Separate Electrical Panels on each floor?


Old 08-18-05, 06:35 PM
Clay Rembert
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Separate Electrical Panels on each floor?

Someone please tell me whether I was hearing things or not. This past weekend while watching a commercial on DIY Network there was a segment that talked about re-wiring houses. I seem to recall the electrician suggesting installing separate electrical panels for each residential floor as a way to effectively manage usage. On the surface it sounded like something I'd love to have done! We live in a house with a basement and 2 stories and our present panel is in the basement. My wife is convinced I've lost my mind for even considering such an arrangement. It's inviting to have a 100amp panel on all three levels.What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a setup? Mega thanks in advance!

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Old 08-18-05, 07:05 PM
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I don't see enough of an advantage to go through all that work in a remodel; maybe I'm just missing something.

What's the ampacity of your service now? It's a rare house that needs more than a single 200A panel; not that we don't run across the occasional rich guy around here with a 5 bedroom house and a all the toy rooms and a 600A service...

In a new construction, there might be advantages to having a subpanel on a floor, but I've done some work in some houses where there were more panels than the owner knew about and it was heck to try to turn off the right circuit, looking through all the closets in the whole place; glad we don't put them there anymore.

IMPO, I wouldn't change what you have unless there's an electrical necessity.
Old 08-18-05, 07:12 PM
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You might consider a subpanel for the basement, but there's really little reason to seperate the first and second floor. Most second story floor plans don't provide for good (or code compliant) subpanel locations anyway.
Old 08-18-05, 09:15 PM
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Subpanels limit flexibility by partitioning the available power. Load diversity cannot work well unless the power is unpartitioned. At six o'clock when everybody is on the main floor, you're limited to what the main floor subpanel can provide. At ten o'clock when everybody is upstairs, you're limited by what the upstairs subpanel can provide. Without the subpanels, no such limitations exist and you have access to all the power all the time.
Old 08-18-05, 09:23 PM
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Completely rewiring a house to put a sub panel on each floor does not make sense, unless the house needs to be rewired for some other reason. And even then it would only make sense in a limited number of situations.

One of the issues I see immediately (and it has already been mentioned) is where to put the panel. It can't go in a bathroom, it can't go in a clothes closet, it requires a specific minimum amount of space, and most people wouldn't want it in a bedroom. That leaves a closet (which would have to in no way resemble a clothes closet) or the hallway (perhaps hidden behind a picture or something).

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