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Will I need a new breaker box?

Looking to get a wall charger installed at my parent's house so I can charge up when I visit.

Looks like the box is completely full. Does this necessarily mean the entire breaker box needs to be redone as part of this job, or can a secondary box be put in?

Looks like a more expensive job than just simply installing a 60A breaker, but wanted to get some thoughts from someone with experience. I'm assuming this is going to be higher than the $500 home installs I see a lot of folks being charged.
 

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mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
7,558
7,018
MA, NH
I highly doubt 60A is an option with that setup. Keep in mind a wall connector (not required) alone COST $500.00 for the part.
If it's infrequent visits and not your "primary" charging a 20A 240V or possibly even less might be doable and "enough" to get by.
You should just call a local electrician and ask for what the options are under a particular budget.
There really is usually an option as every price point. More amps is typically better. But not absolutely required. Especially if this is not your primary/daily charging set up, which ideally should be higher.
 
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eprosenx

Active Member
May 30, 2018
2,076
2,554
Beaverton, OR
Looking to get a wall charger installed at my parent's house so I can charge up when I visit.

Looks like the box is completely full. Does this necessarily mean the entire breaker box needs to be redone as part of this job, or can a secondary box be put in?

Looks like a more expensive job than just simply installing a 60A breaker, but wanted to get some thoughts from someone with experience. I'm assuming this is going to be higher than the $500 home installs I see a lot of folks being charged.

Please post a closer up picture of the handle ties so we can read the amperages as well as a picture of the sticker on the door (not the green one) so we can understand more details of what make/model of panel they have.

Also, I kind of want a closer up picture of the biggest wire that goes into the panel. Presumably the main feed. Does it come in the top or the bottom? If it comes in the top I suspect it is only a 100a panel, if not a 60a panel.

Are there any other panels in the house (like at the meter base?)

Seems small for a modern residence.

As @mswlogo points out, I highly doubt this will support a 60a circuit (48a charge rate), but there is a good chance we can find a way to shoehorn a 20a or 30a (maybe) 240v circuit in here.

If you normally stay a whole weekend then often times a 20a 240v circuit is plenty. Even 120v can work...
 
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I highly doubt 60A is an option with that setup. Keep in mind a wall connector (not required) alone COST $500.00 for the part.
If it's infrequent visits and not your "primary" charging a 20A 240V or possibly even less might be doable and "enough" to get by.
Not worried about the cost of the wall unit - the end goal for me is probably buying my parents their own Model 3 at some point, and if the charger is there already, it'll make a lot more sense and be an easier thing for them to wrap their head around. My visits are rarely overnight - usually a few hours a visit. They're close enough to visit frequently, but far enough that getting topped off for a few hrs would prevent the need to duck into a supercharger on the way back. In theory 40A would be fine.

Just getting some raw opinions for now - have 2 electricians lined up to do estimates and eventually the work, but want to better understand what I'm looking at as well. Electricity is not my forte, so I'm self educating even if I have no intention on attempting the work myself.

btw are you the V1Driver guy?
 
Please post a closer up picture of the handle ties so we can read the amperages as well as a picture of the sticker on the door (not the green one) so we can understand more details of what make/model of panel they have.
Will get better photos next time I'm down there now that I know what I'm looking for.
Are there any other panels in the house (like at the meter base?) Seems small for a modern residence.
No that's it. The panel is in the garage, and the other side of that panel on the outside of the house is the meter. Home was built in 1966.
 

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
7,558
7,018
MA, NH
Not worried about the cost of the wall unit - the end goal for me is probably buying my parents their own Model 3 at some point, and if the charger is there already, it'll make a lot more sense and be an easier thing for them to wrap their head around. My visits are rarely overnight - usually a few hours a visit. They're close enough to visit frequently, but far enough that getting topped off for a few hrs would prevent the need to duck into a supercharger on the way back. In theory 40A would be fine.

Just getting some raw opinions for now - have 2 electricians lined up to do estimates and eventually the work, but want to better understand what I'm looking at as well. Electricity is not my forte, so I'm self educating even if I have no intention on attempting the work myself.

btw are you the V1Driver guy?

Yup :)

That panel looks like a 60-Amp panel total. It could be a 100-Amp. I suspect 40A would be pushing it without a new service.
I think of 30 Amp 240 as a decent minimum. That only does 21 mph though. Which is fine for overnight/daily but might not be enough for your use case.

The Wall Connectors are great for outdoors, and anything at or over 40A (because of UMC limitations).
Arguably they are a tad safer because they are hard wired.

Be curious what the rating is on the main breaker. Curious if my guess is right ;)
 

eprosenx

Active Member
May 30, 2018
2,076
2,554
Beaverton, OR
Will get better photos next time I'm down there now that I know what I'm looking for.

No that's it. The panel is in the garage, and the other side of that panel on the outside of the house is the meter. Home was built in 1966.

So I think that is a pretty nice panel for 1966. But yeah, it is a max of 100a. More likely 60a but we will see with better pictures.

If it can be done safely, I would be curious to see pictures of the inside of the panel too just to see wire gauges, panel configuration, etc...

It might be helpful to see the meter base outside as well as well as the feed wires (overhead I assume?).

On the plus side, if replacing this panel is necessary, it would be super trivial to do. Like maybe a couple hundred bucks in parts. Residential panels are very inexpensive. The wiring all looks long enough and is in decent enough shape that dropping in a physically larger panel in the same place would be easy. The lack of sheetrock makes it just that much easier. I am not a professional, but I could probably do it in an afternoon. Turn off main breaker, pull meter base outside, remove all wires from panel then remove panel, install new panel and re-install all wires into new breakers. Re-install meter base, turn back on power. Call for inspection and call power company to re-tag meter (you should have called them ahead of time to let them know you need to cut their tag).

Depending on the meter base setup and feed wires, it might be extremely easy to upgrade to a 100a or 200a electrical service at the same time. The utility will probably upsize their wires all the way to the meter base for free for an existing customer. You just may have to upgrade the meter base and any conduit and the wire in to your new panel.

I am guessing we are going to find that your parents panel is very close to its limits with a 2400 sq foot house on either a 60a or 100a service. (since it has AC too!)

I am guessing the house is gas for just about everything? There are only two 240v breakers. One for AC. I am guessing the other (30a) is a dryer? Or is it a water heater?

I did just notice one tandem breaker in there that I missed before. If the panel is rated for tandems in more positions then you very well might be able to add a 240v circuit to that existing panel, but load calculations are going to be very tight if not make it impossible.

P.S. If the 30a is a dryer you could potentially just charge off that plug when there (assuming your parents don't need to do laundry while you are there).
 
I am guessing we are going to find that your parents panel is very close to its limits with a 2400 sq foot house on either a 60a or 100a service. (since it has AC too!)

I am guessing the house is gas for just about everything? There are only two 240v breakers. One for AC. I am guessing the other (30a) is a dryer? Or is it a water heater?
It's gas for most things. Water heater, stove, etc. I think my parents got AC in the 90s, so that was a new addition for the panel for sure. You may be onto something with the other 30A - the washer/dryer used to be on the 2nd floor. When my parents added a kitchen extension, the washer/dryer moved to the 1st floor, near the kitchen. That 30A may have serviced the 2nd floor electric dryer, and could be orphaned.

Everything coming in is overhead. My parents haven't really done much with the house, but I suspect upgrading everything while expensive is probably worthwhile anyway - I'm sure if they ever sell it, not having a modern panel would probably count against them anyway.
 

eprosenx

Active Member
May 30, 2018
2,076
2,554
Beaverton, OR
It's gas for most things. Water heater, stove, etc. I think my parents got AC in the 90s, so that was a new addition for the panel for sure. You may be onto something with the other 30A - the washer/dryer used to be on the 2nd floor. When my parents added a kitchen extension, the washer/dryer moved to the 1st floor, near the kitchen. That 30A may have serviced the 2nd floor electric dryer, and could be orphaned.

Everything coming in is overhead. My parents haven't really done much with the house, but I suspect upgrading everything while expensive is probably worthwhile anyway - I'm sure if they ever sell it, not having a modern panel would probably count against them anyway.

So is their current dryer gas then?

If this indeed is a 100a service and the dryer is gas, then there may actually be enough capacity to add a decent size 240v charging circuit. A load calculation needs to be run (there are lots of forms online for how to do this - sadly, many of them don’t match up so I don’t actually know which one to recommend that matches with what is in the 2017 NEC codebook - assuming that is the code that jurisdiction follows).

You could either put in a Wall Connector OR put in some appropriately sized 240v circuit with nema receptacle on it. Then you would need the right adapter for your UMC. This is the more common solution for infrequently utilized charging locations.

Though the wall connector is nice as you can select a lot of different max charge rates on it with the rotary dial. I will commonly recommend folks wire it up with say 6 awg wire in conduit and a 60a breaker, but then down-rate it at the wall connector using the rotary dial to some value that keeps the house under the load calculations limit. Then if later the load calcs change (like you switch from an electric to a gas dryer) you can just crank up the rotary dial and get more charge speed with no wiring or breaker changes.

But yeah, a new 200a panel would not hurt. That panel has had a good service life (though I am wondering if it is not original to the house - maybe installed with the remodel?)
 

eprosenx

Active Member
May 30, 2018
2,076
2,554
Beaverton, OR
Not worried about the cost of the wall unit - the end goal for me is probably buying my parents their own Model 3 at some point, and if the charger is there already, it'll make a lot more sense and be an easier thing for them to wrap their head around. My visits are rarely overnight - usually a few hours a visit. They're close enough to visit frequently, but far enough that getting topped off for a few hrs would prevent the need to duck into a supercharger on the way back. In theory 40A would be fine.

Oops, I just saw this comment from earlier.

So my advice if you don't care about the cost of the Wall Connector and you are planning on them owning a Tesla EV then I absolutely would upgrade that main service panel, and nearly guaranteed I would upgrade it to a 200a service as from the pictures I have seen so far I am thinking it might not be very expensive.
 

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