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Thread: How many amps should my sub panel be? & should I get a gas line for heat?

  1. #16
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    The builder is putting in 200 amp service.
    If I upgrade it to 400 amp, what all will I need?
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Engelhardt View Post
    The builder is putting in 200 amp service.
    If I upgrade it to 400 amp, what all will I need?
    Seems like your builder can best answer that. I did 200A from the street for both my shop and house. Which for me meant two sets of wire running to the street transformer. Then the meter. Then a panel with two separate breakers (one for each). Then breakers in the main panel of each building. It was considerably more than a single 200A line. (may even have pics posted here, will look for that link)

  3. #18
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    Sadly - the builder is a complete waste. They know little to nothing about building. We got in over our heads with them due to the virus.
    If we try to find out from them - I'm sure it will screw something up and they will use it against us.

    The builder had us sign a contract in December of 2019 and has done everything possible to either stall us or put us off in hopes that material prices will come down.
    We were supposed to have been in the house by April of 2020 - and here it is going on 2022 - and prices are as high as ever & materials are in short supply.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Engelhardt View Post
    Sadly - the builder is a complete waste. They know little to nothing about building. We got in over our heads with them due to the virus.
    If we try to find out from them - I'm sure it will screw something up and they will use it against us.

    The builder had us sign a contract in December of 2019 and has done everything possible to either stall us or put us off in hopes that material prices will come down.
    We were supposed to have been in the house by April of 2020 - and here it is going on 2022 - and prices are as high as ever & materials are in short supply.
    Aiyai, frustrating. Another story of how disruptive the pandemic has been.

    The pics I posted here are archived so wasnt able to find them. I will look in my backup since the panel that was used worked out very slick and I could recommend it. You will need to run the underground to the street.

    tbh, even though I had some large 3 phase (on converter) and welder and compressor and woodworking, the 200A in the shop was overkill. I never came close to using it but since I was upgrading the house to 200A it was easy to just buy 2 of everything. (note my shop and house were separate buildings about 150ft apart, so that factored in to design)

    I ran Al wire to the street on both. Burying the wire was the largest part of the project (min depths, sand, ribbon, sand, then sod).

    A number of subtle code requirements that vary by local requirements. My neighbor was an electrician and was so kind as to provide some guidance, I was going in circles trying to 'figure it out' on my own (I might have gotten a technically ok solution, but the code subtleties I just couldnt know as a DIY)

    The interior wiring I did myself and was pretty straightforward, again if you know the routing and wiring guidelines. (always the way it is - pretty simple and straightforward if you 'know' something. More difficult when learning from scratch).

    My guesstimate for a 400A vs a 200A service, both split, would be to budget about $2k more material (trenching and other work is going to be fine for both - maybe larger conduit - I used 4" underground). That main meter panel was by far the largest cost item. Once you get that in the rest is the same. Then GFI breakers add up (heck, copper wire is a lot these days but you need to run that either way). Its not 'that' much more in the grand scheme of building an entire house...

    Larger wire to the street. Larger conduit
    Main panel (with breakers)
    200A vs 100A shop panel (slightly larger breakers)

    That is about it in terms of incremental cost...that I can think of off the top of my head
    Last edited by Carl Beckett; 12-30-2021 at 8:45 AM.

  5. #20
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    Here's what a 400 amp service entrance looks like. There is a 400 amp meter base that feeds two 200 amp branch circuits.

    I put this in a rental house that was 200 amp overhead service entrance. The left 200 amp cutoff feeds the orginal panel inside that wall.

    I changed it to 400 underground because I want to add a 60 amp subpanel for an addition onto the house, without getting into having to put arc fault circuits in any of the original part. Also, there will be a 125 amp subpanel 500 feet away, to feed a boathouse, irrigation system, and bathroom house.

    If your house has two heating systems, I would go to 400 amp service. If just one heating system, you can get by with 200, but that's "get by", and not a lot left to add onto in the future.

    Picture is before the power company ran their line to the meter.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #21
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    100, yes!!
    NOW you tell me...

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    A 60 A circuit, which allows 48A car charging, is probably adequate for the foreseeable future, allowing a charge rate of about 45 miles added per hour, plenty for overnight charging at home.
    +1. Really not much need to have a larger capacity charging circuit for an electric car at this point. Now if you had two electric cars and HAD to charge them at the same time, that changes, but I don't know anyone who has run into that yet.

    Actually, I don't know anyone with two electric cars yet.

    Personally, I'd run a NEMA 15-60 circuit. Most people choose a NEMA 14-50 for their electric cars. I had a friend who ran a 100 amp circuit just for his Tesla with Tesla's high powered charger. He was able to charge at 80 amps. He regretted the extra expense. When he recently moved, he left that charger there and went with a NEMA 14-50.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
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  8. #23
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    May 2021
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    +1 on 100 amp, unless you have two people running multiple machines at the same time you shouldn't have any trouble.

    Great idea on running future power to car chargers in the garage. The biggest problem I have with it is that I don't have a garage. I hope to miss this whole electric car thing if I can.

  9. #24
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    I didn't read all the posts so maybe this was mentioned:

    In addition to amperage consider the number of spaces in the panel for breakers. It's a pain to run out of space and a large panel with extra space doesn't cost all that more.

    JKJ

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Engelhardt View Post
    The builder is putting in 200 amp service.
    If I upgrade it to 400 amp, what all will I need?
    trenching will be the same
    Conduit cost shouldn’t be an issue... maybe ...
    4/0 aluminum triplex is about $5/ft; 350kcmil triplex is about $6.25/ft, (edit: but check, our poco supplies the wire to the meter)

    You will probably run an exterior main and then sub panels to various locations per 2020 NEC ( and cheaper to run those aluminum feeders than running copper home runs to that main)
    A 200 amp panel runs about $175, a 400 amp panel runs about $625 - $1200 depending on features.

    you will need breakers to run your subs, but then you don’t need main breakers in your sub panels, they can be lug only.
    Electrician will charge a little extra for working with 350kcmil, but that may not apply as it is only to that first main disconnect and my utility company does all the wiring up to the meter.
    Last edited by Charlie Velasquez; 12-30-2021 at 12:52 PM.
    Comments made here are my own and, according to my children, do not reflect the opinions of any other person... anywhere, anytime.

  11. #26
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    black river falls wisconsin
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    if go with 50 make sure whatch how electrican installed so when ya replace box for bigger know what need to do. wonder how i know this....

  12. #27
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    I've never put in a 400 amp panel, or even seen one here. Every 400 amp service I've seen feeds two 200 amp panels. The meters the power company provide are made for that.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    I've never put in a 400 amp panel, or even seen one here. Every 400 amp service I've seen feeds two 200 amp panels. The meters the power company provide are made for that.
    That's exactly how things were setup at our old property when I upgraded the service two decades ago there. 400 amp meter feeding the "main" panel in the house at 200 amps (with one sub beyond that in the addition) and one feed via a disconnect breaker to the 200 amp panel in the shop. This actually worked out nicely when we added the whole house generator as tying in the automatic transfer switch only involved the feed to the house panel. The shop was not serviced by the generator.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #29
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    Jan 2019
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    Kinda piling on here. To date electric vehicles don't run very well in what we locally think of as cold weather, but we can see the writing on the wall.

    My thought is you should put in the biggest service you can that isn't stupidly expensive. If you can put in a 200 amp service for two bucks, 300 amp for three bucks, 400 amps is 4.50 and 500 amps is ten bucks, I would go for the 400 amp service. Whether or not you are using it, having the capacity to charge vehicles is going to be a major selling point before I die. Gasoline has 116k BTUs per gallon. Compared to cordwood at 20 million BTU per cord, 172 gallons of gas has as much energy in it as one cord of wood. That is a crap ton of energy. How long does it take you to buy 172 gallons of gasoline? Have you ever started with standing timber and done the work to have one cord split and stacked in your back garden starting with felling the tree off its stump? I burn 8-10 cords annually to save on heating oil costs, and "a crap ton" is a very polite euphemism for the labor involved. Go big.

  15. #30
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    Apr 2007
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    Florida
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    Running a 1 man shop I’ve never needed more than 50A. When I built my shop I installed a 100A panel because, at the time, it was cheaper to buy a 100A panel than it was to buy a 50A panel. 100A feed wire was slightly more than the 50A but combined it was cheaper to go 100A. But that was 25 years ago.

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