There will come a time when you need to do some electrical work. Maybe you are adding on to your house and need to add new circuits, or perhaps you are replacing an old breaker panel. No matter what the project is, knowing how to wire a 60-amp breaker is essential. This blog post will teach you everything you need to know about wiring a 60-amp breaker. We will walk through:
- What wire size you need for a 60 amp breaker?
- Does a 60 amp breaker require a new subpanel?
- How to install the 60 amp breaker?
Installing a 60-amp double pole 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 can’t handle the amperage, it might melt accidentally or even burn, causing a fire.
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, licensed electricians recommend using a wire size of between 6 AWG to 4 AWG. If you intend to use aluminum wire, you’ll need to go up in size. 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 only using 4 AWG wires to install 60-Amp breakers.
4 AWG wire holds more amperage than the 6 AWG. A 4 AWG copper wire, for example, can comfortably have 70 Amps of power before giving up. A 6 AWG can, on the other hand, have about 55-Amp before giving up.
Can You Add a 60-Amp Breaker to an Existing Panel?
Sizing your subpanel to fit your needs can be tricky. You’ll have to consider what the power source offers and the available power load you’ll require.
If you already have a 200-Amp panel, you’ll find no challenges incorporating a 100-Amp subpanel to feed your detached 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 a 200 Amp panel. Depending on your electrical panel, you might not have the available capacity to add a 60-Amp breaker. You may need to install a 100-Amp subpanel to house your new 60-Amp breaker. Therefore, you should 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 add a 12-slot circuit breaker panel, so you’ll have room for other general electrical circuits.
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 200-amp subpanel containing more openings may be ideal.
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.
Remember that such a project may need an electrical permit. You should also have relevant experience to manage the task. If you don’t have the experience, remember to contact a licensed 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 and trip.
On the other hand, using a heavy gauge wire is expensive and difficult to handle & connect. It would be problematic to oversize your wires.
Ampacity charts that recommend the maximum current applicable for each wire gauge. While you could use a 6-gauge wire to a 60-Amp circuit breaker, a 4-gauge wire would be better. For a 60-Amp circuit breaker, you should use a 4-gauge wire.
|Maximum Ampacity||American Wire Gauge (AWG)|
A 60-amp breaker can handle an electrical current amp load of 125% before it trips. So, for instance, a 60-amp breaker will trip if it exceeds 75 amps. A 60-Amp breaker on a furnace, for example, will have a running amperage lower than 60-amps and only surges close to 60-amps on startup.
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. Be sure to turn off the main disconnect ahead of where you’ll be working and verify the bus bar is off using a voltage detector.
Don’t do it if you don’t have the confidence to work on the electric panel. Get a qualified electrician to help you out. If you’re confident enough to complete the task, wear protective gloves and rubber sole shoes to insulate yourself from shock if working inside a live electrical panel.
All wires for a 240V circuit have three conductors, including the two hot wires (black and red), a neutral wire with white insulation, and a ground wire. 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 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 with a 12-gauge wire.
Each refrigerator used to preserve food in your home needs 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. It would be best to use a circuit breaker to prevent the refrigerator 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, consuming about 200 watts on average. However, older freezers are energy hogs and consume practically 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.
A dryer consumes a lot of electricity. Dryers can consume between 1,800 to 5,000 watts for just producing heat and spinning.
Therefore, you’ll need a circuit breaker to prevent it from drawing more power than is required.
Clothes dryers require a 30 amp breaker with a 10-gauge wire.
Safety Considerations While Working with Circuit Breakers
Anything involving electricity requires that you take serious safety precautions to protect yourself and your property. Here, circuit breakers aren’t exceptions.
Circuit breakers offer safety by themselves since they prevent excess electricity flow to your circuit. However, take 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. Do this even before you carry out the simplest tasks on the breaker, including inspection of worn-out circuit breakers.
2. Wear Protective Gear
Wear PPE (personal protective equipment) such as electrical gloves and rubber sole shoes.
3. Select Proper Circuit Breakers
The circuit breaker you settle for should be compatible with your existing panel. Here, you should ensure 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 correctly.
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 valid for the conductors heading into your panel. Always take precautions and employ the correct procedures and tools to complete the task.
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 damage 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, the amp wire size might also depend on other factors.
We have also highlighted some of the appliances that require a 60-Amp breaker. Ensure that you take precautions while wiring a circuit breaker.
If you don’t know how to wire a 60-Amp breaker, contact a professional electrician to do it for you.