DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum > DIY Home Improvement > Electrical and Wiring > I keep tripping my breakers...




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Old 07-04-2009, 02:27 PM  
jmkost82
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Default I keep tripping my breakers...

I just moved into a house with a 100 amp service panal and I have already found out that an upgrade is needed very badly. I want to know if the 150 amp or the 200 amp would be the best option. The house is not huge (1600 sq ft), and I will not be adding on to it, it is simply a starter house that I would like to make presetable and livable.

I am so confused when it comes to electricty and power usage, I really can't follow along when others who are knowledgable tell me what is going on........

I am big into aquariums and I have one that requires about 300 watts of power between the lights, filter, heater and other aspects. Will this be possible to run in my house without tripping the breakers? Before I have upgraded the service panal, I have been tripping the breakers by running the tv, toaster and coffee maker at the same time!

If anybody can help this new and frustrated homewoner, it would mean alot



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Old 07-04-2009, 03:18 PM  
dakuda
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I am not an electrician, but pretend on weekends. However, I don't know about your circuit problem. Sounds like you are overloading the breaker.

I can comment on if you should go to 150 or 200. My suggestion is 200 amp. The price difference in materials is minimal, and it gives you much more flexibility.



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Old 07-04-2009, 04:19 PM  
kok328
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Your aquarium setup requires 2.5amps. You most likely plugged into a 15amp circuit that is maxed out when running the tv, toaster and coffee maker. Try plugging your aquarium into a different outlet known not to be on the kitchen circuit. If you can amp-probe the kitchen circuit with the tv, toaster and coffee maker running, see how many amps are being pulled. If the amp meter shows less than 12 amps, try replacing the breaker as it could be just a weak breaker.

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Old 07-05-2009, 08:51 AM  
speedy petey
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First off, a service upgrade WILL NOT help with breakers tripping or branch circuit problems...UNLESS there are circuits doubled up on breakers in the panel.

If you say a TV and kitchen items are tripping breakers then you have a house that is wired pretty poorly. That, or it's very old where many rooms were wired together including the kitchen and bathroom. Kitchen or bathroom receptacles should not be wired with other rooms.

Many times two items in the kitchen will trip a breaker regardless of how new it is or how well it is wired. Two 1500 watt items will be 3000 watts, or 25 amps. A 20A breaker will hold for a very long time at 25A but will trip eventually.

You many not need a service upgrade right now, but it certainly does sound like you need a few circuits run.

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Old 07-06-2009, 06:05 AM  
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I had the same problem in my den wherein having the VCR, TV, and lamps on together with a portable electric heater was too much. The only practible fix for that was running a separate line supplying the heater. Many years ago when working with an electrician friend we wired rooms each with two separate feeds plus the lighting. This, of course, was more costly but has come to be well worth the investment. In this Hi-Tech age, though, this sort of expansive design is a necessity and not overkill.

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Old 08-01-2009, 09:01 AM  
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First make sure you understand which outlets and lighting are on which branch circuit. Look at the circuit breaker and write down the size of the breaker - 10amp, 15 amp or 20 amp most likely. Make a list so you don't get confused. Add up the total number of watts of usage for each circuit, i.e. 60 watt bulb + toaster rating + aquarium + etc.... You will find the wattage on each device's label. Divide the number of watts by 120 (volts) to get your amperage draw of the circuit. Any circuit breaker should only be loaded to 80% of it's rating. A 15 amp circuit should not draw any more than 1440 watts (15amps x 80% x 120 volts). A 20 amp circuit should not draw any more than 1920 watts (20amps x 80% x 120 volts). As pointed out earlier in a posting, it is possible that you have a weak breaker (or loose wiring) but do the above work to understand your power usage first. Also as pointed out earlier, an upgrade to a 150 or 200 service will not help if your primarly problem is in the loads you are placing on the branch circuits. If you do choose an upgrade, go with the 200 amp service if you believe it is affordable (but do your above homework first!)

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Old 08-01-2009, 08:02 PM  
speedy petey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JALEXED2 View Post
Add up the total number of watts of usage for each circuit, i.e. 60 watt bulb + toaster rating + aquarium + etc.... You will find the wattage on each device's label. Divide the number of watts by 120 (volts) to get your amperage draw of the circuit. Any circuit breaker should only be loaded to 80% of it's rating. A 15 amp circuit should not draw any more than 1440 watts (15amps x 80% x 120 volts). A 20 amp circuit should not draw any more than 1920 watts (20amps x 80% x 120 volts).
A) Counting up the wattage of what's on the circuit is NOT an accurate way of gauging the circuit's load. Remember, not everything will be on at the same time.

B) Where did you get the idea that no general use circuit should be loaded more than 80%??? This is certainly not true.
This only applies to continuous loads and certain specific installations, such as a water heater or fixed electric heat.
Very little else in a residence is considered a continuous load.


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