Selecting the appropriate wire size for a 200 amp service wire installation is crucial when embarking on a new electrical service project in a residential property. The significance of choosing the right 200 amp wire size cannot be emphasized enough.
According to the NEC Table 310.12 guidelines, for a 200 amp service, it is advised to use either a #2/0 AWG copper wire or a #4/0 AWG aluminum wire for distances up to 50 feet. However, if you require a 200 amp feeder wire for longer distances, the NEC recommends increasing the wire size by 20% per 100 feet from the circuit breaker panels.
When installing a 200 amp wire over a distance of 200 feet, it is recommended to use a wire size of 500 kcmil for copper or 1000 kcmil for aluminum. For more information, please refer to the table below.
Choosing a Wire Size for 200 Amp Service
For underground installations of a 200 amp wire, it is advisable to use a PVC conduit of at least 1.5 inches in schedule 40 or 80. However, if you are running three wires within the same conduit, you can opt for a larger conduit size of 2 or 2.5 inches.
Licensed electricians often choose 4/0 AWG aluminum wire for long distances to mitigate the high costs of copper. However, for underground 200 amp services, a 250 KCMIL aluminum wire with a 255A ampacity is typically preferred, as it fulfills the minimum requirement of 250A.
It is crucial to ensure that your chosen 200 amp wire size can handle the high current demands of your system while meeting safety standards. Familiarizing yourself with the applicable electrical codes will help you select the appropriate wire size for your 200 amp service.
When undertaking a 200-amp service wiring project, it is essential to obtain an electrical permit. Additionally, the installation should be carried out by a qualified electrician who adheres to the local electric codes.
The power flows from the utility service entrance conductors through the outdoor electrical meter base and into the main electrical panel, which is typically located in an attached garage, basement, or interior room.
Related Reading: How To Wire A 100 Amp Service Panel
NEC Recommendations for Wire Gauge for Most 200 Amps Feeder Runs
American Wire Gauge (AWG) is the standardized system in the US used to determine the size of electrical wiring.
For a 200-amp service rating, AWG guidelines suggest the use of either #2/0 copper wiring or #4/0 aluminum or copper-clad wiring. Your choice of wire largely depends on the voltage drop and the length of the wiring.
For longer runs, a thicker gauge wire is recommended. When runs exceed 100 ft, you need to switch from AWG to kcmil wire, which is a thicker AWG wire designed to cover greater distances.
The following table reflects wiring size, length, and voltage drop:
|Service or Feeder Rating||Copper Wire||Aluminum or|
Copper-Clad Aluminum Wire
|Minimum Conduit Size|
|100 Amps||#4 AWG||#2 AWG||1.25 inch|
|110 Amps||#3 AWG||#1 AWG||1.25 inch|
|125 Amps||#2 AWG||#1/0 AWG||1.25 inch|
|150 Amps||#1 AWG||#2/0 AWG||1.25 inch|
|175 Amps||#1/0 AWG||#3/0 AWG||1.5 inch|
|200 Amps||#2/0 AWG||#4/0 AWG||1.5 inch|
|225 Amps||#3/0 AWG||250 kcmil||1.5 inch|
|250 Amps||#4/0 AWG||300 kcmil||2 inch|
|300 Amps||250 kcmil||350 kcmil||2.5 inch|
|350 Amps||350 kcmil||500 kcmil||3 inch|
|400 Amps||400 kcmil||600 kcmil||3 inch|
Choosing Between Copper or Aluminum Wire?
Many electrical contractors opt for #4/0 aluminum or copper-clad wire when dealing with a 200 amp wire size.
You will require a #2/0 AWG copper wire if you’re going the copper conductor route. This type of wire is a popular choice for electrical wiring, mainly due to its superior heat resistance compared to aluminum wires. Copper has excellent conductivity, is resistant to rust, and doesn’t oxidize, adding to its appeal.
You’ll need a #4/0 AWG 200 amp wire size if you’re considering aluminum or copper-clad aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring requires a larger diameter wire since its conductivity is lower than copper’s.
One key factor to consider with aluminum wiring is requiring an antioxidant coating at the connection terminals to fend off corrosion. However, this isn’t a requirement for copper-clad aluminum wiring at the connection terminals.
Despite copper being recognized as a better conductor, aluminum wiring is quite popular. It’s more cost-effective, lightweight, and flexible than copper, which makes it a widely appealing choice.
Why Choose Copper?
Both professional electricians and homeowners tend to favor copper wiring, especially for branch circuits. There are many reasons for this preference, including:
- Conductivity: Copper ranks as one of the most conductive metals, coming second only to silver. This high conductivity allows copper to handle a larger electrical load, which means you can use a smaller gauge wire. For the same level of conductivity, copper wire is about half the diameter of aluminum wire.
- Heat Resistance: Copper’s excellent conductive properties make the wire more heat-resistant than aluminum. Unlike aluminum, the copper wire doesn’t expand and contract, ensuring cables stay tight on lugs.
- Corrosion Resistance: Copper is resistant to corrosion. Even though oxidation might cause a greenish patina on copper’s exterior, it does not affect the metal’s conductivity.
- Malleability: Copper is extremely conductive, making the wire strands thinner and more malleable without breaking.
- Distance: The high conductivity and heat resistance of copper conductors mean they can be used over longer distances.
Why Choose Aluminum?
Despite copper’s advantages, aluminum also has its merits. The two main benefits of using aluminum or copper-clad aluminum wiring are cost-effectiveness and lightweight properties, which facilitate easier installation.
- Budget-Friendly: Aluminum wire is a favorite choice due to its affordability. Aluminum conductors are cheaper to produce than their copper counterparts. Copper-clad aluminum wiring performs better but has a higher price tag than aluminum wiring. Nevertheless, both these options are cheaper than pure copper wires.
- Faster Installation: Aluminum, being lighter and very malleable for its larger wire gauge, is easier for professional electricians to work with. It feeds well through the electrical conduit, accelerating installation and reducing material and labor costs.
It’s important to note that aluminum wiring expands and contracts with heat, leading to loosened wire connections over time, thus increasing the risk of electrical fires.
Modern aluminum service wiring comprises a bundle of smaller solid aluminum strands instead of a single solid wire, making the aluminum feeder wire safe for use in today’s homes.
Conducting an electrical load calculation is advisable before deciding on a 200 amp breaker panel. You may discover that a smaller amp panel would adequately meet your needs.
Determining the Length of Your 200 Amp Service Wire Run
When sizing your wire, it’s crucial to know the distance your service entrance wires will cover from the electrical meter base to the breaker box. The maximum allowed voltage drop (which we’ll delve into shortly) is 3%. To minimize voltage drop over long runs, you’ll need a wire with a higher gauge.
The length your service entry wire needs to traverse dictates whether you opt for aluminum or copper wire and the necessary gauge. You’ll need to upscale the AWG or kcmil wire size for extended distances.
Underground 200 Amp Wire Sizes for Long Distances
|#3/0||300 kcmil||100 feet|
|300 kcmil||600 kcmil||150 feet|
|500 kcmil||1000 kcmil||200 feet|
|1000 kcmil||600 kcmil3||300 feet|
|500 kcmil3||1000 kcmil3||400 feet|
A 2/0 copper wire would suffice if your 200 amp service needs to cover up to 75 feet. For a distance of 100 feet, a 3/0 copper wire would be a more suitable choice for a 200 amp service.
Both aluminum and copper can be used for a 200 amp panel wire size. However, given aluminum’s lower conductivity and heat resistance, its gauge must be larger. The aluminum wire would be your best bet for dealing with a longer distance, as it will save you money on wire costs.
How Does Voltage Drop Impact 200 Amp Wire Size?
Voltage drop refers to the decrease in voltage that occurs along the wire due to its inherent resistance. The longer the wire run, the more pronounced the voltage loss becomes. To counteract this voltage drop, you must increase the wire gauge size.
The voltage at your circuit breaker should register at 120 volts. To verify this, you can take a reading at the appliance or the device located farthest from the breaker using a multimeter.
Ideally, your voltage drop should not exceed 3%. So, for a 120-volt electrical circuit, your voltage drop should not fall below 117 volts. Similarly, for a 240-volt electrical circuit, the voltage drop shouldn’t dip below 233 volts.
How Many Wires Are Required for 200 Amp Service?
The specific type of electrical wire needed will depend on your electrical system. The run from the meter base to the main disconnect or panel comprises a 3-wire system, which includes two hot wires and one neutral wire. Electrical bonding connects the neutral and ground bars.
However, the feeder that runs from the main electrical panel location to the interior distribution panel (200 amp sub panel wire size) uses a 4-wire system. This comprises two hot wires, one neutral wire, and one ground wire. In subpanels, you don’t bond the neutral and ground bars.
What Size Conduit Do You Need for 200 Amp Wire?
Your electrical panel comes with knockouts for attaching the electrical feeder conduit. Depending on the fill space you plan to occupy inside the conduit, you can use either a 2-inch or 2.5-inch conduit. The maximum fill space should be 40% if the conduit houses three or more wires.
According to Chapter 9, Table 5A of the 2017 NEC, a #4/0 Aluminum stranded conductor occupies 176.3mm2 of fill space. Multiplying 176.3mm2 by four gives you 705.2mm2 of fill space taken up by the entire feeder.
As per Chapter 9, Table 4 of the 2017 NEC, a 2″, Schedule 80 PVC conduit has 742mm2 of usable fill space.
Therefore, a 2″ conduit will be sufficient for this purpose, although you could upsize it to a 2.5″ conduit for easier pulling. Keep in mind, however, that when three or more wires are present, the total area of the wires should not exceed 40% of the pipe’s internal space.
What’s the Correct Ground Wire Size for 200 Amp Service?
The National Electrical Code (NEC) sets the guidelines for electrical standards in the United States. The minimum ground wire size for a 200 amp service is a #4 AWG bare copper conductor or #2 AWG aluminum, as per Article 250 of the 2020 NEC.
You may need to increase the size of your primary bare copper conductor for several reasons, such as the length of the run, and available fault current, among others. The NEC serves as a safety guide, and local municipalities set and adopt these code guidelines. Always consult a licensed local electrician or your city’s municipal department for specific guidelines.
GROUNDING ELECTRODE CONDUCTOR SIZING (Table 250.66)
|Size of Main Panel||Copper Conductors||Aluminum or Copper-Clad Aluminum|
|125 Amps||#8 AWG||#6 AWG|
|150 Amps||#6 AWG||#4 AWG|
|200 Amps||#4 AWG||#2 AWG|
What’s the Suitable Ground Rod Size for 200 Amp Service?
A ground rod for a 200 amp service should have a diameter of 5/8″ (0.625) and be 8 to 10 feet long, equipped with a clamp and the appropriate ground wire. The ground rod should be driven 8 feet into the ground and cut back close to the ground level. The wire and clamp must be securely fastened to the top of the ground rod.
Newer electrical code requirements mandate two ground rods for areas with high soil electrical resistance.
How Many Ground Rods Are Needed for 200 Amp Service?
NEC code now requires you to use two ground rods in some instances. These grounding rods should be at least 6′ apart if a ground rod doesn’t meet the NEC’s 25 OHMS or lower requirement.
You’ll need to install a second grounding rod if the first ground rod for a system has a resistance of 25 ohms or more, as per the NEC. However, many contractors don’t consider ground resistance.
Instead, they plan to drive two ground rods to meet the 250.56 standards, regardless of ground resistance. Nowadays, most areas require two ground rods for new installations and upgrades.
NEC Article 250.53(B) mandates grounding rods connected by a grounding wire at least 6 feet apart. However, this is the minimum requirement. You’ll achieve the best results by spacing them at least 16 or 20 feet apart using the typical 8-foot or 10-foot ground rod, much farther than the minimum 6-foot spacing.
Check Local Electrical Codes & Permit Requirements for 200 Amp Service
Electrical codes in the United States are primarily derived from the National Electrical Code (NEC), but they can vary depending on your location. Therefore, using a qualified electrician ensures that your 200 amp electric service installation adheres to all relevant local codes and permit requirements.
The 200 amp wire size suggestions in this discussion are based on the NEC guidelines, but your local building code may have different specifications. Local codes often adopt or modify NEC codes to better fit their specific requirements.
Before your utility service provider can connect power to your property, you’ll usually need to acquire a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). This permit allows for a final inspection, leading to your electric service’s connection. The CO is typically issued after the electrical work on your property has passed the relevant building inspection.
200 Amp Electrical Service Installation Costs
Precise cost estimates for installing a 200 amp service in a house can be challenging due to the numerous factors that need to be considered.
These factors can include your location, the amount of work required, and the cost of materials in your area. Installing a 200 amp electrical service generally includes the installation of a 200 amp service wire, conduit, meter base, and a 200 amp electric panel.
According to information provided by HomeAdvisor, the national average cost for a complete 200 amp electric installation can range from $1,900 to $7,250, with an average cost of $4,650. These figures typically include the following:
- 200 Amp Service Panel: The average cost typically ranges from $750 to $2000, with a median cost of around $1,375.
- 200 Amp Meter Base: The average cost for this component typically ranges from $150 to $400, with a median cost of about $275.
- 200 Amp Service Wire: The average cost for this can range from $1,000 to $5,000, with a median cost of around $3,000.
For more detailed pricing information, consider using an electrical panel cost calculator or contacting local electrical contractors for quotations.
200 Amp Wiring FAQs
When contemplating a new electrical service installation, you might have many questions. Here are a few of the most frequently asked ones:
What size wire for 200 amp service 300 ft away?
For an underground service that extends 300 feet, you would need a 1000 kcmil copper wire or a 600 kcmil3 aluminum wire. While aluminum is slightly more affordable, copper wire offers enhanced durability and a smaller voltage drop.
What size aluminum wire for 200 amp service?
For feeder runs less than 50 feet, you can use a #2/0 AWG aluminum wire. A 200 amp wire size of #4/0 AWG aluminum wire would be appropriate if your feeder runs are between 50 and 100 feet. For feeder runs between 100 and 150 feet, a 300 kcmil aluminum wire should be used.
Do I have to rewire to upgrade to 200 amp service?
It may not be necessary to rewire your home completely when upgrading to a 200 amp service. However, other upgrades might be required to install the 200 amp service. These upgrades include replacing electrical boxes or service wiring, adding grounding rods, and possibly upgrading the meter base.
How far can I run #2/0 aluminum wire?
A #2 aluminum wire is rated for 150 amp service, suitable for a small house, apartment, or condo subpanel. You can run a 2/0 AWG aluminum wire about 50 feet for 150 amp service and about 100 feet for 100-amp service.
The installation of a 200 amp AWG wire isn’t a DIY task for homeowners. Wiring a 200 amp service panel is a significant project that necessitates the skills of a certified electrician.
A permit will be needed to install a new 200 amp service. The main electrical service might need to be completely disconnected in existing homes to allow the 200 amp service to be installed.
Please refer to our Wire Size for 100 Amp Electric Service: Complete Guide for additional guidance.