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Service Panel Question

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by zendiagrams, Jan 21, 2008.

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  1. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    I have a bit of confusion here. The inspection from when I bought my house a few years ago said 200 amp service.
    When I look at the main breaker I see 150 amp.
    Now I know 100, 200, 300 are common, but was 150 something odd people were doing in the early 70's when my house was built?

    What is my main size is it 150 as I assume it to be?

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  2. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    Youd have to check the rating of the panel itself to see if its rated for 200 Amps and check with the power Co to see if they are providing 200 Amp service. If both are 200 then somebody just cheaped out and installed a lass expesive 150 Amp main, Which is fine unless you need the additional 50 Amps
  3. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    I will call and find out. I do need the 200 amp service soon. I was contemplating replacing the whole panel with new 200 amp or 300 amp. I assume they will have to yank out the meter to replace the main breaker? I may as well go a head with the complete upgrade if that will need to be done.
  4. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    Is the meter in this panel?
  5. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    Well the person I spoke at my electrical supplier to said 220.
  6. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    No, It's outside opposite the panel.
  7. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    Then there should be a breaker at the meter as well that will shut this panel down. Now you just need to see if the inside panel is pated forr 200. should be some stickers inside maybe on the door that give the panel rating. If its 200 you just need to replace the main breaker with a 200. also check the breaker at the meter it will need to be 200 as well
  8. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    Great, I will check on this when I get home.

    Thanks for the Help. Might have more questions after I investigate.
  9. burnham

    burnham Member

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    Why do you need the 200amp service, has the main breaker been tripping? You can't just go and replace the breaker, the cable outside may not be up to size. You
    don't need a breaker outside at the meter. If the service cable is 4 ott aluminum, it's rated for 200amp. When your electrical supplier said 220, they were probably
    referring to voltage not amperage. It makes no difference to to utility company if you have a 150 or 200a service, and as long as the wires feeding your service aren't in bad shape they will leave them as is. If you want to upgrade the service, you will most likely need to replace the whole service. If it's overhead this means you replace everything from the point of connection (where the overhead wires join with the wires that go into the top of the meter) down to and including the panel. To do anything else with 30 year old equipment is foolish, it's approaching the end of its life anyway so a band aid or doing half the job just means you are leaving more for later. That way will also cost more. If you are not having problems now I'd leave it, maybe have an electrician take a look and tighten all the connections. If it's in a dry area you could be all set, a very humid basement could be an all together different story.

    How many sq ft?
    Gas or electric dryer, range, hot H20, ect?
    A.C.?
    Hot tub?
    If you don't have a combination of heavy loads, 150 amps will go a long way.
  10. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    Then what is protecting the wiring from the meter panel to the sub panel?
    Who said its 30 years old
    Not if its already a 200 Amp service and the panel is rated for 200
  11. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    We have electric everything, right now what we have is fine, but we are planning on getting a on demand water heater and would need t be at 200amp. If I could avoid the service panel upgrade for a bit then it would be great, but the water heater needs to go in soon.
  12. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    On a typical site built home there is NO breaker at the meter base. Mobile homes with meter bases on a pedestal more than a certain distance (12'?) from the main panel need their own breaker.

    To cut off the power to the panel so that you may replace this 150 amp breaker you are correct that you would need to remove the meter. Easy peazy it pops right out. I just replaced my panel last year with a new 200 amp panel and we just popped the meter out, did the work, and popped it back in. The power company needs to replace their little tamper tag eventually.

    Before you just go and upsize that main breaker you'll need to verify that the panel as well as the service lines are up to providing 200 amps. This is a rare job that I would call the electrician for since so much is at stake. The verifying is tricky, not the actual breaker replacement.

    I still think an electrical on demand water heater is crazy. What kind of draw does the appliance pull? Is there a reason that a tank unit is not suitable? On demand propane or NG is a much better idea if you want to save the space of the tank. Just the wire for a 50 amp circuit is 2.55$ per foot at HD today.
  13. burnham

    burnham Member

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    He never said sub-panel, there is no protection necessary when the service cable terminates upon entry of the dwelling. You can go straight into the panel, but you can't run halfway across the house, or in between the walls. Panel and sub panel are two different things.

    I assume the service is thirty years old, he said the house was built thirty years ago.

    The panel can be rated for 500amps, if the cable isn't up to size it still won't fly. It looks like a GE panel, the main breaker probably has a friction fit over 4 blades that are connected to the lugs that the feeders are terminated in. The lugs are part of the panel, and can accomadate varius sized feeders for different size services, and you plug in the breaker size you want. The safe assumption is the cable is sized for the main breaker, 150 amps. There would be no benefit in using 4 ott cable (200amp) with a 150 amp breaker because the breakers cost the same. If someone was trying to save money on the initial installation (and we always are) they would have used the smaller wire. He needs to check the current wire size, like I said already, if it's 4 ott aluminum it's good for 200 amps.

    I don't have a crystalball over here, just trying to give the guy advice based on his one picture and brief description.
  14. burnham

    burnham Member

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    I still don't understand where you are getting the idea that 200 amps is mandatory. The on demand heated may only draw 20 or 30 more amps than your current heater. If that is the case you might never notice the difference. It's worth looking into, maybe have an electrician take an amprobe and see what your house is drawing with most of the heavy loads going at the same time. You might have to have 200 amps, you might not. If it's as simple as changing the breaker out, sure go for it.

    How many amps does the on demand heater draw? I'd like to come watch your meter spin with that thing going, it's gonna be ugly.


    Also, if you have a spot on the service cable that isn't painted you can check and see what size it is. 200 amp will have a # 4 with a 0 next to it. The 0 will have a line diagnally cutting it in half (this means ott). I think 150 amp is 3 ott, but I'm not sure as I never use it.
  15. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    Well the main reason I am considering the electric is I have access to a brand new Bosch Unit for free. So that is of intrest to me.

    The requirements for the unit are this:

    * Breaker Needs:

    40 Amps

    * Breakers:

    Three 40 amp breakers @ 220V

    and it's suggested that a min of 200 amps service for the unit.

    I have been looking into LP, got a few quotes but they were insane, so I if I end up buying the unit, that might be the way for me to go, install it myself, and then buy a 100g tank and then have them hook it up to the unit.


    As for the questions it's a Zinsco-Sylvania Breaker Box. I have read some horror sorries about needing to replacing them, but I haven't head any true first hand info.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It sounds like you don't need more incentive, but there is some pretty damning documentation of the issues with them. I wouldn't panic. If it's properly installed and clean and dry, it should be ok. But I think you are doing the right thing. Hopefully the service coming to the house is 200 amp and this will be a quick upgrade.

    http://www.inspect-ny.com/electric/Zinsco.htm
  17. burnham

    burnham Member

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    Three breakers usually means three phase, be sure. Naturally, the gas one seems like the way to go. But free is a hard price to beat. Good luck.
  18. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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  19. triptester

    triptester Feeling the Heat

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    According to the specs the unit requires less total amps than your electric range.

    The principal of on demand sounds good but when looking at the flow ratings if using more than one faucet at a time the unit may not be able to maintian temperature.
  20. crazy_dan

    crazy_dan New Member

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    The way I understand it is you are supposed to install at every hot water draw point, I may be wrong but those are the ones I have seen.
  21. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    The AE115 on the link you provided needs TWO 40 amp breakers and has a draw of 13000-17000 watts. 80 amps of 220 is about 17000 so we can conclude that you will be using 2-double pole 40 amp breakers which will suck up some space on the panel. A typical tank water heater needs a single 30 amp breaker for about 7000 watts.

    You'll need two seperate runs of 8 gauge wire for what appears to be two large independent heating elements.

    The meter will spin like crazy when both of them are on.

    I got rid of my Zinsco panel when I upgraded to the current siemens panel. Both 200 amps but the Zinsco which was located in a dry environment had experienced corrosion and carbon arc on the aluminum buss bars. Noticed by the lights on a single circuit all flickering in sync. I then put my ear up to the Zinsco panel and it was crackling at the same rate as the flicker.

    I would say you are at a good point to change out the panel, upgrade the service to 200 amp, and install the water heater. Bam!
  22. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    oops I ment the A125
  23. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    A125 I miss typed.
  24. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    3 40Amp breakers? this thing is gonna cost a ton to run and your only going to get 3.5 gpm at average.
    Do you have NG or LP? you might be better off selling this unit and getting a gas fired one. I have the Bosch 2400E LP and it provides twice the GPM. And with the 300$ tax credit it was just over 600 from Lowes. Not sure if the tax cedit is still going on for 08 but I would guess if you claimed it on your 07 tax youd be fine even though you bought it in 08
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Now I know why I'll never use an on-demand electric water heater. That is a ridiculous amount of current for a meager amount of temperature gain and flow rate. If that puppy is pulling 120 amps filling the wash machine while the dryer is running at 30 amps, then even the new 200 amp panel is 75% maxed out. Your 150 will pop regularly

    Even free things can be expensive. It's like getting a free horse.
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