How to Solve the Problem of Tripping Circuit Breakers

By - Summary:

How can I fix a Tripping Circuit Breaker Problem? How to Identify the Electrical Circuit Requirements and Updating the Electrical Service.

Evaluating the Total Electrical Load and Circuit Requirements

Electrical Question: How can I fix a Tripping Circuit Breaker Problem?

At our home the main breaker box at the electric meter has two circuit breakers.

  • One circuit breaker is for the the water well and the other is for everything else, and by everything else I mean the house and my husband’s taxidermy shop.
  • We have a total of six big chest freezers, a wall air conditioner and heat unit in the shop, and a wall air conditioner unit in the house. We also have an electric stove (we are planning to switch over to gas stove) and an electric dryer.
  • So here is what is happening. If I am in the house and my husband is working in the shop and I want to run the dryer, then one of our ac units has to be off. And if I need to turn the stove on both of the ac units has to be off or the breaker at the pole trips.
  • I realize that this is running way too much stuff and that is why it is tripping the breaker.
  • What I am wondering is if we can put a new breaker box or add a breaker to the existing box so that the house and the shop are separate? Or will we have to put in a second meter in to have them separate?

Background: Sandra, a Homeowner from Canute, Oklahoma.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Sandra.

How to Identify the Electrical Circuit Problems

Lets take a close look at what your electrical requirements are and then understand what changes will need to be made to prevent tripped circuit breakers.

  • This question is a classic example of overloaded circuits and the lack of  dedicated circuits. The amperage size of the main electrical service has not been provided, but lets go ahead and look at how to fix this problem.
  • Just like planning a meal, electrical services are basically the same where we start with the end in mind. With food you need to know how many hungry mouths there will be at supper and just how big of an appetite they will have, and with electrical we need to know how many electricity hungry devices we and equipment we have so we can make sure to have enough power.
  • Make a list of all the electrical devices that will be used. Pay careful attention to the name plate information, specifically circuit requirements for the voltage  and amperage.
  • Most large equipment, such as air conditioners, electric dryers,  and electric stoves require their own dedicated circuit that will not be shared with anything else otherwise we have the problem of tripping circuit breakers.

Evaluating the Total Electrical Load

  • The required amperage size of the electrical service panel will be determined by the understanding the circuit loads that will be required.
  • We know that not everything will be ON at the same time, but we still need to factor the time of use for all of the devices, so this will have an affect on the actual size of the main electrical service.
  • Smaller homes have a 125 amp service and larger homes require a 200 amp service, but again, it depends on the end result or total connected electrical load.  The panel should be sized for the number of circuit breakers that will be required as well.

Providing the Required Circuits

The solution for the problem of overloaded circuits is to identify the electrical circuit requirements for all equipment. Identify high energy consumption devices that will need a dedicated circuit. Make sure your electrical service panel is large enough. Install the required dedicated circuit wiring to the equipment or devices.

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