200 Amp Electrical Service Wire Size (Complete Guide) - Home Inspection Insider (2023)

200 Amp Electrical Service Wire Size (Complete Guide) - Home Inspection Insider (1)

When installing a 200 amp electrical service, you need to be sure you use the correct gauge wire. You’ll need a permit to do the professional installation. Many areas still allow homeowners to obtain their permits. You’ll need to check with your local building department to know if you can get the permit or if you’ll need the help of an electrician.

Installation of 200 amp electrical service needs a #2/0 AWG copper wire or #4/0 AWG for aluminum or copper-clad wire inside a minimum of 1.5 inches, schedule 40 or 80 PVC conduit for underground service. However, 2 or 2.5 inches is recommended if running 3 wires in the same conduit.

Wiring 200 amp service requires an electric permit and professional installation by a qualified electrician in accordance with local electric codes.

Power is received from the utility service lines and flows through the outside electrical meter base and into the main electrical panel in an attached garage, basement, or interior room.

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(Video) How to Upgrade an Electric Meter to 200-Amp Service (Part 1) | This Old House

Wire Sizes for 200 Amp Service

AWG, American Wire Gauge, is the US standard for sizing electrical wiring.

What Size Wire Is Needed For 200Amp Electrical Service – Home Inspection Insider

Wiring a 200 amp feeder requires either #2/0 copper wiring or #4/0 aluminum or copper-clad wiring. Which wire is used is determined by the voltage drop and length of the wiring.

The following table reflects wiring size, length, and voltage drop:

Service or Feeder RatingCopper WireAluminum or
Copper-Clad Aluminum Wire
Minimum Conduit Size
100 Amps#4 AWG#2 AWG1.25 inch
110 Amps#3 AWG#1 AWG1.25 inch
125 Amps#2 AWG#1/0 AWG1.25 inch
150 Amps#1 AWG#2/0 AWG1.25 inch
175 Amps#1/0 AWG#3/0 AWG1.5 inch
200 Amps#2/0 AWG#4/0 AWG1.5 inch
225 Amps#3/0 AWG250 kcmil1.5 inch
250 Amps#4/0 AWG300 kcmil2 inch
300 Amps250 kcmil350 kcmil2.5 inch
350 Amps350 kcmil500 kcmil3 inch
400 Amps400 kcmil600 kcmil3 inch

Many electrical contractors opt to use #4/0 aluminum or copper-clad wire.

For copper conductors, you’ll need a #2/0 AWG copper wire commonly used for electrical wiring because it is more heat resistant than aluminum. Copper won’t rust and is resistant to oxidation.

200 Amp Electrical Service Wire Size (Complete Guide) - Home Inspection Insider (3)

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For aluminum or copper-clad aluminum wiring, you’ll need #4/0 AWG aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring requires a larger diameter wire because it has a lower conductivity than copper. Aluminum wiring requires an antioxidant coating at the connection terminals to resist corrosion. Copper-clad aluminum doesn’t require an antioxidant coating at the connection terminals.

Aluminum wirings appeal widespread because it costs less, is lightweight, and is more flexible than copper, even though copper is considered a better conductor.

(Video) Electrical Service Panels Explained

Why Copper Wiring is Preferred over Aluminum

Electricians and homeowners alike prefer copper wiring, particularly for branch circuits. Copper wiring has many benefits, including:

  • Conductivity: Copper wire is a highly conductive metal, second only to silver. Copper can handle a higher electrical load, so you can use a smaller gauge wire. Copper wire is about half the diameter of aluminum wire for the same conductivity.
  • Heat Resistant: Copper wire conductive properties make the wire more heat resistant than aluminum wire. Copper wire does not expand and contract like aluminum, so the wires remain tight on lugs.
  • Corrosion Resistant: Copper is resistant to corrosion. Patina is a greenish-tarnish that changes the outer color of copper. Patina forms by oxidation; however, do not affect the conductivity.
  • Malleability: Because copper is highly conductive, the wire strands are thinner, making the wire more malleable without the risk of breaking.
  • Distance: Copper conductors can be used over longer distances due to its highly conductive properties and heat resistance.

Pros of Aluminum or Copper-Clad Aluminum Wire

We just discussed why copper is preferred; however, copper-clad and aluminum wire sizes are more popular on service entry wire for several reasons, including:

  • Budget-Friendly: Aluminum wire is preferred due to its lower cost. Aluminum conductors are cheaper to produce compared to copper conductors. Aluminum copper-clad is better but does cost more than aluminum wiring. Aluminum costs much less than copper-clad and copper wires.
  • Faster Installation: Aluminum is lighter than copper and very malleable for its larger wire gauge. Electricians find is easy to work because is lightweight and feeds well through the electrical conduit which makes for faster installation and lowers material and labor costs.

Aluminum wiring expands and contracts with heat which causes the wire connection to loosen over time, raising the risk of an electrical fire. Aluminum service wiring is a grouping of smaller solid aluminum strands rather than one solid wire, making the aluminum wire safe to use in residential homes.

The Length Your Service Wire Runs Matters

When calculating wire size, you need to know how far the service entrance wires will run from the electrical meter base to the electrical panel. The maximum voltage drop (we will discuss shortly) allowed is 3%. The distance your service entry wire needs to travel will determine whether you use aluminum or copper wire and gauge necessary.

Service Wire SizeMaximum Distance
Copper #2/0 Wire50 feet
Copper #3/0 Wire100 feet
Copper #4/0 Wire150 feet
Aluminum #4/0 Wire50 feet
Aluminum 300 kcmil100 feet

You can use aluminum and copper for a 200 amp service entry wire. However, the aluminum gauge will be higher due to its reduced conductivity and heat resistance properties. You can use copper wire over a longer distance.

What is Voltage Drop?

Voltage drop is the loss of voltage that occurs over the wire due to natural resistance. The longer a wire runs, the more voltage loss that occurs. The size wire gauge has to increase to offset the voltage drop.

The voltage at the circuit breaker should be 120 volts. Using a voltage meter, take a reading at the appliance or the farthest device. Ideally, you should not have a voltage drop higher than 3%. For a 120-volt electrical circuit, the voltage drop should be no less than 117 volts. Likewise, on 233 volts on a 240-volt electrical circuit.

How Many Wires You Need for 200 amp Service

The type of wire you need will vary depending on your electrical system. The run from the meter base to the main disconnect box or main panel is 3-wire, consisting of 2 hot wires and 1 neutral wire. The neural and ground bars have electrical bonding connecting the bars.

The feeder run from the main electrical panel to the interior distribution panel (subpanel) is 4-wire, consisting of two hot wires, one neutral wire, and one ground wire. You don’t bond the neutral and ground bars inside subpanels.

What Size Conduit You Need for 200 Amp Service

An electrical panel has knockouts for connecting electrical feeder conduit. You can use either a 2-inch or 2.5-inch conduit based on the fill space you intend to occupy inside the conduit. If 3 or more wires are inside the conduit, the maximum fill space of 40%.

In Chapter 9, Table 5A of the 2017 NEC, a #4/0 Aluminum stranded conductor takes up 176.3mm2 of fill space. If you multiply 176.3mm2 by four gives you a total of 705.2mm2 of fill space used by the entire feeder.

According to Chapter 9, Table 4 of the 2017 NEC, a 2″, Schedule 80 PVC conduit has 742mm2 usable fill.

So, a 2″ conduit will suffice, or you can upsize to 2.5″ if you wish for ease of pulling. Keep in mind that the area of the wires must be less than 40% of the internal space of the pipe when 3 or more wires are present.

What Size Ground Wire for 200 Amp Service

The NEC is the electric code used in the United States. The minimum size for a grounding wire for 200 amp is #4 AWG copper or #2 AWG aluminum, according to Article 250 of the 2020 NEC.

The size of the primary conductor may need to increase for a variety of reasons, including the length of the run, available fault current, or any number of reasons. The NEC is a safety guide. Local municipalities set and adopt code guidelines. Call a local electrician or your city for specific guidelines.

GROUNDING ELECTRODE CONDUCTOR SIZING (Table 250.66)

Size of Main PanelCopper ConductorsAluminum or Copper-Clad Aluminum
125 Amps#8 AWG#6 AWG
150 Amps#6 AWG#4 AWG
200 Amps#4 AWG#2 AWG

What Size Ground Rod for 200 Amp Service

A ground rod needs to be at least 5/8″ (0.625) in diameter and at least 8 to 10 feet long with a clamp and the appropriate ground wire. The ground rod needs to be driven 8 feet deep into the ground and cut back close to the ground. The wire and clamp are secured tightly to the top of the ground rod.

Where there is a lot of electricity in the ground, a thicker #3 size wire may be required. New code requirements require two ground rods for regions with high soil electrical resistance.

Use the correct type of grounding rod. Pipe or rebar can also be used for grounding. The grounding rod must be galvanized steel and should be at least eight feet long.

How Many Ground Rods for 200 Amp Service

A ground rod that does not meet the NEC’s 25 OHMS or less requirement necessitates using a second ground rod, with the ground rods being at least 6′ apart.

You install a ground rod for a system, and the first ground rod has a resistance of 25 ohms or more. According to the NEC, you must install a second grounding rod. On the other hand, many contractors do not take ground resistance into account. They anticipate driving two ground rods to satisfy 250.56’s standards regardless of actual ground resistance. As a result, two ground rod connections are typical but aren’t always necessary.

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The NEC article 250.53(B) requires you to space grounding rods at least 6 feet apart connecting by a grounding wire. However, this spacing is a minimum. When using the typical 8-foot or 10-foot ground rod, you get the best results by spacing them at least 16 or 20 feet apart, much farther than the minimum 6-foot spacing.

Check Local Electrical Codes & Permit Requirements

Electrical codes are set by the National Electrical Code (NEC) but can vary by location. Using a qualified electrician ensures your 200 amp electric service meets local codes and permit requirements.

The 200 amp size wire referred to in this article is from the NEC code and may vary from your local building code. Your local code will adopt or alter the NEC codes to fit their requirements.

Before the utility service can connect power to the house, you’ll need a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). The permit allows for a final inspection to connect the electric service. The CO is issued after the electrical work has passed the building inspection.

200 Amp Electrical Service Installation Costs

It’s nearly impossible to accurately price the cost of installing a 200 amp entry service in a house. We need to consider numerous factors, like location, the amount of work required, and material costs in your area. Installing a 200 amp electrical service typically includes installing a 200 amp service wire, conduit, meter base, and a 200 amp electric panel.

Based on HomeAdvisor, the national average cost of a complete 200 amp electric installation costs $1,900 to $7,250, with average cost of $4,650, including the following:

  • 200 Amp Service Panel: Average cost ranges from $750 to $2000, with a median cost of $1375.
  • 200 Amp Meter Base: Average cost ranges from $150 to $400, with a median cost of $275.
  • 200 Amp Service Wire: Average cost ranges from $1000 to $5,000, with a median cost of $3,000.

According to MidPenn Electrical, a leading electrical contractor in Pennsylvania, “a new 200 amp service can cost anywhere from $4,200 to $5,000“. Therefore, the HomeAdvisor cost averages seem to be reasonably accurate.

Do You Need an Electrician?

Get FREE quotes from licensed electricians in your area today. Whether you need an outlet or ceiling fan installed or a new electrical panel or wiring, We Can Help! All electricians are screened, licensed, and insured.

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Conclusion

Installing 200 amp wire is not a DIY project for homeowners. Wiring a 200 amp panel is a big project that requires the services of a qualified and certified electrician. You may require a permit to install a 200 amp service. The electric service will need to be disconnected entirely in existing homes to install the 200 amp service.

(Video) How To Tell What Amp Service Is In Your House

Also, see our guide, Wire Size for 100 Amp Electric Service.

FAQs

What size wire do I need for 200 amp service? ›

For a 200 amp service, you'll need: #2/0 copper wire, or. #4/0 aluminum or copper-clad aluminum wire.

What is the minimum cable size for a 200 amp supply? ›

200-Amp Service Wire Size According To The NEC

When installing a 200-amp panel, the National Electrical Code requires a minimum of a #2/0 AWG for copper wire. If you are using aluminum, or copper-clad wire no smaller than a #4/0 AWG must be installed.

How many amps per leg is 200 amp service? ›

In the US, a 200 amp service will provide 200 amps per leg. You get a two pole 200A circuit breaker with such a service with 120 volts between each leg and neutral and 240 volts between legs.

How do I calculate what size wire I need? ›

How do you determine cable wire size? Divide the voltage running through the cable by your target current. If, for instance, 120 volts will act on the cable, and you want 30 amps to run through it: 120 / 30 = 4.

What size wire goes from meter to panel? ›

Electrical wire

Based on the current and voltage rating of the meter and breaker, #4 size AWG copper wire is the highly suggested type and size of wire. This is to provide efficiency in conductivity; it will also prevent unnecessary loss of power, short circuit, damages, even wiring faults that may lead to dangers.

What size wire do you run from pole to house? ›

In terms of home electrical wire, you'll usually be working with 12 or 14-gauge wire. But for appliances, you'll be using 10, 8, or 6 gauge.

How do you ground a 200 amp service panel? ›

How to Install an Armor Ground Line to a Main Electrical Breaker Panel

What is involved in upgrading to 200 amp service? ›

Simply put, upgrading to 200-amp service lets you use more electricity. However, the installation requires proper permits, a qualified electrician, and inspections. You'll also need to have your utility company disconnect the service.

What size wire do you need for 150 amp service? ›

SERVICE ENTRANCE CONDUCTORS SIZE AND RATING
Service or Feeder RatingCopper ConductorsAluminum or Copper-Clad Aluminum
100 Amps#4 AWG#2 AWG
125 Amps#2 AWG#1/0 AWG
150 Amps#1 AWG#2/0 AWG
1 more row

How many kW Can a 200 amp service handle? ›

This depends entirely of the voltage of the power supply. Whilst 200 amps would be a lot in a domestic supply (120 x 200 = 24 kW) this is small in power applications. High voltage circuit breakers use various techniques to damp the electric arc created as the circuit breaker opens.

How many breakers are allowed in a 200 amp panel? ›

Most 200 amp panels will allow you to add 1 or 2 more 15 Amp breakers which will increase the amp draw on the panel. You can only add 1 or 2 extra 20 Amp breakers because the line voltage is lower than 12 amps. This is why you have to add a breaker on the 1 – 12 amp line that is getting feed power from the panel.

How many circuits can be on a 200 amp panel? ›

Electrical panels vary in the number of circuits spaces contained in each panel. A specialty panel, such as used in a barn or other outbuilding, may only contain 12 circuit spaces. Most 200 amp panels used in modern homes contain anywhere from 20 to 60 spaces. The typical home panel contains 40 circuit spaces.

How do you work out circuit breaker size UK? ›

How To Calculate Size Of A Circuit Breaker?
  1. Calculate the amp draw. We use the basic electric power equation for this. ...
  2. Multiply amp draw by 1.25 to account for the 80% breaker rule. The resulting amps are the minimum ampacity a correctly sized circuit breaker should have.
  3. Choose a circuit breaker size.

How do you calculate cable size from KW? ›

Ok, let's dive into calculations…
  1. Consumed Load = Total Load · Demand Factor: Consumed Load in KW = 80 · 1 = 80 KW.
  2. Consumed Load in KVA = KW/P.F.: Consumed Load in KVA = 80/0.8 = 100 KVA.
  3. Full Load Current = (KVA · 1000) / (1.732 · Voltage): Full Load Current = (100 · 1000) / (1.732 · 415) = 139 Amp.
30 Jun 2014

What size wire do I need for 30 amps at 200 feet? ›

In short, the perfect wire size for most 30 amp services is the #8 AWG wire with 50A ampacity. This is the common size wire for 30 amps 240 volt service, 30 amp 220 volt service, and so on.

What size wire is good for 300 amps? ›

By checking this table, you can see you will need either 4/0 AWG copper wire or 300 kcmil aluminum wire to provide for a 300 amp service.

What is involved in upgrading to 200 amp service? ›

Simply put, upgrading to 200-amp service lets you use more electricity. However, the installation requires proper permits, a qualified electrician, and inspections. You'll also need to have your utility company disconnect the service.

How do you ground a 200 amp service panel? ›

How to Install an Armor Ground Line to a Main Electrical Breaker Panel

What size wire do I need for a 150 amp service? ›

SERVICE ENTRANCE CONDUCTORS SIZE AND RATING
Service or Feeder RatingCopper ConductorsAluminum or Copper-Clad Aluminum
100 Amps#4 AWG#2 AWG
125 Amps#2 AWG#1/0 AWG
150 Amps#1 AWG#2/0 AWG
1 more row

Videos

1. How to Perform an Electrical Inspection According to the InterNACHI® SOP
(International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI))
2. What Size Ground Cable Needed For 200 Amp Service?
(JustAnswer-Q&A)
3. Residential Main Electrical Panel Inspection
(Building Code Education)
4. Grounding a 200 amp electrical service
(David Jones)
5. How to Upgrade an Electrical Panel to 200-Amp Service (Part 2) | This Old House
(This Old House)
6. Episode 16 - Service Entrance Wiring
(Ciband)
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