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Creating room in electrical panel

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  • Creating room in electrical panel

    I'm getting into powder coating and I will be needing a receptacle for an oven and for a 240v 30amp air compressor. I don't know if its possible but if I can use one receptacle for both items, one at a time, that is ok (meaning that the plugs are the same).

    My main panel is on the side of my garage and inside the garage is another panel (I don't know if its technically called a sub panel). I'm almost out of space but I see one potential option and would like some feedback and confirmation of my thoughts.

    Attached is a picture of the panel and the manufactures sticker.

    My thought is to replace the 20a 2 pole breaker (red, left side) and go with a quad 2 20a single pole, 1 50a double pole breaker.

    Or I could go with a 2 50a two pole breaker and replace the one 50a breaker on the bottom right.
    Last edited by ivwshane; 05-11-2018, 03:13 AM.

  • #2
    I've never seen the quad breaker before! (the one for which you provided the link).
    A few observations:
    • I believe you would have to remove two breakers to make room for the quad breaker. Just removing the dual 20A breaker won't free up enough space.
    • Are you proposing for your alternative that you'll be able to fit two 50A two-pole breakers into the place of the breaker on the lower right? I'm not sure if that is possible.
    • Where is that bare, heavy gauge stranded wire on the left (third lug down on the neutral bus bar) connected?
    • What is the interrupt current rating of the breaker in the main box that feeds this sub panel?
    • For safety purposes, inspect each of the circuits fed by your sub panel. Does each hot wire exiting the sub panel have its own accompanying neutral? Since your panel has a number of duplex breakers, it may not have been wired properly. Duplex breakers must have a neutral for each hot wire. I've seen panel start on fire when they weren't wired following this requirement.
    • Also, confirm that the neutral is not connected to the earth ground at the sub panel. (That appears to be the case from what I can see). The neutral and earth should return to the main service panel, and there are made common. The neutral bar on your sub panel should be isolated from the metal sub-panel enclosure (again, it looks like it is set up this way).
    • You should be able to swap cords to one outlet as you described.


    • #3
      What I am seeing in your photos of the Bryant panel is a lsub panel. There is no main breaker here, it is in your main panel. You must find out how many amps your main panel us for this sub panel and not exceed that. Right off, I’d guess that you have an alredy overloaded sub panel and your main has a pair of 50 amp breakers feeding it.


      • #4
        Thanks for the responses. I'll have to check the wiring to see if the ground and neutral are wired correctly. Does the same rules apply if it is a sub panel?

        The actual main panel has a 100 amp breaker in it.

        My concern is actual capacity as well but I don't know how to tell if its past its ampacity. As it stands now, I only trip the breakers if I have a high wattage appliance (like a fryer and an electric skillet on at the same time) on one of the 15 amp circuits.

        The main breaker has never been tripped and I have ran things like a table saw on my 20 amp circuit.

        The quad breaker does indeed only take up two spots, so it would replace the two pole 50 amp breaker on the bottom right.


        • #5
          A sub panel, when properly done, is configured differently than a main service panel. The main panel is where your power company service enters the building and where the neutral and ground are connected (bonded) together. Your main panel must have a main breaker that limits the current entering from the power company feed. On newer homes, this will be a 200A or 400A two pole breaker. On older homes, it may be a 100A, or I've seen as low as a 60A two pole breaker.

          A sub panel in that building which feeds off the main service panel won't have a main breaker because that protection is provided in the main service panel. (In your case, apparently, it is a 100A two pole breaker). Another difference in the sub panel is that the neutral is NOT grounded there. I suggested that you inspect your sub panel because homeowners sometimes install their own sub panels and fail to understand the code requirements. I bought a house one time where the owner had improperly wired the sub panel. Fortunately I had an observant home inspector who noted that and I got it corrected prior to buying the house.

          You want to make sure that the sub panel is rated for the current it may be supplied (the breaker that feeds the sub panel), that the feed wires are sufficiently sized for the current limit, and that the neutral is not grounded at the sub panel, but is at the main panel.


          • #6
            That Bryant panel looks dated prior to the current codes where the main panel is mounted outside the home at the meter. The “main “panel I’m referring to would be mounted inside the house, and should have a breaker for this sub panel. Your panel looks loaded to the hilt! Unless some of the breakers are no longer used, maybe furnace has been replaced and the wires/breaker were left abandoned?
            In my non-professional opinion......there is not room in this panel for you to safely do what you are askin.