Thought I had enough space for a double breaker but then discovered that only one side is connectable? Which I’m guessing means I won’t be able to use it for a 240v dryer outlet.

This is a sub panel. Any solutions?

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  • Does the lower left breaker have wires connected to it? Are all the positions filled with a wire? The picture isn't really clear
    – JACK
    Feb 28 at 21:37
  • Most panels have equal number of breaker places for each side.
    – crip659
    Feb 28 at 21:39
  • share.icloud.com/photos/063MuS7xhxIFN66EbSVijx3Vw Lower left has two wires connected.
    – Mario
    Feb 28 at 22:02
  • Just added a different picture
    – Mario
    Feb 28 at 22:02
  • @crip659 - Looks like the panel has room for 3 double pole (?) breakers on the left and on the right. What I can't tell is whether the two poles connect to the same phase or to different phases.
    – SteveSh
    Feb 28 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


That panel comes in either a 6-space or 8-space variety.

The person who bought this panel could've bought an 8-space. Instead, they bought a 6-space and a latté.

I hope they really enjoyed that latté :)

We on here strongly recommend against panels this small, for precisely this reason. Running out of spaces is a huge annoyance that is easily avoidable by foregoing a few lattés and getting a nice big 24-space or 30-space panel. Now on a 24-space, you would just now be filling that to halfway. And that's where we want to be. Halfway empty when finished.

As things are, this panel is stuffed to the gills with double-stuff breakers. I hope it's an Eaton/Cutler hammer panel, these Eaton breakers shouldn't be in any other.

Now you can still save the day, by doing on the left side exactly what was done on the right side: using a Quadplex breaker. Note how the right side breaker is a 20A single, a 20A 2-pole and another 20A single, stacked just that way. They sell 20/30/20 quadplexes that will fit in the top 2 spaces on the left. The outer 20A singles power the things now powered by the tandem. The inner 30A powers your dryer.

The cheat to get a bigger panel

See the black plastic bus assembly and the white panel behind it? OK top center, see the see the hex head screw? There's another one at the bottom. Those two screws hold on the bus assembly - the black and white plastic, bus bars, outer metal tray, whole nine yards. 2 screws and it's literally the entire panel except for neutral bar and box.

You have 8 knockouts on the cover because Eaton uses the same cover for both their 6- and 8-space panels. If this is a recent panel, you may be able to find an 8-space panel with the exact same box number and way of attaching to the enclosure.

Buy it. Two screws to remove the bus assembly (metal tray and everything). Pop all your breakers off (don't even bother to remove the wires). Remove your 2 feeder wires. And swap the tray. Torque the lugs to spec with a torque driver. Just like that, you have an 8-space panel.

Still too darn small.

Put the 6-space bus assembly back in the new 8-space box and sell it on Craigslist as a used 6-space with a shiny new box.

The panel review that you didn't ask for

However, this panel has many, many issues. I'm not accustomed to seeing panels installed with metal conduit that are "amateur hour" to this degree.

First, being as all the breakers are Eaton, it surely must be post-2008 work and there should be separate neutral and ground. What's more, I see no markings on the feeder wires, so it must be cable. Cables without any ground haven't been made for 50 years, so where did the ground wire go? If the entire run from main to sub is inside metal conduit, and they put cable inside that conduit, that's ... not very pro, but perfectly fine. If ground is complete from main to sub, that N-G bond needs to be pulled.

You don't need a ground bar since this box has no ground WIRES at all - the heavy lifting is being done by metal conduit. That is normal in the metal conduit world.

This feeder wire appears to be 8 AWG. That is good for 40A if NM or UF cable, and 50A if any other type. That seems a bit sparse for all the loads I see here. There's really no substitute for a NEC Article 220 Load Calculation on the loads on the panel. Since you're adding a HUGE load (5500 VA) it's time to (re) do that Load Calculation per Article 220.

If it is 6 AWG wire, it is good to 55A if NM or UF type, otherwise 65A. The Load Calculation must be under that!

Thanks to the excellent photo resolution, we can see 14 AWG wire on a 20A breaker. That's no good. You need to either change the wire to #12 (not so hard in metal conduit) or change the breaker to 15A.

The red wire on a right side breaker appears to be part of a Multi-Wire Branch Circuit aka MWBC aka shared-neutral circuit. However, these are quite dangerous if phased incorrectly - the two hot wires must be on opposite phases of 240V, so there is 240V between them. Placing them on the same phase overloads the neutral. So first, the other hot wire needs to be chased down, identified, and placed on the breaker immediately below the red wire. Second, they need handle-ties between their breakers (hence placing it there). I believe Eaton makes a handle-tie for tandems like this.

And then, same MWBC issue again with the red wire on the left side. What's more, it kinda looks like the red is #14 but its partner black and white are #12. It's perfectly OK to wire a lopsided MWBC like that, but you must have any #14 wire on a 15A breaker. Maybe when you buy that 20/30/20 quadplex, make it a 15/30/15 quadplex instead.

If you don't want to correct the MWBCs, feel free to make them "not MWBCs anymore" by slapping another neutral wire in the pipe (gray is the ideal color, or simply put gray tape on both ends of a white wire). It's always easy to add wires in conduit. I recently did that myself (decommissioned some MWBCs).

You might have a third MWBC with that light blue wire. I see it going into a pipe with a black and one neutral. You are out of places to put handle-ties, so you'll need to decommission one of them. Or get a bigger panel.

  • I think I’m gonna look into switching to the 8-space one, since it does sound like better option for now.
    – Mario
    Mar 1 at 3:09
  • Thanks for all that info tho!
    – Mario
    Mar 1 at 3:10

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