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150 Amp Electrical Panel


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For the longest time I thought that we have always had a 200 amp panel but we don't. we have a large 50 amp kiln (240 volt) and we can run it and the stove at the same time and have never had a problem but this winter we have 4 mega trees that we run some in our yard and some in the neighbors yard and we are looking at adding more. We are going to add 9 trees in the yard and c9's on the roof are we going to have a problem with power. We have never tripped the main before but if we do all of this to the yard and have the show going and then turn on the stove will the main breaker trip? 

 

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I personally would never want to run that risk- if you are getting close to 'popping' a main breaker than you are in the 'danger zone.' 

Just for safety I would urge you to do a planned pop of the breaker.  I've seen some breakers which seize up, saw one cause a fire at a hotel (the salt air corrosion caused it to stick in the on position even after a major over load). 

 

I would strongly urge you to do the math.  There are plenty of spread sheets which give you the amperage draw for the lights. Even if you do the math ahead of time, I would use a Kill-O-watt meter and double check your amperage on each element.  I have heard others say that to be really safe you never exceed the 85% threshold of your panel.  Personally I was starting to get into a battle with the numbers, so I began the push into LED's.  The display is now over 75% led- my secret was though the Christmas Clearance sales. 

 

I would look into changing out your C9's to LED- and that should probably really help you in this issue...

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Lots of good info above, try to make sure that most of the electrical loads in your house are OFF before manually tripping the main breaker, stand to the side when you trip it and when you reset it.  If if fights you in either direction call a licensed electrician to help, expensive, probably; save your house and maybe your life, well worth it.

 

If you are running your lights as a static display, I completely agree with going LED. most of mine are still incandescent mini's, even with about 45,000 lights, my December and January bills are about $400.00 a pop, it would cost about $6,000.00 to change over to LED, when the price comes down, maybe.

 

Your local utility may be able to tell you what size cable you have coming into your house, the builder may have put in a 150 amp panel, but it you have large enough cable you can potential upgrade you installation, more money  :) .

 

Enjoy and Good Luck,

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I've gone from 14 dedicated circuits down to 5 or 6 this year by gradually switching to mostly LED over the past 3 years.   LEDs don't have to cost a mint either.  I'm up to around 25-30,000 and have spent far less than $1,000.  Won a few, bought a bunch at auction, & a pile of them here from others that have moved on to Pixel/RGB.   Also take advantage of the sales you see here in January.  Paying retail prices should only be done if you've won the lottery.

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I agree with the above.  When you get to point of uncertainty as to your amp loads, you need to do a full calculation of your entire display, with each element having it's own amp pull.  I have never tripped even a single 20amp since I started doing that.  I'm to the point now where I constantly have to monitor which channels I turn on simultaneously to not reach the load capacity of my main breaker.  I couldn't do it without my spreadsheet.

 

 100ct incan minis are usually listed at 0.33 amps per string.  25ct C9 incans are 1.5 amps per string.     Fun Fact:  when I ended up plugging dozens of mini strands into one circuit and actually measured the amp load, it was about 15% less than the calculation based on the amp ratings listed on the light tags.  Math would indicate 30 strings should pull 9.9 amps, but in my experience that number is actually closer to 8 amps....but again, just my experience.  I still use the manufacturer's rating to fill out my power consumption spreadsheet.

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a lot of the newer mini lights pull less than the older ones. when I am adding or replacing incandescent mini lights  in my display I use Lowes brand.  0.18 amps per string. That amperage savings can really add up.

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Based upon 35 years in the electric utility industry and having done Christmas displays for over 20 years, just wanted to give some insight.

 

The meter base is usually the most overlooked part of your electric system.  Even when home inspections are done, I hardly ever get a call from the inspector to unlock the meter base or can for a inspection.  Most of the time when I go out for a flickering lights call, the problem is in the meter base. Just a little corrosion, loose connection, or weak meter jaws can cause real problems.  The meter jaws and meter blades must have a good tight connection. If not they heat up, when they heat up they conduct less electricity, when they conduct less electricity, they heat up more, see where this is going, eventually the meter may melt, insulation will melt off of wires of the entrance cable or service wire going to you main breaker box., not only do you lose power, this is a major fire hazard. 

 

  The burnt jaws in the picture happened due to loose connections on the load side of the meter base.  The meter base was the correct size for the service, but this can also happen when a meter base is overloaded by adding sub panels, extra load, etc.  Normally in that case the line and load sides of the meter base will overheat and melt or burn.

 

Often over looked also is the importance of a good ground.  The picture of no ground occurred at a home where the copper to the driven ground rod was missing.  There was a ground to the water pipes, but the water service line had been replaced with plastic, so there was basically no ground.  Lightening hit the service pole in front of the customers house.  Long and short, one customer received no damage, they had a good ground system, customer in the picture had to rewire their house ($6,000) and replace anything electric in the house (all appliances, TVs, etc another $5,000)

 

Please understand, I love decorating ( usually about 350 airblown inflatables and getting close to 100,000 lights, but I also want everyone to have a safe Christmas.

 

If you have any flickering lights or low voltage problems, have it checked out.

 

If you need extra capacity, have it added.  Not only will it save you money in the long run, it could save your life.

 

Make sure you electric load is equal to or less than the load rating of your meter base.

 

There is so much more that could be said, but please understand, I am not trying to scare you or cause you to worry, but when the wires in your entrance cable (from weather head to meter base) and service wire (from meter base to main panel) overheat or short out, there is no breaker.  Often these wires run through the walls of your house or are in the attic.  They can overheat and smolder for hours after the display is off and everyone has gone to bed.

 

Take a little time now to check out you electric system, upgrade if need be or downsize your display or shed some load (LEDs, etc)

 

 

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a lot of the newer mini lights pull less than the older ones. when I am adding or replacing incandescent mini lights  in my display I use Lowes brand.  0.18 amps per string. That amperage savings can really add up.

Great point Bill.  The Lowes brand are usually longer than some of the others too.

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Sadly,the less watts,the dimmer the bulbs though! Years ago,before the "energy crisis" the standard mini light was .5W, then  it began dropping to .42watt, .33 watt, .25 watt,and even .21 watt is now marketed{like the Lowes brand mentioned}. The color of the lights has changed due to this wattage/amp load dropping also-from bright white down to an almost amber or yellowish hue.Pull out an old set and compare to the new "energy savers" and the difference is striking!

Edited by merrymidget
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Sadly,the less watts,the dimmer the bulbs though! Years ago,before the "energy crisis" the standard mini light was .5W, then  it began dropping to .42watt, .33 watt, .25 watt,and even .21 watt is now marketed{like the Lowes brand mentioned}. The color of the lights has changed due to this wattage/amp load dropping also-from bright white down to an almost amber or yellowish hue.Pull out an old set and compare to the new "energy savers" and the difference is striking!

 

The newer clear are dimmer and more yellow but I find the colors, at least to me, seem deeper and more vibrant than the old 0.33 mini's. It is a trade off. It's just anouther small, inexpensive way to increase light count without making the big jump to led's.

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