Are you installing a new furnace or stove in your house that draws about 60-Amp of power? If this is the case, install a 60-Amp breaker in your panel to control it.
Installing a 60-amp circuit breaker is relatively straightforward. Most electricians choose to wire a 60-amp breaker using 4-gauge wire for extra security, but 6-gauge wire can handle the load. Most appliances that draw a current of 60 amps are usually 240 volts and not that standard 120 volts.
Here, we look at how you can wire a 60-Amp breaker in your house or panel.
What Wire Size Is Needed for a 60-Amp Breaker?
You might be wondering about breakers, especially if you are a homeowner. For instance, you might be interested in knowing the ideal size wire for your 60-Amp breaker. The appropriate size for a 60-Amp breaker is between 6 to 4 AMG (American Wire Gauge).
Even though the size depends on several factors, these are the accepted size wires for any 60-Amp breaker.
Why Is Wire Size Important?
Getting the correct wire size is critical in any breaker due to safety. The total size wire of a breaker determines whether the conductors of the wire will handle the amperage flowing through it or not.
If the wire you install cannot handle a particular amperage, it might melt accidentally or even burn. This might cause a fire that could burn your whole house.
For the above reason, it’s essential to understand the size of wires and their actual capacity to carry amperage load. It’s common knowledge that larger and thicker wire sizes can handle higher amperage loads than smaller and thinner wires.
Thicker wire sizes can mitigate the extra heat emitted by the current flowing through the cable.
Wire Size for a 60-Ampere Breaker
As mentioned above, professionals and electricians recommend using a wire size of between 6 AWG to 4 AWG. Since almost all household wires are rated at least 600V, amperage is the only thing that matters as far as determining wire gauge is concerned.
For instance, the wire size for a 220v, 60-Amp is still between 6 AWG and 4 AWG. However, some electricians recommend that you only use 4 AWG wires to install 60-Amp breakers.
This is because the 4 AWG wires hold more amperage than the 6 AWG. A 4 AWG copper cable, for example, can comfortably hold 70 Amps of power before giving up. A 6 AWG can, on the other hand, hold about 55-Amp before giving up.
Can You Add a 60-Amp Breaker to an Existing Panel?
Sizing your subpanel to fit what you anticipate isn’t an easy thing. You’ll have to consider what the main power service offers and the available power load you’ll require.
If you already have a 200-Amp main panel supply, you’ll find no challenges incorporating a 100-Amp subpanel to feed your garage, barn, and shed.
A 60-Amp subpanel or breaker, on the other hand, can power your general use outlets and lighting in your home. However, if you only have a 60-Amp service panel and want to add a new 60-Amp subpanel, you’ll have to upgrade the main panel to allow such an addition.
Most modern homes use close to 200 Amp. This means that there isn’t the capacity to add a 100-Amp subpanel or 60-Amp breaker. You should therefore consult with a licensed contractor or electrician if you’re unsure of your subpanel size.
If you want to add a subpanel, it will help to add a 12-slot circuit breaker panel. This will offer you ample room for other general circuits and lighting.
However, if you want to add several 240V appliances, including water heaters, baseboard heaters, central air conditioning, ranges, 240V windows air conditioners, and ovens, a circuit breaker panel containing more openings may be ideal.
Subpanels offer the convenience of lessening the wiring on the circuit by locating the panel centrally. It also facilitates a drop in voltage that could result from smaller wires for long distances.
However, as per the NEC (National Electrical Code), you should comply with rules while dealing with panels and subpanels.
While dealing with a subpanel or adding a circuit breaker, remember to turn off your main power supply before starting the project. You won’t get shocked with the power off.
Remember that it only takes about 1 minute to turn off the power but only a split second to get an electrical shock and possible injuries.
Turning off the power before you start adding a breaker will also help you safeguard the appliances in your home.
Keep in mind that such a project may require you to have permits from the relevant authorities. You should also have relevant experience to manage the task. If you don’t have the experience, remember to contact a professional electrician to assist you.
How Can You Wire a 60-Amp Sub-Panel?
Wiring a 60-Amp sub panel is a straightforward task, especially when you’ve got the required electrical knowledge. However, if you lack such skills, we recommend involving a professional to help you out.
Like we have seen, the wire gauge is critical while wiring a 60-Amp sub-panel. If you apply a small wire, resistance due to current flow will cause your wires to overheat. This could translate into fires that can destroy valuables in your house.
On the other hand, using a heavy gauge wire is expensive and difficult to handle & connect. It would be problematic to oversize your wires.
Manufacturers have published charts that recommend the maximum current applicable for each wire gauge. According to the charts, you should wire a 6-gauge wire to a 55-Amp circuit. For a 60-Amp circuit, it means you should go for a 4-gauge wire.
In practice, however, you can still wire your 60-Amp breaker using a 3-conductor and 6-gauge wire since most appliances that require 60-Amp rarely draw the full 60A. However, using a 4-gauge is better.
Before you start working on the panel, remember that bus bars are energized at all times. This happens even when the main breaker is off. It, therefore, means that if you accidentally touch it even with your finger, it could be disastrous.
If you don’t have the confidence to work on the panel, don’t do it. Get a qualified electrician to help you out. If you’re confident enough to complete the task, wear protective gear to insulate yourself from shock.
All wires for a 240V circuit have three conductors, including the two hot wires (black and red) and a neutral wire with white insulation. You’ll also notice a bare-ground cable wire that doesn’t count as a conductor.
The first step will be to feed the wires into your panel. Separate these wires and strip about one inch of insulation from the end. You can follow the steps below to complete the process:
- Connect your white wire to your neutral bus. It’s the chrome one containing white wires linked to it.
- Connect your ground wire to your ground bus. The ground bus has ground wires connected to it.
- Finally, connect your red wire to any lugs on your 60-Amp breaker.
- After everything is tight and in place, position your breaker before a vacant slot and snap it in position.
What Size Breakers due Most Appliances Require?
Most major home appliances do not need a 60-Amp circuit breaker for protection. Let’s look at some of these appliances:
The electric range you use to prepare meals consumes a lot of power, although the exact wattage varies with model and brand. It also varies depending on the burner that you’re using. However, on average, a burner uses 1,500 watts per hour. If you’re using two burners, they’ll consume 3,000 watts. Most electric ranges will need a 50 amp breaker.
A wall oven uses about 1,000 to 5,000 watts. However, it depends on the temperature that you set. In most cases, medium to high temperatures can consume about 2,400 watts. Most wall ovens require a 30 to 50 amp breaker, depending on the wall oven.
A dishwasher consumes between 1,200 to 2,400 watts. On average, expect power consumption of about 1,800 watts. Dishwashers only require a 110v circuit and a 20 amp breaker.
Each refrigerator used for preserving food in your home needs to have its dedicated circuit. Modern fridges and freezers are very efficient, consuming between 100 to 400 watts.
Older fridges can consume 50% more power on average. You should also use a circuit breaker to prevent the fridge from drawing more power. Refrigerators only require a 110v circuit and a 20 amp breaker.
As we have seen above, a freezer consumes almost the same power as a fridge. They consume about 200 watts on average. However, older freezers are energy hogs and consume almost 100% more energy than energy star models.
Freezers only require a 110v circuit and a 20 amp breaker.
Cloth washing machines used for laundry consume between 400 to 1,300 watts of cos depending on style, model, and age.
Modern energy star washers consume less power compared to the older machines. However, you still have to use a breaker circuit to prevent them from drawing more power.
Washers only require a 110v circuit and a 20 amp breaker.
Using a dryer to dry your clothes after washing them consumes a lot of power. For just producing heat and spinning, dryers can consume between 1,800 to 5,000 watts.
You’ll therefore need a circuit breaker to prevent it from drawing more power than is required.
Clothes dryers require a 30 amp breaker.
Safety Considerations While Working with Circuit Breakers
Anything involving working with electricity requires that you take serious safety precautions to protect yourself and your property. Here, circuit breakers aren’t exceptions.
Circuit breakers by themselves are designed to offer safety since they prevent the flow of excess electricity to your circuit. However, you also need to take the precautions below to remain safe:
1. Turn Off All Power
Before you start working on the circuit breaker panel, ensure that you’ve turned off the power on the main breaker. This is meant to isolate the panel. You should do this even before you carry out the simplest tasks on the breaker, including inspection of worn-out circuit breakers.
2. Wear Protective Gear
Here, you need to put on PPE (personal protective equipment). This includes wearing an overall, gloves, and safety boots.
3. Select Proper Circuit Breakers
The circuit breaker that you settle for should be compatible with your existing panel. Here, you should ensure that it has matching wiring and an appropriate amperage rating. If you aren’t sure about the breaker circuit you require, approach an expert for an informed opinion.
4. Inspect Tools & New Parts
While adding or replacing a 60-Amp breaker, take time and inspect all the wires, new parts, and tools. Ensure that everything is free from damage. A quick inspection will save you a lot of time and let you know whether or not connections are working properly.
5. Note Anything That Is Still Hot
The main breaker might be off, but the main bus bar, on the other hand, is still hot. The same could be true for the conductors heading into your panel. Always take precautions and employ the right procedures and tools to get the task done.
6. Inspect Everything Before Turning On
After wiring the circuit breaker, you should approach a licensed technician to inspect the connections and parts thoroughly. Failure to do this might translate into damage to the electrical components or the entire panel.
7. Perform Regular Maintenance
Another important precaution that you should take for the safety of your breaker and appliances is regular maintenance and inspections. Always ensure that the breakers are in good condition.
Remember, breakers always get worn and old and must be replaced accordingly. You should correct any issues that you find during the inspection immediately.
Wiring a 60-Amp breaker is a straightforward task, especially if you have the required knowledge and skills. Always install a circuit breaker to prevent harming the connected appliances on the circuit.
As we have seen, the appropriate size for a 60-Amp breaker is between 6 to 4 AMG (American Wire Gauge). However, you should understand that the size might also depend on other factors.
We have also highlighted some of the appliances that require a 60-Amp breaker. Ensure that you comply with safety precautions while wiring a circuit breaker.
If you don’t know how to wire a 60-Amp breaker, contact a professional to do it for you.