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Old 10-25-2011, 07:34 PM   #1
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Default How to connect spa panel to full breaker box?

Below is a pic of my breaker box - obviously there is not room for adding another breaker. Is there some way to connect a spa panel directly to this breaker panel?

In a previous thread I talked about running an extension cable from the laundry room (dryer outlet) to my brew shed. I realized that if I could tie the spa panel straight into the breaker panel and plug a 10/4 cable into the spa panel, it would greatly reduce the length of extension cable required to reach the brew shed. When not in use, the 10/4 cable would be rolled up and the spa panel breaker would be turned off.

This is something I'd have an electrician do (if it's possible to do). I'm reasonably knowledgeable when it comes to smaller electrical projects, but have little experience with 240v and home wiring projects. I'm not comfortable poking around in breaker panels, even with the main breaker off.


My full breaker box


Utility room where breaker box lives, and my brew shed in the background.



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Old 10-25-2011, 07:41 PM   #2
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I just hooked up a hot tub extension where I had the same problem, no breaker room.

I pulled the front panel (around the breakers) off. I was able to hook the wires to the backplane underneath the lowest breaker.

Be sure to run the correct size wire for the breaker that you are going to use. A spa breaker is 50A GFCI and requires 6 AWG wire.



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Old 10-25-2011, 08:31 PM   #3
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Just curious. Have you ever pulled the front cover off the panel? You might be surprised to find that not all breakers aren't live (i.e. wired up to a house circuit). I had a similar deal and was able to move some things around to make room for a 50A double-breaker.

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Old 10-25-2011, 08:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PLOVE View Post
Just curious. Have you ever pulled the front cover off the panel? You might be surprised to find that not all breakers aren't live (i.e. wired up to a house circuit). I had a similar deal and was able to move some things around to make room for a 50A double-breaker.
I haven't pulled the cover off - I assumed all the breakers are in use since all of them are marked as being used on the back of the panel door. I'll have to take a peak behind the panel cover when I'm home to see if all the breakers are wired up, but for now I'm thinking they are all being used.
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Old 10-25-2011, 08:45 PM   #5
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Only way to be sure is to pull the cover (or start flipping breakers and see if one fails to turn off anything obvious). I think I'd vote for option #1.

When popped the cover on my panel nearly 30% of "ON" breakers were unwired. Basically the previous owner must have decided it was cheaper to install breakers than blanks. . . go figure. The 50A I used was basically a freebie. . . Lucky me I guess.

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Old 10-25-2011, 09:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfonnes View Post
I just hooked up a hot tub extension where I had the same problem, no breaker room.

I pulled the front panel (around the breakers) off. I was able to hook the wires to the backplane underneath the lowest breaker.

Be sure to run the correct size wire for the breaker that you are going to use. A spa breaker is 50A GFCI and requires 6 AWG wire.
Not to be a downer or anything, but this is a VERY bad idea. Not only are you overloading your breaker panel but you are also risking your life and property

If there is a fault in your line to your spa panel you have NO protection what so ever and the panel will feed the fault endlessly
and if your house burns down the insurance company WILL NOT pay the claim
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Old 10-25-2011, 09:47 PM   #7
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What I would do is swap out four single pole breakers for two tandem breakers. This is what they look like:

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?client=safari&rls=en&oe=UTF-8&q=tandem+breakers&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=7500737492550389422&sa=X&ei=cyynTtu HAePu0gH_oby9Dg&ved=0CGIQ8wIwAg#ps-sellers

That will free up enough space for a two pole breaker for your spa panel.

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Old 10-25-2011, 10:12 PM   #8
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Here's a naked view of the panel, with all her private parts on display. She's definitely in full use.



The 5 lower breakers on the right are all 15 amp, so it sounds promising that I could swap out 4 of those for the 2 tandem 15 amp breakers, and then throw in a 50 amp 240 breaker at the bottom. I forgot/didn't know that the tandem breakers existed.

I think this is a viable solution on how to power my electric brewery (unless someone jumps in and tells me otherwise). I've already put together a parts list for a control panel (based on a PJ design), so now I have some incentive to start building it.

Thanks for the input!

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Old 10-25-2011, 11:32 PM   #9
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what is your service coming in? 200amp?

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Old 10-26-2011, 01:13 AM   #10
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what is your service coming in? 200amp?
The main breaker is 150 amp - it's a pretty small house (1100 sq ft), so they didn't wire it with a lot of juice.


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