Upgrade Home Service to 200Amp

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  #1  
Old 11-06-12, 07:54 AM
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Upgrade Home Service to 200Amp

I have an older house with 100Amp Murray Breaker Box. The main breaker is iffy. A few years ago, I had to call an electrician because it kept tripping when drying clothes. He had difficulty finding a new main breaker but found a used one that seemed to do the job.

I'd like to add an electric water heater. I opened the panel to get a look and decided that 100amps just isn't going to be enough. I closed the panel and reset the main.

Now, the main is tripping with little load again. I am guessing it is not the breaker and more its contacts... so, when I closed the box, I upset the apple cart a bit.

Since replacement parts are hard to find, I guess it is time to replace the panel with a 200amp panel. I am in Maine.

I can do the work myself with confidence however, I am concerned it would be uncouth for me to do so and then hire an electrician to complete the job?

I would love to be able to afford to just pay for it but, frankly, I cannot. So my choices are to do it myself and hire an electrician to complete the job or to live with a very iffy main breaker.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Brian
 
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  #2  
Old 11-06-12, 08:19 AM
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First, if the main started tripping after opening the box then there's a possibility that you've got something shorting in the box. That's dangerous and could mean that the box is being energized until the main trips off.

Second, you'll have to get the power company to evaluate the supply wires and transformer for the ability to handle 200A, and to take down the power. Then after the work is complete they'll have to evaluate it before hooking back up. If your area requires permits and inspections they might also require a licensed professional's involvement. You might be able to do some of the work, but they may simply require an electrician to sign off on it.
 
  #3  
Old 11-06-12, 08:30 AM
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Upgrading to 200A service is not going to be cheap.
Ignoring the indoor work (main pannel), you'll possibly need a new feed from the pole (if it is available), maybe a new mass to support it as well. The fees are going to hurt as you'll be paying for the utility company's pole and feed work, and a licensed electrian. Include inspection fees and permits....

I think it's your main pannel/box. Our large house is on 100A service, and I don't worry about running out of power.

I believe (pros to confirm) that you could get a pannel rated for 200A, but run a 100A main braker and feed. A new pannel with the ability to run 100A would mean you replace your troubled pannel, and still leave the ability to upgrade down the road if needed. This is the direction I'm going if it's available. My pannel is not too old, but I'm out of space and want a built in transfer switch.
 
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Old 11-06-12, 09:15 AM
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Why do you want to change to an electric water heater? If you are using gas now in most areas you will pay more for electric then gas.
 
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Old 11-06-12, 06:35 PM
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Upgrading from 100 amps to 200 amps is a lot more than a panel change, you need to replace the meter socket and all service entrance wiring from the weatherhead to the panel and upgrade the grounding too. If the aluminum bus in the Murray panel hasn't been damaged or burnt, you can just replace the main breaker with a new one, they are still available. Can you look closely at the small label on the breaker and get the "Type"? We can help you find a new one much less expensively than upgrading the entire service. And, like ray mentioned, heating water with gas is less expensive than heating it with electricity.
 
  #6  
Old 11-07-12, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Northern Mike
Upgrading to 200A service is not going to be cheap.
Ignoring the indoor work (main pannel), you'll possibly need a new feed from the pole (if it is available), maybe a new mass to support it as well. The fees are going to hurt as you'll be paying for the utility company's pole and feed work, and a licensed electrian. Include inspection fees and permits....
Originally Posted by CasualJoe
Upgrading from 100 amps to 200 amps is a lot more than a panel change, you need to replace the meter socket and all service entrance wiring from the weatherhead to the panel and upgrade the grounding too.
A few years ago I needed to upgrade the service for the house I owned then from 60A to 200A. I bought the new panel and the breakers it needed, installed the breakers in the panel, and propped it against the basement wall under the old panel. I bought and installed the new ground rods, #6 bare copper, and acorn nuts. At that point I had spent less than $100.

Then I called a licensed master whose name and number I got by asking some of my neighbors. He came by one day and installed the mew mast, weatherhead, ceramic insulator, strain relief, and base - all of which he supplied - and connected everything. When he arrived I had power in the old panel. When he left, I had power in the new panel. He charged me maybe $800 for materials, labor and permit. Certainly not more.

No change was made to the triplex feeding the house - not then, and not at any time during the next 15 years that we continued to live there and add loads, including central A/C.
 
  #7  
Old 11-08-12, 07:15 AM
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As long as you have an overhead service entry from the POCO (as opposed to underground), your costs will be the new panel, new breakers, new meter pan, and the conduit and wire to go from the panel to meter to weatherhead.

Depending on your setup, you could install everything side-by-side to your old setup, then have the POCO come out and swap the service entry from the old weatherhead to your new one. Some POCOs will come out in the morning and do the disconnect for you, then come back in the afternoon and reconnect.

On the other hand, it's a couple-hour job for an electrician, and likely money well spent. Since it's your first time doing it, it'll definitely take you longer, and possibly even more than a day - without power.

But in my opinion, with a main breaker giving you issues, it's worth the time and cost to replace and upgrade.
 
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