Should I install a 400 amp or 200 amp service panel?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by WilliamsValley, May 20, 2012.

  1. WilliamsValley

    WilliamsValley Member

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    The electrical company told us they would put a 400 amp transformer on our pole for an additional $500-$600. We are getting power to our property for about $3000.00 so the $500-$600 would be an additional cost. It seems wise to me for us to pay the additional cost to at least bring in the 400 amp service. My question is this, do I need to install a 400 amp outdoor service panel or can I just install a 200 amp with the 400 amp service coming in to it? We may want to install an irrigation pump on our creek at a later date but do we really need a 400 amp service panel to do that? Our house will be around 1600 sq. feet and we will be adding a shop in the years to come. I hesitate in installing a 400 amp service panel because of the additional costs involved (More expensive panel, wire, etc), and I really don't know if we'll ever even use it. Any help/opinions would be appreciated!
     
  2. Rick

    Rick Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'll be watching for answers along with you.
     
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  3. Old Vet

    Old Vet In Remembrance

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    How much power do you want? I have 200 amps and that is enough to run 3 houses but if you are doing much more the 400 amp would be nice. I doubt that you will get more than 200 amps service unless you have 3 phase to run some heavy machinery.
     
  4. Wanda

    Wanda Well-Known Member

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    A 50hp (72000GPH) pump will only pull 92 amps. I doubt that you will ever use anything that large.
     
  5. southfarms

    southfarms Member

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    Could you upgrade later? If not I would have a tendency to overbuild. You never know how things will end up. I look at all of the 50 year old machine sheds that current tractors cannot fit in. You never know.
     
  6. rancher1913

    rancher1913 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    installed everything from 100 amp to 400 amp panels and the only place that ever needed 400 amp service was commercial business's. what all do you plan on having at your place--a commercial wood shop, butcher shop. most houses a 200 amp service is plenty even for most home business's. like wanda said pumps don't need a lot unless you get really big. that being said--years ago 100 amp sevice was plenty for a house, nowadays a 200 amp is needed. our power company rates are based on the transformer size, do you want to pay month after month for something your not using. one neighbor had the power company change his 200 amp transformer to a 150 to get a break on his bill every month, says that sometimes if everything is running he gets a brown out but he thinks thats a small price to pay for his monthly savings. make sure you know the long term costs not just the up front costs.
     
  7. k9

    k9 Well-Known Member

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    Is this just for a house, or a farm, or a factory? 200amps is a lot of power, but it depends on your load. In Michigan I put in 200, the power company told me that if I went above that at a residence they would charge me industrial rate.
     
  8. Harry Chickpea

    Harry Chickpea Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have a 200 amp trailer pole on one side of the road and a 400 amp split meter box on the other side. Wonder if we have enough capacity? :D

    The 400 amp side was done so that in case I wanted a shop for welding OR relatives had to retreat here the place would be all set for another double-wide - or two... or three...

    Some depends on how your power company works. Instead of paying $200 for a trailer pole and 200 amp meter box, I had to buy the 400 amp meter box with two 200 amp breaker sets for $800, plus make the stand, etc.

    If it is just a simple shop you plan, I'd likely go with just the 200 amp, and spend any extra on a transfer switch so you can add a generator later.
     
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  9. flumes

    flumes Member

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    I would get the 400 A pole transformer. Then put a 200 A service panel. I think that would be plenty. The 400A pole transformer would be a benefit if you severed your property. You could recoup your money and then some on your severed lot as they buyer could tap into the 400A PT.

    Also, if you need more power in the future on top of your 200A, its right there at your fingertips so to speak.


    I bought a cottage where the previous owners only got a 200A PT. There is two cottages on that PT so thats only 100A apiece....I cant run electric heat on 100A panel but would have if I had 200A available. Not worth it for me to change PTs.

    Good luck.
     
  10. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I would install the 400 amp service. Lets you run more dedicated lines and isolate (or split for multi circuit service) rooms. Doesn't mean you'll actually burn more electrons just let you mange your requirements better.
     
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  11. Ramblin Wreck

    Ramblin Wreck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've gotten by on 200 amps, which services the house, garage, and one barn. That being said, if your budget allows, I'd opt for the 400 amps. Room for expansion is always a good thing.
     
  12. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This farm only has a 100 amp service, and has never tripped a breaker, and I have arc welders, walkin cooler and walkin freezer, 4 chest freezers and other, well, 2 refrigerators and an whole AC for the house and three or 4 electric tank heaters for the stock water, (winter time)

    I really doubt if you need a 400 amp service, and if you do need it you will not want to pay the bill,

    If you want to isolate the power to each building then branch off your distribution pole and go from there,
    (some of the buildings have breaker boxes with larger breakers than 100 amps, but that is for space not need for power)

    each building has it own service only one (chicken house) is a true sub panel from another building. all is suppled from the distribution pole, (and that is a NEC approved method, to have a distribution point, or pole to supply, it is just like in the city where more than one house is supplied from one transformer, the difference is the meter is on the line from or at the transformer and then it is split up),

    there is the house, barn, wood shop, generator shed/chicken house. and a line that goes over to the grain bins and wood granary,
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2012
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  13. a'ightthen

    a'ightthen Well-Known Member

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    400 amps is serious chit.

    Been licensed in 5 states, traveled the SE building stuff for 15+ yrs. Seen a chunk, done a chunk.

    What makes you think that you need this? Curious as it seems to be quite an investment.
     
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  14. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    I don't need it but for a mere $600 additional cost I would install 400Amp. Might need it in the future and it will be far more expensive to install then. For us it is a mile and a half of our own wire. We could only get 200Amp. For an additional $50,000 we could have gotten more.
     
  15. a'ightthen

    a'ightthen Well-Known Member

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    The 200 amp service is mainly to incorporate 40+ circuits. 180 watts/device, dedicated laundry circuits, small appliance branch circuits etc .... I'll walk this pup into the ground. 150 amps is basically sufficient for the typical resident.

    400 amps is to the extreme .... mainly installed to accommodate larger homes and the number of circuits required .... not use, back to the number of devices allowed per circuit.

    200 will spin the world for most folks. If you have bigger plans, proceed. If you desire to exist in a frugal means, abstain.
     
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  16. Sawmill Jim

    Sawmill Jim Well-Known Member

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    Do you have electric heat, cook stove, washer dryer, well and water heater true running amps is still less than a 100amps . A 55 kva transformer is 250amps at 220 volt :awh: To get to a 400 amp the transformer would be a 88kva lots of the transformers have the kva stamped on the outside .

    On a regular house and small shop it would be hard to run full amp load on a 200 amp breaker box which would be close to 180 contiguous amps . Most would have to turn everything they had on at the same time and borrow another device or two from the neighbors .And they would send you a electric bill every week for fear you would faint otherwise .

    Here the electric Co supply's the transformer for which i am happy as i blew a old one at the sawmill .I shop built a 220 single phase to 3 phase converter and smoked that old transformer on start up . :rolleyes:

    I can run at the house a $350.00 electric bill not pulling near the max load on a 200 amp box so if you need more amps i hope you got a gold mine in the back yard :clap:
     
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  17. Sawmill Jim

    Sawmill Jim Well-Known Member

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    Unless you are going to split that 400 amp at some point ie two 200amp 40ct boxes on your wall or a different set up of some sort :sleep: A 400amp service when you get to the riser and meter base it will require 300 or 400 MCM wire which will not fir in a 200 amp breaker . So i think someone is missing some numbers somewhere .:awh:

    Next why have a 400 amp transformer feeding a 200 amp box the only advantage on the transformer is to pull to another service off it . Also if i bought the transformer i would want exclusive use of it in whighting :happy:
     
  18. Old Vet

    Old Vet In Remembrance

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    In our area they set a 500 amp transformer as the small one they have to offer. But what I was referring to was the service meter and breaker box. Once you put a breaker box they will put a transformer of their choosing. Any thing before the meter is their problem not yours.
     
  19. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    As others pointed out, you'd have to be very wealthy to ever pay the bill if you were seriously using a 400A service. That would be large farm or small factory level of use. Or some crazy rich guy with a house so large it required a serious staff to run it.
     
  20. pheasantplucker

    pheasantplucker Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have 100 amps. Seems like plenty for a non-industrial facility.