Breaker Box Full- Impossible to upgrade?

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Old 02-17-04, 11:44 AM
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Question Breaker Box Full- Impossible to upgrade?

I have a 100 AMP breaker box that is beyond maxed out. I have a lot of the breakers doubled up and I have 1 piggy back 15 and 1 piggy back 20.

Is it possible for me to upgrade my box without getting new wiring from outside?
 
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Old 02-17-04, 12:01 PM
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To upgrade your box might or might not require new wire from the service entrance. This depends on the sixe of the wire that is presently there.

Do you know that you cannot add any new tandem breakers?
 
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Old 02-17-04, 12:04 PM
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How do I find out the size of the wire I have?

"Do you know that you cannot add any new tandem breakers?"

Are you telling me that I cannot? I would rather get a whole new box with room to upgrade. The fact that I'm already doubled up on a lot of breakers stinks.. If I run a saw or anything I usually pop a breaker.

Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 02-17-04, 12:36 PM
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Define "beyond maxed out"? Do you mean there is no more room for breakers, or that the main breaker keeps tripping?

Bob is not telling you that you cannot add more tandems. He is asking you if you explored this possibility. If you can add another tandem, it might cost you $20. If you need a larger panel, it might cost you $2000.
 
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Old 02-17-04, 12:55 PM
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Correct, I have no more room for breakers. That's why I had to get the two piggy backs (tandems).

Would it cost me in the $2,000 range just to get a bigger panel or are you saying to get a bigger panel and more service from outside?

The main breaker has never tripped.
 
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Old 02-17-04, 01:15 PM
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The last two tandem breakers I put in my panel cost me $10.00 apiece, plus tax.

A panel upgrade might cost $2,000, or it might not. It depends on many factors. Among the questions:

What size is the incoming service? Do the wires to the meter need to be replaced? Do the wires to the panel need to be replaced?

Does a new grounding conductor need to be installed.

Can any of the breakers be re-used in a new panel? Some electricians won't do this, others will if the breaker is fairly new.

Are the existing circuit wires long enough to reach the new panel, or will these runs need to be exended?

What make and size is the new panel?

Are breakers being supplied for the new panel over and above what is needed for the current circuits, or are just enough breakers being installed?

How much will it cost for ther permit and inspection?

Are you ding the work yourself or hiring it out, or a combination of both?
 
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Old 02-17-04, 01:18 PM
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Is the most important / expensive question "What size is the incoming service?".

I mean.. Say the service I have can handle a bigger box.. I see how the other factors will increase the price but I want to know if it's even pheasable for me to think about getting a bigger box.

Is it possible for me to find out the size of my service coming in?
 
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Old 02-17-04, 01:35 PM
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An electrician can tell you the size of your incoming service wires by looking at them.

Service wire is expensive. Is it a long run from the weatherhead to the meter? From the meter to the panel? Short run = less cost. Long run = more cost.
 
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Old 02-17-04, 02:04 PM
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Do you think if I took a picture with my digital camera and post the pic you would be able to tell? Just the wires going into my box right?
 
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Old 02-17-04, 02:25 PM
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I think we might be overcomplicating things but again is still does come down to the size of the incoming service.

If you already have 100amp and the problem is that you just have a small panel with 12 circuits etc you can upgrade to a 30 circuit panel without upgrading the incoming service. a new 100 amp panel only costs about $40 as is relatively easy to install if you have a disconnect between the meterbase and the panel. I did this exact thing 2 weeks ago.

If you dont have an disconnect you would have to have your local hydro come out and do a disconnect/reconnect, this can be expensive and they might not let you change the panel yourself meaning you will need to higher an electrcian. The hydro and electrican will probably add at least a couple hundred to the total cost. If they do let you do it yourself they would still make you get an inspection before the reconnect meaning you can be out of power for a while before they turn it back on, depending on the inspection department.
 
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Old 02-17-04, 02:43 PM
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Don't discard the tandem breaker idea too quickly. It is likely that this solution would be inexpensive, effective and safe. I would only suggest a new panel if your existing panel will accept no more tandem breakers, or you are planning on adding more load to your house (e.g., your wife wants to take up pottery and needs a kiln, or you plan on adding central air).
 
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Old 02-17-04, 06:51 PM
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I agree with John, you can completely fill up the panel with tandems before you have to upgrade. This is the common way of doing things.

If you can upgrade the panel with the same service coming in (ie not increase the overall service amps) then the panel can accept more tandems just as easy as a bigger panel can accept more breakers. The total number of circuits is the same but one has a bigger box.

One way to look at it is if you are ever going to need more circuits then you can possibly get by using a tandem in every spot then upgrade, otherwise use tandems
 
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