Electrical Panel Question

Page 1 of 2  
Hiya, I've got a 10 year old house with a single electrical panel with a main breaker of 100A. The literature attached to the panel says it's rated for 125A. I'm not sure what the feed from the electrical company is....doesn't say on the meter unfortunately. Oh yeah, the panel is full. Here's my dilemma: I want to add some 220v to the garage to power a table saw and dust collector. I'm not sure how to approach this (an electrician will do the work but I want to be able to have an idea how to go about this). I have a 30A/220v/2 pole breaker that serves the dryer that isn't used. So I could remove the existing wires and run my receptacles from that but I'm not sure I like this idea. Particularly if we want to sell the house down the road. A second option, and I'm not sure this can be done code wise, is removing the guts of the can and replace with a higher service rated setup (ie. bus bars, lugs, etc...). It looks like there is room for a larger set up and the can even has pre-drilled holes to accept a larger setup (of course I need to verify the feed from the electric company is set up for a higher amperage). Is this Code legal given the sticker says "Max. of 125A" on it? Another option is to replace the entire service which I really would rather avoid. I tried the "replace the breakers with slim breakers" approach to free up the space but unfortunately, everything was already "slim". Any other ideas on how to approach this? What sort of permits etc might I need (different places, different rules, just looking for a general idea).
I am considering adding an outbuilding sometime down the road and was thinking it might make sense to scrap the current setup and put in a larger panel/can/etc.... and run the outbuilding on a sub panel. Unfortunately, I don't have the cashola to build that building right now and not sure I ever will. So for now, I'm pretty much looking for what will work vs. what makes more sense for down the road.
Anyway, thanks very much for any advice. Cheers, jlc
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I can't comment on "replacing the guts". Seems like it ought to be okay, but I don't actually know. A subpanel might make more sense anyhow.
You haven't said what your breaker box was, but they make quad breakers for mine. That gives you two 240v circuits in the place of one. Have you exhausted that route already?
You can alway put the work shop circuit in place of the dryer, and allow the new owner the choice of which he wants to use it for. I can't see anyone objecting to that.
I doubt you are getting 125a now; but that wouldn't matter unless you happen to know you are right on the edge now and adding the new circuit will put you over. At worst, you maybe couldn't use the table saw when the oven and air conditioner are also in use; rarely a big deal.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks Toller! The box is made by Westinghouse. I did a quick look at Lowe's yesterday and didn't see any of the "quad breakers" as you describe. Lemme look around as that might be one solution. As for being on the edge, I'm far from it. The box has 240 circuits for the dryer, stove, A/C, and water pump. I only use the water pump circuit since we are gas on both the dryer and stove. I'll definitely look into these quad breakers. The current breakers are the "BR" variety. Cheers, jlc

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ok, I think I've got a solution thanks to the inputs. I've got one 2p breaker for the dryer that I could replace with a BQ230250 quad breaker. I could hook the dryer up to the 30's and run the 50's over to a small subpanel where I could have a couple of 20A/240V breakers to supply the TS and Cyclone. Does this sound feasible to you guys? Thanks a million for the help! jlc

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
James "Cubby" Culbertson wrote:

That sounds feasible -- but expensive. I would check for the availability of a feed lug kit first, or move the dryer circuit to the new subpanel to free up 2 slots in the main panel.
If the main panel is surface mounted, you can attach the subpanel to its (hopefully) side knockouts with a 2" rigid conduit nipple and a few lock nuts; it makes a neat installation.
Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Unfortunately the panel is recessed into drywall but fortunately, I'll be putting the subpanel right next to it (with a stud in between) so it shouldn't be too difficult.
As far as I can tell, the only added expense I would have for what I had in mind vs. the feed lug approach would be the quad breaker ($25 or so online). I'd still have to purchase the sub-panel and breakers for it anyway. With your solution I'd have to get the feed lug kit but not sure what they cost. Am I missing something here?
Thanks for the help Bob! cc
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
James "Cubby" Culbertson wrote:

Feed lug kit is cheap, but may not be available.
The only thing you might be missing is that if you move the dryer to the new subpanel you can avoid using a weird quad breaker that might be hard to replace some day. A 50A or 60A 2-pole BR breaker should cost less than $10 and be easy to find. But then again, it may not be feasible to move the dryer to the subpanel -- I can't tell looking at it from here ;-)
Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If you are planning on putting the subpanel in your workshop (rather than near the main panel) that would work fine. Other wise you could save $10 by moving the dryer to the subpanel.
I actually had the BQC220230 in mind. That would give you one new 20a 240v circuit without requiring a subpanel. (if I am reading the description right anyhow.) Assuming you will never want more than a couple new circuits, that is cheaper than a subpanel.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
toller wrote:

One more thing I just thought of; if it's a 3-wire dryer circuit, he can't move it to a subpanel and be kosher. It would have to be 4 wires if fed from a subpanel.
Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

And that is because it is illegal to create a 3-wire dryer circuit and the old one is grandfathered, or is it something to do with the subpanel itself?
If it the new circuit, he could move the waterpump. The ones I have seen don't have neutrals.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
toller wrote:

It is something to do with the subpanel itself -- the subpanel will have its neutral buss isolated from the chassis. AFAIK, dryer circuits have always needed 4 wires if fed from a subpanel because of this. (That's why you can't have a 3-wire 120/240 circuit in a mobile home.)

It's not the new circuit, but that's a great idea anyway. :-)
Best regards, Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks guys for all the help!
Just got back from Lowe's and here's what I have found. They carry a quad 30/40A switch for $12 and I could replace the current full size dryer breaker. From there, I could run the 40A into a sub panel which seems to run about $17 or so for a 6/12 circuit job.
I've just gotten the specs on the saw and it looks like they recommend a 20A breaker for it (18A load). Couple that with a 2hp 220V cyclone (10A draw) and it's looking more and more like I will have to go the subpanel route. I just can't remove the dryer circuit, replace with a 20/15 quad and keep the dryer connection. So it's looking like I'll probably go the route mentioned above (30/40A Quad and sub panel). Moving circuits around would be a major pain as the walls are fully finished. I looked for a feed through lug kit and unfortunately, they didn't have any. I'm guessing I could probably find a kit somewhere.
So it's looking like: 30/40A Quad ($12), Sub Panel ($17), Breakers for subpanel ($15 or so), Ground bars, wire and misc. I might even get through this for less than $75.
I really appreciate the help guys. My saw is arriving later this week and I hate to get it and put it together only to sit until I get power installed. I think now, I can get this done pretty quickly and for not too much $$$. Cheers, cc

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
James "Cubby" Culbertson wrote:

What kind of panel is it? Does it have feed-thru lugs, or can you get lugs for it? Put a little 100A subpanel right next to it to give you 8 more spaces.
If there are no feed lugs in the old panel, you can replace that 30A dryer breaker with a 60A or 70A breaker to feed the subpanel and move the dryer to the subpanel.
It's kind of hard to give specific advice without more info.
Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
This is a Westinghouse panel with BR style breakers in it. I'm not sure if it's got "Feed Through" lugs or not (Can you describe them?). Basically the mains from the meter come in and land on the 100A breaker so I'm guessing I don't have the lugs. Running a sub-panel would be ideal so now the question is can I add the feed through lugs. The panel is in the garage now so a sub-panel would allow me to run the shop tools from it vs. re-routing for the dryer etc... Thanks for the help Bob! Cheers, jlc

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
2005:

Where I live, and I suspect in most locations, a new circuit requires a new permit. A subpanel certainly does.
--
Doug Boulter

To reply by e-mail, remove the obvious word from the e-mail address
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I asked an electrical inspector (from whom I had just taken a home electrical course) what was involved in getting a new transfer switch inspected. He said that no one would get something as simple as a transfer switch inspected; inspections were only for major projects. In the course he said that technically changing a light switch requires an inspection, but that it is never done. In order to affect your insurance (after a fire) the insurance would have to prove that the uninspected work caused the fire, and that the work was done negligently; a tall order.
Comments?
I fretted a bit about the transfer switch, as it was my biggest project to date; but decided that the worst that could happen would be an open connection. Even if a hot connection broke and caused an arcing short, it was all in a metal box with no combustibles in the box; so what could happen? Sure, you can come up with crazy things like an open neutral combined with a short in an appliance, but realistically not much can happen.
Comments?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm surprised a transfer switch isn't an inspected item where you are, here they are. Screwing one up can cause problems for line technicians and others upstream.
But, as always, codes are interpreted and enforced locally, so relying on anything anyone tells you in a forum like this is foolish.
Jeff
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I asked an electrical inspector (from whom I had just taken a home electrical course) what was involved in getting a new transfer switch inspected. He said that no one would get something as simple as a transfer switch inspected; inspections were only for major projects. In the course he said that technically changing a light switch requires an inspection, but that it is never done. In order to affect your insurance (after a fire) the insurance would have to prove that the uninspected work caused the fire, and that the work was done negligently; a tall order.
Comments?
I fretted a bit about the transfer switch, as it was my biggest project to date; but decided that the worst that could happen would be an open connection. Even if a hot connection broke and caused an arcing short, it was all in a metal box with no combustibles in the box; so what could happen? Sure, you can come up with crazy things like an open neutral combined with a short in an appliance, but realistically not much can happen.
Comments?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 3 Jan 2005 23:49:21 -0700, "James \"Cubby\" Culbertson"

For what it's worth, I took the kitchen range 220 and used that to install a subpanel in the shop. I could have taken the dryer hookup, but the stove is a better idea as the gas stove "goes with the house." Taking the clothes dryer hookup takes the option of having an electric dryer, which could have an impact on the sale of the house. For your case, you could use the dryer line for a subpanel then provide a 220v for the dryer and hook it back up. I think this is the lowest cost practical option. Replacing the entire Main panel is the best way per NEC, but that may run some $.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It's really not that expensive to upgrade to a new 200 Amp service. You'll have all the power you want plus a new meter pan and a new 40 circuit panel. It cost me $1800. If you are thinking of expanding , you should consider it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.