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My electrical inspector told me I have too many devices on my basement circuit. Which is accurate :)

I need 2 additional AFCI circuits for: laundry room and basement receptacles. Problem is, my panel looks pretty full, and I don't think they make AFCI breakers for my panel... inspector told me easiest way was probably to add a sub-panel.

Could you guys help me fit 2 AFCI circuits? or how to fit sub-panel for new circuits?

Some helpful details:

Main panel is ITE BL Loadcenter, 200A service. In the photos you'll see two 20A breakers switched off. They are labelled A/C, but I don't have an A/C. I haven't noticed anything missing power since switching that off. I have no idea where those wires go, so can probably use that spot.

For a sub-panel, I'd like to future proof with a 100A, but I haven't found a 100A breaker for my ITE panel. Let me know if you can find a compatible breaker!

Any alternative solution would be great too! Current setup, all on one basement circuit:

  • 8 general purpose receptacles (needs AFCI),
  • 2 general purpose light boxes (does NOT need AFCI),
  • 16 LED pot lights (does NOT need AFCI),
  • 1 receptacle for kitchen fridge (does NOT need AFCI),
  • 1 receptacle for laundry machine (needs AFCI) (and this one laundry receptacle apparently needs to be separate circuit :(

The current plan is to keep all basement lights and fridge receptacle on existing non-AFCI circuit. Then add AFCI circuits for all basement receptacles + laundry receptacle.

I think 12 devices is max. Maybe I can just add one AFCI circuit for laundry and have all 16 LED pot lights count as 1 device since they are known, low load... will have to ask inspector, but that still requires at least +1 AFCI circuit.

Photos:

enter image description here

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  • I belive you can have more than one receptacle in the "laundry area" or "laundry room" on the laundry circuit. – Ecnerwal Oct 10 '20 at 14:07
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    Wow, this panel is a wild one. It looks like it takes individual half-width breakers akin to GE's method... but, half of them are mis-phased! OP, I count 13 handle-tied breakers. 8 of which are wired up black-white, 7 of which are 20A... what is all that stuff? Note all the 20s in the middle both left and right... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 10 '20 at 14:33
  • Electric resistance heat? That's how the electric baseboard was done when I lived in that awfully expensive to heat apartment - lots of 20A tied or double breakers. – Ecnerwal Oct 10 '20 at 14:40
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    @ThreePhaseEel around 450sqft – jpx Oct 11 '20 at 4:00
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    @ThreePhaseEel I'm not picky, but yes I think right next to it will work best/easiest – jpx Oct 11 '20 at 4:06
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I think I just found a good solution!

from: https://www.diychatroom.com/threads/laundry-room-question-ontario-canada.684289/ Someone made the comment: "My preferred method is come out of a panel KO with a short run of non-flex metallic conduit to a generous 2-gang box (e.g. 120mm if you have them in CA), fit your AFCI-GFCI there"

Genius! I can use regular 15A breakers instead of the non-existent AFCI breakers. Replace the two 20A ones not being used. Use "Blank Face AFCI" devices to add AFCI before heading to basement. No more need for sub-panel!

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    You're welcome ;) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 11 '20 at 7:04
  • omg, can I put 15A receptacles on 20A circuit? I don't even need to swap out the 20A breakers for 15s. That saves me $200 and shipping delays :D ...hmm but subtract cost of 12/2 ... still up $100, perfect – jpx Oct 11 '20 at 13:36
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    Yes, 15 on 20 is an exception, but only if there are 2+ sockets in the whole circuit.. You do understand you have to use 20A wire, right... Also, PSA here, don't buy electrical gear mail order. It's heavy and low-cost (and that makes shipping a disproportionate part of total cost, yes, even on Prime, because things on Prime just have shipping built into the product price). And the supply chain is contaminated with Chinese junk, especially on Amazon because of "Marketplace"! Do curbside with your local big-box, or better, electrical supply house. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 11 '20 at 16:16
  • I'm aware, hence my mention of 12/2. Unfortunately new breakers for my panel are hard to come by and a 15A is still $100+ from the local electrical supply house :( but good PSA! – jpx Oct 11 '20 at 22:01
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The laundry is a dedicated 20 a circuit if using the NEC. There is no maximum under the code for number of receptacles in residential but there is for commercial / industrial. As for the lighting circuits 80% of the breaker size is the max load allowed for load calculations normally 600 sf / 15 amp circuit or 800 sf for a 20 amp circuit is used.

Since you know your actual led and other fixture loads you can add them up the lamp fixtures that say 60w max are calculated at 60w even if you have a 7w led in the fixture because a lamp change can happen. For the fixed led fixtures use there actual wattages.

In reality you could put all led lighting in most homes on a single 20a circuit and because of this there are major changes in industrial requirements being changed in code.

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  • I need to follow the Canadian code, specifically Ontario. My understanding: with general purpose receptacles, the load is unknown and therefore a limit of 12 devices/fixtures. – jpx Oct 11 '20 at 4:50

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