Of the roughly 50 sunrooms we install each year throughout Maryland and Virginia, most require an electrical service upgrade. How does the sunroom addition affect your electrical wiring? Here are some common questions about upgrading the electrical service panel.
What Is A Service Upgrade?
A service upgrade increases your home’s capacity to use electricity. Typically, the power company handles service upgrades. An electrician installs a larger meter on your home’s exterior. Then, a new service panel is installed inside your home or garage. Finally, an electrician installs new breakers in the panel. They may also re-organize breakers from the old service panel.
Electrical capacity is measured in amps. Modern homes are wired with an average of 200 amp service. However, larger homes could have a 400 amp service.
Will my Sunroom Require an Electrical Service Upgrade?
Determining if you need a power upgrade usually requires a professional. However, we can give a few guidelines to help you determine for yourself.
First open your panel box or boxes and check how many spaces are available. Even if your panel box is full with no open spaces, there are other options to consider before upgrading. One option is installing tandem breakers that combine two 15 amp breakers into a single space. Another option is installing a sub-panel that draws power from the existing service. This will allow space for additional breakers. Professional electricians make these decisions. So, be sure to consult an electrician before making any plans.
If you have open spaces in your panel, use them for moderate lighting and electrical needs. Things like separate HVAC systems are more demanding and need additional electrical sources.
How Much Electricity Does A Sunroom Use?
Here is a list of common sunroom devices and how many volts and amps required (these numbers serve as estimates only, consult an electrician for exact electrical requirements).
- HVAC Circuit- 20-50 amps
- Outlets- 20 amps
- Lights- 15 amps
- Exterior Lights- 15 amps
- GFCI Circuit (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)- 20 amps
How Much Does A Service Upgrade Cost?
Now that we explained what a service upgrade is, how much does it cost? Fortunately, the power company will usually perform their part at no charge (considering you will be buying more electricity). The electrician’s cost for the service upgrade is typically between $1,200 and $2,500 in the DMV area. This varies based on competitive rates in your zip code.
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