Your One Bullet Point Solution; Electrical Upgrade

Two points; I am well aware of many threads on topic of electrical service. I do not have time to read hundreds of posts, but wish to distill them down with your help. I will also post this on the Misc Forum to get wider response:

Doing service upgrade to 100A. I plan on adding a whole house surge protector, type 2, add on to panel after the service enters house. Panel to the HT/Music room is not under consideration, as it was all updated when the room was built. 

If anyone has important info/contradictory info on that plan, please inform. 

What I would like to know in shorthand form from the community from those who have Done upgrades:

1. Recommended Panel? Brand, any difference? 

2. I currently have sub-panel for HT/Audio room which I'm tempted to keep. I understand that this is a good move. 
Electrician can sum all into a larger panel, but I have reservations. Comments/recommendations? 

3. Particular wiring/breakers for panel/sub-panel for audio use? 

4. Particular surge protector recommend. 

As the topic has been covered much, notation form comments are welcome. Thanks for helping! 


The intermittent playback has been resolved. Andrew from Small Green Computer, and Adrian from SONORE were not surprised by the diagnostics. It appears that when the power was lost, the Signature Rendu SE was no longer pointed to by the ROON software. Following a simple set of steps to reset and point to it has rectified the problem, and the music is flowing perfectly.

I consider the service upgrade a success, as I was very pleasantly surprised by the improvement of the sound. Due to shortages of electrical home panels because the factories were closed, I went with the Eaton panel without the internal surge protector. The sub-panel for the music/HT room was eliminated, and this seems to have had no ill affect on the performance, perhaps the opposite. I can’t say for sure, as the comparison is not apples to apples. Nevertheless, the overall change is quite positive. The electrician mounted the similar surge protector outside the panel. My fear that a surge protector might introduce some noise was unfounded. A new grounding rod was put outside. The system is quiet, and I detect no noise on the power line, which was a primary concern for a good upgrade. I assume the amps are particularly benefitted by the increased amperage (if I have said it correctly), and I consider the event to be a bonus for the audio hobby.

I am in the process of also reviewing a different set of cables, and so far working with just the power cords. The system has undergone a distinct change with the insertion of six of them, with two more to go in particular setups. It’s always fun to hear what power cords alone can do for a system. I am not interested in debating that last point with anyone, just sharing.

The service up grade is done! So far, I'm very happy with the sound - as long as the sound works. From what I can tell, the Internet over power line devices are not locking on the signal as sent from the router through the power lines and then back to Ethernet in the room. 

This worked perfectly previously, but now these devices will not hold a lock on the signal. They work for a minute or so, allowing ROON to connect the server/streamer, then drop it. Would the power change from 60A to 200A have any effect on that? 

I wonder if the IOP devices got compromised. I did have to replace a set of them a couple years ago, and the diagnostics were similar. I'm not too worried about things, as the first moments of hearing the system were great, and the fact that it was playing at all is proof that it should work consistently eventually. 

Good point. Code books tell you what you need to keep things safe and working. They don’t tell you what you need for high end audio performance. Has anyone written a book or article on this? What is an acceptable voltage drop? Do different types of amplifiers fare better than others with voltage drop on the mains? I would guess switching class D with feedback would be less affected than class A/B, for example.
For not-so-efficient systems that require lots of current, you could see a few volts of drop in longer lines during dynamic peaks.
Quite so!
How would this affect the performance of an amplifier? Would it be better to size the line as large as reasonably possible to keep the voltage as close to 120V at all times?
Yes. Derating the wire is accepted practice. NEC specifies only the minimum standards for electrical safety and performance.
“The main advantage of a dedicated line is not the ability to provide more current. Our systems do not require anywhere near even a 15A draw let alone 20A. What we want is clean.“

For not-so-efficient systems that require lots of current, you could see a few volts of drop in longer lines during dynamic peaks. How would this affect the performance of an amplifier? Would it be better to size the line as large as reasonably possible to keep the voltage as close to 120V at all times?
TODAY is panel install day! It took longer than I wanted to coordinate the electrician and city inspector, as well as power co. to handle the cut over. 
Oh, well. 

This afternoon is the inspection, and tomorrow is the cut over! 

This should be fascinating to see if, subjectively, there is any difference in the system's sound. Frankly, in the long run, it doesn't matter so much, as it is one of dozens of ways to influence the sound quality, and I will keep finding more of them. You work with what you have in that regard, and build from there. 

I just pray it's not noisy power lines... If so, I'll have to consider adding an isolation transformer. I'm not going to put up with noisy power. 

Power cords should sound even better! ;) 
THOUGHTS in regard to two options electrician is offering?
Both 200A
Both will have some form of surge protection at panel

Eaton CH Panel with space for an Eaton surge protection
-The Eaton panel has uses silver plated copper bus bar connection
-Breakers seem to be mounted directly onto neutral

Square D with QO breakers
-The Square D has a tin plated copper bus bar
-breakers seem to be wired in

My electrician plans on replacing the ground bars with copper.

Again, if there are noise problems I will probably add an isolation transformer and sub-panel.

QUESTION: So a load center can have more than one surge protection device? i.e. covering entire panel, and additional covering the circuits for the HT/audio room? The Siemens unit recommended by drlisz seems to do both entire panel and two circuits. Is that the same case with others, like the Eaton panel surge protector?

I'm doing 200amp.
Should have 40slots plenty
Will seriously consider the MOV panel solution. 

Have owners of isolation transformers found them worthwhile? I can do so between main panel and subpanel if I wish. 

Right.(falconquest, not the other one) My experience is the more direct the better. The main advantage of a dedicated line is not the ability to provide more current. Our systems do not require anywhere near even a 15A draw let alone 20A. What we want is clean. The greatest source of noise by far is all the other wires in the house, and all the connections on the system circuit.

Normal house circuits are wired outlet to outlet. Every one of these outlet connections creates a little eddy current the power must go through on the way to the system. These connections are also a source of a lot of noise from micro-arcing . Eliminating all these extra connections is the single greatest advantage to running a dedicated line.

The next problem is every wire is an antenna, and all the wires in the house are connected to the same panel. So the more circuits and connections the more noise. This right here is the number one reason to not add a panel. Adding a panel is spending money to make noise worse not better. The panel does absolutely nothing to improve sound. How could it? Serious question.
This comes up a lot and every time it seems hardly anyone gets it. This in spite of the fact there’s a very simple test everyone can do to hear for themselves exactly what I am talking about. Simply go and listen to your system. Then go to the panel and flip off all the breakers not needed for the system. Go and listen again.

Flipping the breakers disconnected all the hot leads, roughly half the wire in the house. The other half, the neutral wires, those are all still connected together at the neutral bus bar in the panel. Don’t take my word for it, remove the cover and see for yourself. Its how they are all wired. Flipping off the breaker disconnected less than half the wires. Even so it was a huge and easy to hear difference. I know. I’ve demo’d this for people. Always they are shocked how much difference this makes.

Adding a panel is adding wires. When what you want is less wires not more. Again, don’t take my word for it. Takes like 10 minutes to try this and then you will know. How many will actually try? Based on past experience almost none. Most would rather pay big bucks for stuff they don’t need than spend even 10 minutes trying to understand what is going on. Oh well.
Doug- presumably, your electrician opened an application so that the work done will be inspected by the local authority. If he hadn’t planned on doing that, ask. (I was in a small town in West Texas at Christmas time and what I saw in the hotel would have caused an electrical inspector to have a heart attack-- my suspicion was there was nobody who had that job in town).
Whole house is type 1 (at the meter, it is my understanding that you need to get the power company to shut off the power to have this installed) and type 2- at the service panel. I’m using an Eaton, type 2 which is well regarded but uses MOVs, which are sacrificial- if the thing does its job and fries, the pilot lamps will tell you it needs to be replaced. It’s under a hundred bucks. There’s an audiophile approved one mentioned in one of your threads, the Environmental Potentials 2050, which claims to be a whole house power conditioner- I’m not sure about its design. Maybe @Jea48 knows- their literature claims that it isn’t just a whole bunch of MOVS, but I’m not sure that answers the question.
Most people also employ point of use surge protection. ZeroSurge, from Frenchtown, NJ, had some of the patents on nonMOV surge protection and it was licensed to others. I’m not sure if they make a whole house unit.
I’m not employing any point of use surge protectors, like power strips or line conditioners with surge protection in my main system. Instead, I have a large Iso transformer that sits outside in a weatherproof cabinet and also has some surge protection. That in turn feeds a subpanel that distributes a bunch of dedicated lines. If it fries, it has replaceable parts on a board and a warning light to alert you to do so.
This does give some peace of mind but if you get a direct hit of lightening, I’d say all bets are off.
You might consider asking Tammy to merge your threads so that you and others don’t have to double post.
Bill Hart

I think there is an important element missing here because no one is talking about local codes. If you upgrade your service I can't imagine any local code allowing only 100A service. The minimum where I live is 200A and that may be outdated as well by now. A sub-panel is added when you run out of space for more breakers in your current panel. There should be no benefit to your audio system by installing a separate sub panel. As a matter of fact, once you upgrade to 200A (or whatever service your local code calls for) you may need to eliminate your sub-panel. Your electrician will know the current code. There is no problem upgrading to the better panel, you simply have to meet minimum code requirements so that is a good recommendation. Your electrician may tell you that it is unnecessary to spend the extra money but it will be worth it. Please correct me if any of my statements are wrong. 
ELECTRICIANS and owners of the whole house meter surge suppressor devices, I need your help on a particular point of information.

My local utility does not offer the house/meter surge suppressors.

I see one made by Leviton. I get the idea.

Question: I believe my electrician could install it. They seem to have a shelf life. What happens when a surge hits? Do they reset automatically? Are you without power until reset? How do you reset them?  

Any superior, great brand to recommend?

As can be seen I am novice when it comes to this stuff. I have no clue whether the pedestal - the name given by electrician to the outside service that is replacing the old 60A one, is different for 100A or 200A. My point was that I have freedom to go either direction. I have chosen to to 200A.

I already have power in the garage, workbench with outlets, etc. So, I'm set there. It is a great suggestion, though, and I use it plenty.

I have two dedicated 20A lines running to HT/Audio room already which I put in using 10AWG cable, so that's set. No retrofit there, because it's built like a bomb shelter.

I'm in good shape; the coring - or whatever you call it - for the new line is happening next week, the space is ready for new pedestal, and I"m going with 200A Square D QO breakers with 40 slots. Copper bus, etc. Goop the copper to protect from corroding. Should be more than enough.

I will have exterior whole house surge protector put on by elec. co., which is a bargain to help protect nice gear, and may put an additional one inside on panel, We'll see. It gets redone, if necessary, until no noise as first priority.

Probably do the recommended copper ground for HT/Audio circuit as well, but no rod in the ground outside. Never have had grounding/noise issues that way.

Plus, adding whole house remote control for power. One remote, control power for everything. All electronics, furnace and AC, lighting, computer and phones, garage door opener, car starters, and all electronics in audio and HT system, etc. Not cheap at $20K, but should be nice. Not really; just kidding about that. ;)

Should have the project done in two weeks. Space outside the house where the work will be done was prepared this morning. We're set. I very much appreciate all the guidance and suggestions! I believe the result will be splendid, and according to most the upgrade from 60A to 200A should confer a slight improvement audibly. At least that's my understanding of the discussion. It need not, but that would be a nice bonus.

Talk about bonus, the utilitity co. forestry man was out at precisely the same time. Getting two trees that were questionable removed due to his agreement that they should come down (power lines/poles, encroachment on road, etc.) That will save me a ton of physical work, especially since I can pile the wood, which is suitable, just a few feet away at the roadside on grass and I bet that will be gone in a day or two. Sweet, no trailering it somewhere!  

It's been a very good week for property maintenance. Makes the music sound all the sweeter!  :)

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The comment about not being able to get the 100 amps, that just isn’t the case..
The amperage is almost unlimited ...
Sorry, but you don’t know what you are talking about.

your right I should have said "can be, almost unlimited".

I don’t have issues like that here, That I notice anyway..

35 years ago PG&E installed new service from 8 - 20 kv in all
the residential clusters, brownouts are nonexistent anymore.
We lose power 2 times a year, usually scheduled.

Where I live the same standards apply, suppose to be 120, 220-240
but that varies, too from 115-125 on a single rail.

Nice to see you noticed... I’ve never heard the term "beast of burden",
I guess I should have paid more attention to the 7 electricians at the family  BBQs. I’ve heard of summation, loads. The total of all the breakers combined, exceeds the rating on the main, by X%. Here in the bay area it is by county, 20% I think.

But thanks I learn something new every day.. 1/10th of one amp will still get matter who makes it though.

lowrider57, thanks for the input. I think it's a wise move to have an alternative configuration re: sub-panel. 
Keep the subpanel. I just upgraded the electric on my small rowhome (with advice from @jea48 ). New line from meter to inside house, upgrade panel to Square D 100A. The electrician kept my existing 60A subpanel which feeds my audio system.
8’ copper ground rod is tied to main panel, a 2nd ground rod is tied to the subpanel.

Yes, DOH, copper! I was thinking back to the military grade outlets I installed at one time to demo. Copper bus...

This is a U.S. residence

It’s beginning to look like the alternatives are limited; I’ planning at this point:

-Square D or equivalent with copper bus and better i.e. QO breakers
-200A service upgrade

Answers to questions:
-Currently both main panel and sub-panel are about 1 foot apart; sub-panel was added when HT was built. No change planned in regards to location
-Distance to room in terms of run to 20A outlets is perhaps 20-25 feet
-20A lines are from sub-panel

My only remaining decision seems to be whether to add sub-panel (or perhaps more accurately, to leave it in place) to the service upgrade’s new 200A panel - purely to enhance sound quality? I have been told that it is desirable to have sub-panel for dedicated room to cut down on possible noise, and I have the space and wiring in place for it.
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The comment about not being able to get the 100 amps, that just isn’t the case..
The amperage is almost unlimited ...
Sorry, but you don’t know what you are talking about.
To be clear, I didn’t say he couldn’t receive 100A of current, only that it wasn’t assured solely because he was upgrading the panel. The supply of current in a neighborhood is not unlimited and in some areas it can be severely compromised. This is measured by what the industry calls a "beast of burden" test. I could write a book about the problems we had in our neighborhood with this, but the utility did finally fix it. I learned during the journey that it is not an uncommon problem, although much depends on the quality of your local utility.
the voltage is suppose to be 110-120 ...
Provided we are talking about the US, you are once again completely wrong. 110VAC is considered low voltage and would not comply with regulatory requirements in most - if not all - states. Nominal voltage in the US is 120VAC and tolerance is ±5 percent by regulation, or what the industry sometimes calls "tariff."
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Summarizing, it seems that as long as I seek panel with brass bus, better quality breakers, and 200A and surge protection on any panels, then the primary question is:

Any benefit to having separate, dedicated panel for HT/Audio room? 

Superb stuff, thank you for responses! I will show electrician. 

I am NOT doing any of this on my own; electrician who previously installed sub-panel will be handing the service upgrade, likely to 200A, and new main panel, and if deemed desired, sub-panel. 

Presuming, Jim, all your questions are answered satisfactorily by electrician re: Sub-panel, is there still advantage for HT/Audio room to have sub-panel? I understand that isolation of all that circuitry is a good thing. Correct? 

I can go anywhere with this, i.e. new main panel to accommodate entire house with HT/Audio room, or separate panels to accommodate dedicated panel for HT/audio room. 

I understand, BRASS bus bar! 

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Get the 200 amp. Minimum.

I had a 100 main, the city recommended 300. The problem is a lot of the mains NOW are 400.
They kinda skip 300 and go from 200 to 400, in a lot of the big box stores. You can order them, though.

The sub panels normally are lower than the mains, the 100 for the room is just fine.. Actually it could be quite a but smaller. 30 amp / 220-230
will give you more than enough,

Your going with 220 vac to the sub correct?

The comment about not being able to get the 100 amps, that just isn’t the case..
The amperage is almost unlimited, the voltage is suppose to be 110-120 and 220-240. Be careful, one hand in the pocket time.. 1/10 of an amp in the right conditions, can hurt you, FOREVER..

I can do either 100A or 200A. The pedestal and panel has not been purchased yet.
Go for 200A. You'll never regret it.
If I do 200A, then my 100A subpanel is toast?
Nope - it will be fine. You can leave it as-is
For clarification, I am replacing 60A main panel with either 100A or 200A main panel, and if necessary/desired, a sub-panel. 

I can do either 100A or 200A. The pedestal and panel has not been purchased yet.

If I do 200A, then my 100A subpanel is toast? Need to get 200A subpanel?

FYI for all helping; I added subpanel when building Audio room, as the main panel was too small. The new panel could be large enough to hold the audio lines, but I understand that a dedicated sub-panel is preferred.

I have two 20A lines running to the audio room. Audio room and those lines will not be redone, only panel/sub-panel and surge protection.

Currently 60A at the house, going to 100A panel rating. New line coming in from utility company will be buried; that's motivating the push to change. 

Doing service upgrade to 100A.
That doesn’t sound like much of an upgrade.
In any event, it isn’t clear exactly what you’re undertaking. Do you mean you are upgrading an existing main breaker panel to a 100A rating? If so, your "service" from the electric utility will remain the same, and there’s no assurance that the utility can actually deliver 100A of current. That can only be established with a "beast of burden" test. (The panel’s rating only means that the panel is capable of distributing that much current. It doesn’t mean the utility can provide it. Typically, a utility cannot deliver the full amount of current posted on the service panel.

There can be sonic improvements after a panel and breaker upgrade, but so much of that hinges on what you have now.