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So I'm curious why this panel is configured in such a way that although there are positions on the panel for 4 additional breakers, the hot bus bars do not extend far enough down to actually make use of those remaining 4 circuits/breaker positions.

If you look at the pictures with the panel cover on you will see open spots 17,18,19 and 20 - however with the panel cover off the hot bus bars do not extend far enough so breakers in those positions (17,18,19,20) could make contact.

The plastic backing behind the hot bus bars extends far enough, however the actual metal bars do not extend beyond position 15/16 on the panel. This panel was installed by an electrician when the house was built.

Is this normal or are the bus bars not correct for the panel enclosure?

Thanks

panel cover showing 17-20 open bus hot bars not long enough

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You have a 16 space panel and you want the benefits of a 20 space panel.

Unfortunately you or the last guy did not pay for a 20 space panel.

This is the classic "HELP, I (or the last guy) chintzed out on panel spaces and now I'm out of spaces" problem that we deal with around here every week.

The 16 and 20 panels use the same cover/lid, because why have two different models of lid when one will suffice.

Since it appears to be a subpanel you can fully de-energize from another location... If you're lucky and the panel is still current product, you may be able to actually buy the 20-space version of this panel, pop the breakers off, and swap the bus assemblies (basically everything that isn't the box and ground bars) and lid.

However if that isn't going to work, your best bet is to replace the subpanel with the subpanel that should have been bought. I see 23 circuits and you should really get out of the tandem business, and I like to finish a project with 60% of spaces still free... that would be a - ah, you know what, just get a 40 or 42-space panel. That'll be fine. That'll let you de-tandem and leave you 17-19 spaces for upgrades. Good enough.

HOMeline is the el cheapo brand, you can stay with that and re-use your breakers (particularly those costly AFCI breakers)... However if you went with the upscale QO or Eaton CH lines, those panels are somewhat more compact, and fit 4 breakers in the space of 3. There's also something to be said with using the same brand as other panels in the house.

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  • that makes sense with the 16/20 using the same cover. it was new construction, I wasn't given the option of equipment to use and I didn't know any better at the time. Builders will use the cheapest options though. eventually I'd like to upgrade service as well, because the home builder only gave me 100amp from the main panel outside to that panel inside which is split for my whole house. Obviously I can't simply upgrade the panel to 200amp as the wire feeding it is only 2awg off a 100amp breaker outside. what is your reason behind disliking the tandem breakers?
    – mikeyut
    Jun 17 at 20:28
  • @mikeyut Well if it's recent construction, you might be able to find the 20 space version of that panel. Trick is, no need to remove the wires from the breakers, just let them dangle. Supply lugs, neutral wires, 3 screws and the whole thing pops off. The problem with tandems is they lock you out of AFCI, GFCI, and a bunch of new breaker tech that is coming up the pipeline. Imagine being able to add a 60A EV charger on a 100A service! But that new tech is bulky. Jun 17 at 20:31
  • @harper-reinstate-ukraine thanks for the info, I'll have to check around and see if I can find a 20 space version. I would like to eventually get an EV and a charger, maybe even solar, but it seems like I'll need to upgrade service and the panel especially if I ever get around to finishing the basement which will need even more breakers/circuits. I've had a bit of trouble with my GFCI and AFCI, I understand those are both for safety but I have some devices/appliances that just do not play nicely with GFCI/AFCI.
    – mikeyut
    Jun 17 at 20:40
  • It looks like if I wanted to go even more into the tandem life I could get a couple quad tandem breakers to replace those 30 amp breakers lol homedepot.com/p/…
    – mikeyut
    Jun 17 at 20:43
  • Assuming the panel has a 125A bus, you should be OK for 50A of solar which is a lot. The EV could happen at 50-60A with the smart tech I was referring to, possibly more if the solar is producing. But the 240V breakers will need to be "smart tech" so full size. Jun 17 at 20:54

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