Overloaded circuit?

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  #1  
Old 11-20-13, 06:14 PM
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Overloaded circuit?

Separated from Old House - Boxfill issue.

My in-laws currently are moving into a new house built back in the 80's. The panel has a 100amp main breaker and is completely full. There is an issue that is being disagreed on and was hoping you could confirm if I'm correct or not.....They have one 15amp breaker that has
*8 lights consisting of roughly 12 65w bulbs,
*8 outlets that once completely moved in will have
2 LCD TV's, 2 cable boxes, a laptop, printer and router plugged into them and a brand new microwave. I personally don't see how this will not trip the breaker at some point especially since the unwritten rule is microwave should have it's own breaker.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 11-20-13 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 11-20-13, 06:59 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

My in-laws... have one 15amp breaker that has
*8 lights consisting of roughly 12 65w bulbs,
*8 outlets that once completely moved in will have
2 LCD TV's, 2 cable boxes, a laptop, printer and router plugged into them and a brand new microwave.
A 15A 120V circuit can supply up to 1800W of non-continuous load or 1440W of continuous load. General-purpose receptacles are calculated at 1.5A of non-continuous load each, so that's 12A, or 1,440W. That leaves 360W of non-continuous load, or 288W of continuous load, available. Unless the eight light fixtures were rated at no more than 36W each, this circuit should be considered as overloaded. 780W of lighting load certainly does that.

I personally don't see how this will not trip the breaker at some point especially since the unwritten rule is microwave should have it's own breaker.
Only built-in microwaves are required to be on a dedicated circuit. That said, both printers and microwaves are heavy loads that can use up most of a circuit by themselves.

So, you're right. How would you like to resolve this?
 
  #3  
Old 11-21-13, 04:40 PM
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Map out the circuits in the house. You may be able to find a couple of circuits located close to each other that you could combine to free up space in the panel for a new microwave plug, plug for computer room, etc.
Or you may be able to squeeze in a tandem breaker. Think of them as two breakers that fit in one slot.
Schneider Electric - Square D | Single Pole 15 Amp QO Tandem Circuit Breaker | Home Depot Canada
 
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Old 11-21-13, 04:45 PM
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Not all panels are listed for use with tandems. If you post the model number we can figure out if they are an option.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 07:55 PM
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Thanks everyone for your feedback.... I guess when they built this house back in the mid 1980's in a 55+ development figured people would never have the need for so much electricity. The panel is 100amp and they have two pole breakers for electric dryer, water heater and central air conditioning. Then too make up for the lost room in panel they used the Tandems like you mentioned and GE slim breakers so I know the panel can use them.
Was wondering if since I need to install a dedicated circuit for the microwave, the three bedrooms currently only have switch controlled outlets for lamps no over head light...and in turn will be installing a total of 4 or 5 light/fans , plus who knows what else might run into am I just better off upgrading panel from the current 100 amp to either 125amp or 200amp? Would I be able to install a sub panel connected to the current panel instead of removing current panel or better off starting from scratch with new one?
 
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Old 11-24-13, 08:01 PM
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Subpanel is cheaper and simpler then replacing the panel. A subpanel is usually a DIY job. Replacing the main panel isn't a DIY job in most cases.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 08:44 PM
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I would replace the panel. A new one with up-to-date construction, that will have more than enough spaces for everything they'll need, will probably cost less that $100, and that's with a few breakers thrown in.

That said, you'll need to hire someone with a license to make the swap on the hot side.

since I need to install a dedicated circuit for the microwave,
Is the microwave going to be built in?

the three bedrooms currently only have switch controlled outlets for lamps no over head light...and in turn will be installing a total of 4 or 5 light/fans , plus who knows what else might run into...
Does the kitchen have two dedicated 20A GFCI-protected small appliance branch circuits? How about the receptacles in the bathrooms? Do the other single-pole circuits have AFCI protection?
 
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Old 11-25-13, 04:10 AM
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The fans will add almost no load to your service. There is probably no need to upgrade.
 
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Old 11-25-13, 07:49 AM
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Then too make up for the lost room in panel they used the Tandems like you mentioned and GE slim breakers so I know the panel can use them.
There are no approved tandem breakers for use in GE panels, GE didn't make them. GE uses the thin Type THQP breakers rather than tandems, but even in panels that accept the THQP thin breakers, they usually cannot be used in all positions. Since the house was built in the '80s, I am sure you have no more than a 20 circuit maximum panel. If tandem breakers have been used to increase the number of circuits, you have a code violation. IF this is one of the old GE aluminum bus panels, I'd definitely replace it, GE aluminum bus panels with the thin THQP breakers have been known to catch on fire under minimal load. You can buy a 30 circuit 100 amp main breaker panel with copper bus at a big box store for around $75.
 
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Old 11-25-13, 07:37 PM
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Thanks againÖÖ.Yea I think Iím just going to replace the panel so I know its new and up to code and in the mean time can clean up the mess the guys who did the original install left so itís easier to service in the future and then call a licensed electrician to do the hot side. Will I need to get an electrical permit for replacing the panel or does that vary state by state and town by town?

What would you suggest increasing from the current 100amp to either 125 or 200amps or stay at 100amps and just increase the amount of available circuits from the current 20 to 30?

Major Appliances

Currently there are four 2 pole breakers: Electric Dryer, Water Heater, Central Air Conditioning and the Sprinkler System

15A Washing Machine + 2 general outlets

15A Dishwasher

15A Refrigerator/Freezer + 2 general outlets (thinking might be better off running dedicated 20A / 12-2 from new panel since kitchen is closest main room to panel)

15A Food Disposer

15A This is the one I mentioned in the beginning that microwave was intended to be on also. 8 lights consisting of roughly 12 65w bulbs, 8 outlets that once completely moved in will have 2 LCD TV's, 2 cable boxes, a laptop, printer and router plugged into them (Will need to run dedicated 20A/ 12-2 to new panel for microwave)

15A Main Bathroom GFCI, Vanity Light, 2 outlets just outside bathroom

15A Bathroom GFCI, Vanity Light and Exhaust Fan connected to light

15A 8 dining room outlets

15A 8 living room/ master bedroom outlets

15A Living Room/ Dining Room Lighting

15A Garage and outdoor outlets

15A x3 outlets and lighting

As mentioned previously along with the microwave will also be installing 4 or 5 ceiling fan/lights and perhaps other things down the road so want flexability



In regard to what Nashkat1 was asking:

Is the microwave going to be built in?

Yes this is why it should have had its own dedicated outlet to begin with. By the time I saw the house a lot of previous owners things were removed but based on where cable is located appear to have been hard wired into range hood.


Does the kitchen have two dedicated 20A GFCI protected small appliance branch circuits?

The kitchen has two dedicated GFCIs but they are 15A not 20AÖ.For that matter with the exception of the two pole breakers everything else is 15A breaker and either 14/2 or 14/3 wiring. Iím originally from NY and was always taught 20A breakers 12/2 or 12/3 for outlets and 15A breakers 14/2 or 14/3 for lights but I guess they do it different over here in NJ.


How about the receptacles in the bathrooms?

Each bathroom has a 15A GFCI which is shared with the light in bath room.


Do the other single pole circuits have AFCI protection?

There is no AFCI protection at all and when inspector came around said itís not required so I guess it varies depending on where you live.



In regard to what Casual Joe mentioned Öafter checking yes it is the older GE aluminum bus panel and although as you mentioned GE panels are not approved for Tandem Breakers they rigged them I guess and somehow got it past the inspectors since Iím assuming this is from when house was built.
 
  #11  
Old 11-26-13, 06:52 AM
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What would you suggest increasing from the current 100amp to either 125 or 200amps or stay at 100amps and just increase the amount of available circuits from the current 20 to 30?
It's hard to say for sure not knowing any future plans, but it never hurts to bump up the capacity a little, in your case to 125 amps. You definitely need more circuits. Regardless, I would suggest being sure you get a copper bus and not aluminum bus panel. You'll also need to upgrade all service entrance wiring as well when increasing the capacity of the service.

Will I need to get an electrical permit for replacing the panel or does that vary state by state and town by town?
It definitely varies by area. Check with the local AHJ and ask their requirements. Many areas required a licensed electrician/contractor just to take out the permit.

as you mentioned GE panels are not approved for Tandem Breakers they rigged them I guess and somehow got it past the inspectors since Iím assuming this is from when house was built.
It's unfortuneate, but inspectors in some areas are not exactly code saavy and look for specific things when doing an inspection. A few months ago I saw a situation where an inspector required a washing machine receptacle to be changed to a GFCI receptacle because it was within 6 feet of a sink. Well, it turned out to be 7 feet from the sink. The fact that this was an unfinished basement did not come into the inspector's statement at all. There were other receptacles in this unfinished basement that were not GFCI protected, but they were not an issue with the inspector. This same inspector was simply amazed when testing a smoke detector that all the detectors in the 2-story home sounded the alarm. The bottom line is, some inspector's don't know the codes that well.
 
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Old 11-26-13, 07:41 AM
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Once saw a home an inspector fail a simplex NEMA 5-15R because it only read 120 volts. Apparently he thought all simplex plugs were 240.
 
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