No room in service panel. Go bigger or subpanel?

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Old 02-17-10, 09:16 AM
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No room in service panel. Go bigger or subpanel?

Greetings,

My Siemens G2020MB1100 panel is completely full. It has five sets of split breakers each taking up what would normally be a single breaker spot. There are also four 240v double breakers. The remaining seven spots have single breakers. By my calculations I have 21 circuits on a 20 circuit panel. There is no main breakers in this box. Those are located outside next to the meter in a lockable box.

The single car garage is attached (this is a condo). I have a whopping single duplex outlet in the garage, two if you count the one in the ceiling for the garage door opener. The garage is finished sheetrock.

I would like to add a 5000 watt 240 garage heater. I would also like to add at least two duplex outlets along each length of the garage, about 10' apart and bench height.

What would be a safe and reasonable way to accomplish this?
New Siemens 3030 panel for 10 additional circuits?
Add more split breakers and run a subpanel off of the existing subpanel?
New Siemens 3030 panel AND a new subpanel in the garage?

Thanks for reading this long post, but I wanted to give as much information as possible. TIA rob
 
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Old 02-17-10, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob in Maine View Post
By my calculations I have 21 circuits on a 20 circuit panel.
25 circuits -- the DP breakers count as two in this case. No tandem breakers are allowed in a 2020 panel.

The single car garage is attached (this is a condo).
You may need to have licensed electrician do the work per some condo assn. rules.

What would be a safe and reasonable way to accomplish this?
You basically have two options. You can replace the primary panel with a larger one, in which case there would be no reason not to do a 200A 40 space panel (or perhaps a 3040 panel).

Or you could add a subpanel adjacent to the current panel. You would relocate 5 of the tandem circuits plus two more over to the new subpanel so you have enough room to add a double-pole breaker to feed the subpanel.

In this case, I would probably lean toward replacing the panel as it doesn't require you to mess with the main.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 10:04 AM
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Thank you for your reply. When you mentioned changing to a 200A 30/40 panel do you mean just put the panel in or actually have a complete upgrade from 100A to 200A service? I currently only have 100A service.

Since my main breakers are outside the building, I would not have to contact the electric company to shut down power if I decided to upgrade to a higher capacity (more breakers) panel. Just pull the main breakers and lock the box. Is that correct?

I've contacted three local licensed electricians. None have ever called me back. I guess this job is just not worth it <shrugs>..
 
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Old 02-17-10, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob in Maine View Post
Thank you for your reply. When you mentioned changing to a 200A 30/40 panel do you mean just put the panel in or actually have a complete upgrade from 100A to 200A service? I currently only have 100A service.
Probably just the panel. A demand load calculation can be performed to see if you actually need more amps in addition to more space, but unless you've added any major electrical loads (central air, spa, range, etc) your load has probably not changed substantially.

Since my main breakers are outside the building, I would not have to contact the electric company to shut down power if I decided to upgrade to a higher capacity (more breakers) panel. Just pull the main breakers and lock the box. Is that correct?
Unless there is some unforeseen problem, yes that is all you would have to do. The only concern would be if the wires between the outdoor main and your indoor panel cannot be reused for some reason like deterioration or incorrect size or type.

I guess this job is just not worth it <shrugs>..
I guess keep trying some other contractors; I suppose they could just be busy, but that is not the norm in most places these days.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 02:10 PM
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I suggest just adding a 20 circuit main lug sub panel next to the existing panel and transferring some of the existing circuits to get your existing panel down to 20 circuits.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 02:36 PM
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Is there room in the outside panel where you could run conduit to the garage? thru ground or along the outside wall?
 
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Old 02-17-10, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post

You basically have two options. <snip>

In this case, I would probably lean toward replacing the panel as it doesn't require you to mess with the main.
I have several DIY books on electrical projects. One of them (Black and Decker) shows how to do a panel replacement. I will price out a Siemens panel with the intention of using as many of my existing breakers as possible while also giving me some expansion.

The thing is, this condo is only five years old and cost over $300K but they used a $60 panel rather than a $90 panel so now I have to have it redone. What were they thinking?

I'm sure I will be back with more questions after I plan this conversion out. Thank you everyone that replied.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob in Maine View Post
The thing is, this condo is only five years old and cost over $300K but they used a $60 panel rather than a $90 panel so now I have to have it redone. What were they thinking?
100A is code-minimum, so unless the general contractor or homeowner specs out something higher that's what gets installed. I prefer the bigger panels too, but lowest bid is lowest bid.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 09:15 PM
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If you are not in danger of exceeding the 100 amp capacity, you could just put in a larger Main Lug Only panel as long as you have the proper main disconnect outside. If you have no main disconnect outside, you could put in a 30 circuit 100 amp main breaker panel to replace the 20 circuit panel.
 
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