Paying more for “Just in case”

Photo Credit: kainet via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: kainet via Compfight cc

The house I live in was built in the 1950’s and there are still some things I’m pretty sure haven’t changed since then. Well…I guess I could say that its changed in that it’s gotten older, grimy, and more beaten up by the long years but it’s still the original!

One of these original items that came with the house is a 50 amp electrical panel. Most houses now have at least 100 amps while a good amount have 200 amps. Since houses have become more modern so has the amount of electricity being used gotten higher. On the flip side appliances and lights are becoming more energy efficient and thus use less power. It’s a good idea for us to upgrade our panel because we don’t have any emergency breakers in place if there is a power surge or overload. This means that it could start a fire. Deciding between a 100 amp or 200 amp panel was pretty interesting. The cost of the panel itself is about a 700 difference and most of the costs are associated with the labor and installation. Would a 100 amp panel work for us or should we just pay the extra money just in case for a 200 amp panel?

While trying to figure out if we even needed a 200 amp panel we discovered how little energy we actually use! My green habits have paid off for something! We looked at what we currently use energy for now, and also projected any potential items in the future. We also had to keep in mind that we wouldn’t actually turn on every single appliance/device we have at one time.

Calculating the amount of amps we actually use
There are websites and guides that help with calculating how many amps something uses. It’s a general estimate but it’s better to go a little over than not estimate enough. For everything we currently have we would only ever use 50 amps if everything was turned on! Our major appliances are all gas and barely use any electricity. Even adding central air wouldn’t put it over 100. An electric car charger could get us closer, but usually those charge at night when nothing else is on.

Finding a reputable electrician
The electrician we are thinking of going with is also of the old school variety. Honest and knowledgable they’ve already helped us a lot and we haven’t technically hired them yet! Of course we won’t know how good they are until they actually do the work. The one thing that really shows how honest they are though is if they try to upsell you with the reasoning of “just in case you need it later.”


It’s really tempting to go with the 200 amp panel just because we would definitely be covered for almost anything. Realistically though we would never install central air, and if we did get an electric car it would charge at night only. $700 is a lot of money to do something. If the difference was smaller then perhaps, but in the end it is money spent. The 100 amp it is! I tend to like to be safe rather than sorry, but in this case there’s just not a lot of justification for the pricier option.

I’m saving $700 today by doing research and not paying more money to get a bigger upgrade. It’s always easier to just go with the larger upgrade because you’re definitely going to be covered, but if it’s not necessary then that’s a waste.

Would you get something just in case or only what you currently need?

4 thoughts on “Paying more for “Just in case”

  1. That’s quite interesting. In my experience I tend to spend more just in case and just adds more happiness overall. I find that by being too frugal does indeed “cost” something, satisfaction or more money later. It is always a tough balance for us PF people in regards to spending and saving. Also, we are at that point when we have more these days to splurge a little bit compared to our younger days. In regards to your situation, I agree that we use less energy with more efficient electronics. However, will this home be able to support a larger family, guests, and/or roommates? With the weather patterns changing, you might need to install central air in the future also. When you resale your house, you can point out that your electrical is upgraded which will make an easier sell or get you your money back. Just a few more thoughts I had with your situation :-).

    1. Thanks for the thoughts and considerations! We did a ton of research and calculated everything we currently have now and anything we could think of for the future. In this case going for the higher upgrade was just overkill.

  2. If it were me, I would go with the lower amp panel. Not only would it save money at installation, but it would keep me from being wasteful of energy and money in the future.

    I commend you for your low energy use, but more importantly for your mindfulness of your purchases. I wish more people would put this much thought into everything they buy.
    Green Girl Success recently posted…Are You Resilient?My Profile

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