New Panel???

Ask your electrical related questions here
Post Reply
CrazyDog5150
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:17 pm

New Panel???

Post by CrazyDog5150 » Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:25 pm

Please Help!

I need to add a water softener but the instructions state that that the softener should be on a dedicated circuit only. My current electrical panel is all filled UP. Will I need to have a new panel installed (add more breakers) prior to installing the softener, or is there another way to do this? From the way I see it, I cannot even add a sub panel as all the slots on the main are taken. Please Help!!!

User avatar
Aaron
Posts: 3414
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:03 pm
Location: St. Paul, MN

Re: New Panel???

Post by Aaron » Sun Apr 05, 2015 11:19 pm

A new panel is really the ideal choice, especially if your panel is congested with circuits. You didn't say what your existing panel capacity is, do you know what amperage your main breaker is and how many spaces are occupied? Also, does the water softener indicate in watts how much power it consumes while running? Though it's ideal to have on its own circuit, it may be just fine that it's not.

What I find in many homes is that there are dedicated circuits when there really needn't because they have a very light load--like one breaker that controls just a ceiling light and a plugin in one room. Often this circuit can be consolidated with other circuits that also have a similar light load as well. Through consolidation, you can reclaim vacant slots in your panel, and if you can free up two contiguous spaces, you can install a double-pole breaker to feed a sub-panel.

What's very important when dealing with panels is that the electrical load of your house is balanced in the panel: that all the odd-numbered circuit breakers have about the same load at any given time as the even-numbered ones. Your double-pole breakers that feed 240V branch circuits occupy an odd and even number slot you know that appliance is balanced in the panel.

User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 13052
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:58 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: New Panel???

Post by Shannon » Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:11 am

Adding a sub panel could be done as well by removing a couple circuits from the main to install double pole to run the sub and then running the removed circuits from the new sub. Be sure your existing main has enough juice to start with.
If you've found our videos or website information helpful, please considering making a donation using PayPal or pledging us on Patreon

CrazyDog5150
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:17 pm

Re: New Panel???

Post by CrazyDog5150 » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:25 pm

Thanks to both of you, I appreciate your input so very much. Our home was built in 2003 (tracked house), and the electrical panel has 20 slots, which are all occupied, at 100 amp service. I did however, do as both of you suggested and traced one of my circuits to the basement, and it has just two outlets and two lights only. My neighbor took a look (he works for our local power company as a linesman (?), and he stated that he would just run another outlet off that circuit and call it a day. The basement is unfinished, and he stated that when we update it, that the contractor will have our panel and electrical rewired anyway to accommodate the finished area. Would it cost an arm and a leg to get the service upgraded? The wiring is all up to code, so just the panel would need to be updated. Does this sound okay to you both? Again, I cannot thank you enough for your input...

PS: I have a VERY HEALTHY RESPECT for electricity, and would have an electrician change out the electrical panel. I feel fine doing circuits (adding, etc.), but an updated panel seems a little intimidating to me. My brother-in-law was fiddling around with the electrical panel in his home some years back and was electrocuted. His ring finger was amputated at his wedding ring, and he ended up with heart troubles and was never the same after that incident. And that's why I don't want to mess with the panel...

User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 13052
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:58 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: New Panel???

Post by Shannon » Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:23 pm

Ya changing a panel is not a DIY project at all! As your brother in-law found out the hard way.

That would be likely the best way to go as long as the draw on that circuit is not to much. I really do no know what a softener usually draws but I doubt it is much. It should be stated somewhere on it or in the booklet that came with it.
I shake my head when I see less than a 48 breaker panel installed in a newer home. My electrician always quotes 60's , (i think thats what they are) it really does not cost anymore $$ and that leaves you enough room for most cases. Especially now with AFCI breakers being required more. A 20 barely makes a good sub panel in most cases.
Your actual service to the house may be bigger than 100 AMP and likely is, so if you ever do the change it maybe as easy as a new meter socket and panel and your golden! In many cases 100 amp is enough anyways, at least for now. I try to get people who are building new to go to 200Amp then they should never have issues.
If you've found our videos or website information helpful, please considering making a donation using PayPal or pledging us on Patreon

CrazyDog5150
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:17 pm

Re: New Panel???

Post by CrazyDog5150 » Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:31 pm

Sounds good. Thanks so very much for your input. I will double-check the specifics on the water softener, but I agree with you that it shouldn't make too much of a load on the basement circuit. As far as the service, you are correct! It is 200 amp (my neighbor and I just looked at it). I don't understand why just a 20 either, when my job would have been so much simpler with more slots. Sometimes in life there is no rhyme or reason to the way things are. I guess we will just address it next year when we get the basement updated. Thanks again, Jase...

User avatar
Aaron
Posts: 3414
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:03 pm
Location: St. Paul, MN

Re: New Panel???

Post by Aaron » Mon Apr 06, 2015 4:10 pm

I was going to say, a 2003-built home should have 200A service. I'm very surprised a 32- or 40-slot panel wasn't installed as those larger panels often come bundled with a 200A main breaker factory installed.

Shannon, there's a 48-slot panel? The biggest I've seen is 40. At least for residential.

CrazyDog5150
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:17 pm

Re: New Panel???

Post by CrazyDog5150 » Mon Apr 06, 2015 4:44 pm

Yeah Aaron, I had it wrong, it is 200 amps. Just goes to show that I need a professional electrician to change out my panel (lol). The builder of our home seems to have cut corners in every possible way, and so it does not surprise me about the 20 breaker panel. Every homeowner in this division has complained about the builder cutting corners. The company probably sold all of the good panels, and bought these for our homes!

David40
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:17 am

Re: New Panel???

Post by David40 » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:23 pm

Whoa, what kind of a water softener are you adding?? I've installed many of them and the only electrical part is a small low voltage transformer to operate the small motor which uses practically no power at all that operates the valve . The only thing I can think of is that you may be misinterpreting the instructions. By "dedicated" I think they mean not switched, or a plug that's on all the time.

User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 13052
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:58 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: New Panel???

Post by Shannon » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:45 pm

Shannon, there's a 48-slot panel? The biggest I've seen is 40. At least for residential.[/quote]

Hmmm, I am sure they are 60s? I could be wrong.
If you've found our videos or website information helpful, please considering making a donation using PayPal or pledging us on Patreon

User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 13052
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:58 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: New Panel???

Post by Shannon » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:54 pm

this was not my original job but I have done a few renos here. They have a 84 circuit panel. Two storey home plus a basement and all the floor area is now finished and there is tons of room left. I'm sure my guy specs 60s.
Attachments
Breaker box.jpg
Breaker box.jpg (46.5 KiB) Viewed 1033 times
If you've found our videos or website information helpful, please considering making a donation using PayPal or pledging us on Patreon

CrazyDog5150
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:17 pm

Re: New Panel???

Post by CrazyDog5150 » Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:32 pm

Yep, Shannon, that's definitely the panel I need (lol)!!! That thing is outrageous.

David, I wouldn't say I misrepresented the instructions, but rather, a difference of verbiage. What the instructions are talking about is a line that will remain on all of the time as it also has a water pressure monitoring system, and reverse osmosis component as well as the softener. The instructions state that the line must be dedicated (constantly live) so that the programming/cycles will not be disrupted. This was from the instructions, not from me! I understand, I think, what you are saying though, in that when discussing "electrical work" we should be as precise as possible as it can be dangerous otherwise. What your saying though, makes me feel better about putting this system on the basement circuit, which is always live, and hasn't even tripped once. Any words of insight or advice would be appreciated from the community...

David40
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:17 am

Re: New Panel???

Post by David40 » Tue Apr 07, 2015 4:21 am

Yes, that should not be a problem. Check the transformer, if it has one, and look for the input/output specs. The output is usually expressed in Milliamps. 1000 Milliamps equals 1 Amp, or about the same current as a 120 Watt light bulb. And consider this, if it's an electronic control which it sounds like it is, the electronics that do the monitoring and control use much less than the rated output. The biggest part of the load is when the motor is cycling the valve which is very intermittent. The motor only runs for about ten seconds every time the valve needs to move to a new position. Even if it was a fully mechanical valve, where the motor runs all the time like a mechanical time clock, it is still only a negligible load so you should be OK without the need for a new circuit.

User avatar
Aaron
Posts: 3414
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:03 pm
Location: St. Paul, MN

Re: New Panel???

Post by Aaron » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:37 am

Wow! I haven't seen a panel that big in a home before. That's a monster.

Looks like it's missing a door to cover all the breaker handles.

CrazyDog5150
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:17 pm

Re: New Panel???

Post by CrazyDog5150 » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:11 am

Thanks Dave, I really appreciate your input. I am going to go over the literature in the next couple of days, and since you seem to be very knowledgeable concerning this area (water softeners), can I call on you if I have any further idiotic questions? Again, thanks for your input, Jase...

David40
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:17 am

Re: New Panel???

Post by David40 » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:17 am

Sure, just ask.
But there is one thing I should say, if you have not installed it I would consider returning it. They have some new technology water conditioners that do the same thing as a softener but don't use any salt. This means no salt to buy and no added Sodium in the water so you can still consume it. If the hardness is not real high that might be a better alternative for you.

User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 13052
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:58 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: New Panel???

Post by Shannon » Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:13 pm

Aaron wrote:Wow! I haven't seen a panel that big in a home before. That's a monster.

Looks like it's missing a door to cover all the breaker handles.

No door at all , does not seem to be an issue up here,many have no doors at all.
If you've found our videos or website information helpful, please considering making a donation using PayPal or pledging us on Patreon

User avatar
Aaron
Posts: 3414
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:03 pm
Location: St. Paul, MN

Re: New Panel???

Post by Aaron » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:15 pm

Shannon wrote:No door at all , does not seem to be an issue up here,many have no doors at all.
The one in my garage has no door, but that is a really small sub-panel with 6 slots. I wonder if the door is required by NEC if a panel has a certain number of circuits or something. I don't think I've seen any larger-size panel without a door.

Although I always have the door hanging open in my main panel in the basement, so it's moot for me. lol

Though I know some doors have latches with keys to lock them. Those are on panels in commercial buildings.

Post Reply