Electric Breaker Out of Slots

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Have a 1500 sqft home (built 1985) with 100 amp service and a load of about 47 amps. We would like to add an electric wall oven (3600 va) which would bring the load up to 62 amps. The problem is that the breaker box is full. (There are only 16 breaker slots). I know there are side-by-side 15A breakers which take up only half the space. I would like to put 4 of the existing circuits on the these side-by-side breakers so I could free up two slots. Once I do that, I can put in a 240 volt 20 Amp double breaker for the oven.
Question 1: I have seen the side-by-side breakers for Square D but this box is a Sylvania-Challenger. Are there side-by-side breakers for the Challenger?
Question 2: If not, how much might I expect to pay (very roughly) to have an electrician (Central NJ) swap out the Challenger for a 20 slot Square D including the permit, temporary disconnect of power and inspection?
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I think most all panel mfg provide the side-by-side space saving breakers. You may even find a generic that will fit your panel.. You need to go to an electrical supplier that handles all the breakers.
You might want to consider upgrading to a 200 amp service anyway.. That is pretty much the standard for a residence today, even if you don't use elect stove, etc.
What it will cost to upgrade depends on the going rate in your area. The panel will be just a small cost in this change over.. I purchased a medium size sub-panel that holds 16 breakers for about $80.
A sub panel isn't going to help you since your really need to bring in more amps (200 amp).
What ever, it will add future value and piece of mind with any other additional system expansion.
Steve
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My 1983 house has a Sylvania box, and it takes the common Murray/Siemens breakers. Two 15/15s will set you back $17. I don't know if it is Challenger, but I expect all early 80s Sylvanias used the same breakers. For about the same price you can get a quad breaker that lets you put two 240v circuits in 2 slots. That will probably be easier because you don't have to move anything, but you will probably have to go to an electrical supply house to buy it. You can buy a whole lot of breakers for the cost of a new installed panel. I take it you don't have central A/C or an electric dryer if your load is only 62a.

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Thanks for the tips on the breakers. That appears to be a possibility. However, looks like everone is suggesting an upgrade to 200 amps so will also consider that. I do have A/C as shown in the following load calculation. Did I miss anything?
Unit                Watts
A/C - one 18,000 one 24000          3860 Dish Washer                 1500 Wall Oven                 3600 Computers                 500 25% of Largest Motor             300 Lighting Demand                 1500 Sq ft X 3 Va    4500     Small Appl 2 X 1500    3000     Laundry 1 X 1500    1500     1st 3000 @ 100%        3000     Remaining 6000 @ 35%    2100     Total Lighting Demand     5100
            Total Watts    14860
            Total Amps     61.9
Wade Lippman wrote:

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There are two reasons you might need a larger service.
You might simply not have enough amps available. Your house is small, and you have no big appliances, so that should not be a problem. Even if it is, you can always do it later just as well when you start popping the main breaker.
The other reason is that you might have excessive voltage drop to your panel with the stove going. That might happen if you are a distance from the transformer and they used smallish cables. You can test for that by turning everything in the house on and testing voltage on both legs at the panel, or at outlets on lightly used circuits. If you are reading more than a 4 volt drop from when nothing in the house it running, you might have a problem. Be sure to test both legs. If one is low and the other is okay, you might be able to rearrange the loads (after installing the stove) to make both legs okay.
I expect the fine folks here will come up with additional reason why you need a new service. I can't wait to see what they are.
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I've seen quad 15, 20, and 30A breakers at Lowes, Home Depot, and Ace Hardware. Ace also carries the combo quad breakers such as 15-20 and 20-30.
-- Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
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wrote:

pole, and the ends are single. I happen to know because just last week I needed a quad with a double pole 20 and had to go to a supply house. Perhaps Ace can order it, but most Aces are too small to carry much of anything. Since he needs a double 20...
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There, and on the fasteners aisle, they often have a lot of things that the big home centers don't. FWIW, after I went to Lowe's looking for a 20-30 quad double-pole -- only to be told by the guy in their electrical department that such things don't exist (!) -- I found them on the shelf at Ace, where they are a regularly-stocked item, along with quad 15-20 and 15-30 double-pole breakers.
-- Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
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Why not just add another breaker box next to that one. One that will hold a dual breaker for your 220. Of course you will have to tap off the main to get the power to that box, and unless you know what you are doing, you might want to hire an electrician for at least that part of the job.
On Sun, 16 Nov 2003 03:54:24 GMT, Arnie Goetchius

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I think this is the best answer. Challenger breakers are no longer made. They may have ceased before the twin breakers were even available. You can buy listed "classified replacements" from Cutler-Hammer (their CL line I think). To do this legally, you need to use twin breakers that are listed for your panel. I don't think you'll find any, but there are many that will fit (Siemens, GE, CH-BR). But just because they fit doesn't mean they won't catch on fire.
Put in another 8 or 16 slot panel next to the one you have and feed it with 6-3 on a 60A breaker. You'll have to move two breakers from the existing panel to this sub to free up space for the 60A double pole.
Good job on the load calculation, looks like you did it right. You do not need a larger service at this time, but a hot tub will put you over.
-- Mark Kent, WA
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Mark or Sue wrote:

Good point about the unavailabilty of "legal" twin breakers for the Challenger.

Sounds like the best approach and fairly simple to do.

Thanks. I like to know what I have even if I eventually call in an electrician to do the job.

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If breakers aren't available, where will he get the 60a breaker?
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Twin/Tandem's arent available, but double pole breakers should be.
-- Mark Kent, WA
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Okay, but one more thing... If Siemens breakers fit, why would they be dangerous? At worse, they might arc if they do not fit perfectly, but an arcing breaker in a box shouldn't start a house fire. And if there is such a problem, wouldn't it be pretty noticable? Please explain. I have a Sylvania box with a bunch of non-Sylvania breakers, and if there is a problem, I would like to understand it.
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Ive gotten breakers at ace, all they look at is if they match. I put them in and all is fine. It doesnt say on my box only use our brand. I thought you use what fits and thats it.
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Go to Home Depot and grab one each of all these "interchangeable" breakers ....a Square D Homeline, a GE, a Siemens, and a CH BR. Now look at how they grab the bus. Each will have a different shape and thickness of bars that contact the bus. Are you sure your panel bus bars are as thick as the panel intended to hold that breaker? Are your bus prongs as long as the ones intended to hold that breaker?
If a connection becomes poor, that breaker and bus stab will get hot. Eventually, that bus finger could melt. Flames will probably not come out of your panelboard, but you'll have a mess on your hands and need to replace the panel.
Finally, I've heard of many people using these breakers, and ones sold as "Interchangable group" before with no problems. You could say its a manufacturer's plot to ensure business, and you may be right. There is little incentive to spend money to get your breakers listed for all the combinations of panelboards on the market. You're probably fine, but I'd carefully look at the differences between the Sylvania breakers and the ones you replaced them with. Also look at the bus and breaker for black spots, scorch marks, or melting, and feel these breakers when under load to see if they are hot. I've seen colored disks at Home Depot that you stick on the breaker. They change color when they get warmer than a breaker should get. Consider sticking those on your breakers.
-- Mark Kent, WA
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Mark or Sue wrote:

Yup. makes sense. We have one 'slot' in our main panel that can't now be used because some years back, even with a 'proper' breaker of same manufacture as the panel (Square D), the breaker became faulty, over heated, contacts lost temper, became loose contact with the buss and corroded it. No matter we are OK without that one double pole position and at a pinch could use a 'single' on the other leg/pole in it. Terry.
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There was actually one piece of information missing. The main will trip when either pole decides to trip. In addition to the VA rating as a whole, taking which phase powers each load (i.e. you would'nt want both ACs and the fridge on the same phase) needs to be looked at. I also have 100A service and convinced myself I'd be OK, even adding in transient loads like hair dryers and toasters, although they may not be in use to long enough to be a factor.
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Zaf wrote:

Both A/C's are central units running on 240 and the oven would also be on 240 which by definition is on both poles. This represents half the load. The rest of the load is spread roughly evenly (or at worst 55/45) between the two poles.
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Zaf wrote:

Minor point but; ** viz. balancing the loads on the two 'sides' of the 115/230 volt supply? "The other 'leg' of the same 230 volt (115-0-115) phase". I dont think the the two 115 volt 'hots' are normally different 'phases'. If so they would be 120 degress apart and voltage between them would not be twice 115 = 230 volts. 200 ampservice common here for past 30 years. But mainly cos of electric heating.
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