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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK guys, I live in a 50 year old home and the paltry 100 amp service is making our lives miserable. We trip the **** out of it every day, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day. We have to upgrade and will be having our electrician up this week to talk about what to do.


So what advice do you electrical experts have for me? We want to do this once and have 2 grand for the job. This is being done under the table and I already know it will cost less than 2 grand, no matter what, so we are hoping to have some other wiring down in the basement for the future home theater.


What kind of service should we get no? Anything I need to avoid?


I have read that a projector should really have a direct link to the electrical box called (if memory serves) a home run. True? We can wire for that now, since we know where the projector will go.


Thanks for your help.
 

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Put in the largest service you can get (250A, 300A, etc.). 2 20amp lines should be more than adequate for even large theaters. If you wanted to go crazy you could add more lines (keep in mind that the breakers & wire from the service panel are not cheap).
 

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If you keep blowing circuit breakers, chances are that all the outlets in your home theater are connected to the same breaker or perhaps just two.


You might not need a completely new service panel and cable running to the meter. All you need is a few empty slots where additional breakers can be added to run more circuits to serve your theater. The greatest expense is drilling into walls to run the cables. The cables themselves are 12 gauge for 20 amp. circuits, about the same cost as economy speaker wire of the same gauge, actually less expensive in most cases.


A subpanel can be connected to the existing service panel and served by the same main (master) breaker if you ran out of slots to add more breakers. They also make thin breakers for some models of service panels, two breakers that fit in the slot normally occupied by one. This does not add too much expense.


You can even install a second service panel with its own main breaker so you don't have to tear out the first. Both can be fed by the same line going out to the meter. I wouldn't do this unless I have electric heat or have overloading problems blowing breakers all over, not just in the home theater. If you need more than 100 amps you may need to have a new line run to the meter and out to the street, still more expense.


I haven't heard the term "home run" but normally, electrical outlets are daisy chained. To complicate matters, nowadays electricians do'nt screw the wires to make connections but rather just push them into little holes in each outlet or switch. (Does your amp have spring clips rather than screw on speaker wire connections?) This contact at least IMHO seems more likely to cause problems with aging than screw terminals. So in otyher words the outlet first in line from the circuit breaker will have a more reliable connection.


Video hints:
http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
 

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Unless you have a large house 100 amp "should" be enough to run your house. (Should is in quotes because I put in a 150 amp service to replace my 60 amp service about 4 months ago). I would definately suspect that you just have too many things on one or two circuts as Allan mentioned. (one of my freinds had a similar problem and it turned out for some reasone they had the refrigerator, freezer, toaster, television, stereo, air conditioner and the bathroom outlets all on one breaker, his service was plenty large enough but all of that was on a 15 amp breaker so they were always tripping it.


As far as the outlets with the holes in the back they actually seem to me like they have much better connections and I'm told by people who should know that they are much better than the screw terminals but I didn't ask why.
 

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100 amp is probably enough if you don't use electric appliances (stove, water heater, heat, dryer). The first thing to do is make a circuit map of your whole house. In other words, draw a picture of your house and include all electrical outlets and lights. Shut off one breaker.. Go around the house and figure out what got shut off. Label your drawing. Turn the breaker back on and shut the next one off.... etc. Now figure out which circuits are extremely non-load balanced. You shouldn't have a 15 amp circuit that is taxed to 15amps daily. On the other hand, you don't want a 15 amp cirucit dedicated to a couple 100 watt lights either. With a little rewiring you can bring your circuits into balance. This exercise also tells you which circuit would be best to tap into for new uses (like a home theater).


If all your circuits are pretty much maxed out, I wouldn't go any larger than 200amps. You'll never need it unless you're on all electric appliances and want to run a pool and jacuzzi. Also, keep in mind your "drop" and meter might already be rated at a higher current than your main breaker.. so you might be able to upgrade a bit without much cost.



Bobby
 

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DO NOT use the push in connectors on receptacle outlets.

They go intermittent often and I have seen heat damage as a result.

Always use the screw connectors.


Jim
 

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Your local power company should be able to tell you what size service you need for your house. Just provide them with things like, heat type, sq footage of heated/cooled area, and another big one is do you have central air or not. Central air is a killer if you do your whole house and your house is bigger than 2400sq ft. (Unless you live way up north...) If your house is smaller than that and you do not have electric heat or central air, 100 amps is fine and it is like eveyone else says...to many plugs on the same circuit...My house was wired that way back in 92' - cheap electrician, and I have been breaking up the circuits into multiple ones ever since. I had to add a sub panel, but that is not hard.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Bobby_M
On the other hand, you don't want a 15 amp cirucit dedicated to a couple 100 watt lights either.
Why?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Dynacoman
DO NOT use the push in connectors on receptacle outlets.

They go intermittent often and I have seen heat damage as a result.

Always use the screw connectors.


Jim
I think we might be reffering to different things....


The push ins that I have used push into the back of the outlet AND screw down once they are in, they are usually much more expensive than "normal" screw outlets too as they are usually labled pro or contractor grade.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A few updates: We plan on adding central air the Summer after next. Square footage of the home is about 1500. The kitchen stove is not energy efficient at all, but cannot be replaced until we remodel. We have CT Light & Power.


Our would-be electrician was up yesterday and recommended doubling our 100 amp service. Personally, I agree with that. The upstairs wiring makes sense, other than the stove not having its own circuit (it shares one with the fricken dryer!). So that will be taken care of and the downstairs, which is a wiring disaster as far as what shares what with what, will be redone.


Replacing the electric box is going to run about $1300. I don't have an estimate for the rest of the work yet, but should have on by next week. The electrician is actually husband to one of my sister's best friends and has done work for many folks I know in the past. He's an honest guy and all of this will be "under the table" to lower costs.
Quote:
you need more than 100 amps you may need to have a new line run to the meter and out to the street, still more expense.
Ouch. I'll have to ask my guy about that.


Thanks for all the advise. Anything else anyone wants to say would be appreciated. :)
 

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>>> One 15 amp. circuit handling just a few lights...


Nothing wrong with that unless there aren't enough slots for circuit breakers and other circuits are being nearly overloaded.


One thing I have done (not legal in all cities and towns) is have two cables, or circuits, (for example each handles just a few lights) going to different parts of the house connected to the same breaker. It is necessary to splice the wires into a T-joint since it is difficult if not impossible to screw both wire ends onto the one and only terminal on the breaker.


Push in connections (not requiring screwing) for outlets and switches are much faster for the electrician to make. It would be a long story to explain why I feel the connection itself is not as good as a screwed connection but in essence, the screw connection has a much greater metal to metal surface contact. Even if the wires themselves are thick enough, heating occurs at any point such as a joint in the circuit where the contact is not good and therefore the resistance is greater at that one spot, and if a lot of amperes (a high current) is flowing.
 

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On the other hand, you don't want a 15 amp cirucit dedicated to a couple 100 watt lights either.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Why?


I was referring to drastically unbalanced load between circuits. It would be silly to run a few circuits near their capacity while others are only loaded with a couple amps. There is nothing "wrong" with it if you have a 24 breaker panel, but if you've only got a 100 amp service, you'll probably only have 10-12 positions to play with.


This non-proportionate loading usually occurs when handy homeowners simply add devices onto exsisting circuits without checking the load balance on all the circuits in the house. I would rather tap into a circuit that's a little further away if it has more spare amperage than the "closer" circuit that is running at near capacity. You'll find you can really stretch your 100 amp service that way.


Of course, if you're running all your circuits to near capacity and need more.. upgrading the service is all you can do.



RE: push in connections: There are two types.. One is push-in-to lock (horrible connection). The other is a real lug that just happens to have the wire entering from behind. They are still locked down with a screw and I feel that they are a superior physical connection to wrapping it around the screw, but it's easier and safer to work with. The added cost is the only problem.


Bobby
 

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Bobby_M:


Understand what you meant.

I'm a little spoiled. I have a 200A service w/40 breaker positions and all my appliances are gas or energy efficient. Anything I add, I just run a dedicated 20A for it - Home Theater, office, garage fridge, etc..


Matt_Stevens:

Best of luck with your power service:)
 

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Gotcha Boby I didn't know they made them that JUST push in! That seems like a problem waiting to happen! We've been using the enter from behind and screw down because they seem safer to me and they are really easy to work with when doing new installs.


Phew, I was thinking I might have to return this batch of $3+ each outlets my wife told me not to buy!
 

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Most new construction seems to use the cheap push in connections, no screw terminal involved. This isn't the first time I have heard of fire hazard associated with their aging.
 

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Matt, I happen to work for NU (the parent company for CL&P) and just also happen to have written the web page where you request the 200 amp upgrade (usualy the electrican uses the web page)


If you want to know more info try here:


1-888-LIGHTCO

1-888-544-4826


These are the people that schedule the upgrades (for the CL&P work at least). If your electrician has done this before he most likley has delt with them before. They should be able to tell you the costs on the CL&P side.


Good Luck.


Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks, Brian. I owe ya one. (just not a big one) :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well here is an update on my going to 200 amp service. The new town code requirements have really put a damper on the whole thing. I'm pretty much upgraded now, but it has cost far more than I wanted to pay because they wanted a new meter outside. Plus, there was this BS about the box being "too far from the outside meter" or some such nonsense. My electrician said their code was way beyond what should have been needed.


Anyway, it cost me nearly $1600 in parts! $300 or so more than what would have been needed without the new code requirements. So that has left less $$$ for me to do other inside wiring needs. My electrician will be back this weekend, may (more on that below), to finish up a few things, but all the new wiring I wanted isn't going to happen now.


What I can afford to have done will have to wait until the damn town inspector comes in because he somehow screwed up my appointment and didn't show yesterday, thinking it was for Tuesday. The lady who makes the appointments at the town hall is the biggest b*tch in the county. She is an unreasonable, rude, nasty, dismissive... Well, I cannot print what she is. But she IS making this part of the process much harder than it needs to be. I was forced to call the Mayor's office this morning to have them intervene because the psycho ***** was hinting that she would make sure the inspection fails.


God help me. :mad:
 

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Isn't it great that your public servant, salary paid by your taxes, is so helpful and pleasant?


After you get your permit approved you ought to spend some time to make her life miserable -- an informative educational article in the local rag about your experience upgrading your electrical service, mentioning her particular assistance, might be fun. Them let her know (registered letter, copy to city attorney) that further problems could be grounds for lawsuit for harassment...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
;) Oh yes, all of the above is a possibility.
 
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