100Amp vs 200 Amp service

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  #1  
Old 05-22-01, 09:41 AM
edbreyer
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I will be having a new circuit panel installed in the house I've bought (replacing fuses). It is about 30%+ more expensive to install 200 AMP service vs. 100 AMP - In addition to higher equipment expense, I'm told the electric company requies buried lines (from the pole to the house)for 200 amp service which adds even more expense.

So, I'm trying to determine if it's worth the extra expense. We use natural gas for all heating and cooking - so 100 Amp should handle the maximum, simultaneuos power load - it did in our last house. However, is there a standard/maximum number of breaker/circuits in a 100 Amp vs. 200 Amp box? Any other things I should consider?

Thanks in advance!
 
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  #2  
Old 05-22-01, 10:26 AM
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If you don't have any 220 volt electricity hogs, such as electric heat, hot water tank, dryer, range or central AC a 100 amp service for a modest size home will serve most families. But this is the minimum service size allowed by the NEC, and you leave little room for future expansion. Adding 30% to the cost now may seem large, but if the time comes when you can't do with 100 amps, replacing your new 100 amp service with a 200 amp service increases the price by 130%.

It's odd that the utility is requiring buried service lateral. I'm guessing their reason is to move toward more buried and less aerial, but only if larger service drop is required. (The present aerial is adequate in their opinion to handle up to 100 amps, but if you go to 200 they will have to replace that aerial with a larger gauge, and they'd rather have YOU pay that expense.

As far as panel size, I would not get any panel that doesn't have at least 24 spaces. Some day you may regret it if you do. In my travels I have seen many, many 12 and 20 space panels that are full up. Panels are cheap, and I personally went with 30 spaces even though my old panel had just 18 circuits on it.

Another thought to consider, when selling the house some day you may find it an easier sell, and may make back your 30% and then some, with an attractive feature like a 200 amp service. One thing home shoppers don't like to think about is the possibility of having to mess with the electrical system.

Hope that helps.

Juice
 
  #3  
Old 05-22-01, 12:17 PM
edbreyer
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Thanks Juice

Thanks Juice - your suggestion makes sense.

Ed
 
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Old 05-22-01, 12:20 PM
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No problem. Juice
 
  #5  
Old 05-22-01, 08:22 PM
Wgoodrich
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Juice, most electrical companies I know of will only install laterals or overhead conductors with larger conductors if the diversity load calcualtion that they figure requires it, not if you want it.

I too question the limit of underground 200 amp service requried. If I were the customer, I would call the power company and ask them if this is true.

Have my doubts

Wg
 
  #6  
Old 05-22-01, 09:19 PM
Able Sashweight
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You might want to convert your garage to a shop.

Seems 200 would give you lots of elbow room.

Some people (like me. Maybe only me!) think overhead power lines are ugly. They give the power company an excuse to butcher your trees too.

Able
 
  #7  
Old 05-23-01, 06:49 AM
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Able, I have always agreed that overhead lines are ugly, and seem primitive considering the advanced technological state this country is at.

As far as the power company requirement, I had an impression that they want to move toward underground, but only if they can get somebody else to pay for it! Underground protects their investment from wind & ice storms, damage from encroaching trees & tree maintenance costs, and the occasional over-height truck. And they secretly want to stick it to the squirrels of the world and take away all their fun! Plus, overhead is UGLY!

Power companies, in my opinion, are often foolish with their money, at least historically, because they traditionally had monopolies. Not any more. Like municipal and state governments they're learning that they can't just spend whatever they please and make us pay for it.

In my area the utility requires any electrical service upgrade involving a home with an indoor electric meter to move the meter outdoors so they can save money on meter reader labor. They must approve the location of the meter on your home, and you pay for the additional cable and all related costs to put the meter where they see fit. In my case the old meter was indoors in the center of the house, at my panel. The new meter had to go outside, about 40 feet away. That's 40 feet of new cable just to start. I also pay for the meter socket. OK, now since my main disconnect is no longer within a "reasonable distance" (NEC) from the cable's point of entrance into the building, I had to purchase a $200 disconnect switch and install it 5' from the wall the meter's on. Plus the switch requires two $25 fuses. I figure this move cost me over $300 on top of the regular upgrade costs.

Now they want me to move my basement gas meter outdoors. They plan the new location, and I have to hire a contractor that they name and pay him/her whatever they want to do this work, then I pay for a local inspection.

So don't get me started on utility policy. Oops, too late!

So, there's my 9 cents anyway. Gotta go, the men in the white suits are coming to take me away...

Juice
 
  #8  
Old 05-23-01, 01:26 PM
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boy you can say that again Juice!,,,,

utilities and their policies....

ever talk to older electricians and/or linesmen that worked during the 'rural electrification program" during the 40's & 50's ?

man,,,wanna talk a 180 deg tude!!!

 
  #9  
Old 05-23-01, 02:34 PM
Wgoodrich
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Juice, read below, should make you real happy about that money you spent for that disconnect that may not have been required by the NEC.

240-21. Location in Circuit
Overcurrent protection shall be provided in each ungrounded circuit conductor and shall be located at the point where the conductors receive their supply except as specified in (a) through (g). No conductor supplied under the provisions of (a) through (g) shall supply another conductor under those provisions, except through an overcurrent protective device meeting the requirements of Section 240-3.

(b) Feeder Taps. Conductors shall be permitted to be tapped, without overcurrent protection at the tap, to a feeder as specified in (1) through (5).

(5) Outside Taps of Unlimited Length. Where the conductors are located outdoors, except at the point of termination, and comply with all of the following conditions.
a. The conductors are suitably protected from physical damage.
b. The conductors terminate at a single circuit breaker or a single set of fuses that will limit the load to the ampacity of the conductors. This single overcurrent device shall be permitted to supply any number of additional overcurrent devices on its load side.
c. The overcurrent device for the conductors is an integral part of a disconnecting means or shall be located immediately adjacent thereto.
d. The disconnecting means for the conductors is installed at a readily accessible location either outside of a building or structure, or inside nearest the point of entrance of the conductors.


BE HAPPY

Wg
 
  #10  
Old 05-24-01, 07:44 AM
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Juice:

Look at the bright side. You can disconnect your mains without pulling the meter, and play around in your panel whenever you want. :-)

 
  #11  
Old 05-24-01, 10:31 AM
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Thanks Wg. I am happy I spent the money, for the exact reason that Able cited. I am relatively independent because of that disconnect. Relatively. But while working with my AHJ during the planning stage, he clearly stipulated that my main disconnecting device must be located "5 to 7 feet" from the SE cable POE. The quantitative distance is left to AHJs, as I'm sure you know well. I'm not sure if it was Rick M that said "5 feet - period" in his jurisdiction. And of course this difference is due to NEC's requirement that it be "..or inside nearest the point of entrance of the conductors".

Still, I'm glad I have it. Thanks guys.

Juice


 
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