Help on basic 200 amp electrical service?

Here is an simple question. How can you tell if my house has 100 amp or 200 amp service? If I have 100 amp service what typically needs to be done to upgrade?

Thanks for the help and patience for my in learning in advance,
Just got help from a friend. My panel is 200 amp. :)

A few more questions, my friend and I didn't know.

How do I know when the panel is full from an amperage perspective? My panel has over 200 amps worth of switches in it? (many 15's, many 20's incuding two for stereo on the same side of the panel, 2 50's etc...)

How do I know that my electrical service from the power company can handle 200 amps?

Thanks again. (debating whether to hire an electrician to review the house setup...)

The sum of the breaker values is not relevant to what you are trying to determine. Each breaker on each circuit is there to trip in case of a fault in the circuit operation prior to (hopefully) something causing damage. The breaker value has a limiting relationship to the maximum load that CAN be placed on the circuit, but does nothing to tell the OPERATING load you actually are placing on the circuit.

The rating on the service panel is directly related to the OPERATING load.

In terms of knowing whether or not your service panel's load rating is adequate for the loads you are placing on it, you need to do a load calculation. The below link will take you to a page where you can find much more information and a calculation form that may be helpful. Go to the bottom of the page.

In general terms, what you are doing is adding the sum of energy consumption in WATTS:
1: sq ft of the home x some value (often 3) = x watts
2: adding up all of the appliance and significant use circuits: circuit watts + circuit watts + circuit watts
3: totalling the above, and doing some math to average the above use
4: adding in some conditional use appliances
5: totaling your work and dividing by 240v = xxx amps
6: your service panel rating needs to be larger than #5,
hopefully by a comfortable margin, generally considered to be at least a minimum of 10%.

If in doubt, buy a basic manual that has a detailed explanation of the calculations. They are not rocket science, and the manuals are not expensive. These are, however, IMPORTANT calculations. You want to be sure you are operating in a position of comfortable reserves for the sake of safety. Always know and obey local codes, or hire someone to advise you who does.

It is always a good idea to hire a professional electrician when you are working in an area of inexperience. But, and this is a big but, do your homework first so that you know what it is that you are trying to accomplish. If you give him a detailed list, in heirarchic order, of your desires, it is much easier for him to see the whole picture and advise you accordingly. If you educate him fast by doing the homework first, the clock does not run on his meter for anywhere near as long.

Thanks for the perfectly worded answer. I added up everything in the house and if every thing is turned on from the stereo, oven, 2 A/C's, Well, clothes dryer, microwave, etc... to the last blow dryer and asuming everything runs all day long (which of course it doesn't), we are well away from 200 amps. I saved both your post and the Alaskan usage table.

My only goal which I should have said before after the saftey of the family was to see if my power senstive stereo was being fed enough. Since I am now comfortable with both, I rest easier and with my pocket a drop fuller not having to spend money and time on a electrician.

I am in your debt and greatly appreciate your time.

You are welcome. My pleasure.
If you want to know just the size of the service, the only two ways to do it is either to look in the service panel and see what the placard says, eg, "120/240 VAC 100-ampere" will tell you the maximum capacity of the panel is 100-amps. It doesn't matter what size the main fuse or circuit breaker is - as long as it's less than the panel rating.

If there is no placard, then the only other way to determine the size of the service is to ask an electrician what size is the meter pan or what size are the service wires coming in to the panel. (There's an easy way to determine this, but since you don't know about it, I'm certainly not going to send you fishing through your electric panel and hoping you don't get fried.)

All that said, there are basically three service sizes: 60-amp, 100-amp and 225-amp. Most houses with circuit breakers that have gas heat and cooking are 100-amp (or 60-amp if they have fuse boxes). Houses with electric stoves, electric heat, or well pumps will usually have 200/225 amp service. You can use your house as a guide.

Doing the math may tell you what you are using and give you an idea of what the minimum service size should be, but you cannot tell from this method because some people intentionally oversize the electrical service.
Gs5556 is absolutely correct. I read your inquiry incorrectly, now that I read it again. Gs is very knowledgeable and his response is exactly correct for your real question.