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Calculating Electrical Panel & Sub-Panel Loading

 
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WanMan



Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 10261



PostLink    Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 11:58 am    Post subject: Calculating Electrical Panel & Sub-Panel Loading Reply with quote


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So, I posted on Fine Home building's discussion forum about my observations between the three different electricians I had come out to my home for the basement wiring.

The wiring for the most part isn't the problem. The second electrician said he would only install a 60A sub panel if he did not upgrade the service entrance cable, main breaker, and housing. That is not a cost issue. The problem is he will not work on them hot, and to get them cold he'd have to call the electric company, who in turn would have to call the county to verify the permit. So, that is a no-go. Property taxes would go up $2K if I did that.

The first electrician said he would install the 100A sub panel, but never mentioned the service entrance cable, and I did not think to ask about it until the second electrician mentioned it. The third electrician, like the first, said he would install a 100A sub panel, and when I brought up the service entrance cable he said there wasn't enough load to upgrade that cable.

While I have a quote from the second electrician for detailed job, I am waiting on the third electrician to get the quote back to me (Monday), and waiting on the original electrician as I only recently provided him a detailed bullet list of requirements. All in all I think the quotes are going to be in the $4-5K range.

If it were not for the electric company's need to engage the county, or the county's need to assess the finished basement as normal living space and wishing to increase my property takes by 46% (they've already gone up 78-79% in six years), I do the permit thing and be done with it.

The lesson learned thus far is that I COULD HAVE [permitted in the beginning to JUST have the service cable upgraded and inspected as only that. I could have used the excuse of moving to a tankless electric water heater. Hindsight is 20/20. My feeling is that I probably could get away with the service entrance cable not being upgraded as it is just me and the wife, and we don't really plan to appreciably use more electricity than we do now.

Thoughts?

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Nashou66



Joined: 12 Jan 2007
Posts: 16170
Location: West Seneca NY


PostLink    Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

60 amps should be more than enough for the theater equipment. Id do a subpanel for the HT and do the lighting and evrything else from the maiun panel or add another sub panel for that. Also you might look into geting an isolation transformer. I did mine myself and it is a definite improvement, and you wont need those monster power supplies. look for a 5kva one on ebay i have seen a nice topaz one for about 450. that would go between your main panel box and the subpanel.

Athanasios

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WanMan



Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 10261



PostLink    Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main panel does not have sufficient real estate (slots) for the basement. There are 3-4 slots left in the main panel, and two of these will be needed to tie in the sub-panel. Now, the cost of sub-panels cannot be that expensive, so you are just giving me some ideas, like adding two sub-panels. One sub-panel for the basement minus the HT and one for the HT.
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ecrabb
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Joined: 13 Mar 2006
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Location: Utah

TV/Projector: JVC RS40, Epson 5010


PostLink    Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my old house, I upgraded from a 60's or 70's vintage 100A service panel to a new 200A 30-space panel. Before I did my upgrade, I actually talked to a couple electricians AND the utility co... Everybody explained that there is absolutely no reason to upgrade the service drop just because I upgraded to a 200A service panel with more spaces. The reason is obvious if you think about it. Unless I was adding a hot-tub or stove or some other high-draw appliance, I wasn't actually significantly changing the draw - just the number of circuits.

By the same token, if the house has a 200A drop, just adding a sub panel does nothing to change total load. Having 40 circuits in one panel versus having 30 circuits in a main panel and 10 circuits in a sub panel changes nothing at all with respect to the amount of total capacity. In other words, whether you add a 60A or 100A sub panel is irrelevant unless you were actually going to use all that capacity. You have a lot of unused overhead now; you'll have less when the basement is in use.

In my case, I added a 60A 20-space sub panel. Even if I were drawing at close to capacity, the main panel then still has 140A for the rest of the house. Unless I were going to put a stove in the basement AND run that stove with the stove upstairs, weld in the garage, and run the house A/C with a space heater in the basement and a hair dryer in the john upstairs. Ain't gonna happen.

Even a pretty high-draw HT is rarely much over 20A. In my HT, with lights on, AVR, DVR, HTPC, amps, projector, etc., I'm still around 20A - and that's max draw. Actual consumption is much less. Even with a popcorn machine, microwave, fridge and lights all running with that, I'll be fine - which will probably never happen. What else are you going to run in the basement to push that even close to 60A? If the 60A panel has enough circuits for the basement (it SHOULD), then run with it. Think about it... for years entire houses had 100A service. That had 100A service had to feed central A/C, stove, hair dryer, microwave, etc. You're just talking about a few lights and some HT equipment. No biggie.

SC


Last edited by ecrabb on Sun Sep 14, 2008 4:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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WanMan



Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 10261



PostLink    Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree 100%. I am thinking the second electrician was trying to add business, but then got himself backed into a corner when I refused to allow the county to be engaged. In the end, he is competing against two others, one of which has wired 1000 Amp service to a neighbor about a mile from here (14,000 SqFt home).
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