Need Guidance for Adding Breakers

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  #1  
Old 01-05-15, 11:08 AM
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Need Guidance for Adding Breakers

I just moved into a house built in 1971 and am doing some renovations. At this point, there are a few projects on my to-do list that will likely require new electrical/breakers. I've attached some photos of the box for reference.

My box is currently full, though based on some research, it seems I should be able to replace some of the existing breakers with tandem breakers. I'm looking for some guidance as to where I can/should put the tandem breakers. Additionally, are there particular circuits that shouldn't go on a tandem, or that shouldn't be right next to a tandem? (such as kitchen outlets/appliances, washer/dryer, etc.)

I'm still figuring out what every breaker goes to (the labels weren't well done when I moved in, as you can see in the photos). However, the bottom right two breakers both are the kitchen circuit (one powers top plug of outlets, one powers bottom plug) - I was thinking of combining those onto a tandem to free up a spot, and then putting another tandem in that free spot. So essentially, the bottom three breakers on the right would be tandem. Is that a good approach?

Thanks in advance for any comments/advice. My brain is going crazy from reading through various forums/manuals online, so I'm hoping some of you out there may be kind enough to help.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-05-15, 11:17 AM
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That's your only panel? No pro but it looks like a sub-panel to me.
 
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Old 01-05-15, 11:21 AM
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Unless there's one hidden that I haven't been able to find, that's it. I should probably add that the house also has gas, so that may be why a smaller box was used.
 
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Old 01-05-15, 11:35 AM
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There are too many breakers installed in the top panel for that to be your service panel. There must be a means of disconnect outside. Look near the meter.

I think I would look at changing the two panels into one larger one with additional space.
 
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Old 01-05-15, 11:42 AM
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Where is the main service disconnect? I am assuming it must be near the meter as the Arrow/Hart Murray panel is a main lug subpanel. It already has two tandem breakers in it too, did you see them? I think I would also want to check to see if the house was wired with aluminum wiring which was pretty common in 1971. If you have aluminum wiring, you have many other issues to deal with in addition to tandem breakers. Somewhere on the panel label there should be info on the manufacturer's and Types of breakers approved for use in this panel.
 
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Old 01-05-15, 01:50 PM
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If I remember correctly, the main disconnect is by the meter (can't verify at the current moment, but will later tonight). I did notice that there are already two tandem breakers in the panel, but everything is in use and I'll still need to add a few more. Based on the label on the panel, it seems like I should be able to put tandems almost throughout, but that seemed a little odd to me, hence my posting in the first place.

I was hoping to avoid replacing the panel, but that seems to be the end I'm lead to no matter which path I take. I opened up the panels, and it appears I'll have enough slack with wires to do a new panel without much hassle, but still would rather avoid it if possible. I included a few pictures of the open panels for you guys as well - not sure if it helps at all, but figured more info is better.
 
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Old 01-05-15, 03:52 PM
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Waiting to see on a larger monitor, but it looks like the top panel may not be able to use tandems.
 
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Old 01-05-15, 04:28 PM
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It look's like circuits 5 and 12 are already doubled up,better off straightening out the panel situation first,why Mouse it now then change it all out later.
MO
Geo
 
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Old 01-05-15, 06:24 PM
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According to the door sticker tandem CBs may be used in the three bottom spaces on each side.
 
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Old 01-05-15, 06:53 PM
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My eyes see that each space can have a tandem breaker. Not that I think it is a good idea. I like PCboss's suggestion (and Geo) of installing one larger panel.
 
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Old 01-06-15, 01:07 AM
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Yeah, after looking more closely Tolyn is correct that ALL spaces will accept tandem breakers.
 
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Old 01-06-15, 05:03 AM
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I was looking at the panel number. When it said 12 not 12/24 I was doubting the use of tandems.
 
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Old 01-06-15, 06:23 AM
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Actually that panel is rated at 125 Amps,and a closer look all the spaces will accept tandem breakers,but it still doesn't change my thought about changing them out,how available are new tandems for that panel?
Geo
 
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Old 01-06-15, 09:31 AM
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I would agree that the best option is one new larger panel, but tandems could be used in all spaces if necessary. Arrow-Hart Murray aluminum bus panels were about the most cost effective (cheapest) panels back in the early '70s (cheaper the FPE panels). I wouldn't trust it to last a lot longer.

It looks to me like the wires on the lower left 20A 2-pole breaker in the top panel might be aluminum. Am I correct on that? Any other aluminum wiring?
 

Last edited by CasualJoe; 01-06-15 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 01-06-15, 03:25 PM
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I just re-checked, and all the connections are copper - must have just been the camera flash that made it look aluminum in the picture. Thanks to all for confirming that I can use tandems throughout (though I agree it's not a good idea to actually do it). I'm looking into a new panel, but I'm afraid to take that on during the dead of winter. I'll likely make that a spring/summer to-do. However, in the meantime, I'll need to add a new tandem in order to finish the bathroom remodel (heated floor) - I'll leave enough slack in the wire to not have problems when switching the panel.

Do you guys have recommendations for a breaker? The 20amp tandem in there currently is a BR2020, but I haven't been able to find anywhere that says that breaker is listed for my particular panel. There haven't been any problems with it thus far, but I don't want to add another if it doesn't belong. On that note, should I replace the one in there currently if it's not listed for my panel?
 
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Old 01-06-15, 07:52 PM
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You have an ITE panel, you need to use Siemens breakers.
 
  #17  
Old 01-06-15, 08:54 PM
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Any recs on a specific model? I see a few Siemens 20/20 (e.g. QT & QP).
 
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Old 01-07-15, 07:04 AM
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Any recs on a specific model? I see a few Siemens 20/20 (e.g. QT & QP).
Probably the QT breaker. Go to any big box store and they should have them. It also should be the CTL type.

The older panel is a subpanel and it appears there is no ground bar and that the neutrals and grounds are mixed on the neutral bus. In addition, it appears the feed to the newer subpanel have both the neutral and green EGC originating from the neutral bar in the first (older) subpanel. This is something that should be corrected when you change to a new larger panel. The neutral bus should be isolated from the panel can and an auxilliary ground bar needs to be added to the new panel. The feeder from the outside main breaker to the new panel should have 4 wires; 2 hots, 1 neutral and 1 ground. You may have to change the feeder too.
 
  #19  
Old 01-07-15, 11:39 AM
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Is that heated floor 240 volts? If so that will require a 2 pole breaker.
Geo
 
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