Clear Space and Questions for 200 amp panel

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Old 09-07-14, 05:05 AM
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Clear Space and Questions for 200 amp panel

I am negotiating on a 150 year old property that has a 100 amp panel. The present panel is located in a cellar that has less than 5' head space, and as it it next to an ocean inlet does get damp or take on groundwater - it has a sump pump installed. Part of the negotiation is that the sellers are required to upgrade the panel to 200 amps. They are balking but have offered me a $2500 discount in lieu of the upgrade.
My concern is that there may be a code issue with the location of the existing 100 amp panel because of the height of the free space and because the panel box is located with 18" of a wall (I thought that the clear space has to be 30"). I would also assume that changing from 100 to 200 amp may not be as simple as removing the old panel and just reattaching the existing wires to the new 200 amp panel.
As I travelling overseas, I do not have time for another electrician to review this, but I will try and get through to the Code enforcement officer on Monday.
My questions are:
1. Can anyone see this having a code issue.
2. Does the $2500 seem to be a reasonable price to do this change over.
Location is Portsmouth, NH
 
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Old 09-07-14, 06:20 AM
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Without seeing the conditions or knowing the local pricing there is no way to know if $2500 would cover the changeout.

I would ask why you think you need a 200 amp service or why someone else should pay for your future needs.

The current installation would not meet the code requirements for headroom. As far as the width you need 30", but it does not need to be wall space. It could be free room to make up the other 12".
 
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Old 09-07-14, 06:55 AM
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The seller disclosed that they had 200 amps when they only had 100 amps, thus the reason for requiring them to upgrade to 200 amps. My hobby is artistic welding using a stick welder, so I feel that I need the additional amperage. I presently have a 300 amp service in my home in Florida.
 
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Old 09-07-14, 07:08 AM
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When you say it only has 5' of headroom, does that mean an average person could not stand up when working on the panel?

Relocation of the main service could be as easy of adding a disconnect outside. You could then place the panel anyplace in the house. $2500 might be a bit on the low side if you upgrade it to 200 amps, it will all depend on the job. If you had an electrician look at it, they should be able to give you a better opinion
 
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Old 09-07-14, 07:18 AM
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I would also assume that changing from 100 to 200 amp may not be as simple as removing the old panel and just reattaching the existing wires to the new 200 amp panel.
Your assumption is correct. The meter socket and all service entrance wiring would need to be upgraded to 200 amp and the grounding would need to be upgraded to the current code in your area.

I would ask why you think you need a 200 amp service or why someone else should pay for your future needs.
In a home sale everything is negotiable. The seller could just say no.
 
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Old 09-07-14, 07:36 AM
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The seller did say no. So I said no - to the purchase - also. He then said OK. If he would have initially disclosed only a 100 amp service, I would not have bought the place. The $2500 price seemed a little low but I accepted it with the proviso that I would need to have an electrician review the pricing. Then I read the NEC code and supposed there is supposed to be 6'2" of clear space to meet code - with an exception for an existing installation. Don't know if we change from 100 to 200 if the exception still holds water, 4' headroom would be sufficient (my wife corrected my initiial thought that there was 5' headroom) So there is a code and a price issue.
 
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Old 09-07-14, 07:40 AM
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It is an existing installation as is. Might not have been an issue at the time of install.
If you change the panel, it would need to be located to a space with proper clearance.
 
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Old 09-07-14, 08:15 AM
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An inspector also might allow it even though it would be a non-conforming installation.
 
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Old 09-07-14, 10:16 AM
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If you really need (or want) a 200 ampere service I would suggest a new service panel outside rated for the environment and then feed the existing panel from the new panel. Any new circuits would run from the new panel.
 
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Old 09-07-14, 10:47 AM
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Or make it a junction box to move existing circuits to the new panel. That way any concern about height goes away because it is just a junction box.

However if I was selling the house I wouldn't go to that trouble. </opinion>
 
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Old 09-07-14, 02:53 PM
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Or make it a junction box to move existing circuits to the new panel. That way any concern about height goes away because it is just a junction box.

However if I was selling the house I wouldn't go to that trouble. </opinion>
I wouldn't upgrade the service for a buyer at all unless I hadn't been able to find a buyer and didn't want this one to get away. 100 amps obviously is suitable for the house as is.
 
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Old 09-07-14, 09:35 PM
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If I were buying I would not want the seller to be responsible for the upgrade. Too much chance of a cheapo job being done. I would take whatever discount I could get and have the job done on my specifications.
 
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