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Can you increase the amount of power to your home?


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  • Can you increase the amount of power to your home?


    This question kinda stems from one I posted yesterday but it's sufficiently different to warrant a new thread (in my tiny head at least ).

    First, is it normal for lights to dim for a short time (less than a second) when certain functions happen e.g.
    1. the oven is pre-heating
    2. the dryer is on

    I know these appliances use significant power but I don't see everyone else's lights dimming. There are just the two of us in the house, plus one cat and some fish, and we don't consume that much power. On a typical night, here is what we might have on:
    1. TV (with cable box, TiVo and VCR - another VCR upstairs that is on but not actually on i.e. it's being used as a clock basically)
    2. computer - it's always on (along with 3 printers usually in power save mode, a digital camera that spends a long time in its cradle)
    3. lights in the room we're in - we're not big on lighting up the neighourhood.
    4. fish tank - light (12 hours), heater (on / off throughout the day), filter (continuous)
    5. 2 fridge freezers
    6. well pump - as needed.
    7. AC - we're tight, we don't have it on unless it's really hot 'n' humid (heating is GAS)
    8. numerous clocks

    Other appliances that are sometimes running:
    1. oven
    2. dishwasher
    3. washer / dryer
    4. power tools in basement

    I'm probably leaving stuff out but the above stuff is generally what we have going on.

    So enough fluff. Is there anything we can do to increase the amount of power coming to our house? I think that we currently have a 150A main breaker, I don't think it's 200 but I will check when I get home. Maybe I am barking up the wrong tree but I am thinking that if there is some way to get more power we won't see dimming lights, etc. I know that the breaker protects the circuit in the event of a spike or excessive current draw but is it also an indicator as to how much power is being supplied in the first place? Not that I would do this but could I just swap out the 150 with a 200 and all of a sudden be able to draw more power safely? I'll repeat, it is not my intention to even think about doing that, I'm just asking the question. Actually, that question is maybe a distraction from the real issue i.e. the dimming lights. All I want to do, if possible, is be able to run the washer/dryer or oven, etc. without our family room lights dimming periodically.

    Cheers, Max
    Last edited by Max; 08-30-2006, 12:43 PM.

  • #2
    Do your lights ever appear to get brighter at times?

    If so may be a problem with your main neutural. Otherwise I recently received a notice from my power company to inform them if we add any major appliances so they could adjust the transformer on the pole. Prior to that I wasn't aware that was necessary. The 150 Amp service should be adequate for an average home.


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply. I don't notice the lights get brigher except for immediately after they dim so that doesn't really count. I guess I can speak to the electrical company about it and they can send someone around to look into it for me.

      Cheers, Max


      • #4
        I wouldn't worry about it. I have two computers on 24/7 at my house. I have a sub-panel in the garage and off it I got a 120 volt aircompressor that's also on 24/7. When it starts my lights all dim for a split second and then come back normal. The computers aren't affected either. How your loads are split up in the main panel may be a way out -- say you got 100 amps on one combined buss and 20 on the other. Total is 120 amps but the neutral carries the unbalanced load. If the neutral is loose or has a large resistance it could heat up causing corrosion or an oxide at the termination. Look at the neutral wire - Is there any anti oxidant on the wire and termination? Looks almost like a green grease. Tell me what you got. Let's do this one step at a time.