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I'm removing two 30 amps breakers in my panel (the pool is gone, no need for the heater). They are tied together. (location 30 and 32 in picture)

In their place, I need to put a single 20 amps GFCI breaker. I think the model I need is the Siemens QF120 20A.

What am I supposed to fill the remaining space with? Do I need to buy some random breaker to leave unused?

Also, any typical pitfall with this plan?

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  • Think there are small pieces/plates that will cover the hole left by a missing breaker for most panels(maybe universal fit), or use a random breaker that is for that panel.
    – crip659
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 22:46

2 Answers 2

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You can buy blank cover plates, but they're flimsy and hard to find, and cost near as much as a breaker.

First, search your panel for breakers that do not belong there.

For instance I see a couple of Eaton/Cutler Hammer BR's that have no business in a Siemens panel. (now look close, if they are "CL type" with the distinctive circular "UL-Classified" logo, then they're fine.)

See the beveled On/Off label that all Murray and Siemens breakers should have? That's your spotter's guide.

So step 1 is replacing all the aliens with the correct breakers. Generally just remove the "BR" from the model number and change it to "Q" for instance.

Second, don't double-tap breakers unless their labeling says that's OK.

See the Eaton/Cutler Hammer BR115 right below? Double-tapped. I don't believe Eaton/Cutler breakers approve that. I don't believe the proper Siemens QP breakers do either.

So that double-tap will need to be pigtailed.

Sorry, I know you weren't asking for a general panel review, but that is glaring and dangerous. That's how you burn up breakers. (that and alien breakers). Oh, also, see the red wire marked with white tape? Not legal to re-mark a hot wire to be neutral, so that should be cleared up.

Also, sorry can't resist... the Cutler Hammer BR's appear to have red wires on them, which suggests two multi-wire branch circuits (aka MWBC or shared neutral) are sharing that breaker. MWBCs need handle ties. So double check they are MWBCs, and if so, instead of replacing with two Q115s, maybe use a Q215 which provides the handle tie gratis.

When you're done stomping out aliens...

you'll have some breakers left over that you can use for an empty hole filler.

Yes, I know the above method is more complicated than just buying a $6 breaker, but this corrects problems in your panel instead of leaving them to fester.

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  • The panel review is appreciated! Bought UL (and CSA) listed Siemens breakers. Will have it all fixed soon. (the red wires are not MWBC, but rather a weird setup by someone else. They wil go too :-))
    – Jeffrey
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 14:53
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Here is a direct answer to your question:

How do I fill the space in a breaker panel, when replacing two tied breakers

Siemens makes those breaker covers, so does Square D, and Eaton.

They are made sturdy to withstand normal use, and you can get them at very low cost. (~$1.50 a pice)

Example: Siemens ECQF3P 1 in. Load Center Filler Plates

covers

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    These do exist, but they are terrible. If they have to be located anywhere other than the very bottom of the deadfront, they are pretty much guaranteed to slide all they way down to the bottom every time you take the deadfront off. Spend a few extra bucks on a real breaker and you'll be so much less frustrated.
    – nobody
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 1:25
  • @nobody the one I used are snap in and do not slide
    – Traveler
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 2:00

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