provided. Under the circumstances, I feel more confident I can justify upgrading the service to this lovely woman I have here. It's more a matter of convincing her the cost is worth it now. I think that could be more interesting than explaining the safety aspect of it.
 
  #9  
Old 07-20-04, 04:58 PM
Rlfrazee
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Dave sorry if anything I said confused you or didnt provide enough explanation. Was needing to get to work and obviously didnt provide the full picture you were wanting. Sometimes better to not reply if one doesnt have enough time to explain professionally or at least in detail. Looks like John took care of that. Another advantage to breakers is that on your 240 volt loads (range, central air) both conductors (legs) will be disconnected from the load in the event of a fault. A fuse pull out as you have with two fuses, each protecting one leg, could very easily have a fault on one hot wire blowing only one fuse leaving the other leg energized. You are correct about the temperature rating of NM (60 C) and NM-B (90 C).
AFCI (Arc Flash Circuit Interupter) is now required in bedrooms and disconnects the circuit in the event of any electrical arcing that may occur due to a fault or loose connection or the like. These are same in appearance as GFCI's and are in breaker or receptacle form. Question..Do you have a ground wire in your wiring? In other words three wires in your NM cable (black, white and bare) or two wires (Black and white only). Here is a link to learn a little about afci's....GL......RL
http://search.netscape.com/ns/boomfr...tors%2Fafci%2F
 

Last edited by Rlfrazee; 07-20-04 at 05:32 PM.
  #10  
Old 07-20-04, 09:29 PM
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Not at all, Rlfrazee. I understand completely that people have other things besides message boards that occupy their time, and generally they're of a higher priority. Besides, it's not as though it was a dire situation.

Now if I had posted that I felt like replacing my fusebox, and had myself a sledgehammer, a screwdriver and a pair of pliers and I was ready to go, I may expect a more urgent reply.

AFCIs are something I wasn't aware of, but that's not surprising to me.

We would probably look at 100-150A service. We could probably get by with 100A, but I know the difference in material costs isn't that great, as long as the main line from our service pole didn't need to be increased. The one leading to the meter will be, though.

This is a diagram I made of the layout of our house, detailing the outlets, switches, appliances, etc. There are two outlets and one switch that I didn't include. One the furnace is plugged into, the other is on the wall behind the furnace. I also didn't designate which are the bathrooms. One being behind the kitchen and living room, and the other upstairs is the smaller of the 4 rooms.

http://home.comcast.net/~dklink913/layouthr.jpg

Not mentioned by usage are the ceiling fans, which run fairly continuously. I would imagine they draw 1.5-2 amps apiece or so. No appliances are run off of 240V, save the A/C.

Thanks again for your input. I find it very helpful!
 
  #11  
Old 07-20-04, 10:42 PM
Rlfrazee
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DaveK145 thanks for understanding my quick reply earlier. Whenever upgrading your service its pretty standard to perform a load calculation to determine the power usage for your home presently and any future needs within reason. This will tell you if you need a 100 amp, 150 amp or 200 amp etc. service. Many electrical books at the home centers have the procedure and printable forms in them to do this calculation. Here is a link that also explains one method for load calculation. GL.....RL
http://www.homewiringandmore.com/homewiringusa/2002/definitions/demandcalc02/DwlingDmdCalc02.html

Very nice diagram of your home post back with any questions or future cocerns
 
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