200 amp service upgrade questions


Old 04-12-13, 10:51 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: USA
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200 amp service upgrade questions

Hello Everyone, I have a few questions that I would like some help with. Im planning on upgrading to a 200 Amp service within the next year but it will be a piece by piece upgrade. What I would like to do is replace my load center that is currently in my basement first. I am knowledgeable of electricity and have done a lot of home repairs and so forth but this would be my first panel replacement so my first question is 1. Can I purchase a 200 amp panel with a main breaker and for the time being replace the 200 amp breaker with a 125 amp breaker which is what I currently have?

2. I know that my feed line from the drop will need replaced and I plan on having an electrician replace from the drop to the top end of the meter but can I replace the lower from the meter to the panel with the upgraded 2/0 copper or 4/0 aluminum prior to replacing the meter box?

3. I have an older house built in the late 60ís and most of the wire in the house is the older wire, its wrapped in a paper material but inside the paper the 3 wires are in vinyl. Is there any unforeseen issue when upgrading this to a 200 amp service? I would think not being that the breaker size on each wire will remain the same and the only difference is that Iíll be able to add additional wiring in after the upgrade has been complete but just to make sure I wanted to ask.

4. Does the drop wire have to be replaced from the pole to the house? The reason I ask is that ive been told yes and no but my neighbor just upgraded to 200 amp service about a month ago and they replaced hers, this added a lot of cost and total was over $3500.00 for the total upgrade.

Again Ive done electrical work but not on this scale, I do plan on removing the meter prior to the panel replacement and am just looking to clear some things up. Thanks for the help.
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Old 04-12-13, 11:32 AM
PJmax's Avatar
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Welcome to the forums.

1) Yes

2) Probably not. If the meter pan is not a 200 amp pan it won't take larger wire.

3) That wiring should is fine. You will still protect it at it's proper ampacity.

4) Drop replacement is at the discretion of the power company. I very rarely see them increase the drop size. Since the drop is hanging in "free air" it is allowed. They routinely reconnect their 100 amp drop to new 200 amp services. I would assume that if you actually wanted a 200 amp service drop from the power company you could order it for a rather large price tag.

They may have replaced your neighbors because she an old 60amp service drop
Old 04-12-13, 12:15 PM
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The 125 and the 200 may not be interchangeable. If I was you I would save up and have this done all at once. You are looking a 1 day typically worth of work.
Old 04-12-13, 12:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
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It was more than thirty years ago but I upgraded my service from 60 amperes to 200 amperes over the course of a month or two. I installed the new circuit breaker panel along with the meter base and new mast with weatherhead. I ran new circuits to the new panel and transferred some of the older circuits. I ran a temporary connection from the old panel's range circuit fuses to a new sixty ampere circuit breaker in the new panel. Technically I needed to have that new circuit breaker held in place by a hold-down device but...

Once I had gone as far as I could I had the city electrical inspector come out. He initially okayed the job without even getting out of his car and the utility field engineer came by that afternoon. The engineer wanted a backstay on the mast but was otherwise okay with the installation. I called the city inspector and mentioned that he had forgotten to sign the permit and that was a huge mistake, the story of which I have told before and won't repeat.

Bottom line, yes, you can do this yourself and over a period of time as long as you first get the permit and then follow explicitly the instruction of the LOCAL electrical code as well as the requirements of the serving utility. Unless you are well-versed in the codes and requirements along with electrical work in general you will likely have trouble. Only you can assess your capabilities.
Old 04-13-13, 12:59 PM
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Location: USA
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Drop replacement is at the discretion of the power company. I very rarely see them increase the drop size. Since the drop is hanging in "free air" it is allowed. They routinely reconnect their 100 amp drop to new 200 amp services...

They may have replaced your neighbors because she an old 60amp service drop
The triplex from the pole to the house remained in place and was connected to the feeders in the new mast when I upgraded from 60A to 200A some years ago.

I bought and installed the new 200A box with main breaker, and ran a couple of circuits out of it - mainly for the two subpanels inside the living space. IIRC, I also stubbed a rigid nipple through the wall. Then I called a recommended master who was also a former inspector for the jurisdiction. He came by a couple of days later after I had left for work and replaced the mast, weatherhead, feeders, meter base, everything, and fed the main breaker. When I got home, all I had to do was double-check that all of the load ends were safe and turn the breakers on.

Oh, yeah, and write him a check. Well less than $1,000, and he supplied everything on the outside of the house.

He dropped the signed sticker off on Friday. It seems that he kept Fridays for dropping by the permit office and pulling finals on the work he'd completed.
Old 04-13-13, 07:26 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,397
Drop replacement is at the discretion of the power company.
Generally, most power companies size the service drop by calculated load. Just because you are upgrading your service to 200 amps isn't cause to increase the service drop unless you are adding significant load. In all cases, it is the homeowner's responsibility to inform the power company of any significant increases in load. A significant load increase would be something like changing from gas to electric heat or installing central air in a home that has never had air conditioning before. A significant increase in load typically involves both upgrading the service drop and/or upgrading the transformer. Failure to notify the power company of an increase in load could lead to power company equipment failure which you could be held liable for if you have not notified them of a significant increase in load.

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