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Homeowner and think I've got a 100amp service but my breakers add up over 100-I'm in Illinois. Looking for advice on a couple of things and buying bulk auctioned breakers.

  1. If I have a 100amp service at my house, breakers add up to over 100-what's the max I can actually put on my service? I have maybe 1-2 slots left in my breaker panel, some of my breakers have nothing going into them. Can I put in a bunch of 60a breakers for overkill? I have GFCIs that pop when I run the microwave and hairdryer-all on the same breaker-could I separate those across multiples?
  2. There's an auction house for returns selling a bulk of Siemens breakers type D at 30a and 50a(some double pole and single) and some Connect Electric Interchangeable breakers at 20a, 30a, 40a, 60a(some single and double pole) and 1x Challenger-A 50a. These are in bulk, new and around $5 for a bulk of anywhere 4-10 in a box. Is that a good deal and would those work for my house? Can you take out a 20a and use a 50a to help stop the popping of the GFCI all daisy chained across a single breaker? box 1 box 2 box 3
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  • I would not buy safety equipment at auction, personally. You don't know if it was abused (eg submerged)...
    – keshlam
    Aug 27, 2023 at 15:21

6 Answers 6

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No you cannot put in 60 amp breakers for overkill, unless you want to kill yourself and your family.

Breakers protect the wires in the walls from burning up.

If you have 14 gauge wire in a circuit, the maximum size of the breaker you can use is 15 amps.

12 gauge is 20 amp breaker.

Quite often the breaker sizes will add up to more than the main breaker/service size, but that is because most of those breakers are not using the full amount of amps. A 20 amp breaker might only be using five or ten amps at a time. You can only use 100 amps, which is quite a bit for a normal house without electric heat or electric tankless water heaters.

Breakers from an auction might not be good, have defects, were returned for a reason. There is no guarantee they will even trip to save you.

EDIT. If a breaker or GFCI is poping then you have a problem on the circuit. It might be just using too much(making tea and toast at the same time) or there is an electrical problem in the circuit that must be found.

Challenger does not have a good name. There were some problems with the breakers not working/tripping when they should. Do not know if it also affected the breaker mentioned.

Panels should have a label on them that states what makes of breakers go in the panels. If the breaker is not listed, it cannot go into the panel. Not code/illegal.

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  • Thanks for the clarification! When you say circuit, do you mean the outlet may be faulty?
    – joshhouse
    Aug 27, 2023 at 18:11
  • @joshhouse Circuit means everything, breaker, wires, outlets/lights. Outlets are the first to check since they are easy to get at, with the power off.
    – crip659
    Aug 27, 2023 at 18:32
  • Thanks @crip659. That helps clarify things-I'll start at the GFCIs in the kitchen first and see where things go.
    – joshhouse
    Sep 6, 2023 at 18:07
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First off, the breakers will in most cases always add up to more that the main breakers.
The breakers are the circuit maximum and don't relate to the panel maximum. The breakers are sized by the wire that's run in the circuit so you can't, don't, ever change out a breaker to a larger size because the smaller one is popping... great way to start a fire.

The main panel determines and states what type of breakers can be used in it. Do not use any other breakers even if they "fit".

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The challenger breakers are dangerous. Don't use them. The Connecticut Electric are legal copies of out of production breakers and may be dangerous. Don't use them. The Siemens D are fine if they are actual Siemens (not fine other brand claiming to be compatible) and your panel lists that type. The pictured breakers are not Siemens, they are Connecticut Electric.

Bottom line is that ordinary (as opposed to GFCI or AFCI) breakers for most panels are 5 to 20 dollars each, depending on brand and single vs double and simply not worth the risk of buying any way except new and from a reputable source. And in any case you need to make sure you get exactly the right type.

As far as everything else, post a new question with a picture of your panel.

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    Chinetticut Electric have serious quality problems. Also, they love to take a $7 Siemens breaker and stick it in a blister pack and sell it as a universal breaker for $49. Aug 27, 2023 at 18:40
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Breakers/boxes need to be UL certified to pass most code inspections and/or be covered by insurance. Certification is expensive and manufacturers aren't going to pay to certify every one on the market, so they just certify their own. You have a Seimens box, you need actual Seimens manufactured and certified breakers. You have a Square D box, you use Square D breakers. Even if they are physcially identical, they have to be matched by brand.

Using mismatched breakers may be fine, but if something happens you could be out a whole lot more than the cost of the proper breaker.

Also back to your headline...not sure what you are trying to improve. You have 100 amp coming into the house. You exceed 100 amps in total at any given time and the main will blow. You want "more" you upgrade to a 200 amp box, but that's not necessary with more efficient devices these days. Also, the breaker is the weakpoint so it blows first...you replace a 15a breaker on 14 ga wire with a 20a and the wires become the weakpoint. The breaker will likely not blow before the wire starts a fire.

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Unless you have a tester for these breakers then I would avoid them.

Buying seconds of safety rquipment designed to keep you and others safe is not a good choice imho.

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You seem to have a magnetic attraction to bad ideas lol.

A normal/correct breaker costs around $7. Paying $5 a breaker for one of dubious provenance is not a good idea.

Grabbing random brand breakers and putting them in your panel is a bad idea. Your panel's labeling lists the specific models of breaker it is certified and tested for. We see lots of burnt up panels when people disregard this. So no, that Siemens breaker does not belong in your panel unless it's a Siemens or legacy panel. (Murray, ITE, Crouse Hinds, Gould).

I get it, sometimes your circuit breaker trips. That's a frustrating nuisance. But just because it's a nuisance doesn't mean it's a so-called "nuisance trip" (a hypothetical trip with no legitimate reason). You need to assume it's tripping for a good reason, and fix the reason properly. And all due respect, I don't think you have the temperament to do quality work (and certainly none of the healthy fear that motivates one to choose to do quality work), so you should probably hire all your electrical work done.

If you have GFCI breakers and they are irritating you, by all means change to GFCI receptacles. Put a GFCI receptacle at each socket, and do not use the "LOAD" terminals at all - leave the warning tape on them. That way GFCI trips stay local to that socket only. Then (and only then) change the breaker to a plain breaker.

As far as enlarging breakers, that's like the old "penny in the fuse box" trick. It destroys all the safety protection. So if you have a problem, the house just burns. This will be found, the insurance company won't pay, and you'll be left on the hook for the value of the mortgage. I don't imagine you'll want to cash out your 401K, so you'll have a bad burn on your credit report. That will preclude getting any decent mortgages, and even rentals will be hard to come by.

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