Understanding The Limits Of Your Electric Service

What is a residential electric service?

Do you understand the electrical capacity/limitations of your home?  So many of our residential service calls are requests to “add” something new to their homes.  Whether it’s a plug for their car or a new fan or more outlets, each of these adds requires two (2) things: an available circuit AND amperage.  

But what does this actually mean and why is it important for a homeowner to understand? This means there is a limited/fixed amount of electricity that comes into your home. The total capacity of your electrical system is often referred to as the “electrical service”.  

The electric service is the group of wires that connects your homes power usage meter and distribution panel to the power lines coming from your electricity provider. Size or capacity of your service is measured in amps. Typical electrical services for a single-family home range from 100 to 400 amps.  Most older homes have 100 – 200 amp service which was enough service to meet the electrical needs 30 years ago.  But we now live in a technology driven world where everything uses electricity.

Always Ask A Professional

This is why using a licensed electrician is EXTREMELY important; they are always going to take in consideration the current amperage use and will know when you have reached capacity.  FYI – if you are constantly tripping breakers, you are probably exceeding your electrical capacity.  IF you have reached capacity of service, the solution is a “heavy-up”: to increase the service that comes into your home.

To give you an idea of how fast the amp total can add up, here are the power demands of some common household items.

Air Conditioning: 15-60 amps depending on size

Electric Heat Furnace: 60-80 amps

Electric Car Charging Station/Plug: 40-60 amps

Hair Dryer: 10 amps

Washing Machine: 10 amps

Tea Kettle: 13 amps

Clothes Dryer: 11 amps

Iron: 13 amps

Microwave: 6.5 amps

Electric Vehicle Charger: 13 amps

Oven: 13 amps

All The Small Things Add Up

When calculating the total power needs for your home, it’s important to consider that not all appliances will be used at the same time. A home with electric heat will use more power in the winter months when the heat is running constantly. The cooling system will put more strain on the electrical system in the summer. 

Many considerations must be made when sizing your service for a new build, renovation or when making significant electrical improvements. The home’s age, occupancy, insulation and square footage all play a role in how much power you will use. 

Call Us, We’re Happy To Help

As a home’s electrical needs grow, the service must be increased to accommodate the additional demand. If you are planning any home improvements that will require additional power, it’s important that you consult with a licensed electrician to ensure your home can safely support the added electrical load. 

Sansbury Electric is a small, locally owned business, with over 30 years of experience that have served Washington, D.C, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware since 2010. Our team is known for our high-quality electrical services with a team that delivers a client focused experience. Honesty, ease for the client, friendliness, and an on-time and on-budget experience are the core values that drive our day-to-day interactions.

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