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Commonly referred to as a breaker panel, an electric panel houses circuit breaker switches. These panels come in different capacities. In this case, our focus is on a 100-amp panel. How many circuit breakers should be housed in this electric panel?
Read on as we guide you on the exact number of breakers that you should put in a 100-Amp electric panel.
Overview of 100-Amp Service Panel
Before we even look at the number of circuit breakers, let’s have a brief overview on the 100-Amp panel. It is the most common type of electric service panel box that is found n most households. This is further cemented by the NEC rules that define 100 amp as the minimum amperage for the service panels.
A 100 amp panel is capable of serving the electrical needs of most household appliances. All the electrical appliances rated 240 volts will be adequately served by a 100-Amp service panel box.
The 100-Amp panel has a number of circuit breaker switches housed inside. These circuit breaker switches are also known as electrical fuse boxes, or circuit breakers.
Different types of electrical appliances are commonly found in the homes and commercial buildings. These appliances include:
– Electric Stoves
– Electric Ovens
– Iron and ironing boards
As these appliances are rated to a certain amperage, they are all intended to be safely connected to the electric service panel. Some of these circuit breakers have a very high amperage. For example, the dryer circuit breaker has an amperage of 120 amps. This is much higher than the usual 60 amps found in most household electrical panels.
Only the above list is considered to be 100 amp rated. The excess load on the appliance is generally not met by the 100-Amp panel box. This is because it is generally accepted that a household will have more than one appliance connected to their service panel box which results in an excess load on the panel box.
How many breakers?
Now back to our focus, how many circuit breakers should be housed in a 100-amp electric service panel?
A typical 100-Amp service panel is likely to have 20 circuits. And each circuit should have 1 breaker. So, in total, we will have 20 full-sized circuit breakers in a 100 amp panel.
However, the number of circuit breakers in this panel can be as high as 32. It all depends on how you have designed the circuit. Some designs tend to allow more breakers than the defined number.
Like in most cases, the number of breakers on a panel is also restricted by the NEC (National Electric Code). The NEC number of breakers allowed on a panel is generally between 20 and 42.
Numbers based on the type of breaker
When it comes to the size of the breakers, there are two sub-categories: standard and small size. The NEC allows for both types of breakers to be installed in a panel. However, for a panel to be considered 100-amp rated, all 20 circuit breakers must be full-sized (standard) size.
This is because these are the ones that will have the maximum load on them and thus need to have enough capacity to handle that load.
In most cases however, it is recommended that you stick with standard sized circuit breakers only as they will provide more protection and can handle higher loads better than smaller-sized ones can do so at lower loads since they are designed for higher loads rather than lower loads like small sized circuit breakers are designed for (the smaller sizes usually allow for more circuits with fewer breaker sizes).
The electrical load capacity of 100-Amp panel
Load capacity is defined as the maximum current that a circuit can handle. For example, a 100-amp panel is capable of handling a maximum of 100 amps.
Assuming that the panel is connected to a 240 power source, the load capacity of this panel will be 24,000 watts.
Why is this information relevant?
Well, it is important because if the panel is overloaded, it will not be able to handle all the load it has, and thus will trip out.
Therefore, you need to make sure that the panel has sufficient capacity to handle the maximum load you are going to put on it.
For example, if you plan on putting a 100-amp breaker in your panel (for a total of 20 circuits), then your 100-amp breaker needs to be large enough to handle the maximum current that your panel can handle.
You might think that since this is a large amount of current for just one circuit, why would I need more than one circuit?
Well, if this breaker were smaller sized and was just used for a single circuit only, then it would not have enough capacity to handle all of the load from just one circuit.
Another reason why having multiple circuits connected with larger breakers gives better protection against overloads is that by having more circuits each with their own larger breakers means that they can share their respective breaker’s capacity.
Can I add a subpanel to a 100 amp panel?
Yes, this can be an ideal option if you want to upgrade your 100-amps service panel box.
If you have a 100-amp panel and want to add a subpanel, then you will need to replace your existing panel with one that has the appropriate capacity for the additional circuits in your building.
If you do have a 100-amp service panel box, but only want to add a few more circuits, then you may be able to keep your existing box and just add an additional sub panel.
Buy quality circuit breakers for your 100 amps panel
Even after knowing the numbers, ensure that you get high-quality circuit breakers for your 100-Amps electric service panel. Doing this will ensure that the breakers will not be prone to overloading and will also ensure that they are safer.
You can buy the circuit breakers from reputable manufacturers in China or through a sourcing agent such as ICRFQ.
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