A brief primer before we get started! Amps, or “amperes” are a unit of measurement; they measure the amount of current running through a system. That means that a higher amp system can handle more electricity flowing through it. When you have too much current flowing through a system, a variety of things can happen; in a home electrical system, you’ll likely find that circuits break to avoid overload. You obviously want to increase your capacity before problems start happening; we’re going to discuss how to know when to upgrade.
When You Have a 60 Amp Service
A 60 amp service is going to be unfeasible for basically any modern home. Our appliances, including washers, dryers, televisions, air conditioners, computers, ovens, and sometimes even electric furnaces, simply use too much electricity for a 60 amp service to handle. It’s easy enough to tell whether or not you have a 60 amp service; go down to your main circuit breaker, and check the number on the biggest switches. If the number is 100, you have a 100 amp service, and if it’s 60, you have a 60 amp service. Easy enough to understand! Call an electrician right away if you have a 60 amp service; you’ll almost definitely need the upgrade.
When You Have a Lot of High Powered Appliances
A lot of appliances will tell you how many watts they use, either on the appliance itself or in the instruction manual for the appliance. You’re going to want to add up all of the wattage of your high power appliances; washers, dryers, electric furnaces, etc. Then, add in the number of other appliances you plan on adding; again, we want to do these calculations before adding too much to the system.
This, of course, doesn’t include the lighting your house will need; a good rough approximation of this is the square footage of your home times 3. You’ll also want to remember that your electric furnace and central air should never be running at the same time, so it’s fine to simply add the higher of the two to the calculation and omit the other. Once you have this number, you’ll have an idea how many amps your home will need to be able to handle; as a rule of thumb, anything under 22000 should be fine with a 100 amp service, but over 22000 and you’re getting into dangerous territory.
There’s a lot of talk about electric furnaces right now; because Manitoba Hydro supplies us with an abundance of cheap electricity, many Manitobans are considering a switch. There’s a lot that goes into making the “gas versus electric furnace” decision, and we won’t get into it right now, but know that if you do want an electric furnace, it may very well require that you upgrade your system. Should you opt to do that, our top-rated electrical company will help calculate whether or not you need the additional load capacity, and will install it for you.