Replacing Electric Panel 200 amps

zargunnAugust 13, 2014

We have gotten a few estimates for replacing the old panel. Anything we need to consider or ask the contractors before we pick which one to use? Or is it safe to just go with the lowest bidder, assuming they are all licensed? Would appreciate any advice!

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Why are you replacing the existing panel? (its not the sort of thing one usually swaps out for fun or fashion) That might dictate what questions to ask.

Generally if you use a real electrician and have it permitted and inspected (required where I live, anyway) you should be OK. Based on experience it's worth asking them to put a level on the box before screwing it to the wall.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 4:05PM
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Many thanks, rwiegand. The old panel in the recently bought house is super-old and rusty and our home inspector really recommended swapping it. Yeah, I don't want to drop almost 2K just for the fun of it :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 4:39PM
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Ron Natalie


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:10AM
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The real electricians will have advice on brands, I'd suggest getting one that is not obscure in your area, with a wide variety of breakers available. I was distressed to find that the C-H subpanel put in my shop can't accept 220v tandem half inch breakers so now I'm out of slots and looking at adding a sub-sub panel if I want to keep my bigger machines isolated on their own circuits.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 3:53PM
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Ron Natalie

There was a 42 pole limit in the code for panels and most that can't accept tandems/skinnies are because they were designed to not exceed that limit through a variety of usually mecanical means.

This was removed from the code a few revisions back but lots of those restricted panels still exist.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 10:02AM
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When we did our 200 amp heavy up the electrician used a Square D QO panel (not the Homeline you see at many home stores) because the old panel used QO breakers. The Square D QO line seem to be reliable panels, with a good reputation for reliability, and breakers are easy to find. However, YMMV.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 4:43PM
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Ron Natalie

QO was pretty much the standard in my commercial work and I have it one of my houses. I've got GE in the other becasue that's what's easily available locally. I kind of like GE's "thin" breakers rather than the tandems in Square D.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:45PM
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I got a QO about 5 years ago. $2,400 replace panel in MPLS.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 3:09PM
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Ron Natalie

Sounds about right. Note that different areas have different rates, but around here (Northern VA) a panel replacement alone (no service upgrade or other work) probably runs around $2000.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 6:38AM
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I had my panel upgraded to 200 amp QO in 2013 (house in Northern VA) and a local semi-retired electrician did the job for $1850, including the permit. The initial estimates I got were about $2200-2300, however, the guy was working a commercial job in the area and he gave me a break because it was easy for him to add my job to his schedule.

Also remember that the panel upgrade is not the end of the upgrade process. I've gone through a kitchen renovation that added a lot of circuits, added central AC, and added dedicated circuits for bathroom GFCI, bath heater/fan, and exterior GFCI outlets. It seems to never end.

I've also stripped out all the accessible two-wire flexible metal conduit and replaced it with new NM-B cable. I still have a few old runs with no way to replace them through access from the basement or attic, but they are only being used for lighting circuits.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:26AM
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For a duplex we own and rent out, one half we were fixing up and were planning on replacing the oil furnace with a heat pump/central air, and planning to install an electric dryer hookup. So the electric service needed to be upgraded from 100 amps to 200 amps which required a new larger service drop, since there a single 200 amp service for the entire structure.

The electrician we hired explained that we'd need a new main panel, two new meter/disconnect panels, and a new 200 amp subpanel in the location where the 100 amp fuse panel was.

I think the total for material and labor was around $1500

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:20PM
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