Perhaps you’re planning to bring in a new electrical appliance and want to know if your home’s electrical system can handle it. Or maybe you’re just curious about how much electricity the average house uses and how that translates into amperes.
Whatever the reason, knowing the number of amps a typical home uses is essential for every homeowner. It can help you plan for future upgrades and make sure your current electrical system is running efficiently. And that’s not all – it can also give you an idea of what your monthly electricity costs may be.
So, how many amps does a house use? Well, if that’s what you want to know, this article brings you the answer. Just read on to find out.
How Many Amps Does a House Use?
Most homes use between 30 and 400 amps, depending on the size of your home and individual electrical needs. The average American home uses about 200 amps, although some also run well on 100-amp service. Actually, 100 and 200-amp services are the most common types found in homes.
The actual number of amps your home uses depends on a few factors, such as how much power you consume and how many appliances you have running at one time. It’s also important to consider the size of your home, as larger homes need more electricity.
Homes using 30-amp service are the least likely to find, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find them. In most cases, these are older homes where the electrical system has not been upgraded. If you own such a home, it’s important to upgrade the wiring and bring in more amps for your safety.
But for an average residential home, 200-amp service is the most common. This service should be enough for most households, and that includes homes that have water heaters or other home appliances that use a high number of watts.
How Much Electricity Does Your Home Need?
An average American home uses 10,632 kWh of electricity per year or 886 kWh per month. This figure is based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s(EIA) data. Of course, this figure can vary widely depending on your home’s size, appliances, and other factors.
You see, we all have different electrical needs. What one home needs to run for an hour would be enough to run another home for a day or even more. But if your home is anything like the average American house, then you need about 886 kWh per month.
Assuming that the average price of electricity is around $0.15 per kWh, that means your monthly electricity bill should be around $132.90. Stretching that out over a year, you should be expecting to pay around $1,594.80 for electricity annually.
How To Tell What Amp Service is in Your House?
You can tell what amp service is in your house by checking the rating at the main service panel or by checking the thickness of the wire coming out of the meter base. The main service panel – or the main breaker panel – will have a rating for how many amps of power are coming in, and that’s the easiest way to tell.
One common mistake that most people make is to look at the top of the service pipe. That won’t tell you much, because most pipes are almost the same size regardless of how many amps are coming in.
But don’t worry. You can still figure out the amps rating by measuring the inside diameter of the pipe. Here’s how;
Check the Meter Base
This technique may not tell you the exact amps that are coming into your home. However, it will tell you what your electrical service isn’t. Here, you need to check the shape of the meter base.
If it’s rounded, then it can’t be a 200-amp service. Rounded meter bases are usually rated for up to 100 amps. It could either be a 60-amp or 100-amp service.
Check the Diameter of the Pipe
Checking the size of the pipe exiting the meter base is a more reliable way to figure out the amp service. Larger amp service needs a thicker pipe, so you can easily tell what service your home is using by measuring the thickness of the pipe.
Here’s a quick size guide:
- 2-inch pipe – 200 amps
- 1.25 inches – 100 amps
- 1-inch pipe – 60 amps
- Pipe diameter > 2 inches – bigger than 200 amps (could be 400-amp service)
One essential thing to note here is that the thickness represented here is the inside diameter of the pipe. So, if measuring the external diameter of the pipe, expect it to be more than what is listed above by either an eighth of an inch or even smaller.
Go to the Main Panel
Alternatively, you can go straight to the main service panel and find out what amp service your home is using. Look for a rating near the top of the panel and it should tell you the number of amps.
Just note that, for safety purposes, don’t switch anything around or open up the panel for any reason. If you’ve never done anything in your electrical service panel before, it’s best to get some professional help.
What’s the Difference Between 100 AMP and 200 AMP?
The difference between 100 and 200-amp services is the amount of load they can handle. A 200-amp service can handle twice the load of a 100-amp service, making it ideal for homes that have larger electricity needs than a 100-amp service can provide.
Additionally, a 200-amp service is more future-proof, meaning it can handle whatever load you need for years to come. As such, if you’re planning to add more power-intensive home appliances or larger electrical loads in the future, then a 200-amp service is the way to go.
Finally, 200-amp services will cost more upfront. But then again, the additional expense isn’t significant and it could be worth it if you’re looking to future-proof your home. Actually, if you’re planning to upgrade in the future, then it could be cheaper to just go for a 200-amp service upfront.
When Should You Use a 100 AMP Panel?
You should use a 100-amp panel if you have a small home, don’t use heating appliances, and don’t have the plan to add appliances that use large amounts of power in the future. As long as you don’t need more than 80 amps of power, then a 100-amp panel should be enough.
Keep in mind though that you won’t have much room for more circuits, so if you’re planning to add more loads in the future, then a 200-amp panel is the way to go. Otherwise, you’d need to upgrade your service panel when the time comes.
When Should You Use a 200 AMP Panel?
You should use a 200-amp panel if you have a larger home that uses electric heating units and plans to add appliances with a high wattage like air conditioners in the future. A 200-amp service provides more power and is more future-proof than a 100-amp service panel.
But then again, that doesn’t mean you can throw everything onto it. If you’re planning to use a 200-amp panel, you still need to calculate your power needs and make sure that the panel can handle it.
If the outcome of your calculations dictates that you need more than 160 amps, it’s a good idea to upgrade your service panel. Go for more amps. Of course, if it’s between 160 and 200 amps you could stick to the 200-amp service. But then again, know that you won’t have much room for more loads.
Can You Overload a 200 Amp Panel?
No, you shouldn’t overload a 200-amp panel. Overloading a panel can cause the circuit breakers to trip frequently, jeopardizing your safety. The load should not exceed 80% of the capacity of the service panel.
If you need more circuits than a 200-amp panel can support, then you’ll need to upgrade your service panel. It might be more expensive, but this is the only way to ensure that your home has enough power.
Can I Replace an Electrical Panel Myself?
No, replacing an electrical panel should be done by a certified electrician. This is to ensure that the job is done correctly and safely. Trying to replace an electrical panel yourself can result in serious injuries or property damage.
Even the most experienced DIYers should leave this task to the experts. Many things can go wrong and it’s better to be safe than sorry. One benefit of leaving it to the pros is that you can be sure that the job is done correctly and that your home will remain safe from potential electrical hazards.
A qualified electrician will also ensure that everything is per the codes and regulations. So, just give a wide berth to the electrical panel replacement and let the experts handle it.
Of course, bringing in an expert from the utility company will be more costly than doing it yourself. But then again, it’s worth the expense to keep your home and family safe.
What Size Wire is Needed For 200 Amp?
For a 200 amp service, you will need a 2/0 AWG copper wire or 4/0 copper-clad aluminum wire. Choosing the ideal wire thickness ensures that you don’t affect the efficiency of your electrical system.
It’s important to use the right size wire for your 200 amp panel. If you don’t, it could result in serious problems such as overload, voltage issues, or even fires. And usually, the national electrical codes require that you don’t use a wire size smaller than 2/0 copper or 4/0 copper-clad or aluminum wire.
And just so you know, 2/0 and 4/0 don’t translate to 2 AWG and 4 AWG respectively. The former is about twice as thick, so be sure to get the right size.
The amperage rating of your home’s electrical panel will depend on the size and layout of your home. Most homes have 100 or 200 amps services, with 200 amps being the most preferred for future-proofing and accommodating more circuits.
Additionally, it’s important to note that you should never attempt to replace an electrical panel on your own. This should be done by a certified electrician to ensure that the job is done correctly and safely.