You may have a point, John, but when I was installing stand by generators, part of installation was performing a load calculation. Each home and appliance is different, but if I would have the client turn every single appliance on, open refrigerators, run hot water, etc, it was usually less than 115 amp draw. Since the furnace and AC usually don’t run at the same time, I chose the furnace because unless it’s gas, it requires the most energy.
It is just not possible for a typical Home Inspection to reveal any panel is overloaded by simple observation.
And you would be wrong in doing this based on a visual inspection. You are also not allowing for any load diversity factors from non simultaneous usages. The only way to determine this is a demand load calculation. Actual demand is different than needing space for more breakers.
The refrigerator does not need a dedicated circuit. The 240 units are already dedicated circuits.
Not necessarily. For example the fridge isnt required by the NEC to be on its own circuit. It can be run off one of the two required 20 amp kitchen circuits as well as a gas 120 volt stove. Its an exceptionally good idea to have a dedicated circuit to a fridge and manufacturers actually recommend it in their specs, however code wise its not mandated. A true electric water heater or electric dryer however need there own circuit.
Just for sakes. Looking at the panel isnt a giveaway in by itself. If this home is very small say 750sq ft and all gas a 12 circuit panel would be sufficient in most cases. Code requires a 20 amp circuit for the laundry area, 2 20 amp circuits for the kitchen counter (fridge may be plugged into this), general lighting/outlets based on 3 va per sq foot ( in this case 1 20 amp circuit or 2 15 amp circuits), (technically a 20 amp for bathroom GFCIs but that doesn’t apply to houses this old) and the rest for fixed in places appliances; such as a 20 amp circuit for the dishwasher/disposal and a 20 amp for the furnace. Bare minimum yes, but code allows for it. However, if the house is say 4000sq ft and all electric, 12 circuits are automatically not enough as code would end up requiring more circuits to meet the va per foot alone, and then all the 240 volt appliances would take up 12 spaces alone.
You are 100% correct regarding the garage sub panel since it needs a larger feed. Most dryers alone pull about 26 amps and the AC pulling say 14 amps would overload the 30. In any case an electrician would need to determine the load on each circuit and determine if pig tailing, a few tandems or adding a new panel for double the circuits is needed.
In any case, a simple 100 amp service change shouldn’t cost 4k.
Correct but to a degree IMO. Assuming everything else will be reused a simple panel swap from a 12 to a 24 or 32 space panel would be at most 2k. A 32 space 100amp GE panel usually runs around $100, breakers, plus mark up and labor, about a rough 1k to 1.5k is a reasonable price. Of course assuming nothing else will need to be replaced.
Yes, but we are talking about several code updates. The AHJ may allow this to be grandfathered. In my area apartments and homes with FPE panels are upgraded daily and the inspectors fortunately let the newer code additions slide. But of course it does vary by area.