If you’re remodeling your co-op or condo and want to swap out your gas appliances for electric ones, determining how much electrical load your apartment can handle is an important part of your planning.
Converting buildings from gas and oil to electricity is a key part of New York City’s plan to reduce dangerous emissions. However, the electrical load – the limit of your apartment’s electrical circuit – may prevent you from installing the electrical appliances you want without taking additional measures.
Your circuit will typically carry between 60 and 100 amps, depending on the size and age of the apartment. If it’s on the low end and you’re retrofitting, you’ll either have to adjust the number of electrical devices you install or take the more expensive route of increasing circuit capacity.
In a co-op or condo, your electricity supply is usually hardwired from an electrical panel in the basement.
Michael Hershkowitz, an entrepreneur from REDOnyc says it frequently deals with electrical load issues.
“Especially in old buildings in Manhattan, there’s never enough electrical charge,” he says. Consider what you want to run from the electric circuit: for the most part, it includes a washer/dryer, up to five air conditioning units (central or wall-mounted air conditioning), a dishwasher, an electric stove or oven, refrigerator, computers and lighting. .
You will need an electrician to determine the electrical load in your apartment. This involves an inspection where your contractor will draw up a load letter – a calculation of all existing outlets, switches, lights and new appliances. This can cost around $1,500 and gives you an idea of how much electricity is going to your apartment and what is needed if you want to increase electrical appliances.
A comfortable electrical load is around 100 amps, Hershkowitz said. He points out that the Ministry of Buildings wants you to be within 10% of your apartment load. So, if you have an 80 amp load, you can install electrical appliances and equipment that operate at up to 72 amps so as not to overload the system.
Increasing your electrical load can be expensive. Hershkowitz says bringing more cables from the street if you live in a townhouse or from the basement of an apartment building can cost between $15,000 and $30,000. This is because your contractor must use a camera to determine where the wire will go and then snake the wires through the pipes where the electrical cables are routed.
This process can be complicated if the wires are clogging the pipe or if there is another blockage. It’s also going to be more difficult the higher you are in the building. And it all depends on whether the building will allow you to do the work. In Hershkowitz’s experience, about 50% of buildings will allow this type of work.
Hershkowitz says he sees buildings solving this problem by making it easier (but not cheaper) for owners to increase the amount of electrical appliances plugged into the basement. He says a building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan recently invested $250,000 to create a pathway for anyone to upgrade their apartment’s electrical capacity if they want, now or in the future. If the owners end up profiting from the work, they must pay $25,000 to use the cable route that has been established.