Should I Upgrade my Electrical Service?
Your electrical service is the mechanical equipment mounted on the side of your house that brings commercial electricity from the utility company for distribution and consumption in your home.
Your electrical service consists of the mast which supports the incoming wires overhead from the utility company pole.
Electrical Service – The Meter Base contains the instrument that measures your electricity consumption.
Your electrical service also includes the meter base which contains the instrument that measures your electricity consumption.
And, your electrical service also includes the service panel which contains the fuses or breakers that distribute your electricity throughout your home.
This also includes the conduit (or piping) that connects all the equipment with wires. An underground service substitutes the mast for a standpipe running from the buried utility lines to the meter base.
Typically there are four sizes of electrical service in use in Ontario today.
The smaller 60amp/240volt was the standard from after World War II until the late 1960’s. This system adequately handled the electrical load of these houses, but as electric dryers, central air conditioning and upgraded kitchens became the norm, 60amp services became dangerously overloaded, many with “pony panels” added to them.
Insurance companies have recognized the danger in these old services. Most insurance companies will demand upgrading to 100 amps as the minimum standard. If you have a 60 amp service you must upgrade. It is no longer adequate.
The 100amp/240volt has been the standard service from the early 1970’s until the 2010's. Since our heating, hot water, stoves and dryers are now natural gas fueled this size can handle most modern electrical loads.
Most of the 100amp services installed in the 1970’s were fuse panels. Although fuses enjoy the reputation as faster reacting safety items over breakers the habit of installing oversize fuses “temporarily” , or installing a penny behind the fuse has caused so many tragedies. Beginning in the late 1970’s and to the present breaker panels have been the standard.
The various building booms over the decades have spawned several “builders’ choice” breaker panels, most now are out of business.
If you have a 100 amp fuse or breaker panel you should have a licensed electrical contractor assess the equipment for overloading or overheating and give an opinion of its remaining lifespan.
The 200amp/240volt was typically installed in homes with electric heat from the mid 1960’s until electric heat fell out of favour in the mid 1980’s. It is the new code standard as electronic equipment requires “clean” power and it is required to support new normal loads such as, pool equipment, hot tubs, saunas, steamers, electric car chargers etc.
These services are available in sizes from 24 breaker positions to 120 breaker positions.