No more room in electrical panel, now what?

Mags438September 15, 2012

I have a 200amp electrical box with 40 slots. There are no slots left. In the past, when I needed a new outlet, an electrician would just use an unused slot. I have this chart made by an electrician that shows 'amps per circuit with all things on'. There are at least 16 of the slots noted that say 0. I am looking to have the box 'balanced', so I can free up some of the slots for a future kitchen reno.

At this point, I'd like to clean up the current electrical box and don't want to do the 'hanging another box off current box' solution that I see in some houses.

What should I be asking an electrician to do when I call them? I should also mention that there is still knob and tube wiring that is still in use. I don't know if that matters. Any help would be appreciated. I know nothing about electrical (prolly obvious). Thanks

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petey_racer

WHY do you want/need the panel "balanced"????
In a residential setting breaker panels are inherently pretty well balanced, and with the transient nature of the loads totally balanced is literally impossible.

Also, WHY are you against a sub-panel? Or in your words "'hanging another box off current box'".
IMO this is your only solution. It is a MUCH better idea than trying to consolidate existing circuits in your home.

And as a point of opinion, the electrician who made a chart with the load on each circuit, or 'amps per circuit with all things on', did that out of ignorance or just to make someone happy. It is a flawed chart for most of the circuits in a home, mainly for the reason stated above.

You seem to have a lot of preconceived notions about this stuff and I am curious as to why.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 6:52AM
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mike_kaiser_gw

Nothing wrong with cleaning up your service panel per se but it likely be far more expensive than adding a subpanel for your kitchen remodel. You can't, for example, "clean up" by taking the wires from breakers 1 and 3 and stick them into breaker 5 (even if 1 and 3 are part of the zero amps list).

As Petey said, loads in a residential setting are transient in nature. Lights in a bathroom draw very little compared to firing up an 1800 watt hair dryer but you only use the hair dryer for a few minutes per day.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 8:05AM
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brickeyee

You can take some of the smaller branch circuits and combine them ad then run the jumper to the breaker itself.

A few newer breakers are listed to have two wires on them ('double taped') built older ones rarely are.

Just wire nit together with an extra jumper for the breaker.
There is no code restriction on wire nuts in panels except for circuits just 'running through' and box fill in the wiring gutters.
They would not be 'just running through' since they originate in the panel.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 9:11AM
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Mags438

Why? To have one outlet take up a slot and that outlet being in a room where nothing gets plugged in there, is inefficient IMHO. I need a 120 20amp elsewhere now and need to plan for immediate future needs. I need to identify which outlets run the oxygen equipment which must run 24/7.

With many slots not marked, it's going to have to get cleaned up anyway.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Mags438

Double tapped is not acceptable in my area

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 11:57AM
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bus_driver

From SquareD QO product listing:
"Wire terminals UL listed for 2 branch wires (10A-30A, one- and two-pole)".
I doubt that any jurisdiction would prohibit use that is UL Listed. Most likely they demand that all equipment utilized must be listed. But we are not told the brand or model of the equipment in question.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 1:07PM
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Mags438

Bus_driver, I don't know what you are saying since I don't know anything about electricity :(, other than in some cases it is legal. The only thing i know about one-pole, two-pole has something to do with operating a light from 2 different locations. So this electrical stuff is really over my head. What I do know is that every double tapped (inspection report terminology) noted on a property inspection report is written up as a problem and every buyer wants it corrected. The type/brand/model has never been a determining factor in the reports. Granted, a home inspector is not an electrician, but I'd like to avoid something that is not seen in my area as acceptable. It's a 'pay now or pay later' for me.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 2:10PM
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brickeyee

"Why? To have one outlet take up a slot and that outlet being in a room where nothing gets plugged in there, is inefficient IMHO."

Do you understand what you are even asking?

You can combine branch circuits and then feed both of them from a jumper to a single breaker.

You now have a spare breaker slot.

If you do not understand how this works, time to hire a pro.

You have been offered an NEC compliant method of freeing up some breaker slots.

'Double tappin' refers to two wires under a single breaker output screw.

It is NEC compliant on SOME newer breakers.

It has ALWAYS been permissible to feed two branch circuits from a single breaker if the load is 80% or less than the breaker rating.

If you have some idiot rule or AHJ objecting, pull the branch circuits out of the panel, run them to a junction box, then run a feed from the junction box to the panel.

It is a lot more work, but does the same thing.
Frees up a lightly loaded breaker.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 2:27PM
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Ron Natalie

It has ALWAYS been permissible to feed two branch circuits from a single breaker if the load is 80% or less than the breaker rating
No it is not.

Actually, you are making one NEW branch circuit out of two other as bus previously stated. It's immaterial if you make the connection at the breaker (if permitted) or elsewhere.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 2:55PM
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brickeyee

'Actually, you are making one NEW branch circuit out of two other"

While technically correct, as far as a normal perwson would consider you are cob\combining two branch circuits into one.

Didn't you accuse me of being pedantic once?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 4:54PM
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bus_driver

What the SqD words mean is that the terminal on the breaker will accept two conductors, one on each side of the clamping screw. Examine one of those breakers.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 5:00PM
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Mags438

Brickeyee- no I never accused you or anyone else of anything. I think I made it clear that I knew nothing about electric. Why try to berate me? Does it make u feel important or better than?
Have only been in kitchen and design on gw; obviously a different mentality of folks on that forum than this on one.
Thanks for ur time; I had planned In hiring a pro. Was looking to get some terminology correct to explain over phone.
Obviously this forum is not the place to come for help.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 5:21PM
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pima74

Not mentioned so far, is that some panels (GE is one) are listed for half size breakers. If yours does then you can remove a normal size breaker for one circuit and replace it with two half size breakers feeding the old circuit and a new one.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 6:08PM
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petey_racer

Mags EASE up. No one was trying to berate you, and don't use that old lame "does it make you feel superior..." line.
Brick was replaying to Ron. PLEASE read the replies carefully before making statements like you did.

Also, you CANNOT simply state that "double taps" are "not legal in your area", especially after saying you know nothing about electrical.
Several breakers ARE rated for two conductors and NO home inspector can refute that.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 8:20PM
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mike_kaiser_gw

Petey,

I understand what Mags is saying. While double taps might be perfectly legal with right breaker, some dufus home inspector comes along and flags it. Then the homeowner needs to "prove" it's legal.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 11:07PM
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brickeyee

Hire a pro.
A real pro.

You are way past any advice we can offer you here.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 10:29AM
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