Do I Need To Go From 100 Amp to 200 Amp Electric Service In My House?
It’s recommended to upgrade from 100 amp to 200 amp electrical service in homes. 100 amp still works and is safe, but often can’t keep up with today’s home electricity usage demands. And, upgrading means less chance of an electrical failure or fire.
The more devices and appliances you have, the more amperage you need. And today, we use more electronics than ever before.
100-amp service was common starting in the 1960s. 200-amp service first became popular in the 80s and has since become the standard for new homes and renovations.
You may have never had a problem if your older home has 100 amp service. Maybe, at most, the lights would dim in a room where you plugged in too many devices.
Or, you never had central air conditioning (more on that later).
But, upgrading prepares you for future use and increases your home’s resale value. And it makes your home safer.
Upgrades are common for older homes in Glenside, Abington, and nearby parts of Northwest Philadelphia. We’ve got a lot of old houses in the area, from century-old estates to classic suburban homes built in the 50s and 60s
If you’re considering upgrading to 200 amp service in Philly, MontCo, or Bucks County, call Your Home Solutions for a free consultation with an experienced electrician at any time at (215) 768-8102.
Or, just keep reading for now! We’ll go through everything you need to know, from how to tell what kind of panel you have to what you’ll get with an upgrade and what the work entails (and costs).
But we’ll start with the basics: What are amps, anyway, and how can you tell what your home needs?
What Is Amperage? What Are Volts And Wattage?
Your home electrical panel’s amperage is a measure of how much electricity is flowing through your wiring.
If you figure that amps represent the amount of electricity you’re getting, voltage is the current. It’s a measure of the force, or pressure, with which it flows through the wiring.
Finally, wattage measures how much electricity you use. You get the wattage by multiplying the amperage (amount of electrons coming in) by the voltage (how fast they’re going through the wiring).
Amperage Requirements For Modern Homes And Electronics
Every device or appliance in your home requires a certain number of amps to work. You could figure out your home’s amperage requirements by adding how many amps every one of your appliances, devices, or electronics use.
Here are some general numbers:
- Dryers use up to 30 amps
- Refrigerators require 10 to 20 amps
- Video game consoles draw between two and three amps
- Smart TVs use around one amp
- Cell phone and tablet chargers use between one and two amps
- Laptops use around half an amp
So, back of the napkin, running all of them at once uses around 55 amps. But that’s not accounting for everything else that’s plugged in. Or if you’re running more than one of these devices simultaneously.
That’s why your lights may dim when you plug in too many devices at once with 100-amp service. Without enough electrons flowing through the panel, you don’t have enough power to maintain everything.
Your other devices may also be powering down. But, the light bulbs give you the best visual representation of that happening.
Amperage And Central Air Conditioning
Modern central air conditioning condensers use up to 60 amps all by themselves. That would be more than half your service if you still had a 100-amp panel. As a result, no HVAC company will install an AC unless you have 200-amp service or more.
But, even if you’re not looking for central air, there are plenty of reasons to consider an upgrade.
Benefits Of Going From 100 Amp To 200 Amp Service At Home
The three main benefits of upgrading from 100 amp to 200 amp electrical service at home are:
- More Power Capacity
- Enhanced Home Safety
- Additional Circuits
More Power Capacity
We’ve already talked about this at length, but it’s worth repeating: If you’re not already maxing out with 100 amps, you probably will soon. Or the next owner will need it.
Recently, we’ve seen a lot of holdouts in older homes finally go up to 200 amps. The reason? Working from home.
Instead of being in the office all day, now one or two people are running more cell phone chargers, TVs, and laptops in the house.
Enhanced Home Safety
100 amp service is just as safe as 200 amps. But, if you’re almost at max capacity, you increase the chances of tripping breakers or having an electrical fire break out.
Related: How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Breaker?
And, a 100-amp panel is likely pretty old. That means there’s more of a chance you’ll run into electrical problems sooner or later just from normal wear and tear.
Most electrical panels last between 25 and 40 years. If yours is older than 25, we recommend you at least get it inspected. That way, you’re confident your home is not at risk of an electrical fire from a bad panel.
A 200-amp panel will have more slots available than an older 100 or 110-amp service. That gives you (and your electrician) more wiring options.
You’ll avoid tripping a breaker with too many things drawing power from one circuit with more circuits available. It’s especially useful if you’re now using a home office or workshop with lots of power tools.
And it sets you up for expansion and renovation. For instance, today’s building standards require electricians to place outlets every six feet in a room. Older homes have maybe just one or two.
That doesn’t mean you automatically have to add more outlets to an older home. But, you may need more of them depending on the number of electronics you’re using now. Or if you’re planning to renovate.
What Is Involved In Upgrading To 200 Amp Service?
Upgrading to 200 amp service usually takes one day for an experienced electrician with a two-person crew. You’ll lose power for a little while, but not too long. The time (and cost) goes up if they need to replace old wiring.
But, if everything’s good, the process is straightforward: They’ll cut the power, disconnect the old panel, and wire up the new one.
At that point, they can add more circuits to spread out the load requirements. But, you should discuss that before they start working. That way they know if you’ve had any problems they should address.
Finally, they’ll inspect and double-check everything, ensure it’s adequately grounded, turn the power back on, and confirm everything’s working correctly.
What Does It Cost To Upgrade From 100 Amp Service To A 200 Amp Panel?
Upgrading your electrical panel to 200 amp service typically costs between $1,000 and $3,000. It depends on the size of your home, the condition of the existing wiring, and the cost to pull permits.
Electrician In Glenside, PA, And Surrounding Areas
Your Home Solutions has provided electrician services in Glenside, PA, and surrounding areas since 2008. Our team has nearly a century of combined experience in upgrades, emergency repairs, rewiring, and more. Call us at (215) 768-8102 and talk to a live electrician right away.