Who should I call?

Old 07-20-04, 11:44 AM
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Who should I call?

We bought a 20 year old house last fall. The house has 200 Amp service, with 100 running to a sub panel in the garage. With the additions on the house we're at around 4000sf.
There's 3 zone A.C., and we just put in a pool with a heat pump. (pool is all 220v) One A.C. is off the sub, others and pool are off the main.
Other large draw items in the house are:
office fridge
dish washer

Whenever one of the 'big' items kick on (A.C.) the lights flicker. It's hard to tell if it's the whole house, or just a localized section (single drop)

I'm concerned. Should I have the local Electric company out to check the service to the house, or is this more I need someone inside checking the load of each breaker?

Thanks in advance for your help:

Old 07-20-04, 12:28 PM
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It's hard to overload a 200-amp service, but by golly, I think you've done it. In order to make the calculation, we need a bit more detail:
  1. The total tons of air conditioning.
  2. The KW rating of the pool heater.
  3. The HP rating of the pool pump.
  4. The KW rating of the hot tub.
  5. Is the water heater gas or electric?
  6. Is the cooking gas or electric?
  7. Is the clothes dryer gas or electric?
  8. What heats the house in the winter?
Old 07-20-04, 07:32 PM
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I forgot ~ the Hot Tub is usually in 'low' setting. The heater runs with 'very' low circulation ~ can't be more then a few ~ maybe 7, Amps?

Hi John:

Thanks for answering. I don't know if what I've added below will actually help. I must be lame: I couldn't find the 'tonnage' or BTUs on the A.C. units or the pool heat pump ~ all I could get was the minimum Amp draw. Also, as an FYI ~ we have no 'gas' in the house: natural or propane, so other then the baseboard hot water heat being oil (boiler) everything is electric.

Basically, I noticed the flickering occuring at different times. Like tonight, after the kids were in bed and the overall usage in the house was nothing more then a couple lights, 2 computers, 2 radios, usual hot water heater/fridge/dehumidifier, and some of the A.C. units/pool.

Allegiance 10 ~ 4 years old 40 Amps
Heil High Efficiency 5000 ~ 10 years old 25 Amps
Heil High Efficiency 5000 ~ 10 years old 25 Amps

New Pool cleaner 3/4Hp 230v 6 Amps
New Pool Pump/motor 1Hp 230v 7.5 Amps
New Heat Pump 230v 36 Amps

New Hot Water Heater 115v
Boiler (was for heat/hot water) unknown - 20 years old
Fridge - 7 years old
Office Fridge - 15 years old
Freezer - 3 years old

Rest of the stuff listed is Electric and was actually 'off' when I noticed the lights do there little flicker thing tonight:
Air Compressor 230v 14 Amps
Mig welder 115v 15 Amps
Radial Arm Saw
Bench Grinders
Floor Drill Press
Dish Washer

Any insight, other then bring in another 100 Amp leg??? lol


Old 07-21-04, 10:46 AM
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Perhaps you could make a basic analysis of the load by using the utility meter which records the power consumed during a specific period.The power consumed is measures in Kilowatt-Hours. A Kilowatt is 1000 Watts.

It's interesting to note that a Kilowatt-Hour meter is a "integrating" instrument. To "integrate" is to calculate the area defined by a curve or a line.

You go to a wood-working shop, draw an irregular curve along the lenth of a sheet of 4ft. X 8ft. ply, and the shop cuts along the curve that you traced. How can you determine the square-foot area of the cut-out piece under the curve?--- you weigh the piece, and it's 10 lbs. If a full-sheet of 8ft. X 4ft. weighs 20 lbs., then the square-foot area of the piece is 2ft. X 8ft. This obviously is equivalent to drawing a straight-line across the sheet 2 ft. above the edge- a "constant" 2 ft. dimension.

You record 2 readings of the KWHR meter,with an exact period of 50 hours between the readings. The difference in the readings is 300. This is equal to a "constant" load of 6 Kilo-watts, 6 Kilo-watts X 50 hours = 300 Kilowatt Hours.

The "constant" current-flow in amps. during this period is 6000/ 220 = 27 amps. (approx). This obviously is not the "peak" value of current that might occur, but gives a good "over-all" view of the current drawn by the connected load.

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!!!!!!
Old 07-21-04, 11:39 AM
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Thanks, I'll give this a shot, but I think I'm missing something, like, (not meaning to sound sarcastic) the point.

If I'm experiencing flickering of the lights when under load (dim, then go back to normal immediately) and I know most of the 'high draw' items in the house are turned off when this occurs, what is a 'long term' (24 or 48 hour) view of the current load going to show me? That between the heavy draw and the light draw periods my draw is XX Amps?

Like I said, I'll do it ~ easy enough to record the numbers and report back here for analysis.

Perhaps I initially described the problem using the wrong terms? I shouldn't of used 'flickering' as that implies a constant. What's happening is: when an A.C. unit comes on, the lights dim, then go back to their normal brightness.

We'll see where we end up ~ will probably be Friday night or Saturday when I post my analysis.

Thanks again!!

Old 07-21-04, 12:24 PM
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If this is happening when the large loads are turned off, then it is probably not due to an overloaded service (which you probably do have), but a loose connection. There's no way to find a loose connection other than to start looking everywhere for it. Start with the connections in the panel. Don't kill yourself.
Old 07-21-04, 01:22 PM
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Thanks John ~ and thanks for the tidbit of info at the end!!! (Don't kill yourself!!)

Could this 'loose connection' have to do with the service to the house: as in, should I call the electric company to have them check connection 'to' the house also, or is this overkill? (there's that 'kill' word again!)


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