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ChrisS

New breakers or new sub panel?

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Hi all,

We currently have a 1980's electrical panel that is full and we are updating our kitchen and of course we need more circuits than there are currently as we have the following outlets, all with new wiring.

  • Fridge - dedicated
  • Microwave - Dedicated
  • Dishwasher - Dedicated
  • Kettle - dedicated
  • Toaster - dedicated
  • 4 outlets on one other circuit.


So I need 6 circuits, there are currently 3 double 15amp breakers for the kitchen.

We can't afford a new electrical panel at this time as we've been quoted $4000-$5000.

So we have two options.

Option A
Replace the 3 double breakers with 6 single 15 amp breakers, they are $40 each (so $240)

Option B
Add a new sub panel for 6 circuits and put a double 40 amp breaker in the old panel and run all new 6 circuits from the sub panel

Option C?
Or is there another solution, that you'd recommend?



 

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Curious, what brand of electrical panel is currently installed?

How is 6 of 1 more than 3 of 2 each?

Edited by Marc

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CEB Limited board - BC24100

The outlets in the kitchen have 2 live wires and one negative wire.  So the double breaker takes two live wires to each circuit (14/3 wire).  The top of a (double) outlet has one live wire and the bottom of the outlet has the other live and they share the negative wire.

I believe it's a strange old way to wire these sockets

This is the current configuration- numbers are the position on the board

1 and 3 have a double 15amp breaker - two hot wires to one outlet
5 and 7 have a double 15amp breaker - two hot wires to one outlet
9 and 11 have a double 15amp breaker - two hot wires to one outlet

Option A - I would replace these with

1 - Single 15amp breaker with one hot wire (new wires)
3 - Single 15amp breaker with one hot wire (new wires)
5- Single 15amp breaker with one hot wire (new wires)
7 - Single 15amp breaker with one hot wire (new wires)
9 - Single 15amp breaker with one hot wire (new wires)
11 - Single 15amp breaker with one hot wire (new wires)

Option B - I would replace these with

1 and 3 have a new double 40amp breaker - two hot wires to a new sub panel
 and then leave (new wires)
5 and 7 having a double 15amp breaker - two hot wires to one outlet
9 and 11 having a double 15amp breaker - two hot wires to one outlet

Edited by ChrisS
wrong amp on sub panel breaker

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It's call a multi-wire circuit. Each hot wire on a multi-wire circuit is fully rated for 15 amps.  Replacing them with 6 single breakers will not bring more ampacity into the kitchen.

If you need more power, replace one multi-wire breaker with a 240 volt breaker with a higher amperage and use it to power a new sub-panel.  Sub-panels need 4-wire service: two hot wires, a neutral and an equipment grounding conductor.

Let a licensed electrician do it.  There's so many things that can go wrong.  You want this done right the very first time.

Edited by Marc

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Check with the local authority as to whether this work you are doing requires an electrical inspection. There is more to it if that is the case.

If you need to bring the wiring up to the modern code requirements, then outlets either side of the sink need GFCI protection. Also it is a safety improvement. The best way to do this is to convert the 15 amp split duplex outlets to single 20 amp GFCI outlets. Yes, new wiring needs to be installed in the walls from the panel, but it frees up space in the panel.

Also the new rules in your area may allow adjacent outlets on the same breaker - then one single 20 amp breaker supplies both outlets and a couple of the others.

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Can you take a pic of your panel and post it. It may be possible to install some tandem breakers to free  up breaker space in panel. Also make sure all circuits in panel are in use. 

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