Install A New Circuit Breaker

electrical breaker panel

Many home electrical projects will require you to add a new circuit breaker. A new circuit is usually necessary when adding a large appliance like a dishwasher or if you simply want more power to a room for something like a home entertainment center or extra Christmas lights. Other typical reasons for adding a circuit breaker are finishing a basement or adding power to a garage. This article teaches you how to add a circuit.

Safety: If you don't feel comfortable working with an electric panel or have a concern with any part of working with electricity you should consult a licensed electrician. You may even run all the wiring and then get an electrician to review your work before covering it up. Your local codes may require you to hire a licensed electrician.

brief how to

  • Turn the power off to the panel
  • Open the panel

tools and materials

  • Proximity tester
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • 14/2 Non metallic cable for 15 amp circuit, 12/2 Non metalic cable for 20 amp circuit
  • 15 amp breaker for 14/2 wire. 20 amp breaker for 12/2 wire
  • 1/2" Cable connector with serrated lock nut

step 1 Turn Off The Power

Turn off the main breaker that supplies power to the panel you are working in. This breaker will either be outside at the meter or at the top of the panel you are working on or at another panel that feeds the panel you are working on. Whichever way it is set up, make sure the power is shut off and double check that it is off. Use a proximity tester to verify that the circuit you are working on is actually turned off.

Step 2 Open The Panel

Open the Panel so you can assess what you will be working on.

Figure out which side you will come into the panel. Notice the knockout holes on the top, bottom and sides of the box. There are several sizes of knockout and cable connector, for a single

step 3 Feed The Cable Into The Box

Use a cable connector and knock out the same size as the cable connector. Tighten it onto the box using the serrated nut. After you get it hand tight use the hammer and flathead screwdriver to tighten it. Place the screwdriver on the large teeth and hit the screwdriver with the hammer.

Feed the new cable into the box thru the cable connector. Pull enough cable into the panel to comfortably route the wires along the sides of the panel to their respective locations. The cables in most panels are usually organized, try to follow the same cable routes as close as possible, it keeps the panel safer and easier to understand next time you have to work on it.

electrical breaker panel cable knockout

Tighten the cable clamps onto to secure the cable then cut the sheath off the cable on the inside of the panel.

step 4 Attach The Wires

Strip 1/2 inch of sheathing from the end of the black and white wires and then make the wire connections in the panel as follows:

  • Black wire goes to the screw terminal on the breaker
  • White wire goes to the neutral bus bar. The bus bar is the aluminum bar at the back of the panel. Each wire must have its own hole.
  • Ground wire will also go to the ground busbar. (The same bus bar with all the other ground wires attached to it) Each wire must have its own hole.

electrical breaker panel wire routing

electrical breaker panel

step 5 Put The Panel Back Together

  • Put the cover back on the panel.
  • Make sure that your new breaker is in the off position.
  • Turn on the breaker supplying power to the panel you are working on.
  • Make the necessary connections at the other end of your new circuit.
  • Turn on your new breaker.
  • Update the panels label card with your new circuit.

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