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Old 07-17-2010, 11:07 AM   #1
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100 AMP Panel Box Question


This female is trying to learn about electrical systems. NOT so that I can work on it, but to understand it better. My home has 100 AMP service. Panel box has left & right side, with 6 circuit breakers on left side and 6 on right. Some breakers are 20 AMP, some 15, some 10.

I just added up the AMPs of all circuit breakers (#s are on the breakers) and it totals 165 AMPs. Is this a serious problem, something that I should be concerned with?

I created a database listing each/every light switch and receptacle in my home, and know which circuit breaker controls what. Last night the "Left 3" 15AMP circuit popped. This breaker controls only 4 wall receptacles and has never popped before, even with an Air Conditioner in use. (NY's been VERY hot & humid!)

After adding up the total AMPs that Panel Box has in circuit breakers, am quite curious WHY the circuit breaker popped and also concerned if there should be 165 AMPs in cirucit breakers for a 100 AMP service.

I hope I explained myself properly. Thank you for any insight anyone can provide.

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Old 07-17-2010, 11:17 AM   #2
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Nothing to be concerned with. Adding up the breaker ratings has little relationship to what is actually being used at any one time. Those rating are just the limit for that circuit. For example a laundry circuit may be a 20 amp circuit yet the washer only draws 10 amps. Your method also does not account for items that are not used at the same time like heat and AC.

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Old 07-17-2010, 12:08 PM   #3
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100 AMP Panel Box Question


Quote:
Last night the "Left 3" 15AMP circuit popped. This breaker controls only 4 wall receptacles and has never popped before, even with an Air Conditioner in use. (NY's been VERY hot & humid!)

After adding up the total AMPs that Panel Box has in circuit breakers, am quite curious WHY the circuit breaker popped and also concerned if there should be 165 AMPs in cirucit breakers for a 100 AMP service.

I hope I explained myself properly. Thank you for any insight anyone can provide.
Most common cause for circuit breakers to trip is an overloaded circuit. They can also trip due to poor connections at the circuit breaker or the circuit breaker itself. The air conditioner could also be a source for a tripped breaker.

It could be that the air conditioner amperage rating is very near the limit of the circuit breaker and is running for very long cycling periods. This could be resulting in heating the breaker and it is tripping when the air conditoner starts or runs more than normal.There is bit more current draw than the breaker will allow. Or you could have some problem with the a/c unit that is causing too much amperage to be drawn on the circuit.

Has the breaker tripped since you reset it?

What do you have operating on that branch circuit other than the A/c ?
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Old 07-17-2010, 12:37 PM   #4
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Since you mentioned that you want to learn about you house wiring and electrical system, understanding why the breaker tripped would be a good lesson.
This must be a window unit that is plugged into one of the room outlets so try and find the manufactures tag and see what the current draw is. It is usually close to where the cord connects and you may have to remove the front grill to see it. When you find it, post the results and we can chat more about it.
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Old 07-17-2010, 01:19 PM   #5
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15AMP circuit popped. Breaker controls only 4 wall receptacles. Being used WAS a window air conditioner, and 2 small lights, and a computer.

Thank you to the the 3 persons who replied. My mind is feeling better a bit. Washing machine example from Jim Port was helpful. Home was built in 1852 and I do understand a breaker will shut if overloaded. My concern was that the wires inside the wall could get hot and cause a fire. Visited the Fire Dept the other day and that's what I was told.

a7ecorsair wrote: "see what the current draw is." Do not know what this means. Am I looking for something similar to sticker that's on a lamp wherein it could read "maximum 75watt bulb"?

Stubbie, so it's possible there could be a problem with the AC Unit? Yesterday for first time there was condensation on the window. I just assumed it was because of the outside humidity.

You should only know how many hours I spent the other day trying to learn about watts and amps! Now I know that 120 watts = 1 AMP. (Hope I got that right!). I have a 3-bulb lamp in my room, each being a 40 bulb. Figured out this lamp than consumes 1AMP. Am I correct?

Where I live a licensed electrician charges anywhere from $85-$125 just to come to your house. Am trying to learn on my own why the circuit breaker popped so I do not have to call an electrician.

Thank you folks for the insight.
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Old 07-17-2010, 03:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
=SeniorCitizen;470866]15AMP circuit popped. Breaker controls only 4 wall receptacles. Being used WAS a window air conditioner, and 2 small lights, and a computer.
probably just overloaded. I would find a circuit with as little as possible on it to run the AC on or, since you aren't likely to move the AC, find a different circuit for the computer and lights.

if you can, look at the AC to determine what the current draw is or if you can't find that, a wattage rating.

Quote:
My concern was that the wires inside the wall could get hot and cause a fire. Visited the Fire Dept the other day and that's what I was told.
the breaker trips so that doesn't happen. That is a major reason for the breakers.

Quote:
a7ecorsair wrote: "see what the current draw is." Do not know what this means. Am I looking for something similar to sticker that's on a lamp wherein it could read "maximum 75watt bulb"?
if you have controls in a little doorway, there might be a sticker in there or you might have to remove the face of the unit to see any labels.

look for something that states

amp.

if you don't see that, look for : watts



Quote:
You should only know how many hours I spent the other day trying to learn about watts and amps! Now I know that 120 watts = 1 AMP. (Hope I got that right!).
on a 120 volt circuit. Not trying to confuse you but with a 240 volt circuit, it would be 1/2 amp.

Quote:
I have a 3-bulb lamp in my room, each being a 40 bulb. Figured out this lamp than consumes 1AMP. Am I correct?
if they are all on, yes.

Quote:
Where I live a licensed electrician charges anywhere from $85-$125 just to come to your house. Am trying to learn on my own why the circuit breaker popped so I do not have to call an electrician
.
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Old 07-17-2010, 03:54 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by SeniorCitizen View Post
You should only know how many hours I spent the other day trying to learn about watts and amps! Now I know that 120 watts = 1 AMP. (Hope I got that right!). I have a 3-bulb lamp in my room, each being a 40 bulb. Figured out this lamp than consumes 1AMP. Am I correct?
You are correct so you are off to a good start to become a senior electronics technician
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words:
Notice that this AC draws 12.0 amps so if it were on a 15 amp circuit not much else could be running. The AC compressor may cycle too so when it cycles on, it takes some extra current to get the motor started which may cause a breaker to trip.
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Old 07-17-2010, 06:23 PM   #8
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Last few hours have happily spent checking watts for lights & other electrical things in my home, but didn't get to air conditioner yet. I'll get there!

But in interim, have another question. a7ecorsair, I understand what you last wrote, about a 12 AMP AC unit being on a 15 AMP circuit. And though I think I know the answer, must ask. What if a 12 AMP AC unit was plugged into a receptacle (where nothing else is being used on the circuit) and it was connected to a 10 AMP circuit breaker? It would pop the breaker, yes?

Further, for informational purposes only -- if the circuit popped, and was switched back on, and did this over and over again, is there any chance the wires inside the walls could overheat and cause fire?
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Old 07-17-2010, 06:42 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by SeniorCitizen View Post
But in interim, have another question. a7ecorsair, I understand what you last wrote, about a 12 AMP AC unit being on a 15 AMP circuit. And though I think I know the answer, must ask. What if a 12 AMP AC unit was plugged into a receptacle (where nothing else is being used on the circuit) and it was connected to a 10 AMP circuit breaker? It would pop the breaker, yes?

Further, for informational purposes only -- if the circuit popped, and was switched back on, and did this over and over again, is there any chance the wires inside the walls could overheat and cause fire?
The purpose of a circuit breaker or fuse is to protect the wiring not what is plugged in to an outlet, so if the breaker or fuse is properly sized for the wire it is protecting then the wire should not overheat.
Since the trip point of a circuit breaker can change over its life, a 12 amp load on a 10 amp breaker may run for awhile but not for long. If the breaker is tripping that is a good thing. Some breaker fail to trip at their design level and that is a bad thing.
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Old 07-17-2010, 07:27 PM   #10
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100 AMP Panel Box Question


A 10 amp breaker is a very rare thing in a home.
The panel cover will tell the name brand.
Some older breakers have the amperage on the end of the handle, and some on the side of the handle.
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Old 07-27-2010, 04:08 PM   #11
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Sorry it's taken such a long time for me to post any outcome. Have been trying to figure out electrical 'things, in the middle of trying to learn plumbing. Anyway ...

Earlier I had written "15AMP circuit popped. Breaker controls only 4 wall receptacles. Being used WAS a window air conditioner, and 2 small lights, and a computer."

I now know why circuit shut down in my home, a 2-family. Tenant had on a 9.5 AMP floor model A/C unit with an extension cord to the room where a window unit (4.8 AMPs) was being used.

I was quite perplexed, so asked the Fire Marshall to visit. He's also the Building Inspector. And though my home passed his full inspection, learned that life expectancy of smoke alarms is only 5-7 years. And, proud to say, Inspector learned something from me. I have one carbon monoxide detector that Fire Chief installed for me. Inspector told me one is also needed in basement, near heating unit, but he was incorrect. I read the law and showed it to him and I turned out to be right.

Thanks again, everyone. Time to turn to the plumbing section now.

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