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If you have a 200A service panel is it true that you actually have 400A because you have two legs because your breakers add up to more than 200A?

Updated: 10/27/2022

Wiki User

16y ago

The short answer to your question, is "yes" if you are talking about 120 volts. The panel is rated 200A @ 240v. In reality, service panels should be rated in watts (or kilowatts) We are charged by watts and we use electricity in different combinations of volts and amps, but watts remains a constant. (hence the reason we are charged by that value) So, as you noted, there are two legs, that each pass through a pair of interconnected 200 amp breakers. With 240v appliances, power is tapped from each leg, so at no time can 200 amps be exceeded. But with 120v appliances, power is tapped from one leg and terminated to the neutral leg. It is possible to draw a total of 400 amps from both legs, to the neutral. (actually, it's more complicated than that, as the neutral would never see more than 200 amps, and power is actually being routed in series between loads of each leg, so in reality it's still only a max 200A at 240v)

So, for further clarification, let's get back to the watts thing. Watts can be calculated mathematically. Watts = volts X amps. So 240v times 200A equals 48,000 watts. That is your service panel's rated wattage. Now, the math can be reversed. 48,000 watts divided by 120v equals 400A.

A simple way to present the question would be, "Could you have twenty 20 amp single pole circuit breakers at full load in a 200A service panel?" The answer would be, "yes."

Wiki User

16y ago

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Q: If you have a 200A service panel is it true that you actually have 400A because you have two legs because your breakers add up to more than 200A?
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