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Old 09-20-2012, 11:11 AM   #1
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Electrical panel ?


I am wanting to add another circuit to my panel (220v for welder in garage). As a note, I have done this before twice in previous homes for my welder without any issues.

I am only running the circuit about 3 ft away from the panel to make things simple. I installed the outlet, ran the short wire and went to snap the breaker into what I assumed to be an "open spot" on my panel.

Well, unfortunately I couldn't figure out why I had to power. Turns out after further inspection that the metal contacts (hot bus?) has been cut or trimmed. Therefore, there is no contact with the breaker. I have included pictures. One picture shows the empty slot with the hotbus cut and the other shows a normal hotbus above and the cut hotbus below.

Why would the contacts be cut out? My panel is a 125 amp. I am assuming the service is at least 125 amp also. The home is 1400sf and built last year. I am pretty bummed because now I have removed the cover plates on the panel's cover and I have a 30 amp breaker filling the slot that doesn't have any juice. Any ideas?
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Old 09-20-2012, 11:15 AM   #2
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Electrical panel ?


Can you show a full size picture of the panel.

I think, that your bottom right breaker is your "main" breaker for the panel. If so, then yes, the opposite posts are "cut".

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Old 09-20-2012, 11:17 AM   #3
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Electrical panel ?


It limits the number of breakers in the panel. Install a subpanel.
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:09 PM   #4
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Electrical panel ?


AndrewF, you are correct. The lower right is the main breaker so my "open" slot was next to the main. So this is normal practice? Crap, well is there a way to cover the area on my panel cover since I already knocked out the tabs? What are my options for adding another circuit? I am contemplating just tapping into my dryer circuit since I would never use them both at the same time. Probably not legal though. Thank you so much.
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Old 09-20-2012, 01:05 PM   #5
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Electrical panel ?


Those 'stabs' that the breakers sit on have an amp rating, should be on the inside panel cover.
Most are rated for 100amps, if your main is 100a you are not allowed to use them, this is why they are 'cut'.
This may very on brands and size of service.
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Old 09-20-2012, 01:12 PM   #6
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Electrical panel ?


You can purchase some blank covers to fill the hole(s). And if you get a couple of the "twin" breakers, two circuits per breaker spot you can open a few full sized slots to accept a double pole breaker.
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Old 09-20-2012, 01:16 PM   #7
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Electrical panel ?


You could probably replace one braeker with a tandum breaker. Those are the breakers that take up one spot in the panel but allow you to do two circuits off them. I have a couple in my box although I have not personally installed any before.
Here is a link to one on HD website just to show you what I mean http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-...1#.UFtcbI1mQf4

Maybe an electrician can comment as to their safety or if they would recommend one or not.
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Old 09-20-2012, 01:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NHtransplant View Post
You could probably replace one braeker with a tandum breaker. Those are the breakers that take up one spot in the panel but allow you to do two circuits off them. I have a couple in my box although I have not personally installed any before.
Here is a link to one on HD website just to show you what I mean http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-...1#.UFtcbI1mQf4

Maybe an electrician can comment as to their safety or if they would recommend one or not.
Make sure the twin breaker is listed for use in the panel and installed per manufacturers installation instructions.
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:56 PM   #9
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Well, I'm not sure what to do at this point. Maybe someone else has an idea. My panel already has several twin breakers installed by the builder. There are only 3 regular breakers that I could pull and replace with a twin. But unfortunately that will only free up 1 space. I need 2 spaces for the 220v breaker.

I thought I'd found the ticket when I got a quad pole 30 amp/30amp breaker to use for the dryer and welder circuit but unfortunately the panel would accept it as the bus bar contacts were different. The breaker was a cutler Hammer and looked identical except for that feature.

Would a sub panel for the dryer and welder circuit even be legal? Say I removed the 30 amp dryer breaker and replaced with a 60 amp breaker that fed a subpanel that held the dryer and welder circuit? My panel is literally out of space. It is amazing that builders put a new house together already 100% maxed out for any new additions.

last thought. I rarely use my welder. With that I have considered leaving the wires from my welder circuit in the panel but not connected to any breaker. When I want to weld I could remove the wires from the dryer breaker and replace them with the welder circuit wires. Kind of annoying but possible. Thanks guys!
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:00 PM   #10
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Electrical panel ?


Since your panel is full and already using tandems I think you should consider installing a sub-panel. Switching wires around is never a good idea regardless of how often you use the welder. A sub-panel will give you what you need and open up a few spaces for other circutry and really won't cost you that much. It will give you room for an exhaust fan circuit, a compressor circuit and whatever else you decide to add in the future. IMO a good investment.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:12 PM   #11
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Missouri Bound,

Thanks for the input. Do you have any suggestions for installing a sub panel? I have never done it before and have been searching but have not found any good detailed info.

I was told that installing a sub panel from a breaker on the main panel was not legal?

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Old 09-21-2012, 07:14 PM   #12
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Electrical panel ?


There is no NEC prohibition against the subpanel. You would just move 2 single pole circuits out to make room for a new 2 pole breaker that feeds the sub.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:20 PM   #13
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jim port,

Cool. Do I match amperage from the breaker on the main panel to the expected amperage usage on the sub? For example, I know I will need at least 60 amps to operate the dryer and welder. Both are 30 amp circuits. Therefore, should my breaker that feeds the sub be 60 amps? What are my limits? Thanks everyone!
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:43 PM   #14
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I would leave the heavy loads in the main panel and move smaller ones to the subpanel.

You calculate the expected demands to size the subpanel feed. You do not add up the breaker handles to do this.

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