Author Topic: Questions for electrician Mustachians  (Read 4166 times)

MoneyCat

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Questions for electrician Mustachians
« on: June 24, 2016, 08:50:56 AM »
I just had a visit from an electrician because the power went out in my garage when I plugged our wood chipper into the exterior garage outlet. I don't do my own electrical work because I'm worried about the danger of working with this kind of stuff. Ends up the breaker for that circuit melted inside the panel, so the electrician switched it out, but he said other breakers were also beginning to melt, because this type of panel is notorious for these kinds of problems. He also said the panel is far too small for our house's needs. It's only a 125A panel (Crouse Hinds Type F panelboard, Class ctl panelboard) and he says our load is far too much for it, so he needs to replace it with a larger panel.

We also wanted to install a 240V NEMA 14-50 outlet in the garage to install a Type 2 charger for my wife's plug-in hybrid car. We eventually plan to replace the car with an EV in a few years so at that point a Type 2 charger will be essential. The electrician says a larger panel would be necessary to do that, because the current panel wouldn't be able to handle it, since he would have to run a 50a line to the garage to handle an EV.

I'm not very knowledgeable about this kind of stuff. Can anybody tell me if this guy is snowing me or is he legit? We're talking about a $3000 job so I want to make sure I'm informed about this.

neo von retorch

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2016, 09:11:51 AM »
I cannot speak to the price, but I do believe most modern houses run 200A systems. (My own house is only 100A, and it's doing just fine, but we don't have a plug-in hybrid or electric heat/central air. We do have an electric stove and dryer, microwave and about 50 light bulbs. Maybe slight exaggeration. Slight, though.)

http://www.fixr.com/costs/install-electrical-circuit-panel-upgrade
Quote
The average cost for a 200 amp upgrade is going to be from $1300 to $3000 (including materials).
(Looks like 200A isn't necessarily the de facto standard yet after all! My old house had a 200A breaker box and a separate 60A one. Spoiled!)

I'd get a competitive quote or two.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2016, 09:13:33 AM »
I just had a 20-amp line installed for a Level 2 Charger. It's obviously not the fastest L2 charger but it definitely works - it's the ClipperCreek LCS-25.

Spork

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2016, 09:28:07 AM »

Quote
The average cost for a 200 amp upgrade is going to be from $1300 to $3000 (including materials).
(Looks like 200A isn't necessarily the de facto standard yet after all! My old house had a 200A breaker box and a separate 60A one. Spoiled!)


I'm going to guess here, but I bet the 60A hangs off of the 200A.  In other words: you still really would just have 200A service, but have lots of room for circuit breakers.  (I might be wrong... just what I've seen done around these parts).

To the OP: I am not an electrician.  I don't know prices.  But with good advice from knowledgeable people, electrical work isn't all that hard.  20 years ago, I wouldn't touch electric or gas.  Now I don't really have issues with either.  I don't always know enough to make intelligent decisions on my own, but I have several electrician friends (plus folks online) I can bounce questions off of. 

Fishindude

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2016, 09:32:33 AM »
I'm no electrician, just a contractor but sounds legit to me, and price isn't horrible.

I had a very similar situation.  Old outdated pushmatic breakers going bad, panel undersized, etc. and got it all reworked.
Old homes didn't have the electrical requirements we have today, so many older electrical services are undersized.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2016, 09:34:24 AM by Fishindude »

neo von retorch

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2016, 10:38:45 AM »
Spork
I'm not 100% sure - may be right, but the 60A was specifically there for a tanning bed, as the basement had been used by a hairdresser as a business, so it might have been truly separate. After all, they are separated by 40 feet (though I'm sure conduit would connect them just fine.)

I'd also hesitate to recommend DIY when it comes to messing with the line coming into the house. My house inspector went over that with us - while doing work from the breaker in can be done with reasonable precautions, the line into the breaker is a bit of a different animal. Also - you have to be sure the utility has 200A capable line running to the house in the first place. If not, they have to update that before you can do anything about the breaker system.

Spork

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2016, 10:58:00 AM »
Spork
I'm not 100% sure - may be right, but the 60A was specifically there for a tanning bed, as the basement had been used by a hairdresser as a business, so it might have been truly separate. After all, they are separated by 40 feet (though I'm sure conduit would connect them just fine.)

I'd also hesitate to recommend DIY when it comes to messing with the line coming into the house. My house inspector went over that with us - while doing work from the breaker in can be done with reasonable precautions, the line into the breaker is a bit of a different animal. Also - you have to be sure the utility has 200A capable line running to the house in the first place. If not, they have to update that before you can do anything about the breaker system.

You can pull the meter to work on things upstream of the breaker panel.  You'll probably want to have the electric company do this... though around here they seem really lackadaisical with their meter seals.

I'm not recommending anyone do anything they're absolutely uncomfortable with.  I'm just saying with a little research and talking to folks in the know, it's not as awful as it looks.

I replaced the feed from the meter to my workshop panel (though back then, it was "my house").  I had an electrician buddy that lived a couple hours away tell me what to do to prepare.  I bought all the materials.  I dug and placed the conduit.  He showed up and held my hand through it and I filled the bed of his pickup with free firewood.

jda1984

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2016, 12:52:21 PM »
Around here that price for upgrading from 100A to 200A sounds about right.  It probably involves running new mains to the meter and breaker box.

I had a breaker box replaced a few years back and didn't upgrade capacity.  It was about $150 for the breakers and box and another ~$200 for the labor to do it. 

MoneyCat

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2016, 07:16:13 PM »
Just got the estimate from the electrician. He wants $3100 to install a 150A panel to replace the 125A panel. He wants $1700 to run a 50A line to the garage to install a 240V outlet for the car. He also wants $800 to install a dedicated 20A line for my freezer. This does not include the price of permits.

Um, no. Next.


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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2016, 11:41:27 PM »
Those Crouse Hinds Type F breakers are trash and a fire hazard.

http://www.absoluteelectric.net/2012/01/04/sylvania-crouse-hinds/

No way you should go from 125A to 150A panel. Assuming your service drop is up to it (and it likely is) go straight to a 200A panel. Above 200A, you would likely need to upgrade your service drop (the wires from the pole to the meter).

Disclaimer: I am not an electrician.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2016, 04:54:16 AM »
I really don't get why he wants to put in 50A to the car. That just isn't needed for Level 2 charging.

Also, hard wired chargers are slightly cheaper than ones with plugs.

MoneyCat

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2016, 09:46:44 AM »
Those Crouse Hinds Type F breakers are trash and a fire hazard.

http://www.absoluteelectric.net/2012/01/04/sylvania-crouse-hinds/

No way you should go from 125A to 150A panel. Assuming your service drop is up to it (and it likely is) go straight to a 200A panel. Above 200A, you would likely need to upgrade your service drop (the wires from the pole to the meter).

Disclaimer: I am not an electrician.

Thanks for the info. That struck me as really odd too that he didn't want to upgrade to something more significant like 200A.


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MoneyCat

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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2016, 09:47:51 AM »
I really don't get why he wants to put in 50A to the car. That just isn't needed for Level 2 charging.

Also, hard wired chargers are slightly cheaper than ones with plugs.

I thought about hard wiring, but my line of thinking is that we could possibly stay current with technology if we could set up the charging station so it could easily be swapped out without having to call in another electrician.


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Re: Questions for electrician Mustachians
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2016, 08:34:52 AM »
I really don't get why he wants to put in 50A to the car. That just isn't needed for Level 2 charging.

Also, hard wired chargers are slightly cheaper than ones with plugs.

I thought about hard wiring, but my line of thinking is that we could possibly stay current with technology if we could set up the charging station so it could easily be swapped out without having to call in another electrician.

Assuming that the cost difference is minimal, I think it is very wise to go with 50A to your car. You'll be more likely to meet the minimum requirements for future fast chargers.

 

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