200 Amp Service Upgrade Frequently Asked Questions

Please take a look at the common questions we get from customers during estimate appointments.  If you have any questions not listed here, please email them to use today and we’ll add them in.

Some of the Most Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How do I know what size electrical service I need for my single family home?

A: It really depends on what electrical loads you plan to add to your home. Electricians calculate the needed service size using what is called a load calculation.  This takes into account the square footage of the home plus the electric appliances.  These numbers are added up and some demand factors are applied.  Our electrical code assumes that all appliances / receptacles / lights will NEVER be used at the same time.   This makes sense, right?  When is the last time you had every light on in your home, used every outlet, with your microwave on, your dishwasher running, washer / dryer running, fridge running, garage doors opening, every burner on your electric range on etc. etc.?

Once every current and future electric load is added up, we come up with a total load and base the electrical service on that number.  For most customers in single family homes a 200 amp service is the largest size needed.  This will cover all the usual electric appliances with central air and EV charging.  For really large homes with multiple central air conditioning systems a 400 amp service may be needed.

Q: Will it be cheaper to have a 150 amp service installed instead of a 200 amp service?

A: First off, a 150amp is an odd size and not common at all.  We run into 150amp services occasionally, they are always quite old. 

Today it would make zero sense to install a 150 amp service instead of a 200 amp.  Why?  The labor will be exactly the same to install the two.  The only difference will be a slightly smaller wire, and a different electrical panel.  The cost savings between the two would be roughly $50.00 for most homes.  With the growing demand for electrical power in homes it’s best to go with a 200amp service for the long term.

Q: How about a 100 amp service? Can I get by with one and how much will I save?

A: Just like the 150amp service, a 100amp service involves the same labor.  Every electrical service upgrade involves installing the same items, a panel, meter socket, wiring, breakers, ground rods etc.  The only difference between the two are different size wiring.

Some homes if they have all gas appliances (gas range, gas water heater) can get by just fine with a 100amp service. Where it will be dicey is if you add central air and electric vehicle charging down the road.  EV chargers can draw upwards of 48 amps by themselves!  There is no demand factor on EV chargers so imagine having a 48 amp charger on your 100 amp service.  While the charger is running you would be left with 52amps to run the rest of the house.

To give some perspective, the cost difference to install a 100 amp service vs a 200 amp service is $350 for most homes.  You be the judge if that savings is worth it.

Q: My electrician wants to install SE cable instead of PVC on the outside of my house, is this ok?

A: SE Cable is code compliant but looked at as an inferior way to install the exterior part of the electrical service.  The SE cable would be installed between the meter socket and overhead drop (where the electric companies street wires touch your house). 

The issue with SE cable installations is it’s a cable, with no other protection from the elements.  These cables over time will leak water into your meter socket and electrical panel if great care is not taken to seal them.  Even for professional electricians it can be hard to seal these cables for a long-term result.

Using PVC will ensure a tight seal that will never leak water.  It does however involve more effort (labor) to install.  The reason many electricians use SE cable for electrical services is simple: It saves them time / makes them more money!

One caveat – There are times when an SE cable is only option.  This is on homes when the overhead riser needs to take lots of turns, different angles and transition to multiple planes where bending the PVC to accommodate all of this is impossible. 

Q: Are there any new electrical codes related to 200 amp single-family service upgrades?

A: Yes there are two major ones.  First an emergency disconnect is required outside of the house.  This allows your power to be easily turned off outside (usually within the meter socket) by flipping a circuit breaker.  The purpose of this is for emergency personnel – if you ever had a fire in your home, the fire department can turn of the power off before entering the house.

Another change to our electrical code was the requirement of a whole house surge protector when upgrading your electrical service.  These devices go inside the panel (like a circuit breaker) or on the outside of it.  They should help to protect your electronic devices from fluctuations in electricity (voltage that goes up and down) from your power company.

It’s a common misconception that a whole house surge protector will protect your home from a lighting strike.  Lightning is incredibly strong and a device like this will not protect it from a direct hit. 

Q: My electrician was asking where my water meter is located. What does a water meter have to do with an electrical service upgrade?

A; Ha! Yes, customers are always confused when I ask to see their water meter during an estimate for a 200 amp service upgrade.  They give you this confused look and ask, but why?  If your home has metal water piping, it must be bonded to the electrical system.  This is one of the most critical connections in a home electrical because without it, there is the potential for your water to become live with electricity!  Scary stuff right! If your home has plastic water piping coming in from the street / going through your home, there is nothing to bond in this case or concern for the live water situation.  Here in the Northeast, most homes have meter water piping from the street unless they are newer builds.

Q: Will I be without power during the installation of my electrical service?

A: Yes and no.  Of course, the power must be cut to install the new electrical service, but some provisions can be made for temp power during that time.  We always connect a temp power panel with outlets to the electrical service coming from the street.  This allows some extension cords to be used to power things within the home like your fridge, internet etc.

For most single family 200 amp service upgrades, power will be out for 6-7 hours on average.

Q: Will my electrical panel be labeled after installation?

A: Yes! Our electrical code requires that we mark / label the new panel we install. 

If you are thinking of having your electrical service upgraded to 200 amps or have any other questions related to your upgrade, Contact us today!

Schedule a Free Estimate

Google customer reviews checkmark
Yelp Logo

Ask About Our 0% Financing for 18 months

Kuhlman, It's Electric

Electricians who specialize in working in homes just like yours

*Kuhlman’s office is open Monday to Friday 8AM to 5PM.