Can I make room in my breaker box?

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  #1  
Old 10-28-13, 09:52 PM
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Can I make room in my breaker box?

i just ordered a chicago pneumatic single stage compressor that calls for 208-230 1 phase power. I just looked at my breaker box and of course it's full. Fortunately it's in the garage and about 10 feet away from where my compressor is going to be. Can I add some mini breakers to make room for a 230 double pole or should I install a sub panel and maybe put the dishwasher and compressor on the sub? I've attached a picture of the panel and a diagram of the current layout. no pun intended

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Last edited by PJmax; 10-28-13 at 10:11 PM. Reason: Re-oriented/resized pictures
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  #2  
Old 10-28-13, 10:16 PM
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Welcome to the forums...... in case no one previously welcomed you.

I re-posted your pics for you for better viewing and proper orientation.

You've got a lot of load there. I don't see a main breaker... is that a main panel or a sub panel ?
What size breaker is protecting that panel ? It looks like 100-150 amp wiring.

I do see lots of NM-B jacket in there cluttering up the works :NO NO NO:

Is that a GE panel..... if not what is it.
 
  #3  
Old 10-28-13, 10:50 PM
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Thanks for the welcome...That's the main panel. The breaker labeled sub feed turns everything off. I'm not sure why it's labeled sub feed but there are no other panels in the house. The previous owner added a small office to 1 side of the garage (inside the garage) and the panel is in there. He added the white wrapped cables at some point. 2 of them go to motion activated flood lights outside the garage. (1 of which doesn't work) I'm not sure where the 3rd goes. I though about adding a sub panel on the same wall as the main but outside the small office about 10 feet away. I could run the flood lights to that. They are near where the compressor will be.

That is a GE panel. It's quite a mess. This is the first time I've taken the cover off. All this for some air tools.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 10:59 PM
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On the other side of the wall from the panel (outside the house) is the meter. It says Duncan and GE B4804. Single Stator Watthour Meter. 240v 3w.
 
  #5  
Old 10-28-13, 11:31 PM
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I'm pretty sure that is a split-bus panel and the six double pole circuit breakers on the top all need to be turned off to cut all power. The circuit breaker labeled sub feed ONLY controls power for the circuit breakers below the top three on each side.

You will have to check the label inside the door of the front panel to see if twin/duplex/dual circuit circuit breakers are approved for that panel. If not then the choice is between installing a new service panel, doubling up on some lightly loaded circuits or adding a sub-panel.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 11:52 PM
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thanks furd, here's the sticker on the inside of the door.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 11:57 PM
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I hope that you don't expect me to read that!
 
  #8  
Old 10-29-13, 12:23 AM
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sorry let me try that again im hoping i can run wire from the main to the sub using the space the dryer is currently using and then running wire from the sub to the dryer and to the new outlet for the compressor.
 
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Old 10-29-13, 12:26 AM
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the last pic isn't much better. i dont think i can post high res pics
 
  #10  
Old 10-29-13, 01:29 AM
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Look in the Typical Wiring Diagram section of the label, on the right side. It either says 20 POLES MAXIMUM or 28 POLES MAXIMUM.

If it says 28, you can use tandems (minis) to free up two spaces for a double pole breaker.

If it says 20 then you already have the maximum circuits for that panel. For the compressor the sub panel needs to be fed with a double pole breaker. So, you'd need to remove circuits to free up two spaces side by side.
 
  #11  
Old 10-29-13, 07:06 AM
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Yes, it is definitely a split bus panel. Tandems are out, GE doesn't make a tandem breaker. GE makes a thin half sized breaker, a Type THQP, which are allowed in the lower section of this panel so you can free up some space there.

Sears.com

The problem is this, the subfeed breaker for the lower section is only 50 amps. The best thing would be to replace this panel, they are not legal any more anyway. The next best thing would be to add a subpanel fed from the spaces the dryer breaker now uses, like you had suggested.

Now, the bad news. Those older GE panels all had aluminum bus. I've seen a few catch fire. If you can afford it, now would be the time to upgrade your service.
 
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Old 10-29-13, 07:41 AM
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The best thing would be to replace this panel, they are not legal any more anyway.
Just for FYI split bus panels are still legal under the 6 disconnect rule. They are, however, not made anymore do to the limitations of the subfeed section of the panel as mentioned above.
 
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Old 10-29-13, 07:56 AM
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the last pic isn't much better. i dont think i can post high res pics
While we could all hope for a clearer picture, it does appear that you have a split-bus panel, as Furd suggested. (Note the connection from the "sub feed" breaker position to the lower section of the panel and the differences in the bus diagrams for the two sections.)

im hoping i can run wire from the main to the sub using the space the dryer is currently using and then running wire from the sub to the dryer and to the new outlet for the compressor.
This panel is designed to have 240V loads fed only from the top section and 120V loads fed only from the lower section. Even if it will accept half-height breakers, space freed up by using those shouldn't be used to install a 2-pole 240V breaker. For one thing, the lower section is currently limited to 50A total by its "main" breaker, and may be limited to no more than 60A by design.

Your plan, to free up one of the six positions in the 240V section and use that to install a breaker to supply a subpanel, is sound.
 
  #14  
Old 10-29-13, 06:48 PM
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Thanks for all the input. Looks like i'll be crawling around in the attic this weekend.
 
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