How Many Watts Can a 200 Amp Panel Handle?
A 200 amp electrical panel is a must for homes with modern amenities, including dishwashers, electric stoves, and multimedia entertainment centers. But every appliance, device, or light you plug in has a rated amperage. Knowing how this translates into watts can help determine which ones are safe to run. Here, we’ll answer the question, “how many watts can a 200 amp panel handle?”
A 200 Amp Panel Supports up to 48,000 Watts
To determine how many watts a 200 amp panel can handle, use this formula: Volts x Amps = Watts. For example, if you’re using 120 volts, multiply that by 200 amps to get 24,000 watts; 240 volts x 200 amps equals 48,000 watts. Given the variability in voltage drop, which can be up to 3%, your household wattage can range from 44,600 to 48,000 watts.
It’s not recommended you run your electrical system at full capacity. This is where the 80% rule comes in. The demand on a 200 amp panel should not exceed 160 amps. In wattage, this equals 32,000 watts, so this is where you should cap the total load of your electrical circuits. And if you use more, then even a 200 amp panel may need to be upgraded.
The National Electric Code (NEC) requires an electric panel to be at least 100 amps.
More About Watts vs. Amps
A watt is a unit of measurement. Comparable to an inch, gram, or ounce, it is a unit of power. A certain amperage can handle a certain number of watts, but you can’t convert from one to the other. That’s because an amp is a measure of the rate of electrical flow, sort of like a speed gauge. A volt is another form of measurement that refers to the pressure of electricity flow.
All of this is significant because a watt is a constant. If an object or set distance measures an inch, it will always stay that way. However, amps can travel at different rates, so determine how much power a panel can handle.
Why Do I Need to Know Service Panel Capacity?
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), around 13% of home fires are caused by electrical failures and malfunctions. Electrical fires are often triggered by overloads and overheating, not to mention damaged and/or outdated wiring and panels. It’s important to always know your home’s electrical capacity. Even a 200 amp panel can be overloaded; circuit breakers should kick in when this happens to reduce the fire hazard.
Exceeding electrical capacity can cause:
- Wiring to overheat, wear out, and ignite.
- Major appliances to overheat and catch fire.
- Electrical panel damage, making it unusable.
- Lights to dim when turning on appliances.
- Wall plates to become hot or discolored.
- A panel box to make buzzing, crackling, or sizzling sounds.
- Breakers to trip or fuses to blow frequently.
- A tingling sensation or mild shock from touching switches and appliances.
In adding up your home’s total wattage, it helps to know what some appliances draw. 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.
The wattage varies based on the amps used. Since breaker sizes can vary, so can amperage, so always factor in the types of circuit breakers installed. Most breakers work the same way. But they can be 120-volt one-pole circuit breakers, 240-volt two-pole breakers, or arc fault, ground fault, or dual function breakers.
How Many Watts Can My 200 Amp Panel Handle?
At Express Electrical Services, our licensed Los Angeles electricians install and upgrade service panels across Southern California. We know how to properly determine your home’s electrical requirements and whether you need a 200 amp panel upgrade. Oftentimes, this is the case when you install a new air conditioner, refrigerator, or hot tub. Our team is also available 24/7 for emergencies and responds in 60 to 90 minutes. Call 323-727-7799 to request assistance.