Tandem Breakers, A Split Decision?

By
Home Inspector with Progressive Property Resources

Tandem breakers, sometimes called split breakers, provide two separate circuits in the space of a normal sized breaker opening. Every main electrical panel has a limited number of circuit openings available. The problem that many people encounter is that when the openings are all used up and you still need to add another circuit, such as maybe a few extra outlets in the garage or a home remodel, what do you do?

You could change the main electrical panel or you could "double-tap" a breaker, but this is not an approved application and can place to much strain on a circuit resulting in overheating, the potential for loose connections and ultimately this situation can become a fire hazard.

tandem breakers

The answer that many have found is a tandem breaker. This type of breaker is the same size as any other breaker, but it has its unique differences. This breaker combines two smaller breakers built into one normal sized breaker. Each has its own breaker switch and the breaker snaps in just like a regular breaker. With this simple innovation, you can add a circuit and protect the circuit on its own dedicated line. Not necassarily an easier application, but much safer. In order to determine if your panel can receive a tandem breaker check with the panel manufacturer and review the legend in the panel. Many panels will list the type of breakers allowed and give schematics of where and how many tandem or split breakers can be used.

 

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Posted By: Randy King - Principal Inspector - Progressive Property Inspections

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Rainmaker
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Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate

I guess you would need to be careful and not pull more amps then the house service.

Feb 22, 2010 11:32 AM #1
Rainer
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Harold Miller
Miller Home Inspection - Camano Island, WA
Everett Home Inspector

Duplex, and peanut breakers are some other names. For 240 VAC apps you can also find Quad breakers. Good post! It is amazing how many times people will double tap the breakers.

Mar 09, 2010 03:12 AM #2
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