New Electrical Panel Estimate

2007.05.29

This morning I had an estimator come out from Red’s Electric to give me a quote for replacing my electrical panel, and running a line out to the garage.

In a coincidence, the estimator said he grew up in this neighborhood, a couple blocks over.

Apparently, these 1970’s vintage Federal Pacific panels and breakers have a bad habit of not actually tripping when under excessive load, and therefore causing fires.  Neat!  Besides that, there is no master shutoff switch, and all the breakers are full.

First we talked about replacing the panel.  Since everything was ok with the meter, mast head, etc. outside, and the meter and existing panel are already rated for 200 amps, it should be a relatively straightforward panel replacement operation in the basement.  He figured about $1300 for that.

Then we went outside and talked about wiring the garage.  Once upon a time, the garage had been wired for electricity via an aerial line from the house.  At some point before I bought it though, that line was cut, leaving an automatic garage door opener, ceiling light bulb, and a couple sketchy-looking outlets along a built-in worktable utterly useless.

We discussed various options, with an eye towards keeping the cost down.  I was surprised that an aerial line would still meet code, but we agreed that a trench would be better.  I was also surprised that the trench only has to be one foot deep, and they will just use UF cable (exterior rated), no rigid conduit.  [Edit: I think he was wrong about this, I believe minimum trench depth  is 16 inches.]  They will install a 20-amp GFCI breaker in the panel, run the UF cable in a trench that I will dig, and install a switch and a box in the garage.  From there, I can continue the interior wiring on my own later on.

This work will add $500 to the cost, putting the total at $1800.  I was expecting something in the range of $1500 to $2000, so that was about right.

We scheduled for them to come out on Monday and do the work, so I’ll need to finish the trench before then.