Our need for electrical power is constantly expanding, and the electrical system in our homes needs to constantly change and adapt to these demands in order to provide us with the power we need. However, as you continue to add, you will eventually find that your electrical panel is full-up and out of room. Are you screwed and out of luck? What can you do to overcome this obstacle? While double-tapping a breaker will get you into power, it is extremely dangerous and against electrical code. Instead, here are a few simple tips that are code-compliant and can get you past this problem the right way.
Remove a No-Longer Used Circuit
Your panel may have a circuit breaker or two that you simply don’t use anymore. They may have been crucial in the past, but their usefulness may have dwindled as your home changed, adapted, and evolved. It’s easy to forget about these breakers—you typically don’t look at your panel all that much, so it’s not like they’re the first and foremost thing on your mind. Over time, as the thing that breaker used to control fades further into your memory, the breaker itself becomes something you just don’t think about.
Taking a quick look at your panel should reveal any breakers you might have. If you have an empty breaker, you might want to consider replacing it in order to make sure it is safe and working properly (breakers do wear out over time). Once this is done, you can wire your new circuit directly into this breaker and turn it back on.
Install a Tandem Circuit Breaker
Tandem breakers are the same thing as a normal breaker, only they are about half of the width of a standard size circuit breaker. They function exactly the same, they look the same, and they are equally safe to use. However, they manage to squeeze two breakers into the space normally occupied by a single breaker, giving you extra flexibility.
Installing one of these breakers can be tricky, and we advise having it done by a professional. However, by installing a tandem breaker, you can squeeze an extra circuit into your home’s ever-growing and expanding electrical panel without the risk of double-tapping a breaker or the frustrating of having to completely overhaul your electrical panel completely in order to expand it.
Upgrade Your Electrical Panel
Finally, arguably your best option is to completely overhaul and expand your electrical panel in order to accommodate the new circuit. This is the preferrable course of action when your electrical system is already showing signs of age, your electrical panel has reached the end of its useful lifespan, and an electrical remodel might not be too far off in your future. While the other options might still get your new circuit up and running, you might only be delaying the inevitable need to completely rebuild your electrical system from the ground up. Taking this need as an opportunity to radically improve and stabilize your electrical system by replacing your electrical panel may be the most cost-effective choice in the long term, even if it might be the most cost-heavy one upfront.
Believe it or not, upgrading your panel can also greatly improve your ability to expand and extend your electrical system further in the future. Most homes that are 25 to 30 years old simply were not built with the demands of modern home amenities in mind, such as EV chargers, pool and spa pumps, multi-zone heating and cooling, and plenty more. Your old panel and hardware might be able to get by for now, but the added strain from the extra power these components need to supply will eventually cause them to wear out. Upgrading your panel reduces this wear and tear and improves safety by replacing your panel with one that is built to withstand the current and power demands of a modern home. Likewise, many include other great features like smart connection and control as well!If your electrical panel is full, call Lightning Bug Electric at (404) 471-3847 to schedule your service and let us get your new feature hooked up properly!