Home Electric Repair, Meyer Electrical Services Inc.
Written by Walt Meyer

Upgrading Older Apartment Buildings Electrically – Part 2

As discussed in Part 1, apartments built before the 1950s are desirable for their looks, but often have outdated original electrical equipment and wiring. They typically need upgrades to meet current power demands and safety requirements. Part 2 will discuss 220-Volt Appliances, Sizing the Upgrade, and Protection System.

220-Volt Appliances

As the apartment owner, you may have the option of buying either the 110V or 220V version of a water heater. If you want to save on utility bills, selecting the 220V version will decrease power consumption by 50%. Let’s assume that it is a 3.3 kilowatt (3,300W) water heater. Check out the 15-amp difference in the comparison of the two voltages below.

  • 110V = 3,300W / 110V = 30 Amps
  • 220V = 3,300W / 220V = 15 Amps

In addition to requiring more electricity, the 110V water heater will need a larger cable, and the circuit will generate higher temperatures. Breakers will tend to trip with more frequency, and affected electrical components may be damaged.

Sizing the Upgrade

By installing ENERGY STAR appliances that are 220V when available, LED lighting, and an energy efficient HVAC system, the total electrical demand of an apartment will be greatly decreased.

Afterwards, your electrician can size the new installations for each apartment in terms of load. Being energy efficient will lower the capacities required of the electric panels, circuits, and breakers, reducing the costs of the upgrade.

Protection System

Some older apartments may still be equipped with fuse boxes, which are outdated and often do not have replacement parts after being discontinued by their manufacturers.

Another disadvantage is the need to replace a fuse after it is blown by a short circuit or overload. Until it is replaced, the circuit will not have any power. In contrast, a circuit breaker can be reset after they trip, restoring electricity.

Insurance companies will typically charge a lower premium if a residence replaces a fuse box with a modern electrical panel with circuit breakers as it is considered to be a safer protection system.

Electrical Services You Can Trust

 Founded in 1991, Meyer Electrical Services provides home and commercial electrical services in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., where we are licensed and insured. Based in Bethesda, our team proudly serves all of Montgomery County. Receive a free consultation for custom electrical work today by calling (301) 941-1400.