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Old 03-11-2008, 12:42 PM   #1
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


I'm wondering if installing a new 20A breaker into a relatively new panel is something that can be a DIY. The panel and the destination outlet for the new circuit are in the same room, no drywall or finished ceiling, so there are very few obstacles fom that perspective. The only obstable I can forsee from my perspective is that of the "unknown" world of electricity - I've never wired anything like this before, although am pretty technically competent, especially with good DIY instructions handy.

The panel is 4 years old, Cutler-Hammer brand, and I believe 100A service although I'm not certain on that part right now since I'm currently at work. Would this be a project that can be done DIY? If so, what good references are there out there that I can look at and print off for my use?

Thanks.

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Old 03-11-2008, 04:15 PM   #2
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


Anything can be DIY, depending on how much time, energy, $$, patience, etc, you have. I am also BRAND new to wiring. Here's my advice:
1. Read all the posts in the 'Electrical' forum. This will give you an idea of what you are getting into.
2. Get some books. This will show you how to do things. Start at your local library. I posted my reviews here: FYI: reviews of electrical DIY books
3. Don't be afraid to get help if you need it.

Good Luck!

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Old 03-11-2008, 05:37 PM   #3
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


Yes do it yourself. Essentially you will run the wire from outlet location to panel or vice versa. Punch out a hole in the box and use a NM cable clamp when going through the hole in the box. Hook hot wire up to the breaker, neutral to neutral bar and ground to ground. Then put the breaker in to the slot. You could just shut down the entire house when you do it.
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Old 03-11-2008, 05:54 PM   #4
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


You can definitely do this yourself, but it deserves some caution. Always turn off the main breaker when working in the panel, and remember that the main lugs and service wires at the top of the panel (usually) are live all the time! They can fry you! So don't touch them!

Read up on the project, ask questions, and you can definitely do this yourself.
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Old 03-11-2008, 05:57 PM   #5
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I am a DIY'er and I still remember my first experience working in a live box. I was nervous as hell, but patience is the key. Take it slow, BE AWARE OF YOUR HANDS AND YOUR MATERIALS and what they are doing AT ALL TIMES.

Recently, I wired up a whole house (new) to a live panel, and it was a piece of cake, although I was still very aware of where my hands and materials were the whole time. Never try to rush things in a live panel.

One of my good friends was moving his own panel to a new location - he bought a new panel and backfed the new panel from the old while switching everything over. (BTW, I don't know if what he did was safe/legal, and I am not reccomending anyone else do it, just sayin what he did) He started to rush things and while removing a circuit from the old box forgot it was still live and allowed the wire he was pulling out of it to touch the hot buss. Sparks, a loud bang and him on his ass is what resulted, but he was lucky nothing worse happened. That hot bus can be very dangerous, so be especially careful.
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Old 03-11-2008, 07:05 PM   #6
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


Great guys, thanks. The guy at Home Depot helped me price things out today and I'll get some supplies there in a few days when I finally get around to calc'ing the amount of 12/2 I need. Going with a 20A breaker for good measure.

One question somewhat unrelated to my current (pun not intended!) project:
My panel is a Cutler Hammer, 4 years old. On the main manufacturer sticker on the inside of the door is a spec that says "125A MAX", yet if I look at the breakers, near the very bottom are two 100A breakers linked together. Does this mean I have 200A service, or is each of those 100A breakers wired to its individual half of the supply? I'm a bit confused, as I am more used to the + and - in car electronics, not the 3-wire system in household electrical.

Thanks.
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Old 03-11-2008, 07:29 PM   #7
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


Quote:
Originally Posted by curls00 View Post
Great guys, thanks. The guy at Home Depot helped me price things out today and I'll get some supplies there in a few days when I finally get around to calc'ing the amount of 12/2 I need. Going with a 20A breaker for good measure.

One question somewhat unrelated to my current (pun not intended!) project:
My panel is a Cutler Hammer, 4 years old. On the main manufacturer sticker on the inside of the door is a spec that says "125A MAX", yet if I look at the breakers, near the very bottom are two 100A breakers linked together. Does this mean I have 200A service, or is each of those 100A breakers wired to its individual half of the supply? I'm a bit confused, as I am more used to the + and - in car electronics, not the 3-wire system in household electrical. Thanks.
Those are 100 A double pole breakers. It isn't 200 A, because 100 A leaving on one side is the same 100 A coming back on the other side. I believe the 125 A max may mean that that is the largest "branch circuit" breaker allowed in that panel. Post the panel part number and we can tell you for sure.

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Old 03-11-2008, 10:23 PM   #8
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


Here's what I got from the breaker panel:
Cutler-Hammer Cat. No. CPM 120 SER.B
125A Max, Type 1 Enclosure
40 circuits max CSA
20 circuits max U.L.
Use only Cutler-Hammer type BR, BRAF, BD, BRD, BRH, DNPL, BT, GFCD, GFEP.
Max sum of breaker ratings per stub: 140A.

So... ?
Also, without me having to remove the inner cover yet, can you tell by those breaker codes, if I need a clip in or a bolt-in breaker to create the new circuit?

Thanks!
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:21 PM   #9
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It is a snap in breaker. Here's what the BR style breaker looks like...

http://www.laner.com/cgi-bin/wwiz.asp?wwizmstr=MVES.SEE&pid=WEB-SPECS*BR115&u=wwizmstr=MVES.SEARCH|pcat=BREAK1&pca t=BREAK1&x2=4&sku=126611

Be careful working in that panel, mind your hands and tools and what they touch.
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:34 PM   #10
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


The Cutler Hammer BR is a very common stab-in, push-in, etc. It's not a bolt-on. Usually you'll only find bolt-ons in commercial/industrial panels. The bolt-on is a BRB.

To install a stab-in breaker, turn off the main (for your first few times anyway) before you remove the inner cover. The busses will be dead, but the wire that feeds the main will still be hot. It's also unfused, so if anything touches it, it'll make a big bang. Next, find an empty space, best right next to an existing breaker, put the load end (the one with the setscrew) into the little slot at its base, then push the other end onto the bus finger. This will take some force, but not a ridiculous amount. When it's home, it'll line up with all the other breakers, and look like it belongs there, and the load end will be latched in as well. Don't forget to remove the knockout plate from the inner cover (where the new breaker will be) before you put it back on.

Rob.
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:22 AM   #11
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


awesome, thanks for the great help guys. So I'm assuming I only have 100A service even though the house is pretty new? I hear lots of talk about new homes being built with 200A service, although being a large townhome and not a single family detached home, might have something to do with this.

Cheers.
Eric
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:33 AM   #12
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


Quote:
Originally Posted by curls00 View Post
awesome, thanks for the great help guys. So I'm assuming I only have 100A service even though the house is pretty new? I hear lots of talk about new homes being built with 200A service, although being a large townhome and not a single family detached home, might have something to do with this.

Cheers.
Eric
Check out your MAIN breaker, that will tell you what your panel is rated for.
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Old 03-12-2008, 02:34 PM   #13
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


That double pole 100A IS his main breaker, isn't it?
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Old 03-12-2008, 03:22 PM   #14
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


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That double pole 100A IS his main breaker, isn't it?
That's what I thought when I looked at it last night. Quite sure it is. So a double-100 (double pole breaker) = 100A service. 2 of those double pole breakers would be 200A service?
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Old 03-12-2008, 04:30 PM   #15
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Installing new circuit in panel - DIY?


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That's what I thought when I looked at it last night. Quite sure it is. So a double-100 (double pole breaker) = 100A service. 2 of those double pole breakers would be 200A service?
Curls, a picture is worth a thousand words. Can you snap a few?

Just to be clear, do you have 1 double pole breaker (2 100AMP breakers tied together) or 2 double pole 100AMP breakers (4 total, 2 pairs tied together)?

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