Question: Adding a Breaker


Old 01-13-06, 08:31 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 27
Question: Adding a Breaker

Hi folks,

So I'm in the process of 'refinishing' (I say refinishing, because it was 'finished' before...although it needs a lot of work, there was outlets/electrical already done everywhere though) my basement into a home theater room. Obviously a pretty power hungry prospect. I got concerned with the power when I found out that most of the basement outlets were connected to the same breaker as the living room. When I added up everything that was going to be plugged into that circuit (Big Screen TV, Reciever, Game System, Cable Box, DVD player, Another TV, another DVD, another Cable box, 6 lights, 2 cordless phones...and the list keeps going), I ended up somewhere around 1570 watts. The circuit is a 15amp circuit, so I'm over the 1440 amp 80% level.

So I decided to have an electrician come out and assess my loads...of course, he did in fact say that I was pushing the limit (although it 'probably' wouldn't be a problem since I wasn't up in the 1800's). I don't, however, like probably... So I had him check if there was room in my box for a new 20 amp breaker. He said there was and even gave me a breaker for it. My plan is to run a dedicated 20amp home theater circuit. This would relieve about 700 watts from the orginal circuit (if I plug all my home theater components into it), allowing both to be well under the limit. He said he could do it, but it would be a few weeks and would cost a couple hundred bucks (since the walls and ceiling are all finished, it would be an interesting wire run. Of course, I said, I could do it myself (I had some speaker wire to run at the same time anyway).

So, I have run the 12/2 wire and installed the plug in the wall, and I'm now have the wire at the box but not attached. I have never done anything within the breaker box before, so I figured I'd hit up the experts to find out if I could hook this up myself (again, I've already had an electrician out to assess my loads and everything is fine there).

Anyway, my box is a GE Load Center (Surface Type TLM1212S Mod 1). I've looked at it, but haven't touched anything. How do I hook this up? I know I want to shut the power off to the box first, but I can't seem to find out how to do that. At the upper portion of the box, there is a metal knockout where it appears a main box shutoff should go, but the knockout is still intact and there is no main breaker in it. Is this a problem? How do I shut the power off to do this? Is this something I should even consider doing myself?

I'm confused...


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Old 01-13-06, 08:47 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Look for a breaker with a larger current rating stamped on it, such as 100 or 150 or 200. Your main breaker might also be at your meter.

By the way, the 80 percent rule you speak of doesn't apply here. You are talking about a general purpose circuit with multiple loads. Your loads can add up to anything, you just can;'t use more than the breaker will allow.
Old 01-13-06, 09:18 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
TLM (main breaker or main lug convertible) yours is a main lug if the main breaker knockout isnt being used. As Bob said you may have a main breaker disconnect out by the meter or you are looking at a sub-panel feed from a breaker in another panel. My guess is Bob is correct you have a main disconnect out by the meter.
Second if you have no way to test voltage I wouldnt do anything till I had a way to verify the panel has been deenergized.

EDIT: This link is a TLM1212CCU flush/surface universal mount. Click on the image to enlarge it. See if it is like yours.

I dont like advising a diy to get into their panel if they arent at all familiar with the inside of one but I'll supply the below info if you decide to give it a go. Maybe you can have someone help you that knows a little about it. At any rate it is a good idea to have someone assist.

Idenitfy one breaker in the panel that controls a receptacle and plug a table lamp into it. Turn it on.

It is always a good idea to turn every individual breaker off in the panel before throwing the main disconnect or main breaker. Takes the load off.

Make sure though you dont have something on a circuit you dont want turned the breathing machine for your mother inlaw.....

After you turn the breakers off and the main disconnect, turn the breaker back on that controls the receptacle the lamp is plugged into. Make sure it doesnt come back on. This will tell you that the power to the panel has been deenergized. You can double check in the panel before you install the breaker.

Then you are going to have to take the panel cover off. Before you do that turn thTreat the panel as if it is still hot though and dont let it slip and fall inside the panel. JUst a good practice from a safety standpoint.

If you have any questions post back and we can tell you how to put the breaker in.

Good luck


Last edited by Roger; 01-13-06 at 10:40 AM. Reason: spelling...of course and I added a better approach
Old 01-19-06, 01:46 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 27
Thanks Guys (sorry it took me so long to get back to this post).

So I've confirmed that I don't have a larger breaker in the box (no where near close to 100, 150 or 200...I think the biggest was a 40 - or maybe double 40 if there is such a thing...can't remember), so the shut-off is definitly NOT in the box.

I went outside and looked at the meter to see if I can find a shut-off and I can't (everything is locked up by the power company). Do I have to call them to have them come out and shut off my power temporarily?

I live in an end unit townhouse in a building of 4 units (power comes in on my end)....not sure if that makes any difference or not (probably not).

Also, if I do have them shut it off...can I go ahead and add a main breaker to avoid this in the future, and if do I know what size to install (100, 150, 200)?

Thanks again for the help!

(oh, and Roger, thanks for the link. That looks basically like my box, but mine is about 30 years it's close, but not exact obviously).


Last edited by petey305; 01-19-06 at 01:48 PM. Reason: Forgot and important 'NOT'

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