Upgrading from 60A to ?

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  #1  
Old 05-17-06, 01:11 PM
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Upgrading from 60A to ?

My wife and I bought an older home and for my next "learning experience" I would like to upgrade the service panel from 60A to 200A, or some number higher than 60. I have been reading a few books on residential wiring (currently Black & Decker's Complete Guide to Home Wiring), but I haven't found anything that walks me through upgrading the service panel. My current panel isn't too old, it is a 60A box with ciruit breakers. Three wires (2 black & 1 white) come into my house from the service head so I assume I could go up to 200A if desired. My father-in-law, whose electrical experience is decent as he has set-up sub-panels before, suggested that he and I set-up a 200A service panel as a subpanel to the current one. We could then check to make sure everything works, and then have an electrician set-up the sub-panel as the main panel because he hasn't done that part before. I called and checked, in my area a licensed electrician is NOT required.

A few questions, will this work? Any suggestions as to books/websites I should take a look at? Cost is definitly a factor, so I want to do everything I can myself. I have an electrician coming tomarrow to give me a free estimate on letting him do the entire job himself, so I should know more then. Thanks for your help.
 
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  #2  
Old 05-17-06, 01:26 PM
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A service upgrade is not a project to get your feet wet on. I definately respect the DIY spirit, but this is really not a project to learn on. You will not find any books on "how to upgrade a service", as this job is in the domain of professionals and very experienced amateurs.

and then have an electrician set-up the sub-panel as the main panel
A main panel should be designed as such from the start. I highly recommend getting three written estimates and hiring an electrician for this job.
 
  #3  
Old 05-17-06, 01:38 PM
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This upgrade will require the complete replacement of everything from the POCO connection to the panel. You need a new meter pan and all the cables and conduit from the weather head to the main panel as well as the main panel.
 
  #4  
Old 05-17-06, 01:54 PM
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I agree that this no job for an amateur.

I also agree that the new main panel should be a main panel from the start.

However, I do not agree that everything will have to be replaced.

If the house has been altered or expanded then the outside wires and the meter may have already been upgraded.

If the power company has recently come in and moved and replaced meters then some or all the components before the fuse panel may be correct.

As has been suggested, get at least three estimates and make sure they are specific about what needs to be replaced and what needs to be added, so that you can properly compare them and so that you know that all the necessary work is being done.
 
  #5  
Old 05-17-06, 02:18 PM
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joerbaum, its a big job. I'm with you and like to do as much as possible myself. But this was a job out of my league. I hired an electrician and he spent about 6hrs replacing the lines from the wire at my house to the meter and from the meter in the house and a new breaker panel. I watched a little and thought ... that looks easy but one mistake and your dead. Hire a professional and look to spend around $1,600.00. Once thats done have fun breaking your circuits down. Thats what I have been doing little by little.

John
 
  #6  
Old 05-17-06, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
As has been suggested, get at least three estimates and make sure they are specific about what needs to be replaced and what needs to be added, so that you can properly compare them and so that you know that all the necessary work is being done.

Absolutley the best advise for all work.......

You will be surprised by the number of contractors who are out for a quick buck.....
 
  #7  
Old 05-17-06, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
However, I do not agree that everything will have to be replaced.

If the house has been altered or expanded then the outside wires and the meter may have already been upgraded.

If the power company has recently come in and moved and replaced meters then some or all the components before the fuse panel may be correct.
Could be true in your area. In my area the POCO brings the wires to you. All the rest yours. They don't change any of that part of the service including the meter pan. If there is a serious enough problem they disconnect the wires and you call when it's ready to be connected back up.

It's not likely someone would upgrade only the meter pan and feed wire.
 
  #8  
Old 05-17-06, 05:46 PM
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If you go for a 200amp upgrade make sure you get a full 40 breaker panel not a 30/40 panel.
 
  #9  
Old 05-17-06, 08:12 PM
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Thank you for all the suggestions, I have two electricians coming tomarrow (the only ones listed in the phonebook that give free estimates) and I will get specific estimates so I know how to compare their offers. I will show the estimates to my father-in-law and see if he knows how to do any of the stuff, as he is the one with experience... I am not. After I get the estimates from the electricians I'll post what I found out back on here and hopefully you can explain them a bit better for me. I talked to the previous owner today and discovered he had the electrical updated about 15 years ago, so hopefully some of the stuff talked about has already been done.
 
  #10  
Old 05-17-06, 09:00 PM
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joed,

Many things can, and do happen. When I bought my house, it still had the original 60 amp fuse panel. However, the exterior wires had been upgraded because the service drop was replaced when the garage was expanded from one car to two. When I upgraded to circuit breakers, no exterior work needed to be done.

Two years or so ago the power company came through and replaced all the electric meters with new ones which have transmitters so that meter reading is done by driving down the road and wirelessly reading each meter. Most of the houses still had the meters in the basement. The electric company had to move the meters to the outside of the houses. Not only did they do this work at no cost to the homeowners, they also upgraded all the wiring from where the overhead wires connect to the house, through the meter, and into the circuit breaker panel or fuse box.
 
  #11  
Old 05-17-06, 11:36 PM
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My young neighbor bought his first house and did his own service upgrade himself, called me 2 or 3 times mostly about grounding as he is on city water and about setup procedure. He installed new service beside the old one, passed the inspection first time around and the poco come and heated the new panel, he changed it over, did a real good job.
 
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