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60-Amp Electrical Service 
By Tim Oglesby, Home Check America

Electrical Consumption
The biggest users of electricity in a house are things with heating elements. The larger the heating element, the more electricity will be used. In an average home, the stove is the biggest user, followed by the clothes dryer. An electric water heater usually takes third place. If additional large heating elements are found in the house in a sauna or a pottery kiln for example, it is almost impossible to get away with a 60 amp service.

In addition to large heating elements, electric motors also draw a considerable amount of juice. Air conditioners are prime examples. Therefore, you may find that if a house has a 60 amp service, and has an electric stove and electric clothes dryer, you might not be able to use the two simultaneously. It's O.K. if you are using one burner, but if you are cooking a turkey dinner with all four burners and the oven on, it's a bad time to do the laundry.   Typically homes that have 60 amp service have natural gas appliances.

Many first time buyers however, do not own many appliances. If they are buying a house with a 60 amp service, it would be wise to install a gas stove and a gas clothes dryer which draw less electricity. A house with a 60 amp service and gas appliances has almost as much usable electricity as a house with a 100 amp service and an electric stove and electric clothes dryer.

Limited Distribution
Most 60 amp services are found on older systems which have a limited number of circuits. This is a potentially hazardous situation, particularly if the system has fuses rather than breakers. Some homeowners find that their overtaxed distribution system is constantly blowing 15 amp fuses, especially when they have "double tapped" the fuse. Double tapping is when two wires feed power from the same fuse or breaker.  Double tap connections can also overheat wires and cause fires. They replace them with 20, 25 or 30 amp fuses to prevent the fuses from blowing. This is an unsafe condition overheating the wires, and potentially leading to a fire.  

The solution to the problem is not necessarily a larger service, but rather a larger distribution system. It is far safer to own a house with a 60 amp service and 24 circuits than a house with a 100 amp service and 6 circuits.

Small appliances with heating elements such as kettles, toasters, irons and hair dryers all draw a considerable amount of electricity for their size. This is why a house with limited distribution system is problematic. If you plug a toaster and kettle into the same circuit, you will draw more than 15 amps and blow the fuse. This would be true regardless of whether the amount of electricity coming into the house is 60 amp, 100 amps or 200 amps. The solution is not a bigger service but more circuits. In an old house, you might find only six or eight circuits in the entire house. In a new house, you might find that many circuits in the kitchen alone.

Insurance companies have concentrated on charging homeowners higher premiums for houses with 60-amp service when they should be concentrating on houses with limited distribution systems.

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