Everything You Need to Know About a 200 Amp Panel

The condition of your electrical panel can impact the function of appliances and the overall safety of your home. At Express Electrical Services, we recommend updating to a 200 amp panel if you haven’t already done so. Modern refrigerators, air conditioners, and luxuries such as hot tubs demand a lot of power. With an updated panel, a 100-amp service load can be easily handled, while branch circuits can be added as well.

When Should I Upgrade My Electrical Panel?

It’s a known fact that the older your electrical system is, the more problems it may have. We specialize in updating knob and tube wiring, but even if you have standard home wiring, it may need replacement after 40 or 50 years. There are also key indicators that you should upgrade your service panel sooner rather than later, including:

  • Appliances that aren’t working at full capacity.
  • Lights throughout your home flicker and dim.
  • Not enough outlets to meet demand.
  • Outlets appear damaged or worn out.
  • The panel is corroded or unusually warm.
  • You’re planning to remodel your home.

How Many Breakers Are in a 200 Amp Panel?

If you’re using single-pole breakers, the panel will typically have 40 to 42 slots. When double pole breakers are used, the unit will have 20 slots. Not all the slots will be available to use. If the total load from all your home’s circuits is near 200 amps, then adding more circuits can overload it. However, you could have, for example, 300 amps worth of breakers, but not use them all at once. A general rule is to limit the amount of power flowing through the panel to a total of 160 amps.

When setting up the circuit breakers, you’ll need to know the amount of current each breaker will have. This requires some calculations. A 15-amp breaker is fine for light fixtures; you can install 30 x 50-watt bulbs on that circuit. However, each circuit breaker should be limited to a single room (it’s not likely you’ll need 30 bulbs for one room!).

You should use a 20-amp breaker for outlets and for most appliances. These include computers, televisions, and phones. A 20-amp breaker can support two rooms if the outlets there don’t exceed 16 amps. Add separate circuits for each HVAC unit, electric range, or water heater; calculate the loads of each to determine the total required capacity and number of breakers in your panel.

 Tips for Calculating Electrical Load

You don’t need to be an electrician to calculate the load. To calculate the total load for your 200-amp box:

  • Count the total watts needed for each circuit; this includes the wattage for all connected appliances and light fixtures.
  • Add up the wattage of toasters, dryers, and large, heavy-duty appliances, especially those with motors or heating elements.
  • Determine the total watts needed for the entire circuit; then subtract 10,000, multiply the number by 0.4, and add 10,000. Now you can add the watts used by your AC or heater.
  • Divide the total wattage by 240 volts, as most houses have single-phase service, to get the total amp load requirement.

When Do I Need a Sub Panel?

If you run out of room for breakers, you can add a sub-panel elsewhere in your home. A sub-panel is often installed in home additions, remodeled kitchens, garages, workshops, and garden sheds. Connected to the main panel, it makes circuit breakers accessible to where the power is being used. If you need to cut the power to your shed, for example, this can be done quickly without going back to the main panel. Another benefit is less voltage drop over long distances, as large wires are used to serve sub-panels.

Can I Install a 200 Amp Panel Myself?

Installing an electric panel yourself can be very dangerous. After all, 200 amps is a lot of electricity! Contact an electrician for installation as there are many aspects to the project; it includes a lot of work with electrical wiring, coordinating with the utility company, and obtaining a permit to ensure your home is up to code. The completed work must pass inspection before the utility company can restore your electricity.

Contact Express Electrical Services

Our licensed technicians upgrade electrical panels and provide rewiring, repair, and electrical component and appliance installation work throughout Southern California. We’re known for same-day service, 24/7 availability for emergencies, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Specials are available to help you save and we also offer financing options. If you’re ready to upgrade to a 200 amp panel, call 323-727-7799 or request service online today.