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Electrical Wiring in the Home/Is installing two service panels to split load advisable?



I am having my service panel upgraded to allow for additional circuits needed for renovations being done to my house. I have received a few estimates for the work and one of the electricians has recommended I install two service panels. One outside for the larger lode circuits such as AC, Heater, etc. and one inside for smaller branch circuits. His reasoning is that it will eliminate dimming of lights we occasionally see when these larger appliances turn on. The secondary reason is that it will leave more room for additional circuits on the interior panel.

Is there any validity to this suggestion and is it worth the $1500-$2000 of additional cost?

Thanks for your time and any advice you can offer.


It is true that breaker space (circuits) in panels get used up very quickly these days with all the electrical items you find in a home today. It sounds like your existing interior panel will get filled up with the new circuits needed for the renovation work being done or it may not have enough capacity for those new circuits so he wants to add the additional panel outside which will at least serve circuits to the AC which is already outside. Plus your meter is outside where he can easily "tap" into it again for the new panel. And it allows for more available circuits in the existing panel. So on the surface it does make sense. However you may get another electrician in there who wants to change the panel and put a bigger one in to get the extra circuits and forget the outside panel or you may get a 3rd electrician who says lets put the additional panel inside not outside. There maybe nothing wrong with your existing panel so you have two guys who want to keep it and another guy who wants to replace it in order to get the extra breaker space needed. Different guys have different ways of looking at a given situation and how to deal with it. But I'm not there so I don't know exactly what they are seeing, what they may be thinking and why they are thinking that way.

As far as the dimming of the lights go it might help it and it might not. The AC would be connected more directly to the meter and before the interior house panel so it might have positive effect. However depending upon how many house's besides yours are being served by the utilitys transformer in the street and where your house is connected along the way, in other words if your close to that transformer or far from it, these factors can greatly influence how much "dimming" you see or don't see. Also what your neighbors have running at any given time can have an effect on the "dimming". Dimming is not unusual as long as its brief like a second or less and its not happening all the time to the point its obvious and annoying.

Its hard for me to say if the cost is justified or if this is even the best way to approach it because I'm not there and I don't know what he is up against to make this happen but on the surface it doesn't sound outrageous.

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Licensed Master Electrician (32 years) 6165B Contractor in Closter New Jersey with 40 years total experience in Residential - Commercial - Industrial work. Emergency Service - General trouble shooting and repair work - ONAN & GENERAC generator installation - Paddle fans - Kitchen & Bath exhaust fans - AC lines - Smoke detectors - Telephone lines - Cable TV lines - Computer network cabling - Exterior lighting - Recessed lighting - Security lighting - (200 - 150 - 100 amp service up grades) - Electric Heat - New circuits - New appliance hook ups - and more ! FREE ESTIMATES 201-358-1552 Fully Insured


Licensed contractor in Closter New Jersey.

"The Frank Williams School of Electrical Construction". My dear old boss is 100 ! and still going God Bless him. I started working for "Tenafly Electric" right out of high school at 19. He was tough but I learned more working for him in 8 and half years than most guys. We did mostly industrial work while doing some commercial and residential so I was fortunate to be exposed to all 3 areas of electrical construction. The guys I worked with were all good guys and I stay in touch with some of them still. Most of us went into our own buisness's which says something about the caliber of the guys I worked with. We had some interesting clients : Wella Corp. of shampoo fame, Farah Fawcett etc, I didn't buy shampoo for 10 years. It was a great place to work. Pan Am the former airline just before they went under, another great place to work, nice clean environment. C&C Metals, the largest button manufacturer in the US at that time, a not so clean environment but a very interesting place to work, lots of machine's cranking out buttons of all kinds but you had to be on your toes, it was a potentially dangerous place to be . All kinds of action going on around you.

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