How Many Watts Can a 200-Amp Panel Handle?

200 amp electrical panel

Electrical rates in California are some of the highest in the country, and efficient energy use is top of mind for many LA residents. But how do you know if you are using it wisely? When every appliance, device, or light you plug in draws power, how do you know if your 200-amp electrical panel can safely and efficiently power your home? 

Understanding your electrical panel’s capacity starts with some basic understanding. It helps if you first know about watts (W), amperage (amp or A), and voltage (volts or V), and how to convert one to the other. So let’s get into it!

A 200-Amp Panel Supports up to 48,000 Watts

To determine how many watts a 200-amp panel can support, multiply your volts by amps. Volts x amps = watts. 

Most homes have a combination of single-pole 120 V breakers for general household devices like a hair dryer or TV and double-pole 240 V breakers for larger or hardwired appliances like stoves and refrigerators.

If all of the circuit breakers in your electrical panel are 120 V, multiply that by 200 amps to yield 24,000 watts. Theoretically, a 240 V breaker will support up to 48,000 watts

Your electrical system should run at a maximum of 80 percent capacity. In this way, the demand on a 200-amp panel should not exceed 160 amps and 19,200 watts up to 32,000 watts, depending on the division of 120 V and 240 V circuit breakers. 

At Express Electrical Services, we know calculating your home’s amp and watt load can be overwhelming. Having an electrical expert assess your electrical needs ensures proper calculations and the right fit for your home — our professional electricians are here to help. 

More About Watts vs. Amps

A watt is a unit of measurement, like a parsec, quart, or pound. It is the call side of the call-and-answer conversation a device in an outlet and an electrical panel have. Watts call out for energy and the electrical panel supplies it. 

  • A volt measures the force or pressure exerted on the current. 
  • An amp measures the flow or rate of the electrical current. 
  • Watts represents the amount of power used.

The electrical current flows at the specified rate (up to 200 amps) under 120 V of force from the breaker. At the outlet, the device draws a specified amount of power, a 5 W light bulb, for example. 

Why Do I Need to Know My Service Panel Capacity?

For safety reasons, you should know the electrical capacity of your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), around 13% of home fires are caused by electrical failures and malfunctions. Overloads and overheating are the primary triggers of electrical fires, but damaged and outdated wiring and panels also play a role. Even a 200-amp panel can be overloaded.

Signs of an overloaded electrical system are:

  • Frequently tripped breakers or blown fuses
  • Wiring overheats, wears out, or ignites
  • Major appliances overheat and catch fire
  • Electrical panel damage
  • Dimming lights when you turn on appliances
  • Hot or discolored wall plates
  • A buzzing, crackling, or sizzling sound comes from the panel box
  • You feel tingling sensation or mild shock from touching switches and appliances

The wattage varies based on the amps used. Since breaker sizes and amperage can vary, always inspect the types of circuit breakers in your panel box and note the amp of each.

Most breakers work the same way — they control the power output to the circuit and grid outlets. They can be a 120-volt single-pole circuit, a 240-volt double-pole, standard, arc fault, ground fault, dual function, or smart breakers. The licensed electricians at Express Electrical Services can quickly and easily calculate your service panel capacity. We service Los Angeles and parts of the Southern California area.

Common High-Wattage Appliances

In adding up your home’s total wattage, it helps to know what some appliances draw. Energy vampires like cell phone chargers, smart bulbs, and microwaves continue to draw power even when not in use, though it is usually a small amount compared to big-draw appliances. Examples of those that pull the most wattage include:

  • Heat pump: 60 amps / 14,440 watts
  • Electric range: 50 amps / 12,000 watts
  • Air conditioner: 35 amps / 8,400 watts
  • Electric furnace: 35 amps / 8,400 watts
  • Electric tank water heater: 30 amps / 7,200 watts
  • EV charger: 30 to 50 amps / 7,200 watts / 240-volt outlet

How to Calculate Your Home’s Power Draw

On each appliance or device, there is a sticker or note that displays the volt, watt, and amp rating of that device, represented by a number followed by a V (volts), W (watts), and A (amps). If there is no A rating, divide the watts by the volts.

Calculate your home’s power draw by adding up the ratings of your most high-draw appliances and commonly used devices. Don’t forget your lighting. A lamp will have two ratings — the light bulb and the lamp. LED ENERGY SAVERS typically have a lower number than incandescent bulbs, usually between 5 W and 20 W. 

If you have a heat pump, electric range, electric tank water heater, and an EV charger, your home’s base draw is 170 amps when everything is on and running. That’s already over the 160 amp recommended limit of 80 percent capacity, without running the washer or dryer.

Electrical panel upgrades are often needed when you install a new air conditioner, EV charger, or hot tub. 

Is a 200-Amp Panel Enough?

At Express Electrical Services, our licensed Los Angeles electricians install and upgrade service panels across Southern California. We can assess your home’s electrical requirements and advise on whether a 200-amp panel is enough. Our experts can also advise on potential tax credits for ENERGY STAR electrical upgrades. 

Book an appointment online or contact us for professional assistance with the electrical panel in your home. Our team is available 24/7 for emergencies and responds in 60 to 90 minutes, giving you the peace of mind that expert help is on your side.