Your electrical panel is the brain and the heart of your electrical system. If something goes wrong, the breakers that make up your panel trip, shutting off the at-risk circuit to keep you safe. If you want to add to your electrical system, you’ll probably need to add a new circuit to do it, and you can do that by adding a new breaker into your panel. However, what if all of your breakers that are already installed are full and operating?
You aren’t necessarily out of luck or at your limit—check out our blog to learn about three ways you can still add to your electrical panel even if you don’t necessarily have an available breaker.
Install a Tandem Breaker
One of the beautiful things about circuit breakers is that their size is standardized, so any breaker will fit in a standard breaker slot. A tandem breaker is no different, but instead, it gives you two different breakers in the space that would normally be occupied by just one. That means one breaker slot can actually give you two different electrical circuits that operate independently, all with this one simple upgrade.
Tandem circuit breakers are something that should not be installed by just anyone. In fact, you should only install a tandem breaker yourself if you know what you are doing. We strongly advise leaving any sort of panel service to a trained professional unless you have experience working with breakers and have the proper tools to do the job safely. Tandem breakers are generally designed for use with lower-capacity circuits, and as such typically only come in 15 and 20-amp varieties. Therefore, you shouldn’t use them in situations that might require a higher amount of electrical current, such as 30 or even 50-amp circuits.
Add Another Breaker
In some cases, panels might be built with more breaker bays than you need, and thus you might have a few covered blanks that can house another breaker. Look toward the bottom of your electrical breaker box and see if you have any spots where it looks like a breaker might fit, but the area is covered by a thin piece of metal. If so, then you have room to expand. You might have to get out a screwdriver or other tool to pry off the metal cover, but this should expose a slot for you to install another breaker. Be careful when doing this so you don’t accidentally slip and damage one of your breakers. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to shut off your main electrical breaker at the top of the panel before prying open the new breaker bay.
Adding another circuit to your electrical panel isn’t something that should be done lightly—wiring is extremely important, and even a small mistake can cause all sorts of trouble. We strongly recommend you leave any circuit wiring to a professional to ensure that all connections are made properly and that you avoid all common mistakes and code violations.
Upgrade Your Panel
Finally, if all of your available breaker bays are full and a tandem breaker simply isn’t a feasible option, then it may be time to fully upgrade your electrical panel. Upgrading your electrical panel gives you the ability to increase the number of breakers you have installed, thus giving you the ability to grow and expand your electrical usage and safely add additional electrical connections to your home grid. With our demand for electricity increasing and many of our older homes still utilizing older panels, a full upgrade may be the perfect solution to future-proof your home!
This may also be the better choice if your panel is old, worn-out, or showing signs of damage or age. As your electrical system ages, components wear out and lose their ability to function properly. When they can no longer function properly, they can become dangerous and cause a wide variety of issues ranging from breaker tripping to electrical fires. If your home is more than 30 years old and still running on an original electrical panel, then you should reach out to a pro and find out more about a full panel replacement.Need your electrical panel replaced or a new circuit installed? You need help from the team at Service Today! Dial (651) 419-3228 to request an estimate today.