200 Amp Wire Size for Residential Electrical Service (Complete Guide)

200 amp wire size

You must use the 200 amp wire size when installing a 200 amp electrical service in residential homes. 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.

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

Wiring 200-amp service requires an electric permit and professional installation by a qualified electrician following 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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What Size Wire Is Needed For 200Amp...
What Size Wire Is Needed For 200Amp Electrical Service – Home Inspection Insider
NEC Guideline for 200 Amp Wire Size for Most Feeder Runs

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

AWG wire for 200-amp service 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. Long runs require a higher wire gauge. Runs over 100 ft transition from AWG to kcmil wire, a thicker wire for greater distances.

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
Source: National Electrical Code

Many electrical contractors use #4/0 aluminum or copper-clad 200 amp wire size. 

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 has high conductivity, won’t rust, and is resistant to oxidation. 

30Ft 2/0 Copper Service Entrance Wire Cable
$430.18

Available in 10FT to 180FT lengths

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You’ll need #4/0 AWG 200 amp wire size for aluminum or copper-clad 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.

25 Ft 4/0 Aluminum Service Entrance Cable
$360.78

Available in 25FT to 1000FT lengths

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Aluminum wiring appeals widely because it costs less, is lightweight, and is more flexible than copper, even though copper is considered a better conductor.

200 amp copper wire

Advantages of Copper Wiring over Aluminum

Licensed 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: The copper wire’s conductive properties make the wire more heat resistant than aluminum. Copper wire does not expand and contract like aluminum, so the cables 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 breaking.
  • Distance: Copper conductors can be used over longer distances due to their highly conductive properties and heat resistance.
200 amp aluminum wire

Advantages of Aluminum Wiring over Copper

We just discussed why copper is preferred; however, copper-clad and aluminum wire sizes are more prevalent 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. Licensed electricians find it easy to work because it 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.

What Length 200 Amp Service Wire Can Run

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%. Long runs require a higher gauge wire to minimize voltage drop.

The distance your service entry wire needs to travel will determine whether you use aluminum or copper wire and the gauge necessary. You’ll need to increase the AWG or kcmil wire size for long distances.

Underground 200 Amp Wire Size for Longer Runs

CopperAluminumMaximum Distance
#1/0#2/050 feet
#3/0300 kcmil100 feet
300 kcmil600 kcmil150 feet
500 kcmil1000 kcmil200 feet
1000 kcmil600 kcmil3300 feet
500 kcmil31000 kcmil3400 feet
Distances may vary by location. Check with your local building department for requirements.

You can use aluminum and copper for a 200 amp panel wire size. 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.

Does Voltage Drop Affect 200 Amp Wire Size?

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 occurs. The size wire gauge has to increase to offset the voltage drop.

The voltage at the circuit breaker should be 120 volts. Take a reading at the appliance or the farthest device using a multimeter. 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.

200 amp main breaker

How Many Wires Do You Need for 200 Amp Service 

The type of electrical 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 running from the main electrical panel to the interior distribution panel (sub panel) 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 Wire

An electrical panel has knockouts for connecting the 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. Multiplying 176.3mm2 by four gives you 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 ground wire for 200 amp is #4 AWG bare copper conductor or #2 AWG aluminum, according to Article 250 of the 2020 NEC.

The size of the primary bare copper conductor may need to increase for various 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 licensed 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 must be 5/8″ (0.625) in diameter and 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 tightly secured to the ground rod’s top.

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 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 consider ground resistance. They anticipate driving two ground rods to satisfy the 250.56 standards regardless of ground resistance. Most areas now require 2 ground rods for new installation and upgrades.

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 for 200 Amp Service

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.

This article’s 200 amp size wire 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 an 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.

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.

200 Amp Wire Size FAQs

You’ll likely have many questions when considering a 200 amp wire size. Here are a few of the most common.

What size wire for 200 amp service 300 ft away?

For an underground service run of 300 ft, you’ll need either a 1000 kcmil copper wire or 600 kcmil3 aluminum wire. The aluminum wire is slightly cheaper, but the copper wire will be more durable and have less voltage drop.

What size of wire do I need for a 200 amp service?

For most underground 200 amp service feeds, a #2/0 AWG copper wire or #4/0 AWG for aluminum or copper-clad wire must be placed in a minimum of 1.5-inch schedule 40 or 80 electrical conduits. However, if three wires are to be run in the same conduit, we recommend using 2 or 2.5 inches instead.

What size is 200 amp copper wire?

For feeder runs less than 50 ft, you can use a #1/0 AWG copper wire. For feeder runs of 50 ft and 75 ft, use a 200 amp wire size of #2/0 AWG copper wire. For feeder runs between 100 ft to 125 ft, you should use a #3/0 AWG copper wire.

What size aluminum wire for 200 amp service?

For feeder runs less than 50 ft, you can use a #2/0 AWG aluminum wire. For feeder runs of 50 ft and 75 ft, use a 200 amp wire size of #4/0 AWG aluminum wire. For feeder runs between 100 ft to 125 ft, you should use a 300 kcmil aluminum wire.

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 main electrical service may need to be disconnected entirely in existing homes to install the 200 amp service.

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

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
DISCLAIMER: The content published on HomeInspectionInsider.com is not professional advice. You should consult with a licensed professional and check local permit requirements before starting any project.
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