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Friday, 29 March 2019 20:36

What Size Electrical Panel Do I Need?

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Cutler Hammer 100Amp 30/60 panel  Cutler Hammer 100Amp 30/60 panel

There are a couple main factors used to determine if you need a larger panel or if your existing panel will be enough.

COMMON EXISTING PANEL SIZES

First of all, figure out what size panel you have. Most homes built before 2015 will have a 100Amp 30/60 circuit electrical panel. This means that the panel can theoretically supply up to 100Amps. A 30/60 circuit panel means that you can fit 30 single breakers or 60 tandem breakers (2 breakers in one taking up only 1 space).

REASONS TO UPGRADE TO A LARGER ELECTRICAL PANEL

The 2 main reasons to upgrade to a larger electrical panel are insufficient physical space for breakers or adding something to you home that increases the electrical load above what the existing panel can supply.  

1. INSUFFICIENT ROOM IN A PANEL DUE TO ARC-FAULT BREAKERSImage: Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter Breaker vs Tandem Breaker

Due to 2015 Canadian Electrical Code changes, all general receptacle circuits now require arc-fault protection. Using Arc-fault circuit interrupter breakers instead of tandem breakers requires more space in a panel. This is because they cannot be tandem (2 circuits in 1 breaker space) and so must take up 1 whole breaker space per circuit.

From now on when any general receptacles on a circuit are switched out or circuits are added they now require these arc-fault breakers, which will take up more space. This may result in the need to upgrade a 30/60 circuit panel to a 60/120 circuit electrical panel just to fit them all in. To learn more about arc-fault protection and what it does, please visit our electrical safety page.

 

 

2. ADDING A LOAD THAT REQUIRES MORE POWER THAN THE PANEL CAN SUPPLY

Adding items that require a lot of additional power can mean that your existing panel cannot handle the load. Significant load additions, items that require more than 20Amps of power, will require a load calculation to determine if an existing panel can supply enough power. To find the load requirements of a new appliance or piece of equipment, check its nameplate or manual as shown in the photos.

Image of a Refrigerator Name Plate (left) and Manual (right) with Load Requirements Highlighted in Green

Image: Refrigerator Name Plate (left) and Manual (right) with Load Requirements Highlighted in Green

THE FOLLOWING ARE EXAMPLES OF COMMON ADDITIONS THAT MAY REQUIRE A LARGER ELECTRICAL PANEL:

GARAGE OR SHOP ADDITION

Adding a new garage or shop will likely require the addition of a garage sub-panel. The average garage electrical panel size is a 60Amp 12/24 circuit panel. In most cases, this would run the garage door opener, most small shop welders, power tools, lights and would leave room for future circuits. The addition of the following to an existing garage load may require a larger panel:

  • RESIDENTIAL ELECTRIC CAR CHARGER 15Amp-100Amp
    • The amount of power needed depends on the charger model and the rate at which you want the charger to fully charge your car.
      • Example: For an average car charger, a 240v/50Amp circuit would charge at a rate of 40km/hour. A 120v/15Amp circuit would charge at a rate of 4km/hour.
  • LARGE COMMERCIAL WELDERS - Average 50Amp
  • COMMERCIAL SAWS – Average 30Amp
  • CAR LIFTS – A Lot!

ADDITIONS TO YOUR HOME THAT MAY REQUIRE A PANEL UPGRADE.

Some additions to your home draw much more power (load) than others and may add enough additional load that an electrical panel with increased capacity is required. The following are some examples of a few common additions that may require a larger electrical panel:

  • RENOVATIONS AND BASEMENT DEVELOPMENTS – Load varies depending on development
    • For example: Adding additional circuits and appliance loads during a renovation or basement development will certainly add arc-fault breakers to your panel, as all new general receptacles will require their installation. They may also add heating or cooling loads such as AC units (30Amp), forced air heaters (average 15-20Amp) or radiant panels (average 15Amp).
  • HOT TUBS – Average 50-60Amp load
  • CONVECTION OVENS – Can be up to 60Amp load
  • TREADMILLS – Average 20Amp load

ACCURATELY CALCULATING THE ELECTRICAL LOAD IN YOUR HOME

In order to truly know the proper size of panel you will require for your home, it is best to contact an electrician to perform a load calculation. They will take into account the size of your home, including the number of circuits you already have and the current amount of load on your electrical system. They will also factor in the potential load increases associated with any new circuits, large appliances, heavy power tools, hot tubs, garage developments, etc. that you are thinking about adding.

Call the panel experts at Gentlemen Electric to help you determine what size panel you will need.

By: Gentlemen Electric

www.gentlemenelectric.com

587-333-3373

March 29, 2019

Read 603 times Last modified on Friday, 29 March 2019 22:33
Gentlemen Electric

Gentlemen Electric proudly provides quality electrical service to homes and businesses in Calgary, Okotoks and the surrounding area.  

Gentlemen Electric is an electrical contractor serving homes and businesses in Calgary, Okotoks, High River and the Foothills area.

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