- The electrical panel in a home directs electricity from the grid to various circuits, with its effectiveness tied to its amperage, a measure of electrical current flow.
- An incorrectly rated panel could either lead to regular circuit breaker trips due to insufficient amperage or unnecessarily high installation costs for excessive amperage.
- The amperage needs of a home depend on the size of the house, the number of electrical devices in use, and any future expansion plans. While it’s fairly easy to get a rough idea of your amperage needs on your own, having a professional perform precise calculations is strongly recommended before making any significant upgrades.
- Typical electrical panels in North America have ratings of either 100 or 200 amps, suitable for small to medium-sized homes and larger homes with high-powered appliances, respectively.
- While upgrading the electrical panel may have higher upfront costs, the long-term benefits include increased safety, enhanced energy efficiency, improved system performance, and potential cost savings, with professional electricians recommended for accurate assessments and upgrades.
How Many Amps Do I Need for My Electrical Panel?
Your home’s electrical panel is responsible for directing electricity from the grid to different circuits within your house—allowing you to power your appliances, charge your devices, and use your lighting fixtures. It’s also responsible for interrupting the electrical supply whenever there’s a surge or short circuit, which protects these items and helps prevent electrical fires. However, the effectiveness of your electrical panel is significantly tied to one crucial factor: amperage.
We’ve spent many years performing electrical panel upgrades for Calgary homeowners, so our team knows all about why your panel’s amperage is important and when you should consider having it increased. Read on as we explain how to assess the capacity of your electrical panel and when it’s a good idea to upgrade.
What Is Amperage & Why Does It Matter?
Amperage, or amps, is a unit that measures electrical current. Electricians use a multimeter to measure these units—a device (pictured above) that tells us how much electricity is flowing through a wire at any given moment. The amperage rating of your electrical panel is essentially its capacity to handle electric current.
The Risks of Having the Wrong Amperage
Having a panel with insufficient amperage can lead to regular circuit breaker trips and potential damage to appliances due to inadequate power supply. Conversely, an excessively rated panel may unnecessarily raise installation costs without delivering any tangible benefits. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to have your electrical panel checked out as part of a routine electrical inspection whenever you make significant changes to your home’s electrical system or the appliances connected to it.
Factors to Consider When Determining Your Electrical Panel Amperage
Several factors influence the amperage needs of your home. These include:
- The size of your home
- The number of electrical devices you use
- Any future expansion plans you have
A larger home with more rooms will typically require more amps, since it will most likely contain a greater number of devices and appliances. Similarly, if you plan to install high-powered appliances or systems—like a hot tub, home theatre, or electric car charger—you’ll need an electrical panel that can handle the increased load.
How to Calculate the Amperage Your Home Needs
Calculating a home’s amperage needs can be complicated. So, it’s always best to consult with our professional electricians for a detailed assessment. We’ll be able to perform the complex calculations, such as demand factoring—which accounts for the likelihood of all the devices in your home running simultaneously.
To get a rough ballpark estimate of your home’s amperage requirements, you can add up the wattage of all electrical appliances and devices, divide by the voltage (usually 240 volts in North America), and multiply by 1.25 to add a 25% safety margin.
Common Electrical Panel Amperages & Their Applications
The most common electrical panels in North America are rated at 100 amps or 200 amps. A 100-amp panel is often suitable for a small to medium-sized home with typical electrical appliance usage.
However, if you have a larger home or use high-powered appliances and devices, a 200-amp panel may be more appropriate.
For instance, a 2,000 square foot home with average electrical consumption might be fine with a 100-amp panel. On the other hand, a 4,000 square foot house with multiple high-powered devices might require a 200-amp panel. Systems that often require more power for larger homes include:
- EV charging stations
- Central HVAC systems
- Electric dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers
- Specialty areas like workshops, home theatres, or guest cottages with their own power demands
The Benefits of Upgrading Your Electrical Panel
Upgrading your electrical panel to meet your home’s amperage needs comes with several advantages. These include:
- Increasing safety by reducing the risk of electrical fires
- Safeguarding your appliances from damage caused by power fluctuations
- Enhancing your home’s energy efficiency
- Improving the performance of your systems and appliances by providing sufficient power for all your needs
Upgrading may also lead to long-term cost savings. While the upfront costs may be higher, an appropriate amperage panel will protect your expensive appliances from damage, resulting in fewer repairs or replacements.
Expert Advice for Ensuring Your Home’s Electrical Capacity
While understanding amperage and your home’s electrical needs is essential, working with a qualified electrician like those at 4-Star Electric is the safest way to assess your electrical panel and determine the appropriate amperage.
Our experienced electricians can evaluate your current electrical usage, consider your future needs, and guide you in making an informed decision about your electrical panel amperage. We can also safely and efficiently perform any necessary upgrades, ensuring your electrical system is up-to-date and up to code.
At 4-Star Electric, we’re here to help with your electrical panel questions and needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re curious about your electrical panel’s capacity or looking for a reliable way to upgrade—safety, efficiency, and peace of mind are just a call away.