Author Topic: Electrical circuit took a day off  (Read 2794 times)

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Offline RussellS

  • Posts: 280
Re: Electrical circuit took a day off
« Reply #30 on: September 24, 2019, 11:37 PM »
I had an electrician swing by a few months ago to add an outlet for a new gas fireplace insert. He mentioned he could replace our aging main panel with a new SqD 200a box, all up to code with a mains switch off and GFCI, for something like $1,200.

That seems expensive to me.  The electrician is NOT rewiring any of the wires running throughout your house.  He is just unhooking all the wires that are already at the panel.  And hooking them up to a new panel.  If your current panel works, what are you gaining from a new panel?  You could add a subpanel right next to your current panel and get more space for breakers, if that is your main reason.

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Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1847
Re: Electrical circuit took a day off
« Reply #31 on: September 25, 2019, 11:49 AM »
Suggest that you check out the Leviton Smart Load Center

I wouldn’t get this.  The life of a load center should be measured in decades.  What is the chance that there is a functioning app even 10 years from now, much less after that? 

Many companies are underestimating the support costs for apps (I’m in I.T.), and then abandoning their products (that’s a generous interpretation; I suspect many know darn well their product’s life is short).  E.g., the first wave of net-connected security cameras has already been abandoned, after just 5 years (eg Logitech, INSTEON).

The only sustainable business model is to charge an annual subscription for the app —and even that didn’t stop Logitech dropping its cameras.  How would you feel about paying 20 bucks a year to keep your load center going?  Even at that price they’d need tens of thousands of subs to cover their costs.

I agree.  I haven't looked into this specific product, but the idea doesn't strike me as a good one for reasons I will describe.  Going a beyond the app, software and hardware has a limited lifespan, particularly if it is accessible from the outside and doesn't live in an isolated static environment.  No software is 100% bug free or hack free, so updates are part of the equation (for as long as they are offered).  And many times these devices are dependent on software, hardware and other technologies.  It's a complicated ecosystem of technology and the only known is eventually it all changes and older versions are deprecated.  Somewhere around 10 years is a reasonable lifespan before you're running into these obstacles born from old software.  This isn't a reality that dawned upon many since we're relatively early into the IoT lifecycle, but it will within the next 5 years as wireless cameras, thermostats, locks and other smart devices start falling "out of the cloud" so to speak. 

This particular panel may no longer offer the ability to remotely monitor the circuits when that happens, but I would argue that's unnecessary anyway.  But how is this panel configured?  If it's mechanically configured, fine, it will still work.  If any part of it's configuration is software dependent, that will spell trouble for a device that should last many decades.  If any part of it's function or configuration requires it to be connected to the internet, that may also spell trouble. 

We knowingly make these trade offs for convenience, and that's okay with a simple device like a camera or thermostat.  But an electrical panel is a necessary part of your household infrastructure.  It warrants a lot more consideration. 
-Raj

Offline jonnyrocket

  • Posts: 40
Re: Electrical circuit took a day off
« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2019, 12:35 PM »
I had an electrician swing by a few months ago to add an outlet for a new gas fireplace insert. He mentioned he could replace our aging main panel with a new SqD 200a box, all up to code with a mains switch off and GFCI, for something like $1,200.

That seems expensive to me.  The electrician is NOT rewiring any of the wires running throughout your house.  He is just unhooking all the wires that are already at the panel.  And hooking them up to a new panel.  If your current panel works, what are you gaining from a new panel?  You could add a subpanel right next to your current panel and get more space for breakers, if that is your main reason.

Not knowing the specifics of where you live or what is involved, I can say that I live in Oregon and that price is pretty reasonable. I just replaced a panel for a friend who bought an older house. The list of parts needed to do the job for a 40 space panel and 30 circuit breakers was $500 from Home Depot. Not to mention the roughly 6 hours that it takes to do a nice clean job on something like this. 
I haven't worked full time as an electrician for 14 years now, but that price even back then was about right.
If you are in the Portland metro area, that price is pretty low as much of the larger industrial jobs tend to drive all prices higher than if you live further out.

Offline RussellS

  • Posts: 280
Re: Electrical circuit took a day off
« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2019, 03:30 PM »
I had an electrician swing by a few months ago to add an outlet for a new gas fireplace insert. He mentioned he could replace our aging main panel with a new SqD 200a box, all up to code with a mains switch off and GFCI, for something like $1,200.

That seems expensive to me.  The electrician is NOT rewiring any of the wires running throughout your house.  He is just unhooking all the wires that are already at the panel.  And hooking them up to a new panel.  If your current panel works, what are you gaining from a new panel?  You could add a subpanel right next to your current panel and get more space for breakers, if that is your main reason.

Not knowing the specifics of where you live or what is involved, I can say that I live in Oregon and that price is pretty reasonable. I just replaced a panel for a friend who bought an older house. The list of parts needed to do the job for a 40 space panel and 30 circuit breakers was $500 from Home Depot. Not to mention the roughly 6 hours that it takes to do a nice clean job on something like this. 
I haven't worked full time as an electrician for 14 years now, but that price even back then was about right.
If you are in the Portland metro area, that price is pretty low as much of the larger industrial jobs tend to drive all prices higher than if you live further out.

The Home Depot website shows a Square D box meeting your description for $126.  It includes two 220 breakers and three 20 amp 110 breakers.  Home Depot sells the 20 amp 110 breakers for $4.10 each.  So add another 23 breakers to your total of 30, and its an extra $94.  I'm up to $220 in parts from the Home Depot website.  There is a LOT of difference between $220 and $500.  Does Oregon Home Depot double the price on everything at the cash register?  I'd suggest just using mail order.  I'd get rich doing panel replacements.  $1200 revenue.  $220 parts.  6 hours labor.  $163 per hour labor.  I could work 6 hours a day and make quarter million a year.  Not bad.

OK, maybe not rich.  But I could live pretty comfortably on a quarter million a year wages.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2019, 03:38 PM by RussellS »

Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1847
Re: Electrical circuit took a day off
« Reply #34 on: September 25, 2019, 04:13 PM »
AFCI breakers will retail about $40 ea.  Figure half at wholesale.  I think you're looking at $500-600 in the panel and the rest in labor.
-Raj

Offline Gregor

  • Posts: 1526
Re: Electrical circuit took a day off
« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2019, 04:14 AM »
If your current panel works, what are you gaining from a new panel?
A mains switch off and GFCI ?

Legislation here in germany is that you can keep electrical systems (within reason) as-is as long as you don't touch them, but the moment something is modified the whole system has to conform with the current regulations at completion.

This has up- and downsides, an upside is that problems don't accumulate (as they get removed whenever the system is touched), the downside is that some people are cheap so they skip maintenance (or installing a GFCI) as that would force them to redo a good part of (or the whole) deathtrap that is their current electrical system...

No idea how it works in other places.

Offline Rob Z

  • Posts: 852
Re: Electrical circuit took a day off
« Reply #36 on: September 26, 2019, 09:49 AM »
Good morning Ryan

For what it is worth, same comment as JonnyRocket.  The price you got for a panel replacement seems pretty good, at least compared to jobs I GCed and brought in the sparkies to do the work.

Offline xedos

  • Posts: 180
Re: Electrical circuit took a day off
« Reply #37 on: September 26, 2019, 05:39 PM »
$220 for parts isn't realistic.  That does not account for required AFCI circuits. That's another $150-$200 for the bedrooms right there.

If QO series is used;  $600 in parts could easily be reached.

Six hours for a panel replacement is quite ambitious. It's going to take at least an hour to go to the Home Depot to buy that $126 kit.   If it's a stock item.

At any rate, I think $1200 is reasonable for any neighborhood a Festool user is likely to reside in.

Permit costs weren't contemplated either.

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 643
Re: Electrical circuit took a day off
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2019, 10:22 PM »
If your current panel works, what are you gaining from a new panel?
A mains switch off and GFCI ?

Legislation here in germany is that you can keep electrical systems (within reason) as-is as long as you don't touch them, but the moment something is modified the whole system has to conform with the current regulations at completion.

This has up- and downsides, an upside is that problems don't accumulate (as they get removed whenever the system is touched), the downside is that some people are cheap so they skip maintenance (or installing a GFCI) as that would force them to redo a good part of (or the whole) deathtrap that is their current electrical system...

No idea how it works in other places.

In the US if you touch something it has to be upgraded to current code*  (*for the most part/in theory).  So during remodels you don't have to tear apart the whole place, for the most part stuff is grandfathered in.  Knob and tube wiring is still legal and allowed to be repaired. But you can't create new knob and tube.  Some such situations are handled via insurance companies who won't insure or banks who won't give a loan on places with stuff like that.

If you add on to your 400 year old house, the addition has to meet the current code of your state, but the old structure can stay as is.

The mess that can form because of this is bad, but also tearing into old stuff would be a nightmare too.  I'm a do it right, replace it all unless what is there is really good. But I don't blame someone for not tearing apart their house to make minor changes.   

In the US with electrical, things have basically been unchanged since 1963 when ground wire/pin was mandated on all circuits.  Since then biggest changes was things like dedicated ground/neutral for things like dryers/ranges (3 prong to 4 prong connectors) and Arc Fault breakers most recently.  So as long as folks wired stuff correctly when built there isn't much of a need for major changes.  The new breakers though are definitely driving a need for improvements in panels.