Number of Outlets


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Old 05-14-09, 07:22 AM
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Number of Outlets

I had some electrical problems the other day. They have been fixed now, thanks to this forum!

Now, I have a new question. While tracing all of the wires in my house (trying to solve the previous problem) I discovered something. Many of the circuits in my house have only two wall plugs attached to them or, they will have one light, a switch and three plugs, or some other small number switches, lights and plugs.

I have a breaker box with twenty slots. Currently all but two are being used. My house is only 1,000 square foot. This seems strange to me. Why would there be so few things connected?

I read on another post here that 8-10 plugs is typical (depending on the wire gauge).

The reason I am wondering is that we are planning an addition. The house will be closer to 2,000 square feet when it is all completed. My electrician is telling my I will need a new box.
 
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Old 05-14-09, 07:45 AM
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whats your service entering the house? 100 amp? 200 amp? 150?

Chances are you should upgraded your panel to a larger one or add a subpanel. Id go with a 40 circuit and leave room for growth.

Its better to have multiple circuits then a few overloaded circuits.
 
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Old 05-14-09, 07:46 AM
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I'll presume you are operating with a 100 amp Service , and the "new box " the electrician advises may be an up-grade to a 200 amp service.You need to discuss this with him.

Can't fault him for advising a 200 amp Service , and you will certainly need several additional Branch-Circuits for the expansion , which means a new Service , or adding a sub-panel to the existing panel.

If you want to leave the existing Service intact , It's important you submit to the Forum what the total connected load will be after the expansion, so we can calculate the minimum ampacity of the Service Entrance Conductors required.
 
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Old 05-14-09, 08:07 AM
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Thanks for the input everybody. How do I determine if it is currently 100, 150 or 200?

If I submit the wiring diagram that I created would that be useful? I obviously had no clue what I was doing when I created it, but it might provide some useful info. It does nothing more than show where the wires go when they leave the box.
 
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Old 05-14-09, 10:24 AM
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You can walk into one house where there are 15-20 receptacles on each circuit, while the house next door is wired with only 2-4 receptacles on each circuit. Typical, as you said, is somewhere in between.

There's nothing wrong with the way your house is wired, in a lot of ways, it's much better that you don't have to worry as much about tripping circuits. Also, there are many rules that can cause all the circuits as well. Newer kitchens often need (though may not be required) 5-10 circuits!

When you plan your addition, there's really no incentive for you to try to combine existing circuits. Your electrician will likely recommend a subpanel or a service upgrade depending on the service you had.

You can tell what size service by looking at the main circuit breaker handle. It should have a 100, 150, or 200 stamped on it.
 
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Old 05-15-09, 06:30 AM
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I checked the main breaker. It says 200.

Does that change any opinions?
 
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Old 05-15-09, 09:39 AM
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20 spaces is very small for 200-amp service. Your electrical contractor was cutting corners when your service was installed (although 200 amps in the first place for a 1000 square foot house was very generous). I think you'd be happier with a 40-space panel for the expanded house. Since you already have 200-amp service, it will be relatively simple to do.
 
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Old 05-15-09, 09:46 AM
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Thanks everybody. I love this forum.

Just like to make sure what I am being told is popular opinion. I don't have clue about electricity.
 
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Old 05-15-09, 11:21 AM
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because the 200 amp Service is adequate , and the problem is more Branch-Circuit connection-points at the Service , you have the option of adding a sub-panel supplied by a 100 amp breaker to the existing Service panel. This avoids replacing the existing panel.

You also can chose a panel with more than 20 circuit-breaker positions , and by "doubling the width" of the existing panel, you will have twice as many KO's for cable-connections than with a single Main + 40 panel.

You could transfer the circuits with only a few outlets to the SP , and connect the "heavy loads" to the existing panel.
 
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Old 05-15-09, 11:35 AM
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PATTBAA

Doesn't the 100/200 amp thing have something to do with the wire gauge? If the electrician adds another box and supplies all the circuits connected to it with 100 amps, would the wire gauge need to be matched?

I ask because someone told me pushing 100 amps through a heavier gauge wire would actually be a bad idea. They said it like this; "Imagine a wire three feet in diameter, would it be easier to push a current through that than a wire only 3/16 inch thick."

I really don't know what I am talking about. And, I am not sure what wire gauge I have -- I assume it is the heavier of the two that I know of. Is there some way to tell?

Oh, one other VERY important thing. Most of the wires in the house have no ground wire -- they are from 1970 -- there are only two wires inside of the wrapping. Which, of course, says to me that ALL of the wire in the house needs to be brought up to today's standards. Is that true? How safe is wire that is 40 years old?
 
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Old 05-15-09, 02:08 PM
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pushing 100 amps through a heavier gauge wire would actually be a bad idea
That's crazy talk.

"Imagine a wire three feet in diameter, would it be easier to push a current through that than a wire only 3/16 inch thick."
The answer is yes.

Which, of course, says to me that ALL of the wire in the house needs to be brought up to today's standards.
While a good idea, it does not need to be done. It would probably be very expensive to do so.

How safe is wire that is 40 years old?
How safe is a 40-year-old car? The answer to both questions is not as safe as the new stuff, but not certain death either. 40 years isn't really that long if the wiring has not been abused by a lot of overloading.

By the way, 40 years ago, they weren't installing 200-amp services, so the panel has probably been updated by now (or else you are wrong about the service size).
 
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Old 05-15-09, 03:01 PM
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Doesn't the 100/200 amp thing have something to do with the wire gauge?

Yes----- #00 copper conductors can supply a 200 amp breaker, and #3 copper conductors can supply a 100 amp breaker. Conductors become LARGER in size in this progression from smallest-to-largest---- #14 ( minimum size allowed ) , #12 , #10 #8
------ #3 #1 #0 #00 ---- #0000 , after which conductors are sized by their area in Circular Mils.




If the electrician adds another box and supplies all the circuits connected to it with 100 amps, would the wire gauge need to be matched?

As above --- #3 copper conductors between the old / new panels , with the condcutors protected by a 100 amp breaker in the existing Service-panel.




Most of the wires in the house have no ground wire -- they are from 1970 -- there are only two wires inside of the wrapping. Which, of course, says to me that ALL of the wire in the house needs to be brought up to today's standards. Is that true? How safe is wire that is 40 years old?

IF -- IF the cables are Armored-type cables appox 40 years old , I would not worry about "re-wiring" , or about Grounding concerns. There are millions of feet of much older "BX" still in use , with Type "R" , rubber conductors. Your 1970 cables
have TW conductors , far safer than Type "R"
 
 

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