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Kevin
Kevin, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  15 yrs field experience with 11 yrs as self-employed contractor specializing in home repair\upgrades
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I have a 200 amp GE panel with a 100 amp GE sub panel in my

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I have a 200 amp GE panel with a 100 amp GE sub panel in my home. I have several open slots for additional circuits.

I need to add some additional circuits for my garage workshop. Before I do, however, I want to understand the set up as it is now. In order to do so, I have some questions:

1.) Even though the mail panel is rated at 200 amps, the primary breaker is only rated at 150 amps. This seems odd to me. Is it really a simple matter of changing out the primary breaker to a 200 amp breaker to add more capacity? I ask because it seems to me, based on the amp ratings on the current breakers, even just accounting for the major 220 volt items, totals more than 150 amps. (Regardless, I have never had any breaker trip due to an overload.) For instance, I have separate upstairs and downstairs HVAC systems (with gas heat), an electric range, an electric oven, and an electric clothes dryer (all 220 v).

2.) One of the apparently 220 double breakers is for the clothes washing machine. However, the only outlet in the laundry room for the washing machine is a 15 amp 110 v one, which is sufficient. Why is there a double breaker for this?

3.) Do I need to determine the actual maximum simultaneous usage of all the electric items in order to determine my actual available amps?

Kevin :

Hi,a nd welcome to JA

Kevin :

how many circuits are in your main panel?

Customer:

Well, I'm not sure how to answer that. Naturally, I could just count the breakers, but do I count the 220 V double breakers as one or two? Also, do I count the 100 amp double breaker that is for the sub panel?

Kevin :

count all the breakers, count the double poles as 2 including the 1 feedin the 100 amp panel

Kevin :

should be 30

Customer:

Ok, this is what I counted: 15 - 20amp on one side and the other side is filled with 5 extra wide breakers.

Customer:

Oh, I forgot to include the extra wide one for the sub panel.

Kevin :

I can tell you this. I would not add anything to this service without getting an upgrade tot he incoming power

Kevin :

you can not just change the 150 amp breaker to a 200

Customer:

OK. What does that involve?

Kevin :

because the wiring from the meter to your panel is probably not rated for that

Kevin :

Here is what you do

Kevin :

find an electrician who gives free estimates.. Have him come out and acess the situation. Tell him what you are looking to add

Kevin :

I would say it is pretty likely that your service is maxed out as it is

Kevin :

I am sure that in a garage workshop, you would be adding some circuits that would draw quite a bit of power

Customer:

Could you please elaborate on what I need to know from the electrician?

Kevin :

just have them look at your existing service, and tell them the type of equipment you wish to add in the garage

Kevin :

upgrading you to a 200 amp service would not be that hard or expensive, but it is something a licensed electrician would need to do

Customer:

If I did have it done, would they still use the same box, just updating the wires from the meter to the panel?

Kevin :

yes, and the main breaker

Kevin :

and the wires from the meter up to the service drop from the utility company

Customer:

That sounds crazy expensive. All residential electrical in my area is underground.

Kevin :

ah

Customer:

Am I right on that?

Kevin :

well the power company should upgrade the wiring into the meter at no charge

Kevin :

I really cant tell you what it would cost in your area

Kevin :

Just get a free estimate

Customer:

Thanks anyway. I'm sure I'll have more questions again later...

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