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Need help to have informed conversation with an electrician

Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:42 pm

Hi, my home evaluation is not for another month, but I'm prepping for the visit already trying to learn about the requirements and project costs.

Here's my situation: I have an older house with a 100-amp breaker box. The breakers include a 30A 240 volt switch (single switch combining two poles--does that make sense?). I think the box is fairly crowded, with the exception of the 240v. That said, voltage and amperage requirements for our stuff has been going down for the last few years because of updated lighting, etc., with monthly usage varying between 5 and 8 kwh per day. Also, since our dryer, hot water and stove are now gas, we have no further need for 240 anywhere except for the Leaf.

I know that code and city inspectors have a lot to do with what's next, so I'm just curious if right off the bat my situation is requiring either a new box or an additional one at 240 and with a TOU meter.

Thanks for your help!

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Re: Need help to have informed conversation with an electrician

Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:46 pm

Based upon the info you've presented, I don't think you need a new box. The electrician can tell you when he does an on-site inspection.
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Re: Need help to have informed conversation with an electrician

Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:52 pm

If the 30A/240V breaker is no longer being used, then you should be okay. They'll probably swap it out for a 40A and maybe redo the wiring with thicker wire, depending on the size/condition/run. I assume they will redo the wire because it probably fed the an electric clothes dryer or stove, and does not go to the garage.

You can ask the electrician to clamp a current meter on the main (and he should have one!) while you go and turn everything else in the house on, and ask his opinion on what adding another 30 amps would do. Sight unseen I'm thinking you'll be safe since you used to have a lot of electrical appliances which are gone.

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Re: Need help to have informed conversation with an electrician

Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:29 pm

If the swap from 30A to 40A causes a "problem" (huge cost increase due to other changes that triggers) then you still have alternatives. The LEAF does not charge at anything close to 80%*40A. Your original 30A (or even a 20A) would be sufficient ** IF ** the EVSE is properly selected or configured.

Are you thinking of going with AV ? What is your order month and expected delivery date ? You could start with 120V and later go with a Leviton or similar (see the other threads in this EVSE section).

TOU: depends on your provider. This is best answered by reading thru the Utilities section and getting answers from other users in this forum also in your PU's territory.
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Re: Need help to have informed conversation with an electrician

Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:34 pm

I expect that you'll be fine with your existing panel based on your description.

I had a 100 amp panel on my 40 year old house and my situation was similar. But because I had added solar panels, a separate breaker for my microwave, and I had two separate 240 V breakers for my electric oven and stove top, my panel was physically full of breakers. AV had decided to try adding a separate "load center" or sub-panel, which would allow them to remove some breakers from the main panel, and to run the wiring from the load center to the charging dock. They said that if the city inspector felt that the total household load was too high for that setup, I might have to upgrade my main panel to a larger one.

I wasn't sure that solution would work, and I had a good price bid for a main panel upgrade from a local electrician. I also wanted to add a TED power monitoring system to the main panel and I wouldn't have had space for it in the old panel. So I decided to do a main panel upgrade to a 200 Amp panel. That allowed the AV electricians to do a simpler install for the charging dock.

From your description, it isn't clear whether your existing 30 A 240 Volt circuit is in use at all. If it isn't, as someone else said, your installer should be able to remove it and replace it with a new 40 A breaker for the EVSE. If you used to have an electric dryer in your garage and the wiring is the appropriate gauge, you might even be able to use that old 240 V circuit.
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Re: Need help to have informed conversation with an electrician

Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:47 pm

See what is recommended and post up if there are any surprises.
I would want the electrician to give the recommendation first before I pushed with a lot of questions.
Otherwise I would be more concerned about the exact route of the wire & conduit so that cosmetically it looked as oem as possible.
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