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I have 150A service in my house right now. For my own personal reasons, I want my new main panel to have a copper bus rather than aluminum. I purchased an Eaton BR-series main panel with a copper bus. The only one they make for the BR-series with a copper bus is a 225A main breaker panel. It's this one right here: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Eaton-BR-225-Amp-84-Circuit-Indoor-Main-Breaker-Plug-On-Neutral-Load-Center-with-Copper-Bus-BRP42BC225/307648489

I just called a local electrician to find out if he can upgrade my service by replacing the meter outside and connecting to this panel. He kind of blew my mind when he said he couldn't. He said he can put a 320A meter outside, but he would have to connect it to two separate 200A main breaker panels. I asked him why he couldn't just replace the old 150A panel with this 225A one. He said the only "standard residential" setups are for 200A panels, and that he can't set up a 225A one.

Does this make any sense to anyone?

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    One of two reasons, local code does not allow it, or he has not all the facts. Ask another local electrician.
    – crip659
    Feb 26 at 0:46
  • Thanks. It just struck me as bizarre. I'm guessing he wants to up-sell me on parts he has rather than using ones I already have. I contacted other local companies, but I won't hear back until Monday.
    – John Long
    Feb 26 at 0:49
  • It matters where you’re located and who your local utility is… and also upgrading your service isn’t just about the meter, it’s also about the conductors from the pole to the meter base and then from the meter base to your breaker panel. Anyway a 320A service with 400A of main breaker sounds like a recipe for a fire somewhere. Feb 26 at 1:37
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    @RibaldEddie Common misconception. Residential equipment requires a 125% derate for all continuous loads (or an 80% derate depending on your POV). So you can only put 320A on a "400A/NEC" service. Power companies don't make that distinction; to them it's a 320A service where 125% temporary overload is permissible. Feb 26 at 2:58
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    I know you don't want to hear opinions about copper bars, but try this one on. All consumer panels are "plug-on hot". You are paying extra for "plug-on neutral", with me so far? If you want to reduce bus-stab problems, you don't add bus stabs (PON) - you *eliminate ALL bus stabs" by going to a "bolt-on" panel. This is where the breaker attaches with a screw instead of a spring clip. This is industrial-tier stuff, is the only problem. Pushmatic, the only consumer bolt-on, left the business. Feb 26 at 20:26

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It makes sense based on how services work.

Services start by contacting the utility and asking "What sizes of service can you offer me?" The utility looks at engineering data based on the installed plant in your area, and their policies, and says "We can offer you sizes A, B or C".

You choose one that is larger than your house's Load Calculation, e.g. "I'll take B".

And then they say "Alright, here is a list of approved meter pans for B".

The other components are approved by the AHJ, based on NEC rules as locally amended. What does "B" even mean? It defines the main breaker size. If B is "200A" and the PoCo comes out to connect the service drop and finds a 175A breaker in there, fine. If 225A, they won't connect.

Your main breaker is the only overcurrent protection for the service. (kinda makes sense; why have two).

To swap the meter pan, the power company must come and remove their service drop wires. Then, the pan is de-energized and can be exchanged. When the electrician is finished, the power company returns, and re-connects power if the work passes inspection. Notifying the power company and securing permits and inspections is part of electrician's job and it's "tick the boxes" for them, they do it all the time.

What your electrician is saying

First they are saying "I know this power company, and 225A isn't on the menu". He might be wrong, they might be willing to work with you. But most likely he is right; most likely the next size up is "Class 320" 400A service.

The electrician is correct that the normal way to provision "Class 320" 400A service is to have the meter split to two 200A main panels. However, those meter pans accommodate two cables up to 300 kcmil each (to feed two panels NOT for paralleling), and that certainly will accommodate one 250 kcmil cable needed for a 225A service. I can't see a problem with that setup, except that it makes poor use of the service available, so wouldn't normally be done.

Keep in mind right now the electrician business is a seller's market - there's a building and home improvement boom, and electricians get to pick and choose jobs.

While your theory is more fun, facts are different. First, the electrician wants to offer a "soup to nuts" warranty on the work, so that warranty woprk is hassle-free, as you'll demand. Using your own gear breaks their ability to get labor compensation from the supplier. So you must pay it. This gets VERY awkward. Second, 90% of the time the consumer buys equipment, it's the wrong thing. And that must be explained to the suspicious customer. So using customer-supplied gear is the road to perdition for the professional. In this market, walk away from customers like that.

Electricians don't stock parts. That's why electrical supply houses open at 7 am.

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  • Thank you for the reply. My current service is a 150A main panel, so I know Duke Energy Progress supports that panel. Since a 320A meter can supply two 200A panels, why couldn't it supply one 225A panel and one 150A panel in the future? I'm not trying to upgrade to 400A right now. I really only want 225A to meet my needs of a possible future electric car charger.
    – John Long
    Feb 26 at 18:09
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    The power company doesn't care what the panel is, they care about the meter pan. What happens beyond the meter pan is between you and the civil AHJ. Here are 2 interesting facts: a) most "200A" panels actually have 225A busing (this comes up a lot when dealing with solar systems). b) Main breakers are replaceable. Feb 26 at 19:58

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