100 to 200 Amp upgrade

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by mlvk, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. mlvk

    mlvk New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2017
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Hi I just joined and would like to run an idea by some folks. I just got a used 200 Amp box given to me along with a bunch of breakers, and I want to install it. I've done this before along with a fair amount of other electrical work, though I'm not a licensed electrician. My town will allow me to pull a permit and do the work. What I want to do is install the 200Amp and then move the 100Amp to my attached garage and use it as a sub panel for a welder. The house is a split entry and the garage is under and about 40' away. It is pretty simple I think.

    My problem is that the power company says I can't pull the meter or do any work on the outside of the house, (hook up 3 wires and the ground ?), without a license. Not sure that means I can't drive the ground rods!

    My question is can I get a separate box installed with a 200Amp cut off, then wire that into my existing 100Amp? That would allow me to get that done and then do the rest of the work myself. I've never seen this, don't know if it would be code? Don't want to run it by the inspector either it will probably freak him out. I was a small contractor for many years used to know a bunch of fusers I could talk this over with but the are mostly dead. It seems like it should be ok unless the code prohibits it.

    Thanks Mike
     
  2. Stuff

    Stuff Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    To go to 200 amp you will most likely need to replace the meter box and cables feeding it.

    Yes, your plan may be technically OK but lots of times a used box and breakers don't make sense.

    Some places do a meter-main combo unit outside which would be the cleanest solution. Could use one with a 200amp breaker. Feed through lugs to go to your new panel, a 100amp plug in to feed your garage. Feeders after the disconnect need to be 4 wire with separate neutral from ground.

    If you don't go with a box outside then the cost of a 200 amp disconnect inside vs. a new 200 amp panel is minor. Some might actually charge you more for just a disconnect as it is non-standard.
     
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  4. mlvk

    mlvk New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2017
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Thanks

    I do have to replace the meter, it's actually free and supplied by my utility. My problem is that I need a licensed electrician to request to pull the meter and then wire it. This comes from the utility, I can only do the work inside the house, so I can't connect to the new meter. At one time folks could just pull the meter themselves, do the work, and then call them up to replace the seal.

    So my question is could I get a cut off switch installed in a separate box then have that connected back up to the existing 100Amp box. I could then just throw that switch, cut the power and remove the 100amp box and replace that with the 200Amp.

    As far as the 200Amp box it was just removed and replaced, it's actually a little newer than my existing 100Amp box, so unless it's against code I don't see it as a problem? It came out of my brother in law's place, he paid $3,000 to have it done, just for the new box and new wiring from the box to the meter and a manual cut off to run a generator. If they let me do it myself I'm guessing that I could do it for less than $300 for the wire.

    I used to know electrician's who would do this for me as a favor, I'd owe them and do something for them in return.
     
  5. Stuff

    Stuff Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    As I said before the technical answer is yes. Your electrician will need to follow code so along with 200 amp meter socket and associated new wiring the new switch needs to be service rated and handle 200 amps and downsize to 100 amps. Something like http://www.relectric.com/Store/Switches/D224N plus two sets of fuses fuses.

    Alternatively you can have the electrician install your 200 amp box and put a 100 amp breaker in it feeding your old panel.
     
  6. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida USCG escorting cruise ship leaving Port Everglades

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    I won't trust used electrical equipment anytime and if you really need to upgrade your amperage level see this This Old House videos. If you look closely when the old meter is removed, the condition of the old blades.


     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  7. mlvk

    mlvk New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2017
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Thanks

    Sounds like this is another dumb idea on my part. I'm just looking for a way to legally do the work myself. I take it that what you linked to is just a switch and the fuses take the place of the main breaker that would be in the panel box. I thought I could just use another 200 amp breaker as the switch? So I would have a breaker in the little box, feeding the old 100 amp box temporarily, until I installed the new box. So that wouldn't really work because the 200 amp going into the 100 amp would trip it out?

    What regulates the power coming into the house, the meter? And how does it work? In the video posted by WorthForida, they don't upgrade the wires from the pole. The utility guy said they would run everything down to the meter new, I think that what he meant was just that cable that connected to their lines, as was done in the video. He said that everything into the street side of the meter was on them? I thought, as in the video, that everything from their lines was on me? So the electrician in the video replaced the 100 amp cable with a 200 amp cable?
     
  8. mlvk

    mlvk New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2017
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Thanks

    Yes I saw that video, looks pretty easy to me. They will give me a new meter. You're probably right about used equipment but as I said the used box is four years newer than the one in my house.
     
  9. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

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    Where I am, the power company owns the meter, but the meter base, conduit, and weatherhead, and wiring from the weatherhead is the customers responsibility. Many of the homes that had smaller services need all of this replaced if they are going up to a 200A panel.
     
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    Things to watch out for on an old panel are:
    - scorch marks or discoloration or pitting on the main bus
    - potentially, worn or weak CB (they do wear out!)
    - rewiring things means bringing the circuits up to current code, which, in most places means more GFCI and AFCI protection...not the old, plain, breakers. If you have any downstream problems in your wiring, an AFCI will potentially give you fits until you find the loose or corroded connection(s).
     
  11. Stuff

    Stuff Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Nothing really regulates the power coming into your house. That is why wiring to code is so important.

    With a 100-200 upgrade the aerial wires are not normally changed. The wires or cable from the weatherhead to the meter and meter to the panel are upgraded along with replacing the meter base. If all that is done by the electrician it makes sense for them to do the full panel swap as well. It is normally a one day job for a pro.

    Your idea of a breaker in a little box is fine but where it falls apart is that there is minimal cost savings in most situations. In addition to installing the very expensive new little box (and proper grounding) an electrician would have to provide a feed to your old panel and then retrofit the old panel separating the grounds and neutrals. Some might do this for you but I think most would walk away from this job.
     
  12. mlvk

    mlvk New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2017
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    That's what I thought, that's what that video shows, and that's what they did at my brother in laws, he's in Massachusetts where the video was made. I did ask repeatedly, so everything into the meter is on you and he said it was? I still think he's wrong and if I get an electrician in he will want to do the whole conduit bit and wiring and weather head.

    He actually wanted me to move the meter to the other end of the house and run 30' of cable to get to the circuit box?
     
  13. mlvk

    mlvk New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2017
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Well I'll take it all apart, and I might have to add slots for the neutrals and grounds, I've heard both that they have to be separated, and that they don't? In that video they didn't?, some of the comments say that's wrong?

    I know if I move that old 100 amp box to the garage as a sub panel I need to do that. But when I look at the old 200 amp box there's two copper bus bars that go to where the breakers hook up and there are two that come out on a ninety and hook up to the neutral/ground connectors. To separate the ground from neutral in the sub panel what would I do? From the pictures I can find it seems that the ground connectors are just screwed to the box? I've done several sub panels years ago but I just bought a box and I don't remember.
     
  14. mlvk

    mlvk New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2017
    Location:
    New Hampshire

    So if nothing regulates the power we all have 240 volts from the street, I take it? We don't have anything larger right, if you wanted 480, then you get into phases and stuff. So what is happening now at my meter and paneling to regulate the amps, just the wire size or does the meter do something, they do want to upgrade that? He said for me to go pick up a 200 amp overhead at the yard? What size wire would I have going into the 100 amp, say 6 gage? I have the old wires on the 200 amp where they just cut it off, they look like 2 gauge aluminum? Is this where all those laws and stuff takes over?, the size of wires allows so many amps at such a voltage to pass into a panel?

    As far as what you say about the electrician I agree that if he had to do all the other work he may as well hook up the box. $3000 seems a bit steep but that's what they charged my BIL, even with all new stuff what's that $1000. Pretty good day's pay. I just don't have that kind of money for this. Also I just like learning and doing it myself.

    As far as most guys just walking away I agree with that, why bother. I don't want to to start calling people up and wasting there time, I had enough of that myself. As I said I was once a small contractor. I had a electrician and a plumber that I worked with, they used to call me their apprentice, so I would do a lot of stuff for them and then they would finish it up or just check it out, it worked for all of us. They were on other jobs so they could keep working, I could do some of the stuff and not have to wait for them. and they would get paid for what they did. Everybody was happy. They also liked it if I would do any cut outs and framing stuff for them.

    Another goofy idea (?), if I stuck the 200 amp next to the 100 amp box could I extend all the existing wires as long as they were in another box that was accessible? So I would have the 200 amp box all hooked up inside, have all the breakers hooked up and wired and all the wires coming out and hanging loose and going into some junction boxes that were laying there, everything labeled. All my ground wires run to the ground rods, and over to the water meter, a bit of a bear since its through a since its through a finished wall. So the electrician would have to run the new cable from the meter into the 200 amp and connect all the existing circuits and mount the junction box or boxes to the wall where the 100 amp box was?

    How do you handle wires, per code, that might be too short anyway when you do up grades, it looks like most will fit but some of them might be a squeeze just because of the different shape of the 100 amp and 200 amp.

    When I move that old 100 amp box to the garage, can I put it on the ceiling or mount it sideways per code? The only thing I can find are clearance distance for mounting. I have some shelving in the way and putting it on the ceiling would just be a lot easier or alternatively mounting it parallel with the shelving rather then cutting the shelves to run it vertically.

    thanks
     
  15. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Joined:
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    Another thing to find out is if your municipality will allow a service upgrade without meeting current code on the breakers. If you have to comply with the new codes for AFCI/GFCI breakers, it could quickly add another thousand bucks to the cost of the upgrade.
     
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