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Unlimited Power! (but not really)

Welcome back everyone! Hope you enjoyed last week’s delve into Electrical basics. This week, I’m going on about the power demand and limitations in your home (old or new) and why it’s important to all homeowners.

Contrary to the title and Darth Sidious' epic line from Star Wars, power is not unlimited and though we’ve been seeing a move to better energy efficiency in homes; Furnaces, LED lighting, other appliances… We are also seeing huge strides in advancement of all sorts of other technologies, like Electric Vehicles and Induction stoves and increase in the availability (and affordability) of comforts like Air Conditioners, Hot Tubs, Outdoor Heat and Indoor Saunas.

Adding these into your home is beyond enticing, but there is one factor often overlooked by many (including myself as I was planning some additions to my own home), and that is that the power just isn't there to support it. A typical home (in Edmonton at least) in this day and age is provided with 100amps of power for consumption, which translates to 24,000 Watts.

Now, if you take a quick glance at your electrical panel, you will think that electricians are trying to pull one over on you as you will see a whole bunch of breakers totaling something like 550amps… I promise you we aren’t off our rockers. There is a specific calculation that the Canadian Electrical Code provides us, taking into account the square footage of the home, the developed status of the basement, as well as the wattages (or estimated wattages) of the appliances going into the home.

This calculation gives us a realistic look at the actual amperage draw of your home to determine whether these appliances can be added, or if a service upgrade is required. The biggest killers of your home’s wattage allowance are induction ranges/stoves, hot tub heat pumps, infrared heaters/saunas and air conditioners. Electric Vehicles are also a huge burden, but thankfully there have been some contingencies added allowing regulators to be installed that allows your vehicle to charge when the draw on your home is low enough.

A service upgrade is a costly undertaking these days, as it can require an electrician opening up your wall to get a new line from your meter to panel and replacing your entire electrical panel to the upgraded size. AND that’s only if an upgraded size is permitted by the electrical service provider, as it may not be which would require them to get a new wire from the pedestal to your home and upgrade the pedestal, which is even more costly.

(This is a 400amp Service we did back in 2018. It required a significant amount of waiting for the various pieces to move from application, to permitting, to special ordering material.)

When building your new home, it’s very important to have these conversations with your builder before you start to avoid any surprises on either of your parts down the line. And if you are adding a hot tub, or air conditioner to your existing home, have your electrician do a quick calculation to make sure you’re not going to run into any issues down the road. Most of us will be able to tell just by taking a look at the panel.

That’s all for this week; although there was plenty more information I wanted to share, I was advised that I babble and get off track, so I compiled all the extra tidbits into next week’s blog post called “Fun Facts about power.”

If you have any questions, comments, feedback or suggestions for future topics, then definitely send me an email at! I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, have yourselves a great weekend!

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