View Full Version : Add a sub panel help
01-05-2008, 09:18 AM
I have only my original panel for the house (which is maxed out) and really need to add a sub panel for both next years lights and for my garage shop..
lights will be a large display with room to grow. 10 6 ft trees 20-30 mini trees. one mega tree, lights on house, etc...
any suggestions for what size i need and ball park to the cost..
I live in florida usa..
01-05-2008, 10:59 AM
I’m not sure of your configuration, but a lot of the older houses in this area originally had 60 to 150 amp fuse panels located in the interior of the house. A pretty common service upgrade is to install a larger (200A) breaker panel on the exterior of the house just below the meter and sub-feed the original panel from this. Any new loads would be fed from this new panel. If you want to upgrade an interior panel to a larger one, it will be more costly, since you will have to replace the service entrance cable from the meter to the interior panel.
It may be possible to install a physically larger panel, but with the same amp rating, that would have available space for more breakers, if your only problem is real estate within the existing panel.
If you intend to sub-feed a new panel from the existing panel, you will either need to free enough space to feed it from a breaker or double fuse, and re-feed the loads to the new panel.
As to cost, the best thing to do is to get a couple of quotes from local licensed electricians.
Hope this helps
01-21-2008, 09:37 PM
I concur with kmiller's advice. I use the subpanel circuits extended to my second garage building "twice" off my main. I feed the garage panel and some Christmas lights off the same circuits in my main panel...reason being that I know the current isn't available to the garage during the light show. It helps that I am in the cold and almost never want to use the unheated shop/garage after dark in the dead of winter. This layout kept me from having to increase panel space or have larger service brought in...of course, I haven't finished my plans for '08 yet , either!
01-30-2008, 04:57 PM
There's been talk in the chat room about a user having a temporary service pole installed. Basically a pole in the ground with a meter and panel on it. You'd have to get permits and inspections done, and the cost factor would be pretty high. This was an alternative that one user is taking because he does not own the home, nor does he want to upgrade the wiring in the house for the new panel and required inspections.
Might be another avenue that leads to a different thought process. You could always have an additional service entrance as well (like they do on duplexes) Just have another 100A meter added and new panel, and run everything out of that. Might mean 2 bills. Check with your local city codes and electric company.
01-30-2008, 05:29 PM
My electric company said they couldn't put two meters on the same house. I could put one on my building or I could upgrade my meter to a 400amp and have two panels off of it. (alreadly have 200 amps maxed out). The power company would upgrade the meter or run wires to new meter @ no charge, but I would be responsible for the rest.
01-30-2008, 07:53 PM
My electric company said they couldn't put two meters on the same house.
That's a strange thing for them to say. Multiple meters on homes are common, as people sometimes sublet portions of their homes and separate the electric for the tenant. Additional reasons for multiple meters are certain things can have different rates. Business use items such as things in a home office might need to be rated differently, or even taxed differently so it is required in some places that they be separate. (Edit: I remembered another thing... There are different rates for electric heat during off-peak times, so some homes have separate demand meters that account for this)
After a discussion with a meter tech at the electric utility I work for, I was told it is a common thing for him to set additional meters that carry panels for seasonal lighting systems here in our division. (There's alot of rich people's houses nearby) He said that in most cases a new dual meter pan similar to those you see on homes like I described is utilized, but that's not always feesable.
If this is something you're interested in. Ask a qualified, licensed and bonded electrician (IBEW please) if it's possible to do it. Folks at the utility don't always know what they're talking about... trust me on that one. I upgraded my service from a 30amp 220, to a 200amp 220 and had to hold the hands of everyone involved, from the township clerk all the way to the supervisor of the troubleman that placed the meter and installed the permanent secondary drop. Had I not been an employee of the utility, I think I'd still be on a temp.
01-30-2008, 08:11 PM
I concur with kmiller's advice. I use the subpanel circuits extended to my second garage building "twice" off my main.
This is a really good idea! Don't forget the Air Conditioner compressor... You won't be needing that 'round Christmas. Unless the global warming Al Gore invented keeps increasing at the same rate.
When I first thought of making a big display, I had an idea that I later shelved for the service upgrade. I planned on running a #12 wire extension cord from each outlet in the house that was on a separate circuit. Then have rules about what could be powered up in the rooms during the display. Since it's just Dawn and I we could have done it easily. The service uprate made it much easier on us, but my discussions with an electrician I work with say that I saved about $1000 by doing it myself. A couple hundred dollars worth of extension cords used for my idea might be a quick and dirty way to avoid the cost of a new panel or complete service for someone...
Look around your house and see what you don't use during the season. Keep in mind that a full panel of breakers doesn't in any way mean the panel is fully loaded. A clamp-on meter can give you an idea what your total load is. You might already have what you need for your display without shelling out $1000 to $2000 for overkill.
Or... a subpanel off your main panel might be just the ticket.
02-01-2008, 11:44 AM
Folks at the utility don't always know what they're talking about... trust me on that one.Ain't that the truth! :rolleyes: I upgraded from a 200A to a 400A service, and when I initially called the POCO the person I talked to was totally clueless and insisted that residential 400A service was not available in my area. Luckily a good friend of mine is a lineman. A few calls from him and it was a done deal.
02-01-2008, 08:13 PM
I called my power company about the upgrade from 200 amp service to 400 amp service and it seems pretty easy.
They checked the cables from the distribution transformer to my meter and the won't need to be changed, so all I have to do is have a new 400 amp meter (Free from the power company) and the feed wires from my new (Free) meter to my existing panel will need to be replaced with larger wires (Only about 2 feet)
So 2 feet of wire and whatever sub panels and breakers I get - not too bad!
I'm thinking of 2 100 amp sub panels, 1 in my basement, and 1 in my garage, but I may end up doing 1 200 amp sub panel in the garage, and just running circuits to the basement.
Either way - it's not going to be as bad as I thought! YAY!!!!
02-01-2008, 11:01 PM
so all I have to do is have a new 400 amp meter (Free from the power company) and the feed wires from my new (Free) meter to my existing panel will need to be replaced with larger wires (Only about 2 feet)I seriously doubt that your existing 200A main service panel can be used alone for a 400A service.
Usually with a 400A residential service you get a class 320 meter base and meter (which is actually rated at 320A continuous). Then typically you have parallel service conductors that feed two 200A service panels. When I did my upgrade, I kept my 42-position 200A service panel and added a second one beside it.
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