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I have a 100 amp main panel for my main house. I am building an all electric ADU for which I need 200 amp sub panel. The utility company says they can upgrade my supply to 200 or 400 amp only, and I need a separate meter for the ADU and main house. They asked me to find the panel that I need.

What type of wiring am I looking at? Any suggestion welcome.

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    it’s all electric- 1.5 ton heat pump and 20kw tankless heater, plus kitchen utils. I did some load calculation and it was coming to 150 amps, am I estimating too high?
    – FuzzyWuzzy
    Aug 20, 2023 at 23:55
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    @FuzzyWuzzy is there a reason you're going electric tankless for the water heater? Also, who do you have for an electric utility? Aug 21, 2023 at 0:09
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    Tankless may not be the best choice for that structure, for just that peak-demand reason.
    – keshlam
    Aug 21, 2023 at 0:47
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    @FuzzyWuzzy there is no way we can fully answer your question without knowing who your electric utility is (just to reinforce the importance of getting us an answer on that question) Aug 21, 2023 at 1:18
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    Fair point, @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact, but supplies are generally available now, and it's still best to check with the PoCo. As noted, I had 15 pages of acceptable options. My electrician called his preferred supply house and had one in within 2-3 weeks about 1 year ago. Out of 15 pages, one would think something would be available in a reasonable time frame, and if not, then it's a discussion between the home owner, electrician & PoCo to get an alternative approved.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 21, 2023 at 14:37

2 Answers 2

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20kw tankless heater

Get rid of that! Electric tankless has some very limited applications. But this isn't one of them. Put in a 40 or 50 gallon tank and it will use (typically) 4500W. That's 22.5% of 20 kW! That will make all the difference in the world.

Just absolutely incredible. A 20kW tankless is more power than most Level 2 EVSE (a.k.a., home car chargers) - those typically max out at 48A (on a 60A breaker) = 12kW, which itself is about double what most people actually need.

Redo the load calculations based on tank instead of tankless. You may well find that you can fit both buildings into a single 200A service. Now they might still want you to have separate service if the ADU is a physically separate building. Or they might be fine with it all in one if the combined load calculation allows it.

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  • @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact thanks for the suggestion, I am building an ADU, wont have space for a Tank water heater inside, not sure if one can install them outside. Yes, this tankless heater is adding the largest load, maybe I need to go with a smaller tankless water heater? any suggestion there is also welcome
    – FuzzyWuzzy
    Aug 21, 2023 at 18:47
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    Don't go with a smaller tankless. Go with a tank. Yes, it is possible to put a tank outside - even if that costs a bit extra it is worth to avoid the extreme extra electric load. Aug 21, 2023 at 19:47
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Two meters? No problem!

The good news is that the problem you're trying to solve has already been solved for you, as multi-pack metering systems for duplexes and small "plex" apartment buildings are widely available these days. In particular, assuming that your ADU is a detached structure and that your local Code authority is alright with existing grounds (i.e. some light fixture out in the middle of the yard) lighting staying on the existing house's panel, you can use any EUSERC-compliant two-meter pack that supports the loads you are working with.

That said, that tankless heater is really a drag

However, that 20kW tankless water heater you're proposing for the ADU is a bad plan, given that it's basically doubling your load calculation for a very marginal gain in usable space. Instead, I'd recommend using a "low boy" style tank water heater tucked into a cabinet space to at least be able to have a usable counter over it; there are also a few options out there that build the water heater into what's basically an appliance-shaped package, but those aren't as widely available as the more conventional "low boy" tanks are.

Putting this all together...

Once you jettison the tankless heater, then we can talk about service sizing, as you shouldn't have any difficulty getting the ADU onto a 100A service once the tankless goes bye-bye, and that means you can use a 2x125A meter-pack for this job. I'd recommend a Siemens WEP2211, but that's because it's inexpensive and not hard to find; most other manufacturers of multi-pack equipment should have something that fits the bill as well.

The other good news is that since PG&E considers a duplex to fall under single-family residential service rules other than the separate metering, you don't need to worry about having to deal with more than the standard 10,000A of fault current any off-the-shelf setup can handle. (If you did have to worry about that issue, you'd need to order special main breakers with a higher interrupting rating than the regular ones.)

(Image is from A.O. Smith's website, but that's not an endorsement of them in particular -- plenty of other manufacturers make lowboy electric tanks!)

low boy tanked water heater

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  • This is very helpful. I didn’t find any requirement for having a separate (from main house) water heater for ADU. It’s more of a nice to have incase the ADU is rented. I might just revise the plan to connect my existing water heater for the ADU.
    – FuzzyWuzzy
    Aug 25, 2023 at 18:04
  • @FuzzyWuzzy -- the standby losses from a hot water line run outdoors for a significant distance are...not going to be fun, even in a mild climate like yours Aug 26, 2023 at 4:58
  • agreed, but mine is an attached ADU. So pipes need not travel outside for much
    – FuzzyWuzzy
    Sep 19, 2023 at 5:43
  • @FuzzyWuzzy yeah, for an attached ADU, not having a separate HWH isn't the end of the world, just a nuisance from a landlording standpoint Sep 19, 2023 at 11:39
  • Downvoter please explain? Oct 28, 2023 at 19:49

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