How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

Can the total amps of all the breakers in an electrical panel be more than the amperage rating of the panel?

Monday, January 18, 2021

Yes, the total amps of all the breakers in a panel can exceed the amperage rating of the panel. There are a couple of reasons why this is allowed. First, every appliance and other load in a home is not turned on at the same time. And second, breakers for some appliances are rated at much more than the appliance uses when operating. A three-ton air conditioner, for example, will draw about 17 amps; but manufacturers specify a 40-amp breaker.

    An electrician can do a calculation, based on the square footage of the house and a list of the installed appliances, to determine the correct size for your main service panel, and it's typical for the total amps of all the breakers to be more than double the rating of the panel and main breaker.

    But there are a couple of other limitations on breakers installed in a panel that you can check at our blog posts What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel? and What does maximum sum of breaker ratings per stab mean in an electrical panel? Also see Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit? and What is the right size electric panel for a house?

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Here’s links to a collection of some of our other blog posts about ELECTRIC PANELS:

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong?  

What is a split bus electric panel?

When should a corroded or damaged electric panel cabinet or disconnect box be replaced? 

What is a tandem circuit breaker? 

When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

Can an electric panel be located in a closet? 

Can an electric panel be located in a bathroom? 

What is the maximum gap allowed between the front of a recessed electric panel box and the wall surface surrounding it? 

What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?

Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? 

Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?   

What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?

Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?  

Who is the manufacturer of those "bad" electric panels?

Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle? 

What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong? 

Why do some breakers in my electric panel have a "TEST" button on them?

• What do I need to know about buying a whole house surge protector? 

What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor?

• What is the maximum height you can mount an electric panel above the floor? 

• What is the code required clearance in front of an electric panel?

What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel? 

   Visit our ELECTRIC PANELS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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