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Question DetailsAsked on 2/24/2018

What does CL 200 mean on the electric meter? Is that the amp? It read 240 v next to it.

I am renovating my house and am adding appliances and additional switches for lighting. The breaker box panel does not have any stampings indicating the AMP or voltage. I have 24 spaces with 2 open. I looked at the outside meter from the electric company and it reads CL 200 and 240 V. I assume the 240 are the volts. We are trying to determine if I need to add another box. The house is 3 stories and approx 2800 sq feet.

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That 240V means the meter box itself is designed for 240V electric service - so would have connection/plug in lugs for two 110/120V live feeds into the box and which the meter connects to and "reads" usage from (by measuring the current flowing through the wires), a neutral wire lug or bus, and in most areas but not all - a ground wire. (Many areas do not have a ground wire in the service drop - the usual ground wire from the meter panel and breaker panel to water pipes and/or a ground rod driven into the ground, which all systems should have for safety even if not required when the house was built (say before sometimes around the late 60's or the 70's) provides the only ground in those cases.)
The CL200 means the box is rated for up to 200A continuous 220/240V power draw through it - meaning the total load from breaker boxes, and the size of totaled main breakers, should not exceed 200A on each "side" or live lead of the 220/240V wiring - can be less. Ampearage rating might be confusing - is rated for 200A 240V service = 200 x 240 = 48KVA (kilovolt-amperes)= 48KW of power. This is the same as 200A on each of the 120V live wires = 2 x 200 x 120 = 48KVA. [I have ignored the technical power issues of KW not directly equaling KVA and phase shifting, apparent power, power factors and such, for simplicity - close enough for normal residential use unless you have large motors in use - larger than 3-4 HP or so]. Note a CL200 meter base does NOT mean you have 200A service drop capacity - could be almost anything depending on how old the house is - may well be less - the boxes is just RATED for UP TO that amount of continuous line power demand, does NOT mean the incoming service drop is rated for that. You would have to check with the power utility (commonly the engineering department) for what maximum capacity your service pedestal or transformer and service drop (the wiring to the house) is. Your service capacity (without upgrade) might be limited by the meter box capacity, by the service drop (wiring) capacity, or by the service connection capacity (how much capacity there is in the pedestal or transformer you come off of - especially if a multi-customer connection point. For instance, in our area transformers serve 2-5 customers, so how much power you can potentially be "allocated" might depend on what service capacity other customers have already installed - with some large workshops and pot growing operations (yeah, I live in a legal pothead state) and such in some homes, I have heard of cases where the utility would not allow an upgrade to an individual home's demand without them upgrading the transformer which that house is connected to. Free with some utilities (they figure they will get it paid back in power usage fees), but with modern billings commonly breaking monthly service/facility fees from power utilization charges, it is far more common for them to charge for transformer or service drop upgrades - sometimes in the quite a few thousand $ range with utilities short of money or for government-owned utilities which provide revenue to a city so they crank up rates and fees to increase the revenue. On the breaker box capacity - it may be stamped with the box amperage rating in the metal - either on the metal cover plate / shield over the box itself, sometimes on the bus bars (the metal power strips or lugs which the breakers tap the power off) inside the box, sometimes in the sheet metal of the box itself near the top. If newer than at least about 1970's as I recall (maybe as far back as late 50's or 60's), it should have a UL (Underwriter's Lab) metal or plastic or paper label (usually inside the door) showing the manufacturer information (make, model, date built, code compliance coding, etc) and the total box amperage rating (which would apply to both of the bus bars - so 200A rated 220/240V box means 200A allowed on each of the bus bars), which total the main breakers - be they in the top of the panel itself or better a separate outdoor main breaker next to or in the meter box, should not exceed so they protect against overloads in the panel. That label will also indicate if there are specific amperage limits on various breaker slots - in many older boxes (and maybe some newer ones, though I don't recall seeing this in any box made after about 1985) the high-amperage circuits (typically 30A or 40A or higher) had to be in the top 2-3 slots on each side, not lower down on the bus bars. Sometimes stamped on the bus bars at each breaker slot, in others like my Cutler-Hammer it is stamped by each breaker slot on the metal cover shield which the breakers stick out through. There are also funny looking boxes which are broken into two parts (usually were used in apartments - sometimes pulling two apartments off on box) where one section of the box was rataed for high-amperage breakers, the other section only for low-amperage outlet and lighting circuits. Normally the amperage limits was stamped on the box shield, sometimes on the bus bars themselves. Normally the label inside the door, which typically has spaces for writing in what each circuit serves, will also have this specific slot amperage limitation diagramed on it too. The total amount of breakers inside the box connected to each bus will normally exceed that main breaker capacity by quite a bit (comonly by a factor of about 1.5 to 2 and sometimes more), because obviously not all circuits will be running at full capacity at one time. For instance, it does not assume all outlets will be in use and lights on at one time, nor that furnace and water heater and dryer and range will all be in use at one time. Also, if you have both electric heat / forced air furnace and A/C it assumes that those will not be working at the same time. There are standard tables of assumed utilization for the different types of devices and circuits to figure out what the likely normal maximum amperage being drawn through the sum of the various circuits will be, to determine if the box is "overamped" - too much normal use amperage draw from all the circuits from the box. This calculation is known as determining the "power utilization schedule" of the expected normal loads in each circuit to total up for the panel, which overall is known as the "ampacity" of the panel - what normally expected maximum total load it is expected to have on it at any given time. I am not going to get into how to calculate that - there are actually several different methods or "standards" - best to have an electrician handle that and the box and circuit sizing, especially since if you need a building permit in your area (almost certain if adding circuits) you are generally going to need a circuit design by an Architect's shop or by an electrician to get the permit anyway - this will be used by the inspector to see if the reqiring and new circuits were done per the plans. The electrician would also size the wiring and breakers properly based on type of device and anticipated loads - because there are 70% and 80% and 90% rules for different devices and uses, and in larger houses length of run has to be taken into account and may require upsizing some wiring to avoid excess losses along the line. The two sides of the box also have to be balanced - circuits wired so the two bus bars (connected to the two live leads of the service) have about equal loads on them. For your circuit expansion issue - personally I do not like loading a breaker box up to capacity - have seen to many overheated/melted/burned breaker/distribution panels. With a 24 slot box I would guess that is most likely (assuming not over about 40-50 years old) a 100A panel. I prefer putting in a separate panel, coming directly off a main breaker by the meter panel. For instance, if you happen to have a 100A breaker box now but a 200A service, that incoming service could be double-tapped - basically be "split" into two leads with two 100A main breakers on it, each of which would then feed to a separate breaker panel - the existing and a new one, with the "split" coming at the meter box. [Double-tapping here indicating two household main leads to panels coming off the meter, NOT the other meaning of putting two circuits off one breaker.] While it is possible, and legal in some area, to physically apply a clamp or crimp "tap" off the service line to provide a power lead to the second box, they tend to come loose and corrode and get pitting with use, causing an overheating risk. I STRONGLY recommend a proper main service lead either into a meter box which has buses or terminal bars to allow the splitting into two leads there (some have that capability or can have it added), or alternatively running the main service wire to a secondary combination junction/breaker box next to the meter box, with the 200A main lead connecting to bus bars in that box which the two main breakers would then connect into to provide the two independent household service leads from there on to the two panels. For that size hourse, if upgrading I would try to balance the loads somewhat between the two boxes (maybe reroute a large demand or two like dryer/range/electric water heater to the new box, for instance - in addition to new loads), and for modern loads I would recommend at least a 150A total capacity - preferably 200A minimum if you are upgrading the service drop anyway and it does not drive the price out of whack. Possibly even more if an all-electric house with electric water heating (especially if on-demand tankless) and either electric house heat or A/C - many 3000-4000SF range all-electric houses are being built now with 250-300A services, especially if they have an electric heated pool or such and are in A/C country. My bottom line recommendation - work with your Architect on this (assuming you have an architect designing the remodel - most have a mechanical designer on staff or associated which handles utility routing/sizing issues), or if this is a DIY job get an Electrical Contractor to provide the design IN WRITING, signed and with his license number on the paper. In most states, has to be a Journeyman or in a few even a Master Electrician to do a design likethis - not just an Apprentice.

Answered 8 months ago by LCD

0
Votes

OK - AL computer is taking out the paragraph breaks again - I will try again - putting in ==== everywhere there should be a paragraph break.

=====

That 240V means the meter box itself is designed for 240V electric service - so would have connection/plug in lugs for two 110/120V live feeds into the box and which the meter connects to and "reads" usage from (by measuring the current flowing through the wires), a neutral wire lug or bus, and in most areas but not all - a ground wire. (Many areas do not have a ground wire in the service drop - the usual ground wire from the meter panel and breaker panel to water pipes and/or a ground rod driven into the ground, which all systems should have for safety even if not required when the house was built (say before sometimes around the late 60's or the 70's) provides the only ground in those cases.)


===== The CL200 means the box is rated for up to 200A continuous load 220/240V power draw through it - meaning the total load from breaker boxes, and the size of totaled main breakers, should not exceed 200A on each "side" or live lead of the 220/240V wiring - can be less. Ampearage rating might be confusing - is rated for 200A 240V service = 200 x 240 = 48KVA (kilovolt-amperes)= 48KW of power. This is the same as 200A on each of the 120V live wires = 2 x 200 x 120 = 48KVA. [I have ignored the technical power issues of KW not directly equaling KVA and phase shifting, apparent power, power factors and such, for simplicity - close enough for normal residential use unless you have large motors in use - larger than 3-4 HP or so]. ===== Note a CL200 meter base does NOT mean you have 200A service drop capacity - could be almost anything depending on how old the house is - may well be less - the boxes is just RATED for UP TO that amount of continuous line power demand, does NOT mean the incoming service drop is rated for that. You would have to check with the power utility (commonly the engineering department) for what maximum capacity your service pedestal or transformer and service drop (the wiring to the house) is. Your service capacity (without upgrade) might be limited by the meter box capacity, by the service drop (wiring) capacity, or by the service connection capacity (how much capacity there is in the pedestal or transformer you come off of - especially if a multi-customer connection point. ===== For instance, in our area transformers serve 2-5 customers, so how much power you can potentially be "allocated" might depend on what service capacity other customers have already installed - with some large workshops and pot growing operations (yeah, I live in a legal pothead state) and such in some homes, I have heard of cases where the utility would not allow an upgrade to an individual home's demand without them upgrading the transformer which that house is connected to. Free with some utilities (they figure they will get it paid back in power usage fees), but with modern billings commonly breaking monthly service/facility fees from power utilization charges, it is far more common for them to charge for transformer or service drop upgrades - sometimes in the quite a few thousand $ range with utilities short of money or for government-owned utilities which provide revenue to a city so they crank up rates and fees to increase the revenue. ===== On the breaker box capacity - it may be stamped with the box amperage rating in the metal - either on the metal cover plate / shield over the box itself, sometimes on the bus bars (the metal power strips or lugs which the breakers tap the power off) inside the box, sometimes in the sheet metal of the box itself near the top. If newer than at least about 1970's as I recall (maybe as far back as late 50's or 60's), it should have a UL (Underwriter's Lab) metal or plastic or paper label (usually inside the door) showing the manufacturer information (make, model, date built, code compliance coding, etc) and the total box amperage rating (which would apply to both of the bus bars - so 200A rated 220/240V box means 200A allowed on each of the bus bars), which total the main breakers - be they in the top of the panel itself or better a separate outdoor main breaker next to or in the meter box, should not exceed so they protect against overloads in the panel. ===== That label will also indicate if there are specific amperage limits on various breaker slots - in many older boxes (and maybe some newer ones, though I don't recall seeing this in any box made after about 1985) the high-amperage circuits (typically 30A or 40A or higher) had to be in the top 2-3 slots on each side, not lower down on the bus bars. Sometimes stamped on the bus bars at each breaker slot, in others like my Cutler-Hammer it is stamped by each breaker slot on the metal cover shield which the breakers stick out through. ===== There are also funny looking boxes which are broken into two parts (usually were used in apartments - sometimes pulling two apartments off on box) where one section of the box was rataed for high-amperage breakers, the other section only for low-amperage outlet and lighting circuits. Normally the amperage limits was stamped on the box shield, sometimes on the bus bars themselves. ===== Normally the label inside the door, which typically has spaces for writing in what each circuit serves, will also have this specific slot amperage limitation diagramed on it too. ===== The total amount of breakers inside the box connected to each bus will normally exceed that main breaker capacity by quite a bit (comonly by a factor of about 1.5 to 2 and sometimes more), because obviously not all circuits will be running at full capacity at one time. For instance, it does not assume all outlets will be in use and lights on at one time, nor that furnace and water heater and dryer and range will all be in use at one time. Also, if you have both electric heat / forced air furnace and A/C it assumes that those will not be working at the same time. ===== There are standard tables of assumed utilization for the different types of devices and circuits to figure out what the likely normal maximum amperage being drawn through the sum of the various circuits will be, to determine if the box is "overamped" - too much normal use amperage draw from all the circuits from the box. This calculation is known as determining the "power utilization schedule" of the expected normal loads in each circuit to total up for the panel, which overall is known as the "ampacity" of the panel - what normally expected maximum total load it is expected to have on it at any given time. ===== I am not going to get into how to calculate that - there are actually several different methods or "standards" - best to have an electrician handle that and the box and circuit sizing, especially since if you need a building permit in your area (almost certain if adding circuits) you are generally going to need a circuit design by an Architect's shop or by an electrician to get the permit anyway - this will be used by the inspector to see if the reqiring and new circuits were done per the plans. The electrician would also size the wiring and breakers properly based on type of device and anticipated loads - because there are 70% and 80% and 90% rules for different devices and uses, and in larger houses length of run has to be taken into account and may require upsizing some wiring to avoid excess losses along the line. The two sides of the box also have to be balanced - circuits wired so the two bus bars (connected to the two live leads of the service) have about equal loads on them. ===== For your circuit expansion issue - personally I do not like loading a breaker box up to capacity - have seen to many overheated/melted/burned breaker/distribution panels. With a 24 slot box I would guess that is most likely (assuming not over about 40-50 years old) a 100A panel. I prefer putting in a separate panel, coming directly off a main breaker by the meter panel. For instance, if you happen to have a 100A breaker box now but a 200A service, that incoming service could be double-tapped - basically be "split" into two leads with two 100A main breakers on it, each of which would then feed to a separate breaker panel - the existing and a new one, with the "split" coming at the meter box. [Double-tapping here indicating two household main leads to panels coming off the meter, NOT the other meaning of putting two circuits off one breaker.] ===== While it is possible, and legal in some area, to physically apply a clamp or crimp "tap" off the service line to provide a power lead to the second box, they tend to come loose and corrode and get pitting with use, causing an overheating risk. I STRONGLY recommend a proper main service lead either into a meter box which has buses or terminal bars to allow the splitting into two leads there (some have that capability or can have it added), or alternatively running the main service wire to a secondary combination junction/breaker box next to the meter box, with the 200A main lead connecting to bus bars in that box which the two main breakers would then connect into to provide the two independent household service leads from there on to the two panels. ===== For that size house, if upgrading I would try to balance the loads somewhat between the two boxes (maybe reroute a large demand or two like dryer/range/electric water heater to the new box, for instance - in addition to new loads), and for modern loads I would recommend at least a 150A total capacity - preferably 200A minimum if you are upgrading the service drop anyway and it does not drive the price out of whack. Possibly even more if an all-electric house with electric water heating (especially if on-demand tankless) and either electric house heat or A/C - many 3000-4000SF range all-electric houses are being built now with 250-300A services, especially if they have an electric heated pool or such and are in A/C country. ===== My bottom line recommendation - work with your Architect on this (assuming you have an architect designing the remodel - most have a mechanical designer on staff or associated which handles utility routing/sizing issues), or if this is a DIY job get an Electrical Contractor to provide the design IN WRITING, signed and with his license number on the paper. In most states, has to be a Journeyman or in a few even a Master Electrician to do a design likethis - not just an Apprentice.

Answered 8 months ago by LCD

0
Votes

BTW - here are a few links to previous questions with answers about adding another breaker box, and about upgrading the existing breaker panel versus adding a second one, which might interest you. Since you said you are adding appliances and some lighting, with only two slots open (assuming all the installed breakers are connected to operating circuits) that would give you atmosst one 220/240V appliance or two convenience/lighting circuits. Though for just a few added lights you might be able to tack them onto an existing circuit which is not up to 80% of capacity.


http://answers.angieslist.com/Is-upgr...


http://answers.angieslist.com/How-cos...


http://answers.angieslist.com/100-AMP...


http://answers.angieslist.com/what-co...


http://answers.angieslist.com/Upgrade...


http://answers.angieslist.com/What-ba...


http://answers.angieslist.com/Can-I-i...

Answered 8 months ago by LCD




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