Forum HomeCA-Modern ForumsHome Maintenance Hotline › Kitchen remodel - upgrade electric wiring/panel or not?

Kitchen remodel - upgrade electric wiring/panel or not?

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: Feb 20 2005

We are about to remodel our kitchen (Sunnyvale Eichler) and in the process of talking to different contractors. We've received contradictory advice on what to do with the electric ciruitry. One contractor suggests to re-use the current (original 1961) circuits, the other one says we need to upgrade all circuits and suggests digging a trench through the garden to get from the panel to the kitchen (diagonally opposite side of the house). Does anybody have experience with this? What about installing a new panel and pulling the new wiring over the roof? Any solutions available which do not require replacing the roof? Thanks for help.

Joined: Oct 10 2003

Depending on how many more circuits you'll need, you may exceed the capacity of your old panel, in which case then you could need to replace the panel or put another one next to it or something. But this is not automatically the case.

We had one electrician come out and estimate for adding some grounded lines to the house, they ended up talking about adding a new panel, digging a trench from the panel to the street, etc, very very scary and expensive! Another electrician looked and said what we were doing was within capacity of the panel, and just added the lines. We went with the 2nd guy.

The new circuits for the kitchen were pulled thru and onto the roof, routed accross the top, and then down thru the roof into the kitchen. This involved some drilled penetrations thru the roof (2 per conduit), but these should be easy enough for a roofer to patch up, and are nowhere near the cost of replacing the roof (we actually did ours as the roof was being replaced so we didnt need extra patching).

Inside the house, you'll end up with a conduit coming down from the ceiling into the kitchen. To minimize the visual distraction, you can route the conduit down an existing post and then build a simple faux post extension around it.

Joined: Mar 21 2003

As Larry mentioned, it depends on the number of circuits you will need and the design and capacity left in the panel.

Some panel designs are no longer allowed to have new circuits added because of code changes.

And the number of circuits you will need will vary depending on what you are planning on doing. For example, built in appliances typically require dedicated circuits but non-built ins may be able to share circuits. Are you planning on having a built in refrigerator or microwave oven or using more traditional ones that can plug into "convenience outlets"? How much counter space are you planning? That sets the number of outlets and circuits needed for convenience outlets.

We were lucky in that we were able to figure out how to meet code and our desires without replacing the existing panel. We were also lucky in that the conduit under the slab was still serviceable and we could pull the required wires. However we are now maxed out and anything else we do on the house will require a new panel.

The next thing to consider: Codes change with time and the advise you get here from home owners like us may be out of date. Any professional electrician should know the current codes. Even there, each city usually uses some variation on the National Electrical Code but often implements it a different times. So unless the electrician is familiar with your local city's requirements they may get some details wrong.

We found the Sunnyvale Building and Planning people very easy to deal with. They will know exactly which version of the NEC and what current local variations from it are in force.

Joined: Mar 20 2003

We have a new panel and we ended up making 1 penetration in the roof for the kitchen (our foam roof was fairly new- in a ideal situation, you area able to upgrade the kichen before the new roof).

You will need to know what kind of appliances and where they go. We were able to make only 1 penetration in our galley kitchen because we found a way to conceal the wiring to jump the alley to the other side of the kitchen.

Different appliances require different electrial conduit requirements. Also if you decide on a gas appliance, you need to plan for this penetration also.

I just can't see how you can use the old wiring given new building code requirements.

Good luck, Lynn

Joined: Feb 8 2005

Are you getting rid of the original cabinets? If so I'd probably take them off your hands.

Joined: Jan 4 2004

I have remodeled many Eichler kitchen, I do my own electrical (I have a C10 license) and I have to say that current NEC requirements are such that you have to add additional circuits to comply with code requirements. Sure, any one can hook up stuff until the circuit trips from overload, but I would steer away from that, considering that most
Eichlers have Zinzco or Federal Pacific main panels in them, and both of those companies are no longer in biz because of equipment failure.
I just picked up an Eichler to fix up to sell, and I have to say that I went to considerable trouble and expense to Install an new main panel, and run new circuits to replace the underground runs that are generally corroded and wires are laying in the dirt.
I actually met one of the electricians who worked in the SM highlands, and he knows that the electrical systems are doomed to fail, (he did explain that they were allowed at the time to perform those building methods.
Also, get a creative electrician, and there will be other solutions than tearing up the atrium; we have come up with a few ways to solve these problems that don't involve jackhammering, wire mold or exposed conduit.
Remember sometimes things cost less for a reason; if it were my house; I would not monkey around with the electrical, poorly run electrical can cause big problems. A few opinions never hurt; and make sure that your electrician is licensed or certified; the difference could be having to redo everything. Good Luck, and you can email me if you have questions.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.