home electric panel upgrade to 200amp

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braindead

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Hopefully this is allowed, being not really RV related.. except I might want to get a 30 amp outdoor outlet while I'm at it ;-).  Figured there might be some electricians around here.

I'm trying to find an electrician to upgrade our house panel from 100 amp to 200 amp service and having one heck of a time with it.  The only quote I've managed to get said they could upgrade to 125amp and that's it.  We have underground service which may have something to do with that, but I never got any explanation. 

Spoke with a guy from the local utility, he said that we have 240volt so we should be able to pull 100amps on each branch.  I'm not sure if that's the case and I have no idea how large the conductors are as it's all underground..  unless they always install big enough for 100amp per leg? 

thoughts, suggestions? 

p.s.: Anybody know a good electrician in Reno NV?

Thanks!
 
Once you go past 100amp, might as well go 200.  Currently I can't hook up my welder or compressor without first unplugging the clothes dryer AND I can't run them all at the same time. 
 
Since your existing load center is only 100A, you may not have large enough feeder wires to support 200A service.  That means all new wires from the meter to the load center.
 
The only restriction would be the gauge of the wire feeding your panel from the street. Going to 200A would almost surely require a new service entrance to handle the increased load.

100A service is at 240v, which is actually 100 amps per leg. It would have been a violation of the electrical code to wire for any less than the rating of the main breakers on your load center.

If you have gas appliances, there should be plenty left over to operate a small welder or compressor.  But with an electric dryer, you might have to be a bit cautious with the welder.  Your problem may simply be that the two legs are unbalanced. If its a 100A welder, well, that's a different story.
 
The problem is welder, air compressor and electric dryer running at the same time.  Throw is someone using the drill press, wife using her scroll saw..  I'm trying to make sure there is plenty for the occasional heavier load.

The main breaker on the panel is 100amp, are you saying that's actually 200amp service already?

 
A 100 amp service has two 100 amp legs. A 200 amp panel has two 200 amp legs. If you balance the load properly you should have no trouble getting by on a 100 amp service.
 
If the breaker is 100A, that is designated as 100 amp service. But 100A service is rated at 240v, which means you have two 100A inputs for a total of 200A available at 120v.

You haven't stated the ratings for the welder and compressor, so it's hard to guess what you need to operate them. A standard electric dryer uses no more than 30A @240 (and will even run on 120v if needed, but it dries very slowly). A scroll saw is a low amp device, generally less than 2A @ 120v.  Electric welders, though, can run up to 200-225 amps @240v (input) all by themselves. Home use models tend to be more like 60-100A, though.
 
Most any new home (at least where I live) has 200 amp service. That is almost minimum in todays electrical appliance laden society. I have 100 amp to my garage. For sure if you have 100amps or less now you will need to refeed the wire from the street. Where I live the utility company will supply the wire from the street to the meter. You will need an electrician to change the meter base (most likely), the main panel and main breaker, and possible the ground wire.Dont forget your 30 amp rv outlet of course. lol  If you contact your electricity company and ask what their policy is concerning installing a new service. They may require you to dig the trench and possibly supply your own wire. I dont know why an electrician wouldnt be interested in the job, its done all the time. As I said 100 amps in this day and age just isnt enough. Until I upgrade my cottage to 200 amps, Im in the same boat. I installed a gas stove and gas fireplace for heat as I dont have enough juice to power everything. I cant get my 30 amp rv plug until then either. Good luck.
 
SeilerBird said:
A 100 amp service has two 100 amp legs. A 200 amp panel has two 200 amp legs. If you balance the load properly you should have no trouble getting by on a 100 amp service.
So I could pull 100amps on both legs at the same time and not pop the main?

I just took another look at the panel, it's old and isn't laid out like what I'm used to with two rows of breakers.  This one just has a single row, and not all that many of them either.  The main breaker is 100amp, and I know it's got 3 phase coming into the meter at least.

What I'm trying to avoid is doing this again later if I need more power.  My Dad said to go to 200amp, however It's quite possible he's referring to a 100amp panel.  Although I'd find that odd as his house is about the same age as mine (built in the early 70's) and he's upgraded the service twice so far.

I don't have a welder or compressor purchased (I have a 120v/15a compressor and it keeps up sorta okay), we just moved here and until I know what I can run I'm not buying any new toys.. I mean necessary tools ;-).  A pottery kiln could be in the works as well.. who knows.

muskoka guy said:
Most any new home (at least where I live) has 200 amp service. That is almost minimum in todays electrical appliance laden society. I have 100 amp to my garage. For sure if you have 100amps or less now you will need to refeed the wire from the street. Where I live the utility company will supply the wire from the street to the meter. You will need an electrician to change the meter base (most likely), the main panel and main breaker, and possible the ground wire.Dont forget your 30 amp rv outlet of course. lol  If you contact your electricity company and ask what their policy is concerning installing a new service. They may require you to dig the trench and possibly supply your own wire. I dont know why an electrician wouldnt be interested in the job, its done all the time. As I said 100 amps in this day and age just isnt enough. Until I upgrade my cottage to 200 amps, Im in the same boat. I installed a gas stove and gas fireplace for heat as I dont have enough juice to power everything. I cant get my 30 amp rv plug until then either. Good luck.
Finally, someone who doesn't think I'm crazye for wanting 200amp service!  I feel like I'm some nutjob ;-)..well..... maybe that still applies.
 
You only have 100 amps, single phase. Only industrial buildings have 3 phase. Unless you replace the wires you can only get 100 amps. With 100 amps, you can run what you want, you just have to manage what you use at the same time or you will blow the main breaker. A dryer is 30 amps, stove is 40 amps, hot water (electric) 20 amps, ect ect .  As you see if you start trying to use too much, it adds up to 100 amps and pop goes the breaker.
 
braindead said:
So I could pull 100amps on both legs at the same time and not pop the main?
That is correct. You most definitely can draw 200 amps with your system. The 100 amp main breaker is two 100 amp breakers, one for each leg.
I just took another look at the panel, it's old and isn't laid out like what I'm used to with two rows of breakers.  This one just has a single row, and not all that many of them either.  The main breaker is 100amp, and I know it's got 3 phase coming into the meter at least.
No it doesn't have three phase, that is for commercial and industrial applications only. You have a single phase split phase system, just like almost every other house in the US that was wired in the last 50 years. The breakers alternate phases. One leg on the top breaker, the second breaker on the other leg, then the next breaker is on the first phase, etc.
What I'm trying to avoid is doing this again later if I need more power.  My Dad said to go to 200amp, however It's quite possible he's referring to a 100amp panel.  Although I'd find that odd as his house is about the same age as mine (built in the early 70's) and he's upgraded the service twice so far.
I don't have a welder or compressor purchased (I have a 120v/15a compressor and it keeps up sorta okay), we just moved here and until I know what I can run I'm not buying any new toys.. I mean necessary tools ;-).  A pottery kiln could be in the works as well.. who knows.
So right now you don't have a problem? I think you should wait until a problem exists before you try and solve it. You could be spending a lot of money for no reason at all.
Finally, someone who doesn't think I'm crazye for wanting 200amp service!  I feel like I'm some nutjob ;-)..well..... maybe that still applies.
I don't think you are crazy, it is just not too often that someone needs more than a 100 amp service in a house.
 
SeilerBird said:
That is correct. You most definitely can draw 200 amps with your system. The 100 amp main breaker is two 100 amp breakers, one for each leg.
I realized that after I posted, makes sense now..
SeilerBird said:
No it doesn't have three phase, that is for commercial and industrial applications only. You have a single phase split phase system, just like almost every other house in the US that was wired in the last 50 years.
Indeed, I phased out on that one. 
SeilerBird said:
The breakers alternate phases. One leg on the top breaker, the second breaker on the other leg, then the next breaker is on the first phase, etc. So right now you don't have a problem? I think you should wait until a problem exists before you try and solve it. You could be spending a lot of money for no reason at all.
It's not for 'no reason', planning infrastructure before purchasing tools is pretty important to me.  I don't want to limit my options based on what I currently have or even worst purchase something I can't run due to lack of power.  And this also allows me to get rid of the Zinsco panel which I've been advised are pretty much junk.
 
In Canada, lots of houses have electric heat. This can take anywhere from 40 amps to 100 amps all by themselves depending on the systems they install. Doesnt take much to get up to 100 amps, especially if you want to wire a garage in.
 
Most of the custom houses they are building around here now is getting 300 amp service. I actually have 200 amp for the house and another 100 amp service to the shop/RV garage. Both feed from the load side of the same meter.
 
Wizard46 said:
Most of the custom houses they are building around here now is getting 300 amp service. I actually have 200 amp for the house and another 100 amp service to the shop/RV garage. Both feed from the load side of the same meter.
And all I want is 200amps..sheesh.. 

Thanks everyone for the input..  Hopefully I can find an electrician out here..  so far I'm not having much luck.
 
First, the guy from the utility was, as they say, "Talking through his hat" The fact you have 240 volt service has nothing, and I mean NOTHING to do with how much current you can draw.. Think of a fuse, if you put a 10 amp fuse in a 120 volt line and try to draw 20 amps, it blows.

put the same fuse in a 240 volt line and try to draw 20 amps, It blows.

Well wires are like that , in fact they can easily turn into fuses.  The problem is when they fuse,  Sometimes they start fires.  If the wires are too small then you need to upgrade all the way back to the transformer.. That... can get expensive. (Thankfully the power company is responsible for all before the meter in most cases).


Now, My recommendaiton would be at the same time add a proper generator transfer panel and a nice 30 amp INLET on the back of the house, (The outlet is your option) and as for the RV outlet,, I usually recommend 50 amp outlets there.. WHY,, Well I've seen far too many 30 amp outlets that would accept a TT-30 plug,,, but they were 240 volt and .. Well,  After some forum member (usually a different forum) plugs in we get to read about all the damage he did.
 
John From Detroit said:
First, the guy from the utility was, as they say, "Talking through his hat" The fact you have 240 volt service has nothing, and I mean NOTHING to do with how much current you can draw.. Think of a fuse, if you put a 10 amp fuse in a 120 volt line and try to draw 20 amps, it blows.
Does the 100amp main breaker in combination with 240 volt service mean I could draw 200amps total (100 amps each leg)?  If that's the case, then one could say I already have 200amp service.

Perhaps part of the problem is terminology..
 
The fact that he has 240v does indeed mean something, i.e. that he has available two power legs instead of just one and therefore that the 100A breaker is actually providing 2 x 100A @ 120v.
 
I just took another look at the panel, it's old and isn't laid out like what I'm used to with two rows of breakers.  This one just has a single row, and not all that many of them either.  The main breaker is 100amp,

Some panels use a single row of breakers but the internal design allows adjacent breakers to bridge the two power buses to provide 240v where needed.  From your description, you have a 240v dryer so the panel must support 240v.

However, you may want to consider replacing the load center (main panel) with an up-to-date one and re-distributing the breakers to better balance the load.

As for the panel amperage, if you really want to use an arc welder and a pottery kiln, that 200A (or more) service is going to be needed. That means you need to plan a new service entrance (wiring from street to house) as well as upgrading the load center. You are going to want an electrical contractor who can do both.
 
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