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How many circuit breakers can I add to my electrical panel?
Friday, June 24, 2022
The number of breakers you can add to a panel is equal to the number of unused slots visible at the front of the panel box. So the panel shown above can handle three additional 120-volt breakers. That’s the simple answer. But if you need to add more circuits than you have available slots, it gets a little complicated.
There are breakers made half-height, so that two circuits will fit in one open slot, called tandem breakers. You can also replace an existing breaker with a tandem and get one additional breaker in each location in a full panel. Some panel manufacturers do not allow tandems, others only allow them in a limited number of locations, and some permit them anywhere in the panel. To learn more about this option, go to our articles What is a tandem circuit breaker? and What is a CTL breaker?
There is also a limitation of the total number of breakers that the panel is rated for by the manufacturer, which you can find on the data sticker at the inside of the panel door. What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel? covers the details of this issue.
And you should only add new breakers in a panel that are produced by the same manufacturer specifically for the panel, or ones by another manufacturer that have been UL-approved for installation in your panel. Just because they fit snap onto the bus bar and fill the slot neatly does not mean they are safe and will function properly. For more on this, go to Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit?
There's one other option, although it can get expensive: have an electrician install a subpanel connected to the existing panel. It will need two slots in your existing panel, but allow you plenty of additional circuits.
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