What you should know before upgrading to a 200 amp main breaker

200 AMP Main Breaker Panels – What You Should Know Before Upgrading

Why Would Someone Use a 200 AMP Main Breaker? 

Most older homes have a 100 AMP panel, due to the demand of the day, because they didn’t have as many electronics. But now that we have a lot more electronics we need more amps to meet the higher demands. 

We’re seeing a lot of homes update to a 200 AMP main breaker panel to provide enough power that doesn’t fluctuate or have any issues. 

What is the Typical Cost of an Electrical Panel Replacement? 

It’s actually extremely circumstantial, but here are some of the considerations:

  •  the amount of power already being used
  • design of the original electrical layout
  • equipment needed to bring it up to date
  • type of power from the utility company
  • meter base age
  • number of circuit breakers

One of the biggest cost factors in upgrading an electrical panel is the location. The location of the original panel can sometimes be in the interior wall, but in order to refeed all of the original panel wires, you would either have to run feeders or run a new mainline to it. This is a big factor. It is significantly less expensive if the service panel is already located on an outside wall. 

No two scenarios are the same. We have different scenarios each time that make it slightly different.  

Choosing the location of a 200 amp main breaker panel 

If the original panel is located in a closet, or a laundry room, these are areas are no longer acceptable because of the flammable items in these areas. So, we would want to bring it to the outside wall adjacent to where it originally was. This is normally the most cost-effective way of bringing it to the other side of the panel, typically the outside wall, and installing an outdoor panel. That also makes it more accessible for future feeds. 

Would a 200 amp outdoor breaker box be more beneficial than an indoor breaker box?

Most of the benefits are related to safety or expansion. Outdoor breaker boxes are safer in the event of an electrical arc or a service panel explosion (most of us prefer explosions to happen outside of the house). In the event of an electrical fire, emergency personnel is able to shut off the power directly from the main breaker panel controls outside the home.

An outdoor breaker box is also ideal for homeowners who want to install a pool or hot tub in the future. 

When should I install a subpanel? 

A subpanel is best when you’re putting in a hot tub or pool because it would be for specific reasons. I prefer the panel to be large enough to handle the entire house, because all your circuit breakers pretty much have a safety shutoff, and all your safety shutoffs would be in one area.

While the subpanel would be able to be turned off by the original panel, we typically save subpanels for specific purposes such as pools, hot tubs, or workshops. 

I’d say another caveat would be if you have a very large house (over 4,000 sq ft.). You’d have an additional panel on maybe another wing of the house when you get so large sometimes it could be in certain circumstances it could be beneficial to have a second panel.  

Can I have a 200 amp sub panel?

A subpanel would only be able to tap into the amount of power of the original panel, so you would have to update that original panel to something higher – like a 400 amp service panel.

When would you need a 400 AMP Panel? 

It depends on the demand vs. how much you have. I’d say on a larger sq. ft. home, you’re probably going to start needing to update to a 300/400 AMP panel to help for the demand you need for your home. Maybe you have a pool or hot tub or want to leave room for a future pool or hot tub?

A larger sq. ft. home would also have more heaters. You’d break up the home into different feeders, feeding different bedrooms, different living rooms, and maybe an office. And so, the larger the sq. foot, the more of these feeders you would have. 

Most 200 AMP main electrical panels can have 40 circuit breakers. So, if you’re exceeding the circuit limit of the existing panel, then we would add an additional panel downstream or secondary panel, and give you additional space to run more items.  

Do Electric Vehicles require a higher amp panel? 

On a home that is fully electric or a home that has additional large electrical appliances, it is very typical to need an electrical panel replacement because electric vehicles are power-hungry for amperage. Car chargers typically start at 30 AMPS and go up from there. 

They have one that charges with 10 AMPS, but one 10 AMP car charger would take 12, 13, 14 hours to actually charge a car. Most people opt for a 60 AMP charger because they want to be able to fully charge it overnight. 

Typical homeowners that opted for a 60 AMP charger have 100 AMP to 200 AMP main breaker panels – so that would be a lot of load for the house. It is very typical to update that panel to either a 200 or a 400 AMP panel to handle the additional needs of an electric vehicle.

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