Is this quote for electrical work reasonable?
May 12, 2015 9:55 PM   Subscribe

I just got an estimate for electrical work that needs to be done in my apartment, and am wondering if it is high. I'm also looking for recommendations for other electricians whom I can contact. Details inside.

My husband and I just bought a co-op in New York City. There are two air conditioners that the prior owners plugged into regular outlets, using surge protectors. We would like to have dedicated lines installed for these two air conditioners, which would also require that the circuit breaker panel board be upgraded.

The building management recommended an electrician. He came in to do an estimate, and the quoted price is $7,850. Does that seem high, or is it reasonable?

I am trying to get other estimates, but have not had luck (so far) getting return calls from the electricians who have decent ratings on Yelp or Angie's List. I will keep trying, but in the meantime, does anyone have any recommendations for electricians in New York City?
posted by merejane to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does that quote include completely replacing the main panel?

In Oregon in 2011, the few electricians we could get to call us back quoted us ~$3000 to install a brand new panel in a home that had no electricity at the time. That would be significantly easier than replacing an existing panel.
posted by MonsieurBon at 11:28 PM on May 12, 2015

The amount of work involved will depend on the distance between the breaker box and the new outlet locations, and on how easy it is to fish the wires from point A to points B and C. Since we can't know how involved the work will be, I think the most Mefi can tell you about this is whether the price is plausible (I think it is).

I'd continue using the existing outlets until I could get another estimate or two from recommended electricians.
posted by jon1270 at 3:41 AM on May 13, 2015

Ask for an itemized estimate?
posted by lungtaworld at 4:25 AM on May 13, 2015

It seems vaguely high, but there's no good way to judge that from afar. The typical solution is to get several quotes and compare them. Be clever about it and pay careful attention to what each electrician says about the difficulty and other factors. You do not need return calls from electricians with decent ratings on Angie's List or Yelp, since all you need is something to compare the existing quote to. Both Yelp and Angie's List are of questionable value in any case, as most complaints worth lodging get filed through small claims court and the Better Business Bureau.
posted by jgreco at 6:54 AM on May 13, 2015

Wayyyy too high. If the panel is in your condo, and not miles away in a cellar or service room...I have been quoted $1800-$1900. to replace my 100 amp panel with a 200 Amp panel, replace all the breakers with new ones including DFCI where required and AFCI where required. Running two new lines may cost 300 to 400 or so each. So in other words he is asking twice as much.
posted by Gungho at 8:06 AM on May 13, 2015

We had several outlets added to our house last year for around $1000, and got an estimate at the time for upgrading the breaker panel which was around $2300. This was out on Long Island, where prices are always higher than the national average but probably lower than in NYC. Off the top of my head, the things that might drive up the cost in your case are plaster walls (if applicable, may be harder to work with?), permitting fees, and restrictions on when they are allowed to do work in your co-op (again, might not be applicable but I know that some co-ops are very strict about this).

All that said, $7850 seems high to me. I recommend getting at least two bids for any job of that size, and a third if the first two are significantly different.
posted by Jemstar at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2015

It seems high. I had an entire panel replaced for under $3k, admittedly not in NYC but not in a place that is a factor of 2.5 off in labor either.

It may be that the major cost component isn't replacing the panel but fishing new wires to the outlets. I could see that getting very expensive and time-consuming.

I'm not 100% clear on the problem you are trying to solve but if the issue is purely that you want to get rid of the surge suppressors I'd see whether there are other solutions that don't require having new wires run from the panel. Would moving the electrical outlet to a different place work?

If you are not tripping breakers I am not sure that I would jump to having a new circuit and wiring installed. An ammeter (Kill-a-Watt or similar), if you can't just look at the unit's nameplate directly, would give you an idea of what each AC unit draws and from there would allow you to determine whether you can safely put them on your regular lighting circuit.

Or for that price, you might be able to get a ductless mini-split AC system installed, or use a portable ducted AC unit with a professionally plumbed-in vent line, with the compressors tied directly into the panel on dedicated circuits. If I was going to spend upwards of $5k, I would want a hell of a lot more for my money than a couple of window AC units on their own circuits. You might want to get quotes from an HVAC company. A mini-split system will be more efficient and a selling point down the road in a way that window air conditioners aren't, too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:12 PM on May 13, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies, everyone!

I have now heard back from two of the electricians I had called, and have appointments with them to give me on-site estimates. One of them was recommended by our realtor and has worked in the building, so that should be helpful. So within the next day or so, I should have three estimates to compare. I will report back to let you know if the new estimates are in line with the current one, or not.
posted by merejane at 6:19 PM on May 13, 2015

« Older Internet safety for the elementary school set?   |   How much should I ask for caricatures? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.