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The 15 minute shop electrical panel upgrade

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  • The 15 minute shop electrical panel upgrade

    I have a dedicated electrical panel in my workshop (also powering a few external circuits too). This is a 100 amp Square D panel, which shows up to 20 spaces for single breaker when you open the door. But once I removed the top panel to add a circuit recently, I noticed that it actually only had 12 spaces on the backplane for breakers. I've seen other instances of this where the same metal enclosure is used for different physical capacity models. I was fortunate in finding someone selling a 24 space panel with the main 100 amp breaker missing for $50, and the backplane was thus longer but otherwise fit into my existing box. I ended up needing only to disconnect the main 100 amp feed into the panel, remove the screw that the held the backplane to the box, and replace just the backplane part. The top part (which may or may not have a main breaker) is only clipped to the backplane with two plastic tabs. I was able to leave the neutrals and grounds in place, and unclip the breakers (leaving them connected to the load wires) from the backplane to make the swap. This is a sub panel so the neutral to ground bonding screw is removed. The font panel and door leave the last four breaker spots unusable, but I still now have 8 more breaker spaces, well worthwhile.

    Before: you can see the angled tabs in the metal back for a longer backplane

    Click image for larger version

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    15 minutes later: I also added the extra row of neutrals to the top part, taken from the panel I got.

    Click image for larger version

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    The two backplanes side by side:

    Click image for larger version

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