Your One Bullet Point Solution; Electrical Upgrade
Two points; I am well aware of many threads on topic of electrical service. I do not have time to read hundreds of posts, but wish to distill them down with your help. I will also post this on the Tech Forum to get wider response:
Doing service upgrade to 100A. I plan on adding a whole house surge protector, type 2, add on to panel after the service enters house. Panel to the HT/Music room is not under consideration, as it was all updated when the room was built.
If anyone has important info/contradictory info on that plan, please inform.
What I would like to know in shorthand form from the community from those who have Done upgrades:
1. Recommended Panel? Brand, any difference?
2. I currently have sub-panel for HT/Audio room which I’m tempted to keep. I understand that this is a good move. Electrician can sum all into a larger panel, but I have reservations. Comments/recommendations?
3. Particular wiring/breakers for panel/sub-panel for audio use?
4. Particular surge protector recommend.
As the topic has been covered much, notation form comments are welcome. Thanks for helping!
djones51, ok, I can do either 100A or 200A. The pedestal and panel has not been purchased yet.
If I do 200A, then my 100A subpanel is toast? Need to get 200A subpanel?
FYI for all helping; I added subpanel when building Audio room, as the main panel was too small. The new panel could be large enough to hold the audio lines, but I understand that a dedicated sub-panel is preferred.
I have two 20A lines running to the audio room. Audio room and those lines will not be redone, only panel/sub-panel and surge protection.
Square D and Siemens have a fantastic reputation and I’ve never heard anyone complain of their quality, unlike GE.
Best in-panel breakers are... in-panel. That is, they take 2 breaker slots and bond right to the busses, with a single pig tail to ground. The add-ons are not bad, but the extra impedance of the wires and that they necessitate taking up breakers themselves limits them in my mind.
So, whichever panel you get, get the same brand protectors that sit on the bus bars.
And, as a reminder, as you are aware, these surge protectors usually recommend you have a point-of-use protector near sensitive electronics as well.
There is another alternative but I have no experience with them, and that is in-meter surge protection.
The plan at this point: 200A New main panel w. 40 slots - copper bus, better breakers (Leave sub-panel in place just in case a transformer needs to be put in-between main panel and sub-panel) Whole house surge protector on main panel
If there are problems with noise I can get isolation transformer to put between main and sub-panel, and put the HT/Audio room lines back on the sub-panel.
Any thoughts or consideration of adding a separate copper ground rod for the audio only panel?
Do it, but you MUST bond it to the rest of the grounds. You can't create an independent ground network that is separate from the house ground that is bonded to neutral at the service entrance.
Also, and this is from reading a long long time ago, I have a faint memory that research regarding surge protectors and lightning strikes showed that bare armored ground (BAG) was superior than merely using a ground cable to the panel. Something about the armor carrying high frequency ground currents better. Usually the armor is not required or installed.
I have a whole house surge suppressor at the meter put in by the electric company. They maintain it, and provide insurance to every electrical device inside the house. Not only is my audio room protected, but my other audio systems in other rooms, and all my appliances. It cost me $6 a month. During construction of my last few houses, I had them run multiple dedicated 20 amp circuits to my audio room, it’s cheaper to do it in the beginning than after the drywall is up
Ok. Here it goes. Do a 200 amp new main panel by Siemens or cutler hammer with copper busses. Your electrician should follow codes for ground rod install. Then attach a whole house surge protector to the main panel. Eaton is fine. Then for your audio, get a dedicated 20 amp outlet with an audioquest 20 amp nrg audio outlet. I’ve been a builder for 30 yrs and I just completed my 20th home. You will get rid of your sub panel since you will have plenty of breaker slots for your home. Have fun and good luck.
I would assume you are doing this undertaking to make sure that power is not a limiting factor in sound quality. Before you spend all these money, lets look at what and why. Given that otherwise power quality is acceptable (no EMI, etc.), the main limiting factor from AC power would be too high of output impedance, i.e. sagging even for a shortest time under changing load. A valid concern, since this introduces nonlinearity, intermodulation distortion, and reduction of dynamic range. But the current rating of your incoming power and details of your distribution panel are not the main bottleneck in the entire power budget. The in-wall wiring and all the old twist-on connections are. Unless you recently upgraded your wiring and know exactly what it is, my guess is that likely you have AWG12 solid wire connection at best, or even thinner wire. NEMA requires AWG14 for 15A branches and AWG12 for 20A branches With long runs and likely several twist-on connections with possible oxidized copper you may not see much actual difference once you are done with the upgrade you've mentioned. If the situation with wiring is what I described, you would better off using a good quality power conditioner that would compensate for the deficiencies of old wiring. To toot my own horn, my company makes EMI filters for industrial applications with very low output impedance that compensates for some problems in wiring, as well it gets rid of EMI just about completely:
However many slots you put in, you will want more! I like Siemens. I have a small sub panel for my lab, a middle sub panel for kitchen, HT, and music room, and a very large main panel. I still have a few slots left over.
Doug, don’t forget a meter socket SPD. This is the first line of defense in terms of surge protection. Depending of where you live, you might have to ask the power company to install it for you and they will charge you a small monthly fee. It goes outside, right behind the meter. Most people miss that part. Good luck. N.B. The equipment and its maintenance is handled strictly by the power company.
I have worked with most circuit breakers over the years starting with my Dad 55 years ago. He told me back in the day that Square D would never let anyone down. I can add Siemens as another. When adding new panels for audio make sure to specify annealed HC copper busbar materials, not brass or Cuponal. Square D (Schneider Electric) and Siemens both supply them. Be sure to treat the busbars with a copper preservative to slow down oxidation. This is especially important in humid climates. A very good one is Thomas and Betts CP8-TB containing colloidal copper.
Some important details I do not know- Is this a smaller townhouse with gas heat, stove, water heater and no a/c needs?
I may not be following your goal here.
A new panel under 200 amps is considered an oddity in the markets I have lived in. Unless you fit the parameters I stated earlier and have very limited a/c power needs.
Normal procedure when installing an service upgrade is to eliminate sub panels. Have you run your thoughts by a good electrician yet? . You have some of the plan down. Run 2 dedicated 20 amp circuits to your component location. 12 gauge wire is fine. No j-boxes along the way. One circuit for audio and one for video. Use the same bar in the panel for both new lines and do not put it on the same bar with a/c or refrigerator. Buy better grade receptacles for inside the home. Offer at least 4 plugs-ins per 20 amp circuit.
@douglas_schroeder Your dedicated circuits to your audio room could be protected by a individual 20 amp breaker with its own surge suppression built in most manufactures sell them Square D, Siemens, etc. I would also have the electrician test your grounding electrode system and make sure your reading from ground to earth is 25 ohms or less to ensure its integrity is up to the task of dissipating faults even small ones in the system. Also if you keep your sub panel and just change the main have your electrician make sure the downstream sub is properly wired// grounds and neutrals are separated and only bonded together at the source. You would want current flowing on the grounds.
I’ll add a few opinions, although I’m not a professional electrician or a NEC expert.
First, I’d heed tvad’s suggestion about a circuit to the garage. I put in a 50 amp 240V circuit when I had my house built, yes with the plan to get an EV (which I did). However, having a circuit to the garage will be a benefit to somebody at some point who would want to do a workshop, welding, etc., so it is cheap to put it in now, much more expensive later on. I’d also put in a 20 amp 240V outlet right under the main panel, just for an air compressor or something you might want to run from 240V.
Some have mentioned the grounding rods, and rather than test if the one is at specification, it seems easier to just put another one in, according to code of course.
I see absolutely no reason to remove the 100 amp panel to the HT room, it is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. That is the same justification for upgrading to the 200 amp main panel. Also, just because it is a 100 amp subpanel, if the loads on the panel are calculated it can be supplied by a lesser amp (for example 60 amp) breaker.
One other detail I’ve learned from listening on Audiogon, the dedicated 20 amp circuit is a major focus, it seems you might be able to do a couple to the HT room. And to go even with 10 ga wire.
If I was redoing the electrical at my house, I’d have added several conduits in various locations where wire could be pulled easily at some future point. A roll-you-eyes but I still would LOVE to have it, a 20 amp 240V circuit to the living room or bedroom, where I could power my computer with the more efficient 240V.
As can be seen I am novice when it comes to this stuff. I have no clue whether the pedestal - the name given by electrician to the outside service that is replacing the old 60A one, is different for 100A or 200A. My point was that I have freedom to go either direction. I have chosen to to 200A.
I already have power in the garage, workbench with outlets, etc. So, I'm set there. It is a great suggestion, though, and I use it plenty.
I have two dedicated 20A lines running to HT/Audio room already which I put in using 10AWG cable, so that's set. No retrofit there, because it's built like a bomb shelter.
I'm in good shape; the coring - or whatever you call it - for the new line is happening next week, the space is ready for new pedestal, and I"m going with 200A Square D QO breakers with 40 slots. Copper bus, etc. Goop the copper to protect from corroding. Should be more than enough.
I will have exterior whole house surge protector put on by elec. co., which is a bargain to help protect nice gear, and may put an additional one inside on panel, We'll see. It gets redone, if necessary, until no noise as first priority.
Probably do the recommended copper ground for HT/Audio circuit as well, but no rod in the ground outside. Never have had grounding/noise issues that way.
Plus, adding whole house remote control for power. One remote, control power for everything. All electronics, furnace and AC, lighting, computer and phones, garage door opener, car starters, and all electronics in audio and HT system, etc. Not cheap at $20K, but should be nice. Not really; just kidding about that. ;)
Should have the project done in two weeks. Space outside the house where the work will be done was prepared this morning. We're set. I very much appreciate all the guidance and suggestions! I believe the result will be splendid, and according to most the upgrade from 60A to 200A should confer a slight improvement audibly. At least that's my understanding of the discussion. It need not, but that would be a nice bonus.
Talk about bonus, the utilitity co. forestry man was out at precisely the same time. Getting two trees that were questionable removed due to his agreement that they should come down (power lines/poles, encroachment on road, etc.) That will save me a ton of physical work, especially since I can pile the wood, which is suitable, just a few feet away at the roadside on grass and I bet that will be gone in a day or two. Sweet, no trailering it somewhere!
It's been a very good week for property maintenance. Makes the music sound all the sweeter! :)
I will have exterior whole house surge protector put on by elec. co., which is a bargain to help protect nice gear, and may put an additional one inside on panel,
The thing to keep in mind about the whole house protectors, which are important, is the clamping voltage and activation time. Often the clamping voltage (starts to work) ~ 300 V. It’s right on the label. And wow, those levitons are expensive, and still need a breaker. The in-panel units run ~ $80, need no additional breaker, and have lower wire impedance. I’d stick one as close to the incoming power as possible.
Furman and other devices with series mode protection kick in (and I may be wrong) around 140V and have no activation time. I wrote about this somewhat here:
Oh, also, the impedance of wiring between your listening room and the panel can increase the voltage there before the whole house protector kicks in even higher. Series mode devices don't suffer from this delay or from the additional clamp voltage. So, lots of good reasons to have both. :)
Surge protection will likely be ineffective if for any reason the earthing is deficient. As an electrical engineer that deals with noise and earthing on industrial plant to a high level of detail, I really implore you to over engineer the earthing, or do not bother to proceed.
Earthing as a quality reveals itself in two ways - continuously on a day to day basis with noise, and intermittently/rarely under fault, surge or other unusual conditions, sometimes with catastrophic or even lethal outcomes.
If nothing else I imagine you have many much loved items of equipment. Regardless of any value, it would be a shame to learn that a better earth may have protected them or a family member the hard way.
Well straight away if you are going from capacity of 60 to 100 or 200 amps there may be more imbalanced current to dispose of. Additional wiring may require an extension of the earthing network for the house, the entire system should be considered rather than just a tack on.
Also, if the earthing system (stakes, wires etc) has been there for 60 years I can guarantee you that corrosion will have had some impact and it may be substandard right now. If you live in an area near the ocean there will be problems and anywhere with even a hint of geothermal activity, H2S eats copper for breakfast.
ELECTRICIANS and owners of the whole house meter surge suppressor devices, I need your help on a particular point of information.
My local utility does not offer the house/meter surge suppressors.
I see one made by Leviton. I get the idea.
Question: I believe my electrician could install it. They seem to have a shelf life. What happens when a surge hits? Do they reset automatically? Are you without power until reset? How do you reset them?
Before we renovated our kitchen, a friend who is a licensed first class electrician was building a home and installed the same "commercial" unit in my home that he intended to put in his main panel of his new home. I reached out to him for a recommendation for a new home we are building, and he said there's a less expensive one he recommends:
It's still about a grand for the unit, which has a pair of replaceable modules and monitors the surges it captures.
As it turns out, the builder in our new neighborhood won't install that unit for me (long story), so I'm getting a much less sophisticated one installed in my main panel, which consumes two slots and (in my case) needs to be replaced if it's ever "invoked".
Hey @ejr1953 - I don’t think that’s a down grade, honestly.
I know it looks impressive, but look at the clamping voltage. The in-panel units should be rated the same, and are cheaper in large part because they don’t take an extra case.
The only down side of them IMHO may be lack of an audible alert when they blow.
As I wrote before though: In panel surge protectors are superior due to the lack of cabling. They have an intimate, high frequency attachment to the power buss. Surges tend to be high frequency, far above 60 Hz. Any induction on the line to the surge protector will increase the effective clamping voltage (a bad thing).
So, yeah, I get it, those big metal boxes with 3 gauge wiring look all that, but they are 1 breaker pair plus the wiring away from the surge.
@douglas_schroeder Siemens Model #:QSA2020SPDP It does the whole house/ panelboard and adds additional 2/120v circuit breakers which you could put on the audio/ music room cost is 119.00 home depot or a Siemens supplier when the electrician comes out he can install this in a specified position on the load center and it will protect.
THOUGHTS in regard to two options electrician is offering? Both 200A Both will have some form of surge protection at panel
Eaton CH Panel with space for an Eaton surge protection -The Eaton panel has uses silver plated copper bus bar connection -Breakers seem to be mounted directly onto neutral
Square D with QO breakers -The Square D has a tin plated copper bus bar -breakers seem to be wired in
My electrician plans on replacing the ground bars with copper.
Again, if there are noise problems I will probably add an isolation transformer and sub-panel.
QUESTION: So a load center can have more than one surge protection device? i.e. covering entire panel, and additional covering the circuits for the HT/audio room? The Siemens unit recommended by drlisz seems to do both entire panel and two circuits. Is that the same case with others, like the Eaton panel surge protector?