It's Electric!

When my wife and I bought our home, we knew that at some point, there would be semi-serious things we'd want to change about it. The yard, for instance, was a huge sore spot. If you followed me on twitter last spring, you'd know that the initial work we did involved tilling, which really sucked, and that was only for the first 1000 square feet. Of an acre.

Yeah. We hired people with really, really big machines to clear the rest.

Anyway, having (thankfully) already passed that milestone, the attention turned to the kitchen. Our stove is of normal size, but it's primary burner is flaky to the point of useless, it has a huge exhaust fan that sticks out too far and too low. The oven has but a single rack, and no matter who I ask, there seem to be no replacement racks. So, guess what we're replacing first? Yes, that's right: The dishwasher.

Er, no, wait. The stove. Right, the stove.

The existing stove is on a 40A/240V, 2-pole circuit. This is about as normal as you can get for an electric range, though I seriously doubt we ever pull more than 20-25 Amps, save maybe when pre-heating the oven to broil. The new stove, of course, needs a 50 Amp circuit. I know enough about electrical wiring to know that I can probably pull off replacing the breaker myself. Buying the right one, on the other hand, well that's another story.

My electrical panel is a standard-size Siemens panel for a 200 Amp service. I even have a couple of empty breaker bays for expansion, should I need to do so. I figured, Siemens is a well-known brand, there have to be breakers for it at Lowe's, except that I was wrong. I phoned the family electric guru and it was suggested that I buy a Square-D breaker. It should fit.

I love the word "should". See, the breaker does fit, but it violates electric code to mis-match your breaker. (Nice corner on the market each of these electrical companies have, you see.) While I don't really care all that much about electric code when it comes to something that isn't actually risky, I do care when it comes to selling my house some day. I'd prefer to not do this twice.

All of my existing breakers are either Westinghouse or Siemens. Turns out that Siemens AG licensed or something-ed their residential power generation business to Westinghouse Electric at some point, and in 1994, Westinghouse sold its electrical controls business to Eaton, who markets their home products under the name Cutler-Hammer. Which is only sold at Home Depot.

All of this, by the way, is the real reason that people spend money on electricians. Not the danger, mind you, just to avoid standing in the electrical aisle looking like an idiot until a random electrician walks by and says "You're in the wrong store. Go to Home Depot." and then runs away before the Lowe's employees catch him.

I wrote this about two months ago and completely forgot about it. Oops. Since then, we've done way more to this kitchen than I had originally intended at the time. I'm certain that a future buyer will be very happy with the choices we've made, but really what I care about now is that the WAF is very high.

Dec 30th, 2009