When you’re upgrading an older home or making a new one, you have plenty of choices to make about how the rooms will be made and the home decor. Beyond the fun stuff like picking colors, there is also the decision between a 100-amp vs 200-amp panel for your house’s electrical power demands. Understanding their differences can help you make the right choice.
A 200-ampere panel is bigger and contains more circuits, and hence it can manage more power compared to a 100-ampere panel. This means it can use more of the electrical power that comes into your house from the energy provider to operate your devices and other equipment.
However, keep in mind that a 200-ampere panel also comes with a higher price tag than a 100-ampere panel. In this article, we will discuss the key differences between these two types of panels and aid you in making a smart choice.
What Does Amp Mean?
“Amps” stands for amperes, which measure the flow of electricity in a home. It tells us how much electrical current is moving through a house. The term comes from a French physicist named André-Marie Ampère, who played a big role in discovering electromagnetism.
The amount of amps a home can deal with depends on its age and the kind of electrical panels installed in it. If your house has modern appliances, you’ll need a panel with greater amps to handle the higher electricity needs.
The Differences Between a 100-Amp Panel and a 200-Amp Panel
The big difference between a 100-amp panel and a 200-amp panel is that the 200-amp ones can fit more circuits and have a greater capacity. There are many more differences between these two types of panels. We will elaborately discuss them below:
An electrical panel’s capacity decides how much electric current flow it can handle. A 100-ampere electrical panel can safely manage up to 100 amperes, whereas a 200-ampere electrical panel can support twice that capacity, up to 200 amperes.
The 200-ampere panel’s higher ampere rating means it can handle more power usage and demand. This makes it a good fit for bigger homes or businesses that need more electricity.
Ensuring electrical safety is essential and should never be overlooked. Choosing the correct electrical panel size is key to averting overload and minimizing the danger of electrical dangers. A 200-amp panel, with its ability to accommodate more circuits compared to a 100-amp panel, provides greater capacity and allows appliances to be distributed across different circuits.
This lowers the risk of wires overheating and reduces the likelihood of circuit breakers frequently tripping. Prioritizing safety is a duty that falls on the houseowner and the electrician handling the project.
Opting for a 200-ampere panel is a wiser choice for future-proofing compared to a 100-ampere panel. With the increasing demand for electricity and the development of newer appliances, a 200-ampere panel is more likely to meet your future requirements compared to a 100-ampere one.
This decision can also be a strong selling point if you decide to sell your house. Potential buyers won’t need to worry about upgrading the service panel in the future, adding to the overall appeal of the property.
For many homes, a 100-ampere electrical panel is the standard pick. It can effectively manage an average-sized home’s electrical needs, powering important appliances and lighting circuits. Older homes often have this type of panel because they do not consume as much electricity as newer ones.
Even though some experts may see 100-ampere panels to be outdated than more modern houses with larger capacity, this does not imply that they aren’t safe. It usually means that these panels can fit fewer circuits. If you do not have many modern gadgets, use gas for heating, or have gas appliances, a 100-ampere panel might still be a good match for your home.
However, if you plan to add energy-intensive appliances such as hot tubs, electric vehicle chargers, or lots of home office equipment, you might need to upgrade to a 200-ampere electric panel.
For most newer homes, 200-amp panels are the standard choice. They’re a good choice if you use electricity for heating and cooling. Also, if you are thinking about expanding your house or often use tools and appliances that need lots of electricity, then you should go for 200-amp panels.
In bigger homes or commercial buildings, you’ll often find a 200-ampere panel. This panel delivers sufficient capacity to handle higher power needs, allowing you to use many appliances, cooling and heating systems, and extra electrical equipment. Opting for a 200-amp panel means you’re getting enough capacity for current and future demands.
Opting for a 200-ampere panel means you’re getting enough capacity for current and future electric demands. It’s a smart choice for making sure your electrical system can handle upgrades or expansions. On the other hand, a 100 amp panel is not a good choice to use in commercial buildings or larger residential properties.
Choosing a 200-ampere panel might mean a bit more upfront expense compared to a 100-ampere panel. On average, a 200-ampere panel costs around $100-$200 more than its 100-ampere counterpart.
Besides the panel cost, the bigger electrical load of a 200-amper service indicates a different meter socket and thicker wires than the needs of a 100-ampere panel. However, the expense of upgrading from a 100-ampere panel to a 200-ampere panel ranges between $740 and $2,000.
How much the upgrade costs depends on a few things, like what wires you already have and what changes are needed. The cost might go up for your upgrade if your current setup does not have the correct grounding wire or if the electrical panel has to move.
It’s crucial to hire a licensed electrician for this kind of work because different places might have specific code requirements for such projects.
What Electric Panel Do You Require Based on Your Electrical Use?
Deciding whether to go for a 100-ampere or a 200-ampere panel depends on your home’s size and how much electricity you use. Typically, houses below 3,000 square feet can install 100-ampere electric panels if they don’t use electric heat or air conditioning.
If your house is older and has a gas stove or gas heating system, or if the majority of your devices are older, then a 100-ampere panel might be useful. However, for larger homes of more than 3,000 square feet and those relying on air conditioning and electric heating, a 200-ampere panel is usually the better choice.
If your home has water heaters, electrical baseboard heating, or appliances that consume lots of energy, then choosing a 200-ampere electrical panel makes more sense. Planning to add an electric vehicle (EV) charger, air conditioner, hot tub, or pool to your home? That also calls for a 200-ampere panel.
Even if individual electronic devices don’t use a lot of electricity, when you have several devices like tablets, computers, and smartphones running at the same time, it adds up the electricity usage. Upgrading your home’s electrical panel capacity to 200 amperes is a smart move to get ready for your home’s future needs.
Most folks link power outages to tree branches falling on electricity lines or big storms. However, if you are running lots of electrical devices without sufficient incoming power to manage them, you might face an unexpected interruption. In such cases, you might need to upgrade to a 200-ampere panel. Nowadays, we are using electricity way more than our previous generations.
Lots of homes with a 100-ampere service panel are running close to their maximum capacity, which can be risky. As our appliances and gadgets get fancier, we will need more power. So, even if you don’t need a 200-ampere upgrade now, you might need it in the future. It is like an insurance against overloading your system.
For new or revamped houses that have new wiring, the standard choice is now 200 amperes. This gives you room for extra circuits that may be required if you’re thinking about installing a swim spa, hot tub, or an electric vehicle charger.
100 Amp vs 200 Amp Panel: Final Verdict
When dealing with electrical panels, knowing the distinctions between a 100-ampere and a 200-ampere panel is crucial for making the correct decision. Opting for a 200-ampere electrical panel gives many more advantages to a house compared to a 100-ampere panel, especially in terms of safety and future-proofing.
While the higher cost is something to consider, a 200-ampere electrical panel is now the standard choice for installing in modern homes. A 100-ampere panel still has its place, particularly in older or smaller homes.
However, when it comes to the comparison between a 100 amp vs 200 amp panel, the 200 amp electrical panel undoubtedly offers more value for your investment in the long run.