Need Help - Uprade to 400 Amp

Reply

  #1  
Old 08-30-06, 10:22 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4
Need Help - Uprade to 400 Amp

I am located in So. California. I currently have a 200 amp panel which feeds from a 2.5" conduit from the Edison company. I am doing an addition to the house and my electrician recommended going to a 400 amp panel. Edison tells me that if I do the upgrade I will have to go to 3" conduit. This will be significant cost since I will have to go underground across the street about 75 feet away. They also told me that if I do any kind of upgrade to my panel (including replacing with another 200 amp panel) I would have to upgrade the conduit even if I stay with the 200 amp. This does not make sense. How can they force me to upgrade that conduit? I will have to pay for all the costs and I am told the cost of upgrading the conduit will run around $8500. Does that make sense?

Edison company also tells me that there is a 3 month lead time for them to review any such projects.The guy at Edison company is being a total jerk and is no help.

I have had a couple of people review the load schedule which is around (160 amps).

Any help will be appreciated.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 08-31-06, 05:21 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
If you upgrade to 400 amps, you have no choice but to follow their rules, and play their game. They will have to upgrade the wires in the conduit, and they get to decide what size conduit and what size wires.

I don't fully understand the issue with installing a new replacement 200 amp panel. If all your electrician is doing is replacing the panel (keeping the same size service), all you need the utility company for is to shut off the power while the panel is being replaced.
 
  #3  
Old 08-31-06, 07:25 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 97
Why would you replace the existing 200A panel for another 200A panel? If you're out of spaces in the existing panel, your electrican can just install a subpanel to handle additional circuits. The Poco wouldn't even know you're adding a subpanel, that's between you and the local gov't. However, if you'll be maxing out your 200A service, then I can understand the 400A upgrade.

Just out of curiosity, how large will your house be (in sqft) with the addition? Do you have an electric range, oven, clothes dryer, water heater, welder, or any other high-current tools or appliances? Do you know the power consumption of your air conditioner or heat pump system? When was your house built?

If you tell us this, we can give you a ballpark figure for what size of service you will need for the addition. Just because the electrician is recommending it, doesn't mean you should do it... he might just be trying to sell some work. Especially if it means paying an additional $8,500 for upgraded conduit (not including the cost of wiring up a new service - the service cabling will probably run another $1,000), you should perhaps get a second opinion on whether an upgraded service is required.
 
  #4  
Old 08-31-06, 07:45 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4
Thanks everyone for the posts. The existing house is about 3500 sq feet and I am adding another 1500 sq ft to it. Range and water heater are gas. Edison tells me that if I do anything to the existing 200amp panel then I have to upgrade the conduit. The house was built in 1977 and the 200amp panel may not have room for expansion. I have two ( 2 and 2.5) ton A/Cs and I will be adding one more to the house (about 3 ton). I have had a couple of people help me with load schedules and it comes to around 150 - 175 amps. I am planning to add a small shower steamer to my bathroom but I am open to not doing it if it becomes an issue with 200 amps. The Electrician wanted Edison to unlock the meter which they would not do.
 
  #5  
Old 08-31-06, 07:52 AM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New Bern, NC
Posts: 1,623
The OP said that he has already had the load schedule reviewed. I for one will trust his electricians ability to calculate a load. The issue I see is that the review reveled that he is calculated at 160 amps, which is max for a 200 amp panel.

It makes sense that the electrician recommended an upgrade to take into consideration future needs.

POCOs are governed by state or local charter. The law is what tells them what they can and can't do, and what they can and can't charge for.

It sounds to me like the board members from the utility let the politicians win when they play golf together at the country club.

Utilties have oversite buy some sort of public utility commision. This is the dept that you need to call with your question about what they are doing, and if it is legal and fair.

Good luck. But don't believe you can't fight city hall. Call and ask. Please do post back and let us know what you find.

Edit to add: Sometimes a polite letter or visit to your state senator, or representitive can go a long way.
 
  #6  
Old 08-31-06, 09:06 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 995
I haven't got the time to look it up right now, but are the existing feeders aluminum? If they are replaced with copper (a significant expense on its own, though), will the 400A feeders fit in the existing conduit? Perhaps the upgrade in conduit is only needed if staying with aluminum feeders.

Why did the electrician want the meter unlocked?
 

Last edited by MAC702; 08-31-06 at 11:54 AM.
  #7  
Old 08-31-06, 09:43 AM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New Bern, NC
Posts: 1,623
Utilities are not governed by the NEC. If the demark is at the house, and it usually is, then the utility determines the conduit size.
 

Last edited by DIYaddict; 08-31-06 at 11:27 AM. Reason: Removed unnecessary quote
  #8  
Old 08-31-06, 11:07 AM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: port chester n y
Posts: 2,117
You will need to increase the ampacity of the Service Entrance Conductors, and increase the rating of the Main-breaker, ONLY if the numerical value, in amps, of the calculated Service-load is a numerical value of more than 200.

A 100 amp service is adequate for a Service load of 90 amps--- refer to Example 2D (a), Annex "D", NEC. It follows that a 200 amp service is adequate for a calculated load of 180 amps.

A 100 amp "Feeder" between the Service-panel and a new sub-panel , leaving the Service-panel intact , is the solution for the additional load.

DO NOT make the mistake of adding the 100 amp rating of the breaker protecting the new Feeder to the rating of the existing Service-breaker-- 100 + 200 = 300-- and conclude you need 300 amps for the Service.

NEC Example D2 (b), Optional Calculation for a 1-family dwelling with Air Conditioning would apply to your situation. This "Example" also includes, in addition to an A.C. load, two 4KW ovens, a 5KW range, and a 4.5KW water-heater.
The calulated load = 122 amps.

I suggest that the person advising a 400 Service make an exact list of the new and proposed loads (in KW's), and calculate the Service load conforming to the procedures presented in Ex.D2 (b).

Good Luck, & Learn& Enjoy from the Experience
 
  #9  
Old 08-31-06, 11:09 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 97
I'm still confused by the Poco's demand to upgrade the conduit, even if the service stays at 200A. If they don't want to unlock the meter, fine, but permitting of electrical work inside the house should be the business of the local government. Probably another annoying case of an AHJ having some 'unwritten' rules, in this case the Poco gets to demand an expensive retrofit to a system that was presumably code-compliant when installed, and is most likely still safe.

I'd again vote for a subpanel, if you stick with 200A service. Surely the AHJ can't demand a conduit upgrade if all you're doing is sticking a new breaker in the service panel, right?? No need to kill power on the utility side for a subpanel - Poco would never know you did it, unless the AHJ tells them.
 
  #10  
Old 08-31-06, 01:52 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 97
Hmm, I'm doing my own load calc, am I missing something here?

Using the method under NEC 220.82, I'm giving him general lighting and receptacles at 5000x3 = 15,000 VA, 2 small appliance circuits at 1500 VA each, one laundry branch at 1500 VA, a (HUGE) range/oven combo at 15,000 VA, a 5000 VA dryer, and a 15,000 VA water heater. That's a total of 15,000 + 3,000 + 1,500 + 5,000 + 15,000 = 39,500 VA. Take 100% of the first 10,000 VA of that, and 40% of the rest, and you get 21,800 VA. On top of that, toss in his AC that should rate around 9000 VA (assuming a somewhat lousy EER of 10 for 7 tons of cooling), and you get a total load of 30,800 VA, or 128 Amps.

And that's assuming electric appliances, he's got a gas range and water heater. You could throw in a few more small appliance branch circuits at 1500VA, a hot tub at 15,000VA, plus a less efficient AC unit, and still be comfortable. Unless I'm waaaay off base here, I don't see what's going on. I didn't do the standard calc in Art 220, maybe that's what the electrician did to come up with the higher numbers. There's a reason for the optional Part IV method - the 'old' method was way too generous and gave you far more capacity than you'd need. It's not there because the 'old' method is too hard.

Jwhite, I'm not sure where you get saying that 160A is the max for a 200A service. NEC 230.42(A)(2) permits going to 100%, if the main OCPD and service panel are rated for it. Perhaps this is why the original poster is looking to upgrade, because the current equipment isn't rated for 100%. But, that aside, there's no requirement to always de-rate to 80% of the calculation you make under Art 220.

In my own house, I have 100A service, but the calculation I get under Art 220 Part IV is around 90A - but I've never tripped any breakers ever.
 
  #11  
Old 09-01-06, 07:44 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4
Thanks everyone for the posts. I did talk to the City and they told me I need a permit to replace my 200A with a new 200a panel but Edison should have no problem since this is not considered an upgrade. Edison has been telling me otherwise. I have escalated the issue at Edison to see what happens. I think the plan for me is to add a 100a feeder / sub panel in my new garage and go from their. Let's see if they let me do that without causing any more issues.

BTW, the guy at Edison has been threatening me. He has told me that he will keep an eye on my meter and send his people to look for any tampering whenever they are in my area and cut-off my electricity if he sees any tempering. He is a total loser.
 
  #12  
Old 09-01-06, 08:26 AM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: port chester n y
Posts: 2,117
You refer to "my electrician";

"Tell" ( i.e., order ) the electrician to install a 100 amp Feeder to a sub-panel to accomodate the additional loads. I agree with other Postings; your existing 200 amp Service is adequate.A compelling reason is the absence of "in-place" electrical appliances such as ovens, ranges, and electrical domestic hot water heaters.

IF "your electrician" objects, than insist that he "show you the numbers"; you, in turn, can submit his calculation to this Forum for verification of correctness.

This presumes that the electrician will arrange for the required inspection procedures, and will provide you with official documents, issued by the local Code-enforcing authorities, stating that the work was inspected and was fully compliant with the NEC.

Regret you had this contretemps with the POCO pencil-pusher.
 
  #13  
Old 09-01-06, 08:36 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 995
Originally Posted by vic528i
BTW, the guy at Edison has been threatening me. He has told me that he will keep an eye on my meter and send his people to look for any tampering whenever they are in my area and cut-off my electricity if he sees any tempering. He is a total loser.
You should conserve MASSIVE amounts of power next month. Live without something, go on vacation, do whatever it takes to drop your bill to about 20% of normal. They'll freak and wonder what you did to bypass the meter...
 
  #14  
Old 09-01-06, 08:56 AM
scott e.'s Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Anderson, IN
Posts: 412
I am still curious why you keep mentioning a 200A panel to 200A panel conversion? What is the problem with your current 200A panel that would require you to swap it out?
 
  #15  
Old 09-01-06, 03:52 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4
There is no problem with the existing 200A panel. It is about 30 years old so we thought about swapping it for a newer one.

I talked to a supervisor at Edison today and he basically said the same tihng. Even if I replace this panel with a new 200A panel, it is still considered an upgrade and I will have to upgrade the conduit. My electrician and the city think they are just harassing me and this has been done before without upgrading the conduit. I asked the Edison guy to give it to me in writiing that I need to upgrade the conduit but he would not do it. I am fed up with this situation so I am keeping the existing 200A panel for now.

I am looking to find other instances where they have allowed these things in the recent past so I can sue them for harrasing me. I have a meeting with my lawyers next week.

Thanks everyone!
 
  #16  
Old 09-03-06, 05:04 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 55
I worked for edison at one time. they have rules of engament that benefit them, to a point. They also like you as a costumer that how they make money. Here is the skinny you may do whatever you want provided nobody knows about it. But if you do it gets messy if something hapen like fire and the insurance co. will just walk away it becomes your loss totaly , somebody snitch on you the city goverment will put a lien on your property means you cannot ever sell it. Not until you fix the problem. Back to square one. They may condemn the property whereby you cannot live there. My advice do it right with EDISON help. Big user like you they will bend backwards to help. And don't forget the licences and inspectors. This is not a do it yourself project.
 
  #17  
Old 09-05-06, 06:22 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 97
Originally Posted by neon
But if you do it gets messy if something hapen like fire and the insurance co. will just walk away it becomes your loss totaly , somebody snitch on you the city goverment will put a lien on your property means you cannot ever sell it. Not until you fix the problem. Back to square one. They may condemn the property whereby you cannot live there. My advice do it right with EDISON help. Big user like you they will bend backwards to help. And don't forget the licences and inspectors. This is not a do it yourself project.
He's not doing it himself, he's got a licensed electrician who will be pulling permits and getting everything inspected. No issues with homeowner's insurance.

I say go for the upgrade. Assuming your meter is outside, and your main panel is inside, how are they even going to know? I'm still not sure I'd change the panel, unless it is recognized as a 'bad' panel (Federal Pacific, Zinsco). Just pop in a 50A DP breaker to a subpanel somewhere else if you're out of spaces and need more circuits.
 

Last edited by DIYaddict; 09-05-06 at 06:39 AM. Reason: removed derogatory statement
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'