Too Many Amps?

Pooh BearNovember 19, 2006

This is a direct quote of something in the

December issue of Popular Mechanics.

What do y'all think of their answer.

I saw this and was curious about it.

Pooh Bear


Too Many Amps?

My 200-amp electrical panel box has 400 amps' worth of circuit breakers. Is this safe?

Yes. It's better to have many individual circuits than fewer circuits with larger electrical loads. Also, not every circuit will be energized at the same time, and it's unlikely that they will see the full load for which they are rated.

For example, a 120-volt, 15-amp branch circuit that provides power to four lighting fixtures, each of which has a 150-watt bulb, uses only 5 amps.

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Sounds good to me.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 10:08PM
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Yup, dead on except for one fact. He says not all circuits will be "energized". I think he meant to say "will not have a load", or current applied. Perhaps he was simply "dumbing it down" to a lay person's level.
No offense meant to any lay persons.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 11:07PM
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Ron Natalie

...or loaded up to the breaker capacity.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 10:38AM
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"Energized" sounded good to me, but then I was watching a Star Trek marathon at the time...the old ones are still the best and I remember them from their first run.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 11:18AM
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Pooh Bear

Ok, I was just curious.

I remember a discussion from last year about amps of service
and from what I read you have two wires coming in from the pole
and for 200 amp service each line is capable of 200 amps.
Making the breaker box capable of 400 amps worth of breakers.
Is this relevant to this post in any way.
Such that what if instead of 400 amps worth of breakers,
It was 200 amp service with 500 amps worth of breakers.

Just curious is all.


Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 7:59PM
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No, not relevant or accurate. Sorry.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 9:08PM
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Pooh Bear

Not accurate? Could you elaborate?

It was a post on this forum and the general consensus was
that each line from the pole was able to provide 200 amps.
That was my understanding. (but I got fluff for brains).

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 10:48PM
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Yes, a 200 amp service is capable of delivering 200 amps per leg.
A 200 amp residential service is 200 amps at 240v. Or the equivalent of 400 amps @ 120v.
More precisely 48,000 watts worth of power.

This is NOT a "breaker box capable of 400 amps worth of breakers."
The sum of the breaker is of NO consequence. It is not uncommon to have 600-800 amps worth of breakers in a 200 amp panel.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 11:20PM
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Pooh Bear

Wow, interesting info.
I really didn't know any of this.
It does make more sense to me now, tho.

In the house I grew up in we had an electric heat pump, electric water heater, electric kitchen stove, electric clothes dryer, and I had several 220 outlets in a workshop. Now I don't know exactly what all those pull in amps but I would guess it pushes the 200 amp limit. And then add in all the 110v loads. And it's not inconceivable that all that could have been running at the same time. It's an interesting thought to ponder. (to me anyway).

Thanks for explaining it.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 12:49AM
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