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Upgrading my electrical service from 100 amps to 200 amps question

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  • Upgrading my electrical service from 100 amps to 200 amps question

    I've had solar for the past 6 years through Solar City and at this time I've decided on upgrading my electrical service from 100 amp to 200 amps and I've found an electrician to do it, and he's also installed solar panels in the past. My question is, do I need any kind of help from Solar City? I called them, waited on hold for over an hour and the person who answered said he'd have to talk to an operations manager and get back to me. It's been over a week and no call back. My assumption is I can just go ahead and upgrade the service and not wait on Solar City. The electrician said it wont be an issue.

    Anyone have experience with upgrading their service when they have solar panels? In past dealing with Solar City I don't have much confidence that they'll get back to me in a timely manner. The guy wants to come out on the 13th for the upgrade and I doubt I'll hear back from Solar City by then. If it helps I've attached a pic of what the box looks like, the small grey box belongs to SC.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Solar City won't care. They try to do as little as possible with customers after the sale. We've done a number of R & R's(remove & replace) of solar arrays that were installed by Solar City and they either quote the customer an astronomical price to do it or just refuse to do it period.
    BSEE, R11, NABCEP, Chevy BoltEV, >2500kW installed

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    • #3
      As in remove and replace their panels?

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      • #4
        Assuming this is a grid Tied system, just make sure your panel will satisfy the 120% rule.
        So get one with a Busbar rating high enough to account for your Inverter breaker.
        120% of the busbar rating minus 200 amps must be higher than your Inverter breaker rating.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by scrambler View Post
          Assuming this is a grid Tied system, just make sure your panel will satisfy the 120% rule.
          So get one with a Busbar rating high enough to account for your Inverter breaker.
          120% of the busbar rating minus 200 amps must be higher than your Inverter breaker rating.
          I was reading about this and it surprises me that they would even let me get the solar panels since my box is full of breakers, seems like it's max out prior to SC installing the panels.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MD2002 View Post

            I was reading about this and it surprises me that they would even let me get the solar panels since my box is full of breakers, seems like it's max out prior to SC installing the panels.
            Maybe they did a line side tap or other workaround. The building permit might give you a clue. As noted above it is not necessarily the number of breakers in your panel. Why are you upgrading the panel now?
            9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

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            • #7
              if you just need more breaker spaces then have electrician replace your fat breakers with skinny ones, you will save 50% of the space

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              • #8
                One can also just install a new panel next to your old one and run a 100Amp breaker to your old panel. it's a LOT less work then rewiring the entire house/breaker panel.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ampster View Post

                  Maybe they did a line side tap or other workaround. The building permit might give you a clue. As noted above it is not necessarily the number of breakers in your panel. Why are you upgrading the panel now?
                  I'm finishing the basement and getting central air eventually. I also just want the option to add breakers if I need it. Lights are also flickering a lot when a lot of things are on. When we have the window AC running and my wife uses the hair dryer she trips a breaker everytime.

                  The price is right so I just figured getting it done now..

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                  • #10
                    I know they're are other options but I figured just upgrade the panel. I have an electrician who will do it for 2k which I think is reasonable and all the other options will cost money too. In the grand scheme of things upgrading seems like the way to go.

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                    • #11
                      If you have flickering lights and are tripping breakers, its probably time for a big
                      upgrade. A 200A box will involve the PoCo running bigger feeds, and no doubt
                      your house circuits need some work. Bruce Roe

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by khanh dam View Post
                        if you just need more breaker spaces then have electrician replace your fat breakers with skinny ones, you will save 50% of the space
                        Before you pursue that you should make sure that it's OK to do that.
                        There are a lot of breaker boxes that you are not supposed to put in the half-width breakers. Or that you're only allowed to put them in specific locations in the breaker box.
                        I can not tell from the picture what model breaker panel the OP has - but he should be able to identify it and see which breakers are compatible.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MD2002 View Post
                          I'm finishing the basement and getting central air eventually. I also just want the option to add breakers if I need it. Lights are also flickering a lot when a lot of things are on. When we have the window AC running and my wife uses the hair dryer she trips a breaker everytime.

                          The price is right so I just figured getting it done now..
                          I'm assuming AC + hair dryer are on the same circuit and that's causing the trip...
                          Only way to avoid that is to have separate circuits for them, which may be easy or difficult, depending on where those outlets are and what it would take to get new wires to them. (or if there's some junction box in between them that can be reached by new wires and split them that way.
                          So for that overloading-a-single-circuit situation, replacing the panel is not going to help at all.

                          For the lights flickering - I'm guessing you're seeing something like the lights dim a bit when the AC kicks on.
                          Replacing the panel may or may not help with that.
                          My guess would be that it won't help much...
                          I would bet that $100 for the electrician to check and re-torque every connection from the AC to the main breakers/meter will be as much or more of a benefit.
                          FWIW when I had lights dimming the POCO looked at their connection where it split from their main line to the line going to just my house and found that connection was no longer in good shape. So they redid that and I think eliminating that higher resistance connection helped signficiantly. (If you're upgrading the service to the house from the POCO from 100A to 200A, they'll obviously redo that connection, which might be where you're having high-ish resistance.)

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                          • #14
                            When I upgraded a 100a to 200a panel no new main service line was required in a sub division that had underground power lines.
                            upgrading the panel wont' let you use a hair dryer and ac unit on the same line either.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by khanh dam View Post
                              When I upgraded a 100a to 200a panel no new main service line was required in a sub division that had underground power lines.
                              upgrading the panel wont' let you use a hair dryer and ac unit on the same line either.
                              Yes, I'm aware of this. The plan is once the upgrade happens I'll run new lines with new breakers up to a few areas in the house. The current box does not really have room to add anything, unless you double up the breakers like someone said, but even then the neutral pole is full. You may be able to squeeze 1 or 2 more in there but it's full. I know you can just get a larger neutral pole or a pole extension. The house was built in 87 and the electrical work leaves a lot to be desired. There is one circuit that's attached to 5 outlets, 4 ceiling lights and a fan above the stove. Then you have the adjacent room which has a circuit only running 2 outlets and a ceiling light? Once the upgraded is done I plan on running new feeds to a few places. Also the romex on the 1st floor is just lying on top of the sheet rock, it's not secured to anything, it's just lying there. Very strange decisions when the house was built.

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