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400 amp service

Posted by noel-ireland (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 3, 10 at 20:58

I may be installing a geothermal unit in new construction. I was told I will need 400amp service.

Questions.
1. How many hot and neutral wire come from the utility company.
2. Will it be single or three phase.
3. Will I need 1-400 amp breaker box or 2-200 amp boxes.
4. Is there a lot of cost associated with a 400 amp service compared to a 200 amp service.

Any help in this would be appreciated or If you have a link to good info.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: 400 amp service

Your questions by number.
1. The utility will make that decision.
2. Almost certainly single-phase.
3. Either would comply with the NEC, but probably 2-200 amp breakers.
4. Yes.


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RE: 400 amp service

This original post is so vague it's not even funny.

WHO are you, the homeowner? Electrician? HVAC? All of the above???

WHO told you you need a 400A service?
Was a load calculation done?
How many and what size geo systems?
How big is the house?

I would think is would obvious that a 400A service would cost considerable more than a 200A service, but that's just me.


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RE: 400 amp service

The intended question about the cost may have been not whether the hardware and installation cost is more for the 400 amp service, but whether having 400 amp service costs more on the electrical bill each month, regardless of how much electricity is used.


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RE: 400 amp service

I would ask your builder "If my super-expensive geothermal heating system is supposed to reduce my energy consumption, why do I need twice as much electricity to run it?"


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RE: 400 amp service

I would ask your builder "If my super-expensive geothermal heating system is supposed to reduce my energy consumption, why do I need twice as much electricity to run it?"

Larger electrical service has come up in a couple of previous threads on geothermal systems and left me wondering the same thing.


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RE: 400 amp service

400 amp should be about $400 more than 200 amp service instal. We just built a new home with 400 amp, and it was $355 more than 200 amp. The utility company pays for the wire going to your shower head, or meterbase if underground.


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RE: 400 amp service

$355 huh? Well, in the real world it is about $1500-2000 more.

Hell, a 320/400A meter pan costs almost $355. Then you have a second 200A panel (or a single 400A panel:$$$), larger wire (MOST places the customer pays for the wire), added labor, etc.


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RE: 400 amp service

"400 amp should be about $400 more than 200 amp service instal. We just built a new home with 400 amp, and it was $355 more than 200 amp. The utility company pays for the wire going to your shower head, or meterbase if underground."

to be blunt... you have no clue what you're talking about.


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RE: 400 amp service

Has to be what hexus was talking about...

The utility company pays for the wire going to your shower head . . .


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RE: 400 amp service

"Has to be what hexus was talking about...

The utility company pays for the wire going to your shower head . . . "


woa there buddy. I didn't say it, I was quoting the post above me and stating the obvious that they didn't have a clue what they were talking about. Don't try to put that kind of "amazing" electrical advice on me :P


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RE: 400 amp service

You kidding right? I am a master electrician in the state of Wisconsin and Kentucky... Wisconsn public service pays for the wire to your weatherhead. (sorry, said showerhead...opps)- had above ground service there, and in Ketucky KU paid for the underground wire to my meter base. We have 2-200 amp service panels, the upgrade for our new house(finished in September 2009) was $355.00...

1500 to 2000 more? where do you live, your nuts right? Another Square D Home line panel is about $150, wire is about $150 from the meter to the panel, dont need any additional breakers(would have a full panel with one 200 amp, or two half full with two 200amp panels)... and an extra $55 for extra stuff... if you are charging 1500 for another 200 amp panel, and customers pay it... I dont know how you sleep at night...thats robbery!


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RE: 400 amp service

Oh great, another customer who wants to break down everything and analyze the price.

So your one job is a good model for the rest of the country? You're nuts, right??

Add to your list the wire from the utility to the meter. This varies greatly depending on distance. You conveniently for got the meter I mentioned. A 200A pan is about $50. The 320/400 is over $300. So now we are up to what, $700-$800 in added material, MINIMUM. Along with the added labor $1500 is reasonable IMO.
Break down the average 200A service into material. It's about $500-$800. I get $2200 for that job, and I sleep like a baby thank you. So does everyone else getting the same amount, because we know what it takes to run a decent legitimate business.
What do YOU do for a living? You are living in a brand new home with a high $$ goethermal system and a 400A service. Can I assume you both don't work at walmart?
Why is it that so many ignorant people question what real contractors charge, yet they are most times in business that have an even higher pay scale.

I have been doing this for over 20 years and I have been coming to these boards for almost ten. Your example is NOT, repeat NOT a real world example of this type of job.


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RE: 400 amp service

Not an electrician but want to toss my 2 cents in about the above.

It appears one contractor is billing based upon what the trafiic might bear, not what a reasoanble profit margin may be. ; sometimes you get it,, and mnay times,, you dont get your quote. Thats what the free market system is about.

I could never understand, whether its a contracor,, or any person being paid,,, they feel scrutinized when someone mentions that they are being overpaid.. Well, what do you do,, when you buy a new car?? shop for a new house?? shop for your tools??Seel legal advice?? Seek tax advice??? Shop for a plane ticket??Dont you compare and wonder why one price is so much higher than another?? Yeh, sometimes there are reasons for it..

To mebeing a laymen,, but having owned a home for over 30 years,, and somehwta knowledgeable about "quality" home improvemnet,,,, to me the price above of $1500-$2k,, seeem pretty high; even factoring in,, one of the highest cost of living states in the country..

Bottom line, some bill more aggressively than others,, sometimes you win,, many times you dont,, then its your calll or not,, whether you want to put food on your table if you find yourself too out of the touch with the market....


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RE: 400 amp service

In my area, the utility specifies which meter sockets may be installed. One of the area utilities furnishes the socket, the other requires the customer to buy it from any supplier, but it must be on the approved list. 320 amps is the largest direct reading meter used in this area. Not so long ago it was 225 amps. Anything larger than 320 amps is indirect metering with a CT cabinet. So local specifications can make price comparisons meaningless.


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RE: 400 amp service

I am a commercial electrician petey_racer...I dont do that simple single phase wiring... I do serious stuff! I work for a LARGE facility in Lexington Kentucky, no...not 600, 800, or 1000 amp 3 phase stuff, I mean SERIOUS stuff! Comming into our building is 4160...


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RE: 400 amp service

So not only are you arrogant, you are pompous as well, huh?

I guess anything less than your 4160 is for kids. Maybe I'll have my 10 year old come to work with me tomorrow and wire up some 480v switchgear.

Seriously, get a life.


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RE: 400 amp service

Well I'm the pope and work on 7200 and higher live without even gloves.

Being "tough" on the internet is fun.


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RE: 400 amp service

I guess anything less than your 4160 is for kids. Maybe I'll have my 10 year old come to work with me tomorrow and wire up some 480v switchgear.

...

Just residential 120, but I had a 14-year-old working with me on a project once. Not my idea - we were both working for his father...

... and he actually did a good job.


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RE: 400 amp service

Alright Gardenweb!

I'm going to be upgrading to 400 amp service in the next few weeks. I will gladly post exactly how much it costs me. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Whether or not this is the "real world" is up for debate


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RE: 400 amp service

"I dont do that simple single phase wiring... I do serious stuff! I work for a LARGE facility in Lexington Kentucky, no...not 600, 800, or 1000 amp 3 phase stuff, I mean SERIOUS stuff!"

Excuse me if I'm unimpressed. If you think that's going to impress anyone here, you're mistaken. It won't.

If anything, the fact that you don't regularly work with residential wiring only means that you're probably less qualified to give reliable and useful advice on a DIY forum. Some of the worst advice I've seen here over the years has come from folks doing specialized commercial work that has no applicability whatsoever to a residential problem.


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RE: 400 amp service

I'm with the terrible one on this.

And sorry hexus I was only about 1/3 awake that night.


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RE: 400 amp service

That may be true, that I dont work with residential wiring as much. But what is true is that in the subdivision that I built my house in, the "normal" electrician (that has been contracted by the home builder)in the area wiring houses here is using 3 wire(with ground) wire all over the house. Spliting it and since it falls in the legal area, houses are passing inspection. So you have unbalanced loads on the neutral wire. There are alot of 15 amp circuits all over houses, because thats what "code" says you can do.

Our house doesnt have any three wire romex, except where its actually needed. I used ALL #12 romex on 120 circuits, and all are 20 amp circuits. Also I used Square D HomeLine rather than the builders CH crap... When I passed final inspection the inspector said that my wife and I did a better job than anything they have seen for a long time!

I have roughly 1200 in materials for my whole house! It took my wife and I one weekend to do the whole job. I am not saying your an idiot, but you assumed I was...never assume anything, right? I was giving my $.02 and saying that an upgrade from 200 amp to 400 amp on a new build is approx $400 more. Thank you and have a good day!


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RE: 400 amp service

Hey theboneskes

What wire are you using for a back to back installation? I think I could do it in copper for under $50, so why are you so high?


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RE: 400 amp service

Ah, I loves me a good self-testimonial now and then.

"Spliting it and since it falls in the legal area, houses are passing inspection. So you have unbalanced loads on the neutral wire."

Uh, you do realize that even though a shared neutral carries the imbalance of the current, it carries less current as a result, right? But, yeah, there are disadvantages to shared neutrals, for sure.

"Also I used Square D HomeLine rather than the builders CH crap..."

I don't know exactly what "CH crap" is being used in your neighborhood, but since Homeline is Square D's bottom-of-the-line product, you'd get a lot of arguments from sparkies that CH panels are generally inferior to Square D Homeline. This sounds like more of a prejudice than an informed general conclusion to me.

"There are alot of 15 amp circuits all over houses, because thats what 'code' says you can do."

I don't doubt that you'll sometimes find 15-amp circuits where 20-amp circuits would be the better choice. And I don't doubt that cost may have been the main consideration over quality. But, still, what is wrong with 15-amp circuits for, say, hall-and-bedroom lighting or for smoke detectors or any number of other situations where 15 amps is more than adequate?

"It took my wife and I one weekend to do the whole job."

I'm trying to get a grip on this most impressive accomplishment. So, what I'm envisioning is that you put in the panel, pulled all the runs, mounted all the boxes and bonded all the grounds on Saturday. The inspector came by late Saturday night and approved the rough-in.

The insulation contractors (or you and your wife) put in the insulation on Saturday night and first thing Sunday morning, an inspector came by and green-tagged the insulation. Then a crew hung all the drywall and applied two coats of mud while you took a break to watch Meet the Press.

You and your wife then sprung into action again to install all the receptacles, switches, fixtures, cover plates and made final connections to the HVAC, dishwasher, garbage disposal and other hardwired appliances just in time to watch Masterpiece Theatre that evening.

You were all ready to pass final on Monday morning. Do I have this scenario about right? Inquiring minds want to know.


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RE: 400 amp service

Confused...what do you mean back to back installation?


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RE: 400 amp service

You said wire is about $150 from the meter to the panel. If you go from a meter to the service panel, the code requires this installation to be done back to back, or meter on one side of wall and panel on the other side nearest the entrance of the service conductors, typically in a back to back configuration.


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RE: 400 amp service

"If you go from a meter to the service panel, the code requires this installation to be done back to back, or meter on one side of wall and panel on the other side nearest the entrance of the service conductors, typically in a back to back configuration."

The NEC does not require a service panel back to back with the meter.

It would be a real chore in many places since the POCO specifies the feed location.


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RE: 400 amp service

"Also I used Square D HomeLine rather than the builders CH crap"

Homeline is probably the worse product I've ever used. There's a reason it's so cheap. And despite what the manufacturer says (and yes I have called them numerous times) the breakers are NOT the same as a QO breaker minus the little red flag.
Bragging that you used homeline like it's some sort of superior product cracks me up.


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RE: 400 amp service

One time I had a nick in a hot wire shorting to an outdoor bell box. Upon turning on the homeline breaker the whole house dimmed down to half and the terrible sound of an un-cleared fault. I then had to manually flip it off 5 seconds later. I don't recall homeline having a copper buss either but that's the same with cutler hammer's BR line. If Cutler Hammer, CH style were infact used, that would be a laugh to say homeline is an upgrade, even BR may be better. The only reason I've heard of anyone using homeline is price, a friend of mine's business likes that the breakers are under $3 and panels cost hardly anything.


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RE: 400 amp service

brickeye
How do you get around 230.70(A)(1)?


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RE: 400 amp service

230.70(A)1() calls out "nearest the point of entrance of the service conductors."

It does not specify a distance for "nearest" and thus does not require 'back-to-back' installation/

"Nearest" is left for the AHJ to decide, and I have never encountered one that requires back-to-back for residential, let alone larger installations.

I can't imagine a 7.2 kV installation 'back-to-back.'


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RE: 400 amp service

brickeye
are you saying that your inspectors allow you to run $150 worth of cable inside the house before you hit the service disconnect? even if they do there are still people including me that do know what the word nearest means.


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RE: 400 amp service

AHJ's around here say it's the closest stud bay.


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RE: 400 amp service

In MOST places this distance is 5'-6'.


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RE: 400 amp service

My point remains that the master electrician theboneskes said he used $150 worth of wire to connect a service panel to a meter, and in my area this would result in a violation that would not pass inspection. There is a way it wouldn't be a violation, but I don't believe that it is relevant to his situation. If I don't have to comply with code I could do things a lot cheaper too, but I have not been able to upgrade a service from 200amp to 400amp for $355 ever. I don't believe he did it in a code compliant manner either.


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RE: 400 amp service

Standard pricing difference to go with a 400 amp service instead of a 200 amp service is about $1500.00 to $2000.00 in the Ohio/Michigan/Indiana area.

In addition to what was mentioned above about the substantial cost difference of the pans and wire you also have increased costs for fittings, conduit, weatherheads, straps, etc...

Price out some 2" conduit as opposed to 3"/4" along with the fittings and you will see a major difference.

Also, if the panels were not within the 5-6' (general rule around here as well) an exterior disconnect would be required. Now the cost goes up even more...

All other things being equal - $355.00 going from a 200 to 400 amp service is not possible.


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RE: Serious Stuff...

"I am a commercial electrician petey_racer...I dont do that simple single phase wiring... I do serious stuff! I work for a LARGE facility in Lexington Kentucky, no...not 600, 800, or 1000 amp 3 phase stuff, I mean SERIOUS stuff! Comming into our building is 4160...

A 9V battery can produce enough current to kill you... What was your point again?


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RE: 400 amp service

"are you saying that your inspectors allow you to run $150 worth of cable inside the house before you hit the service disconnect? even if they do there are still people including me that do know what the word nearest means."

The AHJs I have dealt with will allow about 5-6 feet, and further if the line is installed in rigid metal conduit.

In any case, back-to-back is NOT required.

The code would say that if it demanded that.

"A 9V battery can produce enough current to kill you... "

Only if you have some electrodes connected directly to your heart.

While current is required to overcome the nervous system, you still need enough voltage to drive that current.

There is a reason the electric chair uses upwards of 2kV.


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RE: 400 amp service

"Only if you have some electrodes connected directly to your heart.

While current is required to overcome the nervous system, you still need enough voltage to drive that current.

There is a reason the electric chair uses upwards of 2kV."

There is also a reason that people are killed every year by the "unserious" single phase 120 volt "kids stuff" as the boneskes calls it. You do not need 2kv or the "serious" 4160 stuff to end one's life - that is the ONLY POINT I was making.

I do not intend to get into an engineering debate about the exact circumstances with which one can be killed by a 9-volt battery. I am simply pointing out that ALL ELECTRICAL current can be and sometimes is deadly and therefore "serious" stuff, unlike the boneskes thinks.


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RE: 400 amp service

> I would ask your builder "If my super-expensive
> geothermal heating system is supposed to reduce my
> energy consumption, why do I need twice as much
> electricity to run it?"

Unless I'm mistaken, GSHPs have backup resistance heating, just as air source heat pumps do. The electrical service has to be sized to handle the very substantial peak demand, even if the resistance heating is called on only a few times per heating season.

Is yours a fairly big house? I'm familiar with a few GSHP equipped houses around here (northern Ohio), in the 1800-2200 sf range, and IIRC they all have 200 amp service.


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RE: 400 amp service

The house has 2010 SQ. feet first floor. with the same in the basement. I will partially finish basement.
The geothermal unit will be a 4 ton unit.
Yes there is electrical back up heat.
By the way I am the homeowner, electrician and HVAC person on this project. I have a lot of experience on HVAC and home ownership. On electric installation, I am comfortable wiring from the breaker box to house circuits. Do not know a lot about service loads or what size service to get.
I am looking at how to do an electrical load just to be sure. Any formulas out there?
Thanks to all.


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RE: 400 amp service

Just Google "electrical demand load calculations". You'll get a lot of good info.

One of the first hits is a good .pdf with a lot of info. See below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link


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RE: 400 amp service

"Unless I'm mistaken, GSHPs have backup resistance heating, just as air source heat pumps do. The electrical service has to be sized to handle the very substantial peak demand, even if the resistance heating is called on only a few times per heating season. "

Very true, but millions of people have heat pumps and don't have 400A service.

noel-ireland - How much electric backup heat are you installing?


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RE: 400 amp service

Thanks for the quick responses.
petey racer- Thanks for the link.
bill- It will be 20KW back-up heat. 2- 10KW elements.


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RE: 400 amp service

Whoah!! 20kW???? That's 84 amps right there. If the power goes out for a few hours and the house cools down that 20kW will kick on full blast.
I bet your demand load calc will top 200A.


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RE: 400 amp service

I know the full 20kw needs to be figured in but on the plus side the strips should be staged for optimum efficiency so if the heat pump system can't keep up only one stage will be activated and if the second stage is needed the heat pump can be set to go offline. There is no reason to run 20kw of heat strips along with your say 5kw of heat pump load.

On a staged system with heat pump ground source or otherwise..say the load is 5kw. If the heat pump is doing most of the work but needs a boost one stage of strips can be activated which can be 10kw bringing your heating load to 15kw total with a max of 20kw.

With no staging you jump immediately from using 5kw to 25kw if the strips come on. The strips are or should be sized to heat your home by themselves in case there is a heat pump malfunction but now it is capable of using 5kw more than a staged system.

If a quality stat is used and the system is staged correctly you should only need to calculate for 20kw of hvac load.

20kw of strips total is probably an accurate figure... but that total load if set up in an efficient manner will rarely be used and it will not exceed the total strip+ blower load for total heating and cooling demand.

The cost from 200-400 amps on a new build or an actual upgrade depends on so many variables. What items the utility supplies or covers can be totally different across the country. The pipe cost can be substantially more also. Some places allow trenching or digging in a 200amp 2" line service dropping the pipe in the hole and backfilling but require an open trench inspection and measuring every 90 to make sure it is a 3' radius or larger which can add a day or two on the digging putting pipe and backfilling which is calculated into the bid.

For anyone reading who thinks they might get an upgrade to 400 for 400.00 on any type of construction, the chances are slim.


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