Dear Angie: We want to upgrade our electrical service from 100 amps to 200 amps. What is a reasonable price to expect to pay for an electric upgrade? The project also will require moving the meter to the outside of the wall it's now on. — Joseph B., Whitestone, N.Y.
Answer: Upgrading the electrical service to any home, whether 200 amps or more, requires disconnecting and then reconnecting the power line to the home, installing a new meter socket outside and replacing the circuit breaker panel. The meter socket is the box on the outside of your house that holds the glass-encased meter. Who owns the electric meter itself? Sometimes it's the utility company and other times it's the home owner. Your electrician should know.
The electric company, and not the electrician, must disconnect and reconnect the power line. Your home will lose power during part of the process, but a good electrician will know how to minimize this time.
Cost to upgrade
Upgrading to 200 amps generally costs $1,500 to $3,000 for a 2,600-square-foot home. For 400 amps or more, the price increases rapidly. In 2014, Angie's List members across the nation reported paying an average of $1,932 just to replace a circuit breaker panel.
Some electricians advise installing a whole-house surge protector, which adds $150 to $500 to the cost. The protection to your circuit breaker panel and home is worth the cost, because surges stemming from lightning strikes and even small usage fluctuations can damage wiring, appliances and home electronics.
Reasons to upgrade
Common reasons to upgrade service include having an older home with low amperage, remodeling and adding on, or installing a high-power amenity or machine such as a kiln or hot tub.
Sometimes homeowners choose to upgrade service while doing another project, such as burying an overhead power line. Such work usually requires that you hire a separate service provider to dig the trench.
Not a DIY project
Electrical repairs are not suitable DIY work. Take time to find an experienced, licensed electrician who can pull the proper permits and work with your local electric company. It's not just an issue of safety; homeowners usually will not be able to go through the correct channels to get their power transferred.
When hiring an electrician, consider pros that have positive consumer reviews on a trusted consumer site and can provide proof of licensing, insurance and bonding.
Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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