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electrical panel with breakers

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Initial post: Jun 15, 2012 7:23:42 AM PDT
I was told that my old OX electric panel with all the breakers needs to be replaced. My breakers keep breaking (so to speak) and they are difficult and expensive to replace. I also need more breakers--at least 40 in the panel. I was told that Square D QO is a good choice but when I look at them there are so many to choose from I have no idea what I need. Can anyone help with this? I need specific name and number. Thank you so much!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 8:38:43 AM PDT
D. Birney says:
Hi Mr Jenkins, Just some advice from a experienced home owner. First, a electrician is really needed to replace that box, (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), second, you need a 200 amp service breaker box is the "average" standard in typical homes today. If you need atleast 40 breakers, don't buy what you need in a breaker box, buy MORE, so as time goes on and you add something maybe, you already have the space for more breakers, this is thinking ahead and should ALWAYS be done when replacing a box. Simply COUNT the knockouts on the box, you more than likely want a box with 60-80 knockouts. Square D is a very common box and the breakers are gonna be cheaper for you too. A good place to buy is probably Home Depot or Lowe's, but.... a good electrician that you hire will and should be willing to supply this box at around the same cost as he is really making the money from his expensive labor cost and not the box. Hope this helps, and don't forget to have the box inspected by your local licensing and inspection electrical inspectors office in your town you live, this is a MUST for sure for safety purposes and not to "void" your home owners policy should you have a fire from "shotie" work. Hope this helps, Mr. Birney

Posted on Jun 16, 2012 6:08:49 AM PDT
A few more thoughts from an electrician's son/DIY-er who has done Square D............

If you really need 40 or so circuits, then you are into something essentially commercial..........if so, do yourself a favor and go with 200 amp service ( as suggested above). The larger "boxes" do not cost much more than the smaller ones, once you have settled on an amperage , so first pick the amps, then get a box with more "slots" than you ever think you will need.

Square D is an excellent brand. They make a homeowner's version, as sold at the big box stores. And they make a commercial version ( carries a different designation.......QO, or something like this), available at electrical supply shops. Go for the better version if possible, even though there is nothing wrong with the homeowner's caliber. The installation costs are the same.

Installing a main panel is no job for an amateur. Hire a pro, and get him to take the time to also label the circuits as they are installed.

Finally: unless you have central A/C and/or electric heat ( aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!) you probably need a lot of circuits but not necessarily 200 amps. Upgrading a 100 amp service connection/meter is expensive, and does not have to be done if what you really need are a lot of good circuits ( which will not all be on at the same time so you do not need 200 amps). Even a good 200 amp setup will trip the main breaker if ( emphasize the "if" here) all of the individual circuits are heavily loaded .......................which never happens in a normal residential situation.

Hope this helps

Posted on Jun 20, 2012 11:25:47 AM PDT
42 is the maximum # of circuits you will find in a residential 200Amp loadcenter. I would not go with square D QO or Homeline. Siemens and GE panels have more options at a lower price. I prefer siemens panels, but GE is good and very reasonably priced. If you want more than 42 spaces, you can install two panels side by side. They make a feed through kit so the subpanel shares the 200amps with the main panel. Good luck

Posted on Jun 20, 2012 4:49:11 PM PDT
Rick Blaine says:
40 circuits, thats a lot! You can (probably) break some of the load down and set up a few 30-50 amp sub-panels, say for a garage or a basement shop area. Like most commenters have said, getting 200 amp service would be the best thing that you can do immediately. All of the brands, like Square D, GE, and Siemens are known worldwide and are about equal in performance. If you find a brand that's a bit cheaper in your area, go with that one. One more thing, have you looked into the skinny half height breakers? Providing you don't need a 200 amp panel (really, talk to a pro about this) you may be able to get away with using the skinnier breakers. For every one regular size one you can replace it with 2 breakers which are half size. Something to keep in mind. Be careful and good luck!

Posted on Jun 20, 2012 5:20:34 PM PDT
Dawn Herring says:
Bill highly recommends using Square D QO, even though their breakers are twice as expensive as most other brands; they are unquestionably the best on the market for residential or light commercial application. He highly recommends having a licensed electrician do the job and have it inspected by the city.
Bill has over 30 years of electrical construction and maintenance experience.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2012 4:46:05 PM PDT
I agree QO is good quality, although the not necessarily better than anything else out there. They just have limited selection of tandem breakers and I dont think they make a quad. The failure rate of circuit breakers is pretty minimal. I've been an Electrician working mainly in the residential field for 15 years and I've dealt with all of them.

Posted on Jun 21, 2012 11:49:39 PM PDT
I think upgrading your electrical panel to a 200A panel is a good idea, but my question is: what is the squared footage of your house that you need too many circuits? taking into consideration that today's electrical applications call for more outlets and more power in general in a house, does not surprise me, But I think 40 is way too many. think about this: The National Electrical Code call for a minimun of 3 watts per squared foot.Do your math, volts times amps will give you watts. My advice to you is to get at leat 3 estimates from a licenced contractor. Don't go to Home Depot and hire a "do it all type of guy" Remenber this is your home and one should do everything possible to protect your love ones.electrical work done by unproffesional personnel can lead to fire hazard.

Posted on Jun 22, 2012 5:29:54 AM PDT
Jody says:
Several points I would like to weigh in on. 1.) This is not a DIY project. 2) I have over 15 years in facility management an over 20 years in residential construction and I would purchase the Suare D product for your needs. The breakers are available at most of the hardware stores and home center if you should need to buy replacements, the others mfgs. are not, you might need to go to an electrical supply house. 3.) A 200A panel is pretty much the standard in new home construction around here and I would strongly recommend a 200A panel. 4.) I would get the recommendations and estimates from at the very least two established electrical contractors. (In our area with the down turn in our economy there has been a lot of "I am laid-off and need to work" contractors - always willundercut establish contractors) One last word when I started in this field of buildings I learned that electrical trades were the one area one didn't want to skimp in, if for no other reason peoples lives can depend on it working properly. Hope these and the the other comments help sort this project helps you out.

Posted on Jul 2, 2012 9:39:14 AM PDT
NCF8710 says:
I also prefer Square D breakers. Besides being readily available, they also have a visual indication (red window) when they are tripped. You can tell at a glance which breaker is tripped in the panel.

Posted on Jul 2, 2012 9:47:15 PM PDT
Raymond C says:
This conversation should start with Mr. Jenkins determining what his house's load is (with an allowance for additions). Once he should determines that he will have to see if he needs to upgrade the service to his house - which will be neccessary if his old panel is 100A (or even 60A in some very old houses). There are a number of places on the web and many books on electrical projects include a page on determining the whole house load. Follow the adage that you should plan for further expansions, so don't undersize your panel, either in load or panel spaces. An odd point that rarely enters the conversation now a days is that many electrical consuming devices are becoming more efficient compared to the same products of even a few years ago: light bulbs, electronics and appliances, which will eventually drop the home load, but better to be safe. For the most part panels for home are standardized with blade/slot mount and you can choose which manufacturer of breakers you want to install. Panel kits, which include panel and some breakers, are cheaper than buying them separately.
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Discussion in:  Home Improvement forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  11
Initial post:  Jun 15, 2012
Latest post:  Jul 2, 2012

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