What is a tandem breaker?

IThe circuit breakers found in our home’s electrical panel are not all created equal. The most common is the standard single-pole breaker for the everyday 120 volt circuits used in our homes. A double-pole breaker combines 2 spots to allow us to safely have a 240 volt circuit where needed, such as certain kitchen appliances for example.

A tandem breaker takes up only 1 spot, but handles two 120 volt circuits. It contains 2 different levers to control each circuit. If one of the circuits overloads, only that circuit will trip a lever. This allows a breaker box that is already near full capacity to be able to add an additional circuit.

Tandem breakers safety

Tandem breakers can be a quick fix but remember, because they are handling 2 circuits instead of only one, they can heat up faster and trip quicker. You should also remember that circuit breaker boxes are built to handle only a certain amount of wiring safely.

Unfortunately, tandem breakers cannot provide AFCI or GFCI protection and are now rarely used in new(er) homes.

Should I use tandem breakers?

A tandem breaker can be a solution when you need to add another circuit to your box. But if you are already at or near capacity, we recommend that you consider upgrading your panel to safely handle your electrical needs.

Before making any changes/additions to your circuit breaker box, you should always check the manufacturer’s specifications to see if and how many tandem breakers are allowed. Having an electrical inspection done can give you an idea of the safest and most affordable way to add circuits to your breaker box.

If your home’s electrical panel is in need of an upgrade, give us a call about a home electrical inspection. Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990.


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