Need more circuit breakers

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by orf, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. orf

    orf New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2019
    Location:
    Bradenton
    I will soon be buying a new house that has a 100 amp service. and the box is almost full, I think there is room for 15 breakers and it only has 3 empty slots. There are mainly 15 amp breakers and no 220. Watching Youtube last night there was an electrician that said that you can't just swap out a 100 amp box for a 200 amp box that the utility company had to increase your service. He said that you can't get more electricity by just putting in a new box. Is this true? I understand that the cable coming from the meter to the panel box has to be large enough but what else is needed? Before I call in an electrician to upgrade things is there something I should ask him? I will need a 220 outlet for my saw but that's it at least for now. In the future I plan on remodeling the basement so will need extra outlets. Could I get away with a larger panel box or sub panel and not upgrade to a 200 amp service? Thanks for the information.
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Depending on the box, you might be able to swap some breakers out for tandem breakers -- that each handle two circuits.

    For the upgrade, you would expect to need new wires up to the weatherhead. The electric utility may need to swap out the service wires. Maybe not.

    If you go to 200 amp service, it is possible you could get a new main box and the existing box becomes a subpanel. That minimizes wiring changes.

    I am not an electrician.
     
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  4. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida Broad-Wing Hawk

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    A more common size in most homes and those that were upgraded is 150 AMP. For 200 amp service the drop wire will probably has to be changed and usually you provide the wire to the pole, the electric company then makes the connection and they will want to see a signed off permit. 150 amp service may be all that you need and it will keep the cost reasonable if the drop wire doesn't need to be upgraded. As Reach stated, 200 amp service you'll probably need to upgrade the meter box.

    Depending on local code, ask the electrician if arc-fault breakers will be required on a panel upgrade. The latest code just about every circuit needs to be arc-fault, ground fault or arc and ground fault. If he says no, I would call the local building office and ask. Of course be sure he gets a permit. If he bucks, get someone else. Should a fire ever occur for any reason, the electric is always looked at and if there was an upgrade and no permit, it could become an issue for a claim with your insurance company.

    You should do the math with your home expansion in mine to determine what size breaker panel would be needed. Without any 220 circuits you must have gas stove, a gas dryer, and gas water heater. In the determination add in an electric stove and dryer and see what you come up with.
    https://www.hunker.com/12317958/how-to-determine-what-size-breaker-box-i-need
     
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    Depending on your anticipated loads, you may just be able to add a subpanel. In my home (a townhouse), rewiring to a larger service would have been nearly impossible as the wire runs through the basement of all units, and mine is in the middle of the building. When I remodeled the kitchen and master bath, I needed lots more circuits to pass codes.

    Throwing in a 240vac circuit isn't necessarily a monster load. The key is how much is likely to be used at the same time. It is very common to have the branch circuits total much more than the main breaker.
     
  6. orf

    orf New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2019
    Location:
    Bradenton
    Thanks to all of you. I'll see what the electrician recommends. Is there a reason that some breaker panes cost more than others of the same brand?
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Yes. One difference can be copper bus bars.

    Plug-in (plug-on) neutral is an advantage when installing AFCI breakers.
     
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