A building's electric service is the heart of the electrical infrastructure for the building. An electric service is the connection to the utility's grid that the utility company gives you when you set up a billing account. There are three main components of all electrical services: the connection to the utility company's transformer (either overhead or underground), the electric meter, and the main service disconnect. If the service runs overhead, the utility company (NYSEG) owns the potion that is airborne and is responsible for the maintenance of that wire. If the service runs underground, it is typical for the homeowner to be responsible for that portion of the wiring up to the point of connection with the utility transformer. The meter component is what most homeowners are familiar with. This is the round can-like object that the utility company reads to monitor electricity usage. It is required that the meter be on the outside of a home in a location that is easily accessible with a three foot bu three foot clear space in front of it for the meter reader's safety and ease. The most crucial component that determines the capacity of all electrical use in the home is the main service disconnect. The size of the existing wire from the utility transformer, through the meter, and then to the disconnects is what determines the maximum allowed amperage for the entire system. The most common electric service sizes are 100 amps and 200 amps, although many all electric homes will need a 400 amp electric service.
What Size Service do I Need?
The sizing of all electrical services is governed by the National Electric Code(NEC) and enforced by local electrical inspectors. In NYS the 2017 NEC is the electrical code that had been approved by the NYS Legislature. The size of an electrical service is determined by performing an electrical load calculation. The load calculation uses information about the house such as square footage and installed (or planned) electrical appliances to determine the correct main service size. All electrified homes will require at least a 200 amp service, but in many cases, a 400 amp electrical service will be required especially when one or more electric vehicle chargers are being considered. Many people may ask, why a 400 amp service and not a 300 amp service? While technically a 300 amp service may be adequate, but practically, the cost of installing a 300 amp vs a 400 amp service is non-existent to we choose to install 400 amp services to allow for further electrical appliances to be installed such as hot tubs or welders.
What is Involved in an Electric Service Upgrade?
In order to upgrade an electrical service the three components (the wire from the meter to the utility company's transformer, the electric meter, and the main service disconnect) of the electrical service need to be replaced with components that are sized for the increased amperage capacity. All upgrades must be approved by the utility company (which takes time) before the contractor can schedule a date for the upgrade. Once a date is scheduled the work is performed in tandem with the utility company and must be inspected before the utility company will connect the meter and resume service.
Once all of the approvals have been made for the project, the upgrade can happen within one day. The first step on an upgrade day, is for the contractor to meet with the utility crew in the morning to disconnect the existing service. This leaves the house without power, which is why we recommend that homeowners be offsite since the majority of the day there will be no electricity to the home. Once the service is disconnected from the grid, the old meter and cable are removed. In the case of an overhead service, the cable that rises up the side of the house is replace, the meter cabinet is replaced, and the previous main panel is refed with new wiring. Our technique of service upgrades, is to leave the existing panel in place and add a new panel, either outside or inside, for additional breaker space. This technique then relocates the main service disconnects (breakers) to the outside of the house. In the case of a 200 amp service there would be a single 200 amp disconnect, and in the case of a 400 amp service, there would be two 200 amp disconnects. We prefer this method, as it centrally located the disconnects and makes the disconnects easily accessible for emergency services in case of an electrical fire, and because the 2020 NEC will require all service disconnects to be on the outside of the house. Once the physical installation is complete and the service has been inspected, either the contractor or the utility company will reconnect the service to the grid re-energizing the house.
LaMorte Electric was founded by Brian LaMorte to provide quality electrical and HVAC contracting services to Ithaca, Tompkins County and the surrounding areas. Brian is a highly skilled and licensed electrician in the City of Ithaca. We specialize in everything from electrical repairs, to generator sales/installs, to car charger installs, to furnace and air conditioner sales, installs and repairs.
If you need a licensed Electrical or HVAC contractor then contact us.
LaMorte Electric Heating and Cooling
LaMorte Electric Heating and Cooling is proud to be an Inclusive employer. We support the LGBTQ+ community!
LaMorte Electric Heating and Cooling is proud to be a Tompkins County Living Wage Employer.
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LaMorte Electric Heating and Cooling is proud to be a NYSERDA qualified air source heat pump installer.
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Lamorte Electric - 607-229-4576 1570 Danby Road, Ithaca NY 14850