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Old 04-12-2012, 09:26 AM   #1
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Question about tandem breaker


I have new 12/2 wire running to my attic (home built 1920) on a 20amp breaker. My service is 100A and the box is older but not ancient. The only thing on the line is a couple of outlets and 2 lights. Would it be code to switch this breaker out for a tandem 15amp breaker? This would open some space for me as my box is full. Thanks.

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Old 04-12-2012, 09:46 AM   #2
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Question about tandem breaker


Outlets and lights should be on there own circuts.
A tandom breaker takes up the same room as two singles so I'm not getting how this would make more room for you in the panel.
Really need two singles not a double for what your trying to do. Doubles are used to protect a device needing 220 volts.
Some brands of panels let you install a mini breaker that would give you the room you need.

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Old 04-12-2012, 10:31 AM   #3
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Question about tandem breaker


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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Outlets and lights should be on there own circuts.
A tandom breaker takes up the same room as two singles so I'm not getting how this would make more room for you in the panel.
Really need two singles not a double for what your trying to do. Doubles are used to protect a device needing 220 volts.
Some brands of panels let you install a mini breaker that would give you the room you need.
Thanks Joe. I'll have to look into it. I probably should just upgrade my service and get a new panel at some point. The previous homeowner actually cut an extension cord to wire a pull chain from one to the other. Real safe huh! We got rid of that, the lights, and installed new wiring for outlets and recessed lights. Unfortunaley I can't run another line to have lights/outlets separated but there are only two lights on a switch and four outlets total.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:10 AM   #4
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Question about tandem breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by mjarema414 View Post
I have new 12/2 wire running to my attic (home built 1920) on a 20amp breaker. My service is 100A and the box is older but not ancient. The only thing on the line is a couple of outlets and 2 lights. Would it be code to switch this breaker out for a tandem 15amp breaker? This would open some space for me as my box is full. Thanks.
as a general the answer should be yes its safe to have 12awg wire on a 15a breaker. what you can do is post a picture of your panel and the we can help you clear up some room.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:11 AM   #5
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Question about tandem breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption
Outlets and lights should be on there own circuts.
I don't think that's an accurate statement.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:13 AM   #6
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Question about tandem breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Outlets and lights should be on there own circuts.
A tandom breaker takes up the same room as two singles so I'm not getting how this would make more room for you in the panel.
Really need two singles not a double for what your trying to do. Doubles are used to protect a device needing 220 volts.
Some brands of panels let you install a mini breaker that would give you the room you need.
joe he is talking about a tandem breaker not a double pole.
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:39 PM   #7
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Question about tandem breaker


A tandem breaker is actually two overcurrent devices in one case. These are two single pole breakers, not a double pole for a 240 circuit.

You panel may or not be listed for use with tandems, so more information is needed. Post the model number and brand.

Having receptacles separate from lighting is a design issue, not a code requirement, with certain exceptions.
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:54 PM   #8
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Question about tandem breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by mjarema414 View Post
I have new 12/2 wire running to my attic (home built 1920) on a 20amp breaker. My service is 100A and the box is older but not ancient. The only thing on the line is a couple of outlets and 2 lights. Would it be code to switch this breaker out for a tandem 15amp breaker? This would open some space for me as my box is full. Thanks.

Maybe but check the label inside the panel to see if your panel is allowed to used "tandem" breakers. There is this requirement called CTL (Circuit Total Limiting) that dictates how many breakers are permitted per panel and what type. Many panels are mechanically keyed to not accept tandem breakers to meet CTL requirements.

http://www.askcodeman.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=205

If you have space beside your panel you may want to install a small 12-16 slot sub panel beside the main panel to allow for future expansion and to avoid using non conforming "NC" breakers. I was using several tandem breakers until I learned aboiut CTL. I dropped in a sub panel and got rid of the tandem breakers just so I could be compliant. Now I have a few slots for future expansion. 16 slot panel was only around $20. feeder breaker, emt nipple, and cables all in were under $60.
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:58 PM   #9
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Question about tandem breaker


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Originally Posted by sublime2 View Post
I don't think that's an accurate statement.
in general, code does not require it but it is common practice. idea is that a heavy receptacle load won't kill the lights in a room. my house has the lights and receptacles within a given bedroom on the same circuit but the living room area has them separate. i am presently finishing my basement and will definitely be placing the lights and receptacles on separate circuits. not for code reasons but for practical reasons.
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:08 PM   #10
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Question about tandem breaker


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Originally Posted by curiousB View Post
Maybe but check the label inside the panel to see if your panel is allowed to used "tandem" breakers. There is this requirement called CTL (Circuit Total Limiting) that dictates how many breakers are permitted per panel and what type. Many panels are mechanically keyed to not accept tandem breakers to meet CTL requirements.
Following is how to decipher a Siemens Load Center
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:15 PM   #11
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Question about tandem breaker


Very helpful Hammerlane.
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:16 PM   #12
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Question about tandem breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by itsnotrequired View Post
in general, code does not require it but it is common practice.
says who?
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:56 PM   #13
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Question about tandem breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by itsnotrequired View Post
in general, code does not require it but it is common practice. idea is that a heavy receptacle load won't kill the lights in a room. my house has the lights and receptacles within a given bedroom on the same circuit but the living room area has them separate. i am presently finishing my basement and will definitely be placing the lights and receptacles on separate circuits. not for code reasons but for practical reasons.
I don't buy this logic and never have.
A) The whole "You'll be left in the dark" is bogus. There is always residual light from somewhere.
B) If you are tripping breakers you didn't wire the place properly.
My home is wired mixed and have NEVER tripped a breaker in over 20 years. No joke.

And no, this is not as common as most people make it out to be.
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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:00 PM   #14
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Question about tandem breaker


I found a good read about tandem breakers, for a Non electrician point a view it shed some light on the subject for me.
http://www.structuretech1.com/category/tandem-breakers/
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:16 PM   #15
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Question about tandem breaker


Thanks guys. Here are a few pics of my panel. The breaker I'm pointing to is the one for the finished attic which is a single 20. There are a few tandems in this panel and I was wondering if I could put a tandem 15 amp or 20 amp. So 2 circuits instead of one. The electrician I had for my new bathroom did something like this for a new exhaust fan and lights for my bath. Of course fan is on separate circuit. Or if you see where I can open up a circuit for future expansion, by all means guide me in the right direction. Thanks!

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