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ChristmasHouse

Where to Buy Electric Supplies

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I need to do a major electrical upgrade this year... I plan on adding a sub-panel and a bunch of new outlets.

Anyone know where I can get electrical supplies (mainly wire) for cheap?

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That is a pretty tough question to answer without more facts. How much amps will be going to the subpanel? What will the subpanel be used for? etc...etc...

Most if not all your supplies can be found at your local hardware store (big box stores) Lowes, Menards, Home Depot. Are you going to install it yourself? Do you have laws that require a permit before a service upgrade can be done? These are questions that need answered.

I am upgrading my service into the house this year from 200 amp to 400 amp. It is going to cost me $7.00 a ft from the transformer to my meterbase. I must also buy the new meterbase for the increased power service. I should be able to complete the job for a total cost around $700.00 That is cheap compared to others here on PC.

Good Luck.

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Thanks for your reply...

I currently have 200 amps with 4 dedicated 20 amp breakers for Christmas. I was thinking about upgrading to 400 amps. 200 for the house and 200 for Christmas. I want to move the 4 dedicated breakers to the sub-panel and add another 8 or so 20 amp breakers.

To save on costs, I plan on doing all the outlet runs myself and just hiring an electrician to do the work at the panel.

I am still in the early planning stages, so I haven't contacted the electric company or checked on permits yet.

I know I can get everything at Home Depot or Lowes, but was hoping there was someplace I can get the supplies for cheaper.

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Check your yellow pages for electrical suppliers. I buy my bulk supplies from Stuart Irby (a regional firm). The places you find will be able to assist you. Otherwise, Grainger has some electrical supplies-but they are typically more expensive than HD or Lowes.

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Definitely call the power company. They actually may be more helpful than you think. I called the local power co, told them what I wanted to do, and they gave me a few possible ideas. They told me once I had a better Idea of what i wanted to do, they would works some # on the cost. My dillema is that my house is over 200' from the meter base so they are concerned about the cost of the wire for that distance - they hinted that they may want me to "share" in the cost of the wire, plus I would have to pay a trenching fee - but the guy said they chargereasonable rates. of course they strongly encourage me to talk it over with an electrician - which I will since I dont know very much about electricity. They even gave me an address about 5 miles from my house that had done something similar to what I wanted to do(600amps) - but for a different reason.

As far as supplies other members mentioned electrical supply outlets - and that too would be my recommendation. However I worry about some of these folks. I stopped at one place and the guy was an idiot - and probably know very little about electricity - he even struggle to give me ?s to ask the electrician.

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Definitely call the power company. They actually may be more helpful than you think. I called the local power co, told them what I wanted to do, and they gave me a few possible ideas. They told me once I had a better Idea of what i wanted to do, they would works some # on the cost. My dillema is that my house is over 200' from the meter base so they are concerned about the cost of the wire for that distance - they hinted that they may want me to "share" in the cost of the wire, plus I would have to pay a trenching fee - but the guy said they chargereasonable rates. of course they strongly encourage me to talk it over with an electrician - which I will since I dont know very much about electricity. They even gave me an address about 5 miles from my house that had done something similar to what I wanted to do(600amps) - but for a different reason.

As far as supplies other members mentioned electrical supply outlets - and that too would be my recommendation. However I worry about some of these folks. I stopped at one place and the guy was an idiot - and probably know very little about electricity - he even struggle to give me ?s to ask the electrician.

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Cheap wire?

New Jersey?

Mutually exclusive terms.

Actually your best source might be the electrician you are going to use. Don't forget that he may buy a thousand ft. roll of wire at a time, you most likely are only going to use a few hundred at most. Talk deal. I work with an electrical contractor in Middlesex, I'll ask him where he gets his wire.

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Keep in mind that 200 amp service is usually 200 amps at 220v which means that is 400 amps at 110v.

This past season I installed a 100amp subpanel. Now this is 100 amps at 220 which gives you 200 amps at 110. I was able to install 10 dedicated 15 amp circuits which is 150 amps which is close to 40% of the power coming into my home. I was fine running the dryer, oven and other High Amp devices during the show. Now if I wanted to run more than 200amps at 110v for my show next year, I may have to think about upgrading to 400 amp service.

So before you spend the big bucks on upgrading to 400amp service from 200amp service, you may want to figure out how much power your display is going to pull to see if you really need 400 amp service.

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RichardH wrote:

Keep in mind that 200 amp service is usually 200 amps at 220v which means that is 400 amps at 110v.

This past season I installed a 100amp subpanel. Now this is 100 amps at 220 which gives you 200 amps at 110. I was able to install 10 dedicated 15 amp circuits which is 150 amps which is close to 40% of the power coming into my home. I was fine running the dryer, oven and other High Amp devices during the show. Now if I wanted to run more than 200amps at 110v for my show next year, I may have to think about upgrading to 400 amp service.

So before you spend the big bucks on upgrading to 400amp service from 200amp service, you may want to figure out how much power your display is going to pull to see if you really need 400 amp service.

I've been working with electric for years & never heard this before

I have a meter that I test my lights & setup

I was pulling over 8500 watts, 120 watts = 1 amp

The meter gives me the reading

So I was over 70a on lights, closer to 80a

That main breaker doesn't care if you are running 220 or 110

If you exceed 200a it's shutting off

Most houses (without lights) will never come close to 200a

I have electric stove, dryer & 50a hot tub

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Ok... Now I'm a bit confused! My main breaker is 100 amps... So does that mean I have 100 or 200 amp service? After reading some other posts here on PC I was under the impression I had 200 amp.

This is the label from the inside of my service panel...

It says 100A Max... Any ideas?

post-4208-12957098741_thumb.jpg

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Well I went on a SelfHelp Forum with electricians & Inspectors & posted a question in regards to how this works.

And they agreed to a certain extent the idea you can pull 400a on a 200a feed

If you do 110 then you can do this - as long as the load is balanced across the 2 legs

If you have a 240v load, that subtracts from the total amps available

So for example I have:

240v: 50a hot tub, 30a hot water heater, 50a electric stove

That means I have 70a "left" If I balance my load across the legs I could put close to 140a of 110 lights. Of course you need to take into account the regular electric your house uses (Microwave, lights, garbage disposal, dishwasher etc)

If you have a 100a panel, then you have 100a, & with a balanced load could approach 200a at 110v

Here is what they replied:

http://www.selfhelpforums.com/showthread.php?p=54202#post54202

"If this is multiple circuits, and you added them up, then a 200A service does provide 400A of power if things are 120V and evenly balanced between the two incoming power legs.

The key is balancing. If you put 150A of lights on only one side of a 100A household service, you'll blow the main breaker. But if you can split it to about 75A on each side, it will hold (assuming all the other household loads don't push a given leg much over 100 amps)."

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You are right about splitting it up and I should of mentioned that. On my 100 Amp sub panel, I have 5 breakers on each leg that I run 15amps on each so it equals 75 amps per leg.

You should also not max out your circuits. I can't remember the magic numbers but it is something like 80% I think. So if I have a 20 amp circuit, I should not run more than 16 or 17 amps on it.

Maybe somebody with more electrical knowledge can chime in.

-Richard

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So as long as my breakers are split equally, I am correct in saying I have 200 amp service?

On a side note, I got a Kill-a-Watt the other day so I went around seeing how many amps everything was pulling. It turns out that I have 25 amps worth of Christmas lights plugged into an oulet on a 20 amp breaker... Shouldn't that cause that breaker to trip?

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Scuba_dave wrote:

RichardH wrote:

I've been working with electric for years & never heard this before

Scuba_dave wrote:

Well I went on a SelfHelp Forum with electricians & Inspectors & posted

a question in regards to how this works.

And they agreed to a certain extent the idea you can pull 400a on a 200a

feed If you do 110 then you can do this - as long as the load is balanced

across the 2 legs If you have a 240v load, that subtracts from the total

amps available So for example I have:

240v: 50a hot tub, 30a hot water heater, 50a electric stove

That means I have 70a "left" If I balance my load across the legs I could put

close to 140a of 110 lights. Of course you need to take into account the regular

electric your house uses (Microwave, lights, garbage disposal, dishwasher etc)

A lot of people don't "get" this and even some electricians will argue that it is

not true.It is true and here is why. Your incoming power consists of 2 legs of

120 volt AC. Your main breaker is a double pole breaker which means that it is

really two seperate breakers in one. So if it is a 200 amp breaker then you

have TWO 200 amp legs of 120 voltpower each on a 200 amp breaker. Each

of those legs can provide 200 amps at 120 volts. Obviously any 220 volt

devices use power from both legs and this must be taken into consideration.

However if you do not turn on the hot tub or the stove while the lights are on

then you don't lose any power to those devices.The load shouldbe

balanced between the 2 legs as much as possible as you said.

TED

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ChristmasHouse wrote:

Ok... Now I'm a bit confused! My main breaker is 100 amps... So does that

mean I have 100 or 200 amp service? After reading some other posts here

on PC I was under the impression I had 200 amp.

This is the label from the inside of my service panel...

It says 100A Max... Any ideas?

You have a 100 amp service just like it says. It can provide 100 amps at 220

volts or 200 amps at 110 volts or some combination of the 2 (see above post).

TED

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Good thread & good info

I'm putting a 100a sub panel in the (to be built) garage

It will be mostly for Christmas lights

I won't have any 240v on this

Well unless (when) I buy a welder to build decorations

But I will home run that back to the 200a panel

I will make sure to balance the legs when I run circuits

I 20a breaker may not kick out until 25a

12g 20a wire has an ampacity capable of handling 25 amps

BUT, it's not a good idea to run at a higher amperage

AND - make sure that breaker will kick out & is not rusted open

For residential loads you are allowed to "load" a circuit to 100% of capacity

That means for an 14a 1800w lighting circuit you could install lighting that equals 1800w (the fixture). The thinking is that MOST people will not run every light at the same time. The 80% rule of capacity is a goos rule to follow for Christmas lighst that willbe on for long persiod of time

The max I have loaded my 20a circuit is to 2200w approx

I know I have brand new service wiring, new breaker panel, new heavy duty outlets

I would not load this high on older wiring or equipment

I installed a 40a hard wired timer to control (2) 20a circuits

I had just over 4,000w that were turning off & on via this timer

I have 2 more hard wired timers that will be setup in the garage to control 4 more circuits

I have240g salt water Reef setup, so I am very careful w/water & electricity

I'd rather have a GFCI kick then do the worm dance on the front lawn

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Thanks for all your replies...

From my understanding I will need to add a 220 volt breaker to my main panel to power a sub-panel.

My main panel has a 100 amp max, so I don't think this will be enough to power both panels... Is it possible to split the power before it goes into the main panel?

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I ran a 100a sub-panel from a 100 breaker in the main panel

You are REALLY not supposed to. You CAN run a 90a breaker (special order - more $$)

Best bet is to run a 60a sub-panel w/60a 220v breaker in the 100a main panel

You will actually (usually) buy a 100a panel & power it with the 60a breaker

I bought a 100a panel with a 100a main breaker instead of one with just lugs

I like a main breaker on a subpanel

Please NOTE: Best to do a a whole house LOAD Calc before adding a sub panel

If you are already maxing out that 100a panel then adding a sub panel will not do much good. Unless there are items you can shut down or not use while the lights are on

I have a 200a panel & a 100a sub panel 3' to the left

I have a lot of partial use items:

30a Steam shower, 50a hot tub, radiant floor heat, jacuzzi bathtub w/heater

Plus with the outside circuits I knew I would fill up the main 200a panel

I will be running a 60a sub-panel out to my pool cabana

I will be running a 2nd 100a sub-panle to the new garage

This panel will be for the garage & Christmas decorations

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My electrician came by today to give me a quote... He said I do not need to upgrade the line from the pole. I was quoted $1,200 to upgrade my existing 100 amp 20 circuit panel to a 200 amp 40 circuit panel. The price includes a new line run down the house and meter pad. The price however, does not include the installation of the 100 amp sub-panel I want to add. I am planning on using my current 100 amp panel as the sub-panel and labor to install it shouldn't be too much. Does this sound like a good price?

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ChristmasHouse wrote:

My electrician came by today to give me a quote... He said I do not need to upgrade the line from the pole. I was quoted $1,200 to upgrade my existing 100 amp 20 circuit panel to a 200 amp 40 circuit panel. The price includes a new line run down the house and meter pad. The price however, does not include the installation of the 100 amp sub-panel I want to add. I am planning on using my current 100 amp panel as the sub-panel and labor to install it shouldn't be too much. Does this sound like a good price?

I don't have any pricing information so I don't really know but that's a serious chunk of change! You might be able to save a little money by purchasing the new breaker box from Home Depot. They sell a kit that comes with the main panel, the main breakersome of thebreakers for individual circuits. (Of course some of the breakers are 15 amp which you may not want. If some of your existing circuits are 15 amp they would be good for those.) If you replace the old 20 circuit panel with a new 40 circuit panel you probably do not need a sub panel because you will have 20 open slots for breakers. You could hang on to the old panel and wait and see if you need it. Installing the old panel as a sub panel will only give you more slots NOT more capacity.

TED

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TED wrote:

If you replace the old 20 circuit panel with a new 40 circuit panel you probably do not need a sub panel because you will have 20 open slots for breakers.

I was thinking about that, but I like the idea of being able to turn off all the outside outlets with one main breaker. It is still something I am considering though.

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