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Old 10-04-2010, 04:02 PM   #1
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


So I have a full panel, the previous owner even double tapped a breaker. I would like to install a few breakers that have two in one, to alleviate this, but the neutral bar is full also, and a couple of them have two wires in the same slot on that bar.

Is there any way I can get more neutral slots? A bar extender or something? Or is running a sub panel the only option ?

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Old 10-04-2010, 04:42 PM   #2
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


A sub panel, or replace the panel to a bigger one.

As a temp fix you could "double tap" but don't actually put the two wires in the breaker, pigtail to one wire then to the breaker. Choose two circuits that tend to be low load to avoid overload. For the neutral bar I believe you can get extension bars but I'm not too familiar with those.

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Old 10-04-2010, 04:43 PM   #3
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


well.. I'm hoping to get the slim breakers so I don't have to even do what you said..

Any other suggestions? I'm hoping I can keep my box as it is
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Old 10-04-2010, 04:55 PM   #4
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


Are you in a jurisdiction that requires a permit for tinkering with the panel? If yes, I would get legal to avoid problems when selling, or when trying to make a claim on your insurance.

In my prior city, I rewired an entire house EXCEPT for the final hookup to the meter. A pro pulled the permit and inspected my work, and the city inspector was involved from Day 1. I saved a TON of money and the pro caught one mistake (but an important one).

If your full panel is like the one in my new home, then you have a bunch of circuits from a prior DIYer that only drive a fraction of their rating, and would be combined in a single circuit if a pro laid it out. My new city won't let me do any of the actual work, but I am still saving $$ by doing a proposed wiring diagram under my electrician's supervision, and once that's done I'm fishing all the cable before they come over to make the connections.

My advice: Get legal, sleep well, avoid fires, shocks, and legal or insurance problems.
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Old 10-05-2010, 09:49 AM   #5
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


I would add a subpanel. Trying to crown more wires in an already-full panel is asking for a short somewhere. Do you have room on the wall for another panel? If so, it's a pretty inexpensive project, under $100.
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Old 10-05-2010, 10:17 AM   #6
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


Do you have a combination of white and bare copper wires on the neutral bar? If you do, get a add on (additional) ground bar and move all the bare grounds to it. This will free up some terminals for neutrals.
Then write down all the panel information. You can then locate the correct tandem or slim breakers you mention. Make sure the panel is designed to accept these type breakers and where they go on the bus bar.
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:50 PM   #7
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


yeah, I've thought about a sub, (have a thread on here about it) since this panel is on the outside of the house, I would want to bring the sub into the garage, which would be a long run through the ceiling, which is full, I mean full, of blown insulation, and the cost of the wire would be kind of expensive.

There are separate ground and neutral bars. Some of the grounds are double tapped, which I'm not worried about, but some of the neurtals are also. While I know I could probably consolidate, I'm hoping to just add some more neutrals, change some single breakers to double, and call it a day. If I need to add outlets etc, I would just do it off an existing circuit.

Now.. if the bars are separated, can I extend the neutral?
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:51 PM   #8
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


I'm going to get the panel information tonight and update this thread. I know a lot of people on this forum are familiar with different types of panels
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Old 10-05-2010, 04:51 PM   #9
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


I see you're in San Diego. A quick read of this
http://www.sandiego.gov/development-...s.shtml#whatif
suggests you can still do the work even if you get legal by getting a permit, and then you'll be able to get a lot of in person help from the inspector, and not screw up your insurance or the resale of the house.
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:27 PM   #10
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


a picture of the wiring in your panel would be worth 1000 words in this discussion. You may be better off swapping out your panel for a modern 42 circuit panel. If thats what you already have then you need to add a sub panel. In many cases adding some twin breakers would be just fine. Its hard to play it by ear on this when we don't know what you have. Just take a picture of your panel with the cove off
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:50 PM   #11
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


While I don't know about the insurance part, this house has a couple things wrong with it (well.. that is what I'm trying to fix now) with the full box double tapped etc.. the former owner took extension cords, lopped off the ends and wired them to lights that run through cabinets, etc.. that didn't affect any of the resale stuff.. the only reason it even became an issue is because that stuff was blatantly visible, wires hanging out and you can see the double tapped breakers on the inspection.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:06 PM   #12
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


When you do sell, chances are you will have to sign a property disclosure form that includes a statement by you that you did no work without the required permits. That puts you in an ethical position, and if you choose to lie and then there is a problem the lie might come back to bite in a mean way.

Also, if the buyers inspector finds issues with the panel that might make trouble too. Our insurance agent came to the house to photograph the inside of the panel, and we ended up knocking several thousand off the price due to wiring issues.

But yeah, you sound smart and reasonably careful. I'm just saying its not a big deal to get a permit and then do the work yourself, so there must be some other reason to NOT get the permit.

Best of luck

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Old 10-06-2010, 02:21 PM   #13
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


I've never gotten a permit before, I don't know the process, I would actually prefer to have permitted work
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:26 PM   #14
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


Square D breakers are made for 2 wires to the breaker - same screw
Not sure about other Mfg's
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:26 PM   #15
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Panel full, was wondering what options were


Just give the building department of your town a call...

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