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Question DetailsAsked on 8/12/2013

100 AMP Electric Panel versus 200 AMP is one better for a 1200 ft home? Does one use more electricity over the other? Are they both just as safe?

I am considering a electric panel upgrade, but want to know what is the difference between 100 amp and 200 amp. Is one more beneficial over the other?

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The amperage is the rated power it can handle. Modern houses are generally built with 200 amp panels, and a lot of the newer ones are going 300-350 amps as more and more electronic devices and fancy and high-demand kitchen devices and increased lighting are used in homes.

Both are just as safe - the 200 amp one will just have many more breaker slots, allowing way more circuits, and providing more room for expansion in the future, especially for power-hungry things like shop tools. Each uses only as much electricity as is used in the circuits - the panel itself does not consume any electricity, so no long-term impact there. It is just a circuit connection box where the individual circuits are connected, with circuit protectors (breakers) in line before it connects to the main line to your electric usage meter.

Unless you are real tight on money on this job, I would upgrade to 200 amps capacity - the incremental cost is about $100-200 or so over the 100 amp panel. If your incoming power line cannot handle 200 amps, you could install a 100 amp main breaker to keep the power company happy but put in the 200 amp breaker panel, so in the future a main line upgrade could be done with only a main disconnect breaker upgrade of $100 or so, without having to change anything inside the house.

Having the larger panel, especially if 200 amp capacity all the way from the meter, can be a selling point (or rather, lack of a negative point) to a potential buyer with lots of electronics or who is into shop power tools. It would also facilitate conversion to electric heat / water heating if someone wanted to do that.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD


It is a matter of maximum capacity and space for wires.

One likely has more slots for breakers-- and as such also more room for wires.

With the 100AMP box, you will be limited to purchasing 100AMP service from your utility. I currently have 100AMP service in my ~1,600sq.ft. home. It is adequate-- I've been too busy to pursue some of my desired hobbies. When such obligations preventing me disappear, I will likely cause brownouts in my home with my welder. I have a 100AMP box-- which is sad. Now I have to buy another box if I want to upgrade to 150AMP service. Also, my box is just jam packed with half-size breakers and subsequently packed to the brim with branch feeder wires from each of those half-sized breakers.

This early Spring I plan on putting a 200AMP box in. (What happens if I exceed the 150 amps I am looking to use soon? Yep, with a 150AMP panel, I'd be in the same pickle if I wanted more. The 150A vs 200A price difference of the actual metal panel is currently $20 to avoid a future headache. I am absolutely going to spend that extra trivial $20. You absolutely can underpower a higher rated box, but not the opposite-- you really shouldn't overpower an under-rated box.)

Not only does this give me room to grow, but it is just safer as I'll have more room to work with regarding the wires in the box. I'd be hard pressed to get my fingers in my current panel there is so much crap packed into there.

If I end up hiring an electrician, that trivial $20 will also likely translate into more than the cost in labor savings-- it is just easier to work when you have more space. Easier work just naturally goes faster and one way or another that job gets translated into dollars per hour.

These are just the things I considered for myself. I imagine you have long since finished your project, but others will stumble on this and I hope it helps them decide.

Answered 2 years ago by BradChesney79

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