Installing a 200 amp subpanel is an involved but very doable project for a dedicated DIYer. With proper planning and adherence to electrical codes and safety practices, I was able to upgrade the electrical service in my home by wiring a new 200 amp subpanel.
Reasons for Installing a 200 Amp Subpanel
There were several reasons I decided to install a 200 amp subpanel in my home:
Increased electrical load - With more appliances and electronic devices in homes today, 100 or 150 amp panels may not provide enough power. A 200 amp subpanel provides more capacity.
Expand circuits - More capacity allows me to add new circuits for extra outlets, lighting, appliances, etc. This reduces the load on existing circuits.
Safety - New 200 amp panels have modern safely features like arc-fault (AFCI) and ground-fault (GFCI) circuit breakers. They also meet updated electrical codes.
Resale value - Upgrading the electrical panel adds value when selling the home. 200 amp service is expected in most homes today.
Planning the 200 Amp Subpanel Installation
Careful planning ensured my 200 amp subpanel project went smoothly:
Permits - I researched local permit requirements and hired a licensed electrician to obtain the permit. Permits ensure work meets codes.
Parts list - I made a list of all parts needed, including the panel, breakers, wire, and conduit. Buying everything ahead of time prevented delays.
Wiring diagram - I mapped out the subpanel wiring including all circuits, cable runs, and connections. This was essential to follow during the actual wiring.
Safety gear - Wearing insulated gloves and other safety equipment protected me while working with live electrical wires.
Labeling - I labeled all wires, cables, and breakers to prevent confusion and mistakes. This made the final inspection much simpler.
Installation Steps for 200 Amp Subpanel
The key steps I followed to install my 200 amp subpanel were:
Select Panel Location
- I selected an unfinished basement wall location that provided adequate workspace and was close to the main panel. This minimized cable distances.
Mount the Subpanel
- I mounted the metal subpanel box securely to wall studs using lag bolts. I made sure it was plumb and level.
Install Ground Conductor
- I ran a #4 AWG copper ground wire from the main panel ground bar to the subpanel ground bar.
- I installed 1.5" PVC conduits between the main and subpanel to enclose the power cables. I used sweeps and long radius elbows.
Pull Wires Through Conduit
- I carefully pulled the #1/0 AWG THHN/THWN-2 conductors from the main panel through the conduit to the subpanel. I used wire lubricant to ease the pulling.
Connect Wires and Breakers
- Following my wiring diagram, I terminated the hot wires on the 200 amp main breaker and installed all the circuit breakers. I organized and labeled them.
Install Cover and Perform Checks
- With all connections made securely, I installed the dead front cover. I checked for proper grounding, voltage, and operation of all circuits.
Testing and Inspection
Thorough testing ensured my subpanel installation was safe and worked properly:
I turned the power on and tested all circuits using a voltmeter and by plugging in devices.
I used a clamp meter to validate the neutral and ground were not overloaded.
The licensed electrician performed a professional final inspection to obtain the permit sign off.
Installing my 200 amp subpanel took concentrated effort over several weekends but was a very rewarding project. I now have ample power and extra capacity in my home electrical system for all my needs.