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Old 01-10-2010, 10:26 AM   #1
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New circuit breaker


I am planning to install 3 recessed lights in my kitchen and would like this to be on its own circuit. I have one spot left in the box but I have never added a breaker and would like some guidance as far as the main disconnect to the box. There is no seperate main disconnect switch in this box. My house was built in 1974 and has a Cutler Hammer CH412C box. Inside there is a label which states:
'125 Amps Max
Use 60A Max breaker for
lighting section main
disconnect"
The main lighting, as labeled by the installer in 1974 is a double 40 amp circuit on the left side of the box, in the 5th and 7th slot. The 1st and 3rd slot is also a double 40 amp circuit for the range/stove. I've done some searching in this great forum and have a few questions to be certain I do this correctly.

My first question, am I safe in assuming that turning off the Main Lighting circuit is the same as a main disconnect? This circuit has two large wires going into it, one black, one red. The two large wires coming in to the box at the top are both black.

Second question, although this may be a dumb one, how can I determine what the amp service I have. Is it 40 amp because that is on the Main Lighting circuit or is it 125 amps as indicated on the label inside the box "125 amps max".

I have done wiring before, adding ceiling fans and outside outlets etc but have never added or changed a circuit breaker and am seeking some expert guidance.

I attempted to add two pictures of the box but I'm not certain I did this correctly.

Sorry this is so long but I figured the more info I can provide the better.
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:30 AM   #2
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New circuit breaker


The 2 main wires coming into the box at the top are HOT feeds
They, & anything connected to them, will ALWAYS be hot unless power is shut off BEFORE the top 2 wires

The 40a breaker only turns off power to the lighting circuits
As I recall this is called a split bus panel
Top circuits are for heavy loads - always live unless power is turned off ahead of those TOP 2 wires

Bottom is controlled by that 40a breaker

Is this the only breaker panel ?
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:36 AM   #3
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New circuit breaker


This is the only breaker panel in the house. There is a sub panel in a detached two car garage. This is fed by the 50 amp circuit on the house panel. It is the circuit on the top right, which was installed in 1997.

So what you are saying is that this panel does not have a main shut off switch and there is no way to safely add a new breaker. I'm not certain how the electrician added the 50 amp circuit in 1997 for the garage but I do know he did not have the power shut off by the utility co. so he must have done this with the panel live.
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:50 AM   #4
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New circuit breaker


There maybe a disconnect outside by the meter ?

I usually do not shut power off to the main panel when adding a breaker
Subs I do
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Old 01-10-2010, 03:17 PM   #5
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New circuit breaker


As stated above, the two lugs on the top are always hot. they are also unfused. Be careful to stay away from them.

This is most likely a split-bus panel. The two pole breakers at the top are always hot, the two pole with the black and red controls the lower half of the panel. Also known as the lighting main. The only way to completely de-energize the panel is to have the POCO disconnect the service.

If you turn the lighting main off, the bus where you'll install the new breaker will be dead. You'll know this by the fact that all the lights and receptacles in the house will be dead.

Remember though, with the lighting main off, the lugs on top will still be hot, as will the load side of the other two pole breakers.

This service is commonly called a 125 amp. Because that's the capacity of the panel. The fact that the lighting section is 40 amp doesn't matter.

Rob
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:24 PM   #6
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New circuit breaker


why do you want to run a seperate circuit for 3 can lights?
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:54 PM   #7
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New circuit breaker


Thanks for responding.
Dave, I do not have a disconnect outside by the meter.

Rob, if I am reading your reply correctly, by turning off the lighting main, this will kill power to the lower half of the box. Does that mean both sides of the box or just the left side where the main disconnect is located? The reason for asking is the the only open spot on the neutral/ground bus bar is near the top, and that is right next to the 50 amp circuit on the top right, while the space for the new breaker is at the lower right, which I assume by your response is dead.

Plummen, the reason for a seperate circuit is in addition to the three resessed lilghts, I am also going to add 2 pendant lights on the other side of the kitchen plus an outlet for an over the stove microwave with outside exhaust. Planning on a 20 amp breaker with 12/2 wiring.
I'm hoping this is all my wife wants in this remodeling project.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:06 PM   #8
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New circuit breaker


The panel pictured is a split buss panel, you have 4 mains in this panel. It looks as though the top left breaker is the shut off for the whole lower half. The top 4 breakers if you were to pull them out the bars would be hot all the time.

Correction the second down on the left, the one with the #6 black and red, the top left is your range if the panel is marked right.

Last edited by codeone; 01-11-2010 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:12 PM   #9
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New circuit breaker


.
I'm hoping this is all my wife wants in this remodeling project.[/quote]

might as well put the sub panel in now
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:24 PM   #10
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New circuit breaker


This is a 125 AMP service. Split Bus panel With your general lighting loads rated at 60 AMP.

Depending on what you are doing in the future, you would be better to change the Service out and make this a sub panel, or change this panel out and replace it with a main breaker panel.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:31 PM   #11
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New circuit breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by owen22 View Post
I'm not certain how the electrician added the 50 amp circuit in 1997 for the garage but I do know he did not have the power shut off by the utility co. so he must have done this with the panel live.
He most likely did it live, A QUALIFIED PERSON knows what to touch and what not to touch.

If you are going to add a sub panel you would need to remove the 30A on the second down on the right and move that circuit to the sub panel for the best results, thats just my opinion for what its worth.

Now if it were my house I'd pull that puppy out and replace it with a 30/40 200 amp main breaker panel. Still just my opinion.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:55 PM   #12
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New circuit breaker


If you turn the lighting main off, both halves of the lower section will be dead.

If you turn all 4 of the two pole breakers off, the only thing in the whole panel that'll still be hot are the lugs at the top.

If the neutral/ground connection is near the 50 amp two pole breaker, it'd be a good idea to turn it off. That way, the load lugs are dead. It's easy to touch the ground wire to these lugs, and it's bare.

I say this just for information because you were wondering, but every one of the pros around here would have no problem installing any breaker in that panel with the whole panel hot. But remember, we've been trained about the hazards of electricity, plus we've installed enough breakers into dead panels that we know how it's done. Very few , if any, of us installed our first breaker into a hot panel.

If you turn the 4 two pole breakers off, the only thing you'll need to be careful of is the two lugs on top. They're always hot. Be especially careful with the bare ground wire.

Rob
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:08 PM   #13
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New circuit breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by micromind View Post
If you turn the lighting main off, both halves of the lower section will be dead.

If you turn all 4 of the two pole breakers off, the only thing in the whole panel that'll still be hot are the lugs at the top.

Rob
Not just the lugs but the busbar behind the top 4 breakers.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:34 PM   #14
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New circuit breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by micromind View Post
As stated above, the two lugs on the top are always hot. they are also unfused. Be careful to stay away from them.

This is most likely a split-bus panel. The two pole breakers at the top are always hot, the two pole with the black and red controls the lower half of the panel. Also known as the lighting main. The only way to completely de-energize the panel is to have the POCO disconnect the service.

If you turn the lighting main off, the bus where you'll install the new breaker will be dead. You'll know this by the fact that all the lights and receptacles in the house will be dead.

Remember though, with the lighting main off, the lugs on top will still be hot, as will the load side of the other two pole breakers.

This service is commonly called a 125 amp. Because that's the capacity of the panel. The fact that the lighting section is 40 amp doesn't matter.

Rob
To confirm I understand.

If you turn off the breaker say three from the bottom on the left hand side, then the two breakers below it on the left hand side???

Is there a voltage test out there that you can just a breaker to see if it is dead??

I go to the home d. and Lowes and see all these different testers, anyone recommend one over another.
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:08 PM   #15
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New circuit breaker


Only if it's a split-bus panel and the breaker you turn off feeds the lower part of the panel. Otherwise, all bus extensions (the part that the breaker connects to) are hot.

Rob
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