Do I need a subpanel?


Old 02-16-05, 05:45 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: United States
Posts: 46
Do I need a subpanel?

Im trying to add a 20 amp circuit for my dishwasher and a 15amp for some outlets in kitchen. My main panel is a 100amp and it there is two solid tabs open on the hot bus. However, the panel door has used the available spaces...which makes no sense considering there is still room for two circuits on one side. I havent checked into pricing panel faces, because it just now dawned on me what was going to happen.

My simple brain wants to "get er done" tonight by either taking out a dryer circuit or an electric oven circuit. However, who is to know how long I will have the house and another owner may well want these circuits. My second option is to add a subpanel...which I have the parts for. Or the most logical is finding the serial number and checking somewhere that sells panel doors that will have two extra openings for my two circuits. I think the last option is a long shot and will never be able to find such a perfect answer. My wife is betting a month of dish washing that I choose wrong(namely no circuits for a long while). Im figuring I win this bet. Any advice before I ignore my own common sense?
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Old 02-16-05, 07:01 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 973
Short term solution: Look at the labeling on the panel box. Do you see "CTL" anywhere on it? If so, you should be able to get "twin" (aka tandem) breakers for your box. A twin breaker is really two breakers taking the space of one.

Click here for an example of a twin breaker.

If you can use these, you could replace an existing 20A breaker with a twin 20A breaker, giving you room for your dishwasher. Similarly, a twin 15A gives room for that kitchen outlet circuit (which MUST be GFI protected, by the way).

Post back the type of breaker box you have and maybe someone will be able to tell you whether this is a possibility.
Old 02-16-05, 07:05 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
15amp for some outlets in kitchen
Code requires that any circuit with receptacles serving the countertop be on a 20-amp circuit. Even if these are not serving the countertop, a 20-amp circuit is probably a better idea than a 15-amp circuit.
Old 02-20-05, 07:08 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: United States
Posts: 46
I do have "CTL" on the box.

My concern is that I have had two "master electricians" recently inspect my house (one two years ago and one two weeks ago) and both gave me lists of electrical work that needed to be done to meet code. The last inspection was a much shorter list...thank God. They never included 20amp to kitchen counter. I know what the NEC says but why would they ignore it?
Old 02-20-05, 07:19 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Harrisonburg
Posts: 744
Howdy- Well chances are that list was things you could take care of without major renovation and in order to upgrade the kitchen circuits you are talking a major renovation to the kitchen.

I do local CODE inspections as well for a company that does Home Inspections, they sub me out for the electrical portion not because they dont know it but because they are not electricians and it gives them some clout to the home owner when they bring in someone professional in the field...and they only do this for electrical issues because " electricity kills " plumbing just Plumbers...could not resist !

But in your case if you are willing to add them and want to do the process then JOHN is 100% need to add them and make sure they are 20A circuits....Now I am willing to guess the home inspectors who told you this were giving you QUICK fix items that needed fixing as most steer away from major remodeling issues as part of their inspection unless they are hazzards to the house like a sagging roof, asbestos, foundation issues and so got the idea....

When I inspect a old home I would have a PUNCH list a mile long...but we actually give 2 reports to the home inspection firm....(1) for a total compliance review and (2) Electrical updates on hazzard issues.......the NEC does not require anything be updated in the old home unless they remodel it and so on...then it is governed under new code rules JUST to the remodeled portions.....which in turn can lead to service upgrades and so on depending on the situation......

Hope this helps....but as John said...Oh yes....20A in the kitchen in all cases....not all have to be GFCI in Dwelling Kitchens...( ie: dinning room and nooks and other than on countertop and 6' of the sinks and so on ) but they do all need to be 20A's

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