Everything You Need To Know About 200-Amp Electrical Panels

Everything You Need to Know About a 200 Amp Panel

The condition of your electrical panel can impact the function of your appliances and the overall safety of your home. At Express Electrical Services in Southern California, we recommend updating to a 200-amp electrical panel if you haven’t already done so. 

The Open Energy Monitor website notes that a large Southern California home will likely use around 156 amps continuously, but modern refrigerators, air conditioners, and luxuries such as hot tubs demand a lot of power. An updated panel allows you to safely use more appliances in your home. 

When Should I Upgrade My Electrical Panel?

The older your electrical system is, the more problems it may have. Express Electrical Services specializes in updating old knob and tube wiring — but even if you have standard home wiring, it may need replacement after 40 or 50 years. These are key indicators that you should upgrade your service panel:

  • Appliances aren’t working at full capacity
  • Lights throughout your home flicker and dim
  • You don’t have enough outlets to meet demand
  • Electrical outlets appear damaged or worn out
  • Your electrical panel is corroded or unusually warm
  • You’re planning to remodel your home

Upgrading your electrical panel will increase your home’s safety, improve capacity for large appliances and smart home technology, and make your electricity usage more efficient while decreasing electrical maintenance costs. 

How Many Breakers Are in a 200 Amp Panel?

If you’re using single-pole breakers, a 200-amp electrical panel will typically have 40 to 42 slots. When double pole breakers are used, the unit will have 20 slots. Depending on the amperage of the appliances used in your home, using too many at once may overload the system. For example, it’s possible to have 300 amps worth of breakers if you don’t use them all at once. The general rule is to limit the amount of power flowing through the panel to a total of 160 amps.

Some signs of an overloaded electrical panel include:

  • Lights dim randomly, especially when you turn on other fixtures or appliances
  • Switches or outlets emit a buzzing sound, feel hot, or have a burning smell
  • Appliances run slower or faster than usual
  • Breakers frequently trip, shutting down power to certain parts of the house suddenly, with a loud clicking sound

When setting up 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!).

Use a 20-amp breaker for outlets and most appliances, including 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, and calculate the loads of each to determine the total required capacity and number of breakers in your panel.

If you are not an experienced electrician, hiring a professional electrical service is the best bet when calculating your circuit breaker requirements. Electrical work should always be done by qualified technicians.

Tips for Calculating Electrical Load

Follow these steps to calculate the total load for your 200-amp box:

  1. Count the total watts needed for each circuit; this includes the wattage for all connected appliances and light fixtures.
  2. Add up the wattage of toasters, dryers, and large, heavy-duty appliances, especially those with motors or heating elements.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 the areas that are using power. If you need to cut the power to your shed, for example, you can accomplish this quickly without going back to the main panel. Another benefit of sub-panels is less voltage drop over long distances, as large wires are used to serve sub-panels.

Can I Install a 200-Amp Electrical Panel Myself?

200 amps is a lot of electricity, and installing an electric panel yourself can be very dangerous. There are also many complex aspects to this project, including working with electrical wiring, coordinating with the utility company, and obtaining a permit to ensure your home is up to code. Once completed, the work must pass inspection before the utility company can restore your electricity. Contact licensed professional for electrical installation

Hiring a professional electrician will keep you safe from shocks, burns, and electrocution. The experts at Express Electrical Services take care of all of the key installation components.

At Express Electrical Services, we offer comprehensive electrical services for all of your installation, remodeling, and upgrading needs. Our reliable team will take care of the permitting and paperwork, making the process as easy as possible for you.

Express Electrical Services Offers Expert Panel Upgrading

At Express Electrical Services, we offer free consultations with a full home evaluation to determine the right type of panel for your home. We’ll handle all of the planning, permit requisition, and replacement to safely upgrade your electrical panel

If you’re ready to upgrade to a 200-amp electrical panel or you require other electrical services in the Los Angeles area and other parts of Southern California, contact us at (855) 590-8785 or request service online today. We guarantee our work will be completed to your satisfaction by a trained and licensed technician.