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Breaker Box

  1. What could be the reason for the 2 white wires on the right center side of the box? One connects directly to the Neutral bar.

  2. Does there appear to be room to add a 240 breaker to this box? I want to provide for an electric vehicle charging station.

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    Could you get a better photo of the breaker with the white wires attached (possibly one showing the labels, and one showing where the wires actually connect)? It's possible that it's a GFCI breaker, but I can't tell for sure. – Tester101 Feb 1 '17 at 16:46
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    Looks like an arc-fault breaker to me. They have a neutral bus pigtail, and the neutral is connected to the breaker as well. – isherwood Feb 1 '17 at 17:23
  • What type of breakers are these? Look like maybe older Murray (MP-T)? They look they're all tandem/triplex breakers, except for the bottom right one which I can't figure out - is that a single breaker by itself or is it attached to the one above? I believe the top left is a triplex (singe unit with 15amp/120v + 50amp/240v + 15amp/120v) also? I am thinking if you can replace that bottom right breaker, move one of the 120V tandems to the left, then shift things around a bit you could fit in another triplex to get your new 240V plus a spare 120V -- but then your panel would be completely full. – gregmac Feb 1 '17 at 17:39
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    It's too old to be arc-fault, I suspect @Tester101 guess of GFCI breaker is correct. I actually imported the photo and enhanced the label but I still couldn't read it. – Tyson Feb 1 '17 at 18:07
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    Someone needs to explain if it is a GFCI why it doesn't have a switch. First time I have seen this. – DMoore Feb 1 '17 at 20:57
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  1. As other comments have stated, it is likely an AFCI or (more likely) a GFCI breaker. Can you determine where that circuit goes? Knowing its termination would help, since some areas, like bathrooms and laundry rooms, are more likely to validate that. Also, it's hard to tell from the picture, but the two white wires shouldn't be connected to each other at the screw terminal. If they are connected, I'm at a loss for what it could be, but if they aren't, then it's some sort of fault protection breaker. I'm a bit surprised by the lack of a test button, though.

  2. It doesn't appear that you have room for a 2-pole breaker to provide 240V for an EV charger. You would need to see the blades on both busbars to indicate room for a 2-pole breaker. In the below image, the red circle shows a blade for the left leg busbar. This is visible in your panel. You would also need the blue circle (right leg busbar) to be exposed.

Busbar Depiction

I know you didn't ask about this, but it seems like it might be a good time for a panel upgrade. You've got five 15A breakers, two 50A breakers, and five 20A breakers for branch circuits all on (what appear to be) tandem circuit breakers, but only a 100A main breaker, which is even taking up space because it's on the busbars directly instead of connected to a lug.

You might want to consider checking if you can upgrade to a larger panel, physically and electrically. Especially for EV charging, which can be a 30A or greater continuous load, you'll probably want to see about 160A service or higher. Depending on the size of the aluminum service entry wires (I can't see what size they are from the picture), you might not even need to replace those.

Something like a 16-slot, 160A (minimum on both) main breaker panel would help you future-proof your panel a bit, especially for adding EV charging capacity. Also, I was able to find a 20-slot, 200A panel with included circuit and main breakers for $150, so it won't likely cost you too much either.

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    Think big. Go 42-space or 60-space, and it doesn't really matter what the main breaker rating is if you make it a sub-panel. Having a small main panel and big sub-panel makes a lot of sense. You can fully de-energize the subpanel just by turning it off in the main panel, which makes it very safe to DIY. Migrate all your routine loads to the big sub-panel, now there's only 1 or 2 circuits still in the main panel. That makes upgrades easy/simple/cheap to hire. – Harper Feb 1 '17 at 21:36
  • @Harper is right, my suggestion was simply a minimum recommendation, but converting it to a main breaker panel feeding a subpanel can also make a lot of sense, if you have the space to do it. It does, however, require more work in rewiring than simply replacing the current main panel. – Hari Ganti Feb 1 '17 at 21:42

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