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Quote for upgrading panel from 200A to 320A For HPWC-Look Reasonable?

Discussion in 'North America' started by Nevek, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. Nevek

    Nevek Overt Member

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    I'm told that my 200A panel needs to be upgraded to 320A in order to support a HPWC at a full 80A. My current panel is basically full, since I have 240v air conditioning, oven, a hot tub, and electric clothes dryer now. There is also a solar power input feed.

    The ballpark quote I'm given from a Tesla-recommended electrician is $2500-3500 for the panel upgrade plus $545 to install the HPWC plus $17/foot for an 18 foot run. I'm also seeing what the local utilty needs but it sounds like a new meter at a minimum. I also want to put in a 14-50 outlet for futures/backup.

    Does the panel upgrade price range seem reasonable? I know there are variables but I'm looking for basic sanity check. Thanks.
     
  2. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    A few ideas:

    1. Get other quptes. This is straight forward electrical work, and there is no need to use an electrician recommended by Tesla. Any good recommendation should be fine.
    2. Consider upgrading your stove/range and dryer to new gas units, and pulling their circuit breakers as another alternative to gain electrical capacity. This is especially attractive if the gas lines are already run to the stove and dryer areas.
    3. If you are going to upgrade the panel, get a quote for a 400A panel, also. There may be another EV in your future.
     
  3. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    A 200A to 400A (sometimes called 320) panel upgrade is going to average $2,000 to $2,500. You will need a new meter from the utility company, and you'll have to upgrade the meter pan outside as the conductors for 400A take a much greater amount of space to work with. When you upgrade that component, you also need to have the utility company ensure that their transformer and conductors are sized appropriately; for example, when I upgraded my service the power company had to replace the aging 2/0 aluminum cable with 350 kcmil compact conductor cable as well as the transformer.

    Usually, an electrician doing an upgrade from 200A to 320/400A service will simply install a second panel for additional circuits. They'll connect from a second set of lugs in the new meter pan to a new 200A panel. In my case, we replaced an older 20-space subpanel with a newer 40-space service panel and moved its connection to the meter.

    Bottom line - I'd get multiple quotes and $2,500 seems reasonable for all the work required (including meter pan outside).

    - - - Updated - - -

    This is one of those weird things you find... you can't really find a 320A panel, but you can get a 320A meter. Sometimes electricians will call it a 320A panel because the service is sized to 320A. It is legal to put 2x200A panels on a 320A service, provided the load calculations work out such that the load fits within the service. What that means is that generally, the equipment installed south of the meter is 400A but the power company engineers for 320A.
     
  4. TexasEV

    TexasEV Active Member

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    The other question is do you need a full 80A at home? Do you drive so much that you need to charge the battery at 58 miles/hr rather than the 29 miles/hr that 40A gives? Most people find the range sufficient for daily driving and it doesn't matter if the car takes a few hours longer to charge overnight while you're sleeping.
     
  5. Nevek

    Nevek Overt Member

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    Thanks much-this is just what I was looking for. I was confused about the 320/400A panel and what the power company really needed to do. And to echo what many have said-your guidance and input on these boards is invaluable and very much appreciated. Many other questions have already been answered by reading your prior posts.
     
  6. dmckinstry

    dmckinstry Model S - U.S. P - #1649

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    Seems reasonable to me. It cost me ~$3000 to replace my panel and run 75 feet of conduit on the outside of my house to me garage, etc.
    I still only have 200A service, but the old panel was at its limit. No available breaker slots, and very old and unreliable panel.
     
  7. Nevek

    Nevek Overt Member

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    It's true, I may get away with the 40A level, but with dual chargers in place and the possibility of another EV down the road, it seems to make sense to get the power beefed up now. I'm trying to make the transition as transparent as possible as part of the WAF (wife acceptance factor). Waiting for a charge is something I want to avoid, albeit at a price.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks! This is new science to me and while I can get another quote, I wanted a frame of refernece.
     
  8. Nevek

    Nevek Overt Member

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    Thanks, good points. Last time I looked at gas for the dryer the cost didn't add up (our power is about 9 cents/kWh, pretty sweet), but there may well be another EV in the future. I'm getting other quotes now.
     
  9. Danal

    Danal electricmotorglider.com

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    About a year ago, I had an electrician "Double Tap" an existing 320A meter base, and run the new tap to a new subpanel. It was WAY more than you are being quoted... so, yes, based on this one data point, I think that is a reasonable quote.
     
  10. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

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    Living in NoCA, it looks reasonable to me.
     
  11. wws

    wws Member

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    You might simply consider installing a separate sub-panel, moving the solar to it along with your new HPWC. Then repurpose the solar breakers in the main panel to supply the new sub-panel. It is what I did a few months ago when I did my new solar install, albeit with a NEMA 14-50 instead of a HPWC.

    Also do you have a Smart Meter with web access? If so, you can see what your power demands are. (Ours allows down to a 1 hour resolution.) 200 amps is a lot of power. You may find that even with the EV charging, you might not have to upgrade your service.
     
  12. Nevek

    Nevek Overt Member

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    Very interesting idea, thanks! It certainly would buy me space, although I don't think it would help me with the load. I'll mention this to the electrician giving me a second bid this coming week.
     
  13. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    It's not necessarily just the 200A panels in your home, though - in my case, I had a 200A service, but it was fed with 2/0 aluminum conductors (NEC says 115-150A, but when buried can handle more) and a 10 kVA transformer (rated at 40A continuous but can handle 80-ish). So it's a good idea to have that checked, too. Upgrading the service causes the power company to look at how it feeds you.
     
  14. wws

    wws Member

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    It is a good point. About 20 years ago we upgraded to a 200 amp panel to support a new central A/C system. Between it and a couple of other properties on our street that were tear-down/new houses around the same time, PG&E had to upgrade the pole transformer to handle the load. So yes, it certainly is a concern.
     
  15. eco5280

    eco5280 Member

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    Umm, what?! How many hours do they think this step takes?!
     
  16. Nevek

    Nevek Overt Member

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    One reason I'm getting a second quote.
     
  17. N4HHE

    N4HHE Member

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    Around here new construction that gets 400A service gets a 400A meter which is immediately split into two 200A circuits before it enters the house. The 400A meter is same size but the box holding it is 2-4 times larger than a 200A meter box. And then they put what I take to be a tall but narrow 200A disconnect to each side of the meter.

    So if you must upgrade your service this path seems just as good and less invasive. Split it at the meter and install a second 200A distribution panel.

    If you were to replace a 200A distribution panel with a 400/320A then the wires from meter to panel must also be upgraded. Was that the $17/foot quote? Also suspect the utility company will have to upgrade their drop for you.
     

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