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Old 08-15-2010, 09:33 PM   #1
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Renovating basement, main too full: sub panel plan, OK?


I'm renovating my basement (improving ~600 sq ft, remaining 600sf is unimproved). Renovated space will be living space: no bedroom, bar, or bathroom (for now). House is in VA

My load plan for the basement includes power for improved and unimproved space
  1. 20A Power tools; table saw
  2. 15A-AFCI General lighting and outlets
  3. 15A-AFCI General lighting and outlets and smokes
  4. 20A outlet for fridge and freezer (2 appliances)
  5. 20A Outlets for AV components (amplifier, TV, cable box, game consoles)
  6. 20-GFI Bathroom (future renovation project)
Circuits 2 and 3 will need to power a total of around 20 light fixtures (recessed cans - 75W max) and 15 outlets for the improved space. Nothing special for the outlets.

Will a 60A sub-panel suffice for all this?

200A main panel is garage is very full (see photo). Reds/blue are 20 and 15A breakers respectively. Breaker
#16 is inoperative. According to a full-house load analysis I did, I have capacity to add additional circuits (if I find the space for breakers). I am pretty sure I can snake within walls some cable from main to basement (around 60 ft). According to what I've read 6/3NM wire OK for up to 55W (and served from 60A breaker in the main panelboard). Should I go ahead and pull something like 4/3 wire just to be safe?

I plan to rearrange the main to free up space for a 60A DP breaker to feed the sub by
a) replacing the GFCI breaker with GFCI receptacles and putting in another tandem breaker in its place (new breakers 1A and 1B),
b) remove circuit 19 (to be run from sub)
c) move load on 17 to 19
d) move load on 15 to 1B
e) remove circuit 14 (to be run from sub)
f) install 60A DP breaker in slots 14-17

When I remove a circuit from main that will be run from the sub panel,
can I simply pull them from main box and cap them?

Thanks for any feedback and advice
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:12 AM   #2
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Renovating basement, main too full: sub panel plan, OK?


I would go ahead and do as you described.

But, check first to see how many breakers are allowed in the panel. For this we go by counting the breaker handles where two handles tied together count as two. Not breaker units.

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Old 08-16-2010, 08:01 PM   #3
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Renovating basement, main too full: sub panel plan, OK?


Thanks for the feedback.

I could not find a model number for my Bryant panel box (house originally built 1978). Below is close-up of main panel interior. I am currently using 27 circuits (poles), and all of these are connected to the the neutral bus - doesn't appear to be any doubling up.

My plans would reduce circuit number to 26 (!).

I understand there is concern about number of circuits in the main. Am I subject to failing inspection for basement subpanel installation if I don't reduce the number of circuits in the main? Could I further reduce main load and number of circuits by incorporating more circuits into my basement subpanel? The water heater is in the basement....would it help to increase sub capacity to 100A and move 30A DP circuit for the water heater from main to the basement sub panel? That would further reduce number of circuits in main by two - doesn't seem like a significant improvement!
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:15 AM   #4
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Renovating basement, main too full: sub panel plan, OK?


Your panel looks very similar to my Bryant panel, "Issue A-8,822." I didn't think my panel was that new but my house was extensively renovated in 1979. Mine doesn't have any half breakers though.

I think your plan sounds fine. I would suggest moving the water heater to the basement subpanel and putting in 100A. This would save you the trouble of moving all those other circuits and you could (maybe) use the water heater cable to pull the subpanel cable. Plus the new breaker could then go in that spot.

>"When I remove a circuit from main that will be run from the sub panel, can I simply pull them from main box and cap them?"
Yes, but I think you are required to remove as much of the "dead" wire as possible. But, note that you are not required to move all the basement circuits to the subpanel. You can still feed some or all of them from the main panel. Maybe you wouldn't need 100A in that case. (Of course, run this by your inspector too.)

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Old 08-17-2010, 09:26 AM   #5
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Renovating basement, main too full: sub panel plan, OK?


If I need to move breakers out of a panel to install a breaker for a subpanel I do not move the larger loads to the new panel. IMO they should be left in the panel with the most capacity.

Does your hot buss continue past the breakers?
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:01 PM   #6
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Renovating basement, main too full: sub panel plan, OK?


If I understand the question, the hot bus does not extend beyond the breakers (see below -ignore spare breakers stacked in the bottom of the box).

In summary, you're saying to stick with original (and easier) plan of a 60A sub.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:32 PM   #7
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Renovating basement, main too full: sub panel plan, OK?


You understood the question. With the extra knockouts in the cover I thought you still may have had space to add extra circuits.

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