PANELS AND ADDED CIRCUITS
It has been mentioned elsewhere on this site that electricians are many times in need of some more particular information regarding your electrical panels in order for them to accurately prepare a bid to do the work you are requesting done. This is especially true with regard to your electrical panel's ability to have more circuits installed. So often, an electrical contractor is presented with a plan to bid, and this plan will have no information and/or pictures to help him determine whether or not your panel is capable of having any new circuits installed. This electrician, or electrical contractor, is being asked either by a property owner or a general contractor to prepare this bid. In most cases this will result in the electrician making a special trip to the job site and this type of thing only increases the eventual cost of the job. It would be nice if the architect would take some pictures to include with the plans, but that rarely happens. Another option would be for the general contractor to simply snap a few pictures of the panels involved, if he has met with the customer prior, and include them with the plans when he asks the electrician for a bid.
This is a good picture of a typical loadcenter panel showing full size breakers (oven) and mini sized breakers (A/C Cond). This panel has 20 one inch breakers spaces (oven takes up two of these) which can each be split into two half inch mini breaker spaces allowing up to 40 circuits total.
This panel label is for the panel in the picture at left. Notice the model number has in it 2040. This indicates it has 20 one inch spaces, and each one can be converted to two half inch spaces for a total of 40 circuits. This is very helpful to know when trying to prepare a bid to do a remodel where there will no doubt be circuits to add.
This is a busbar schematic for the panel in the picture above. It shows forty circuit spaces indicated by the numbers 1,2,39,40. Each curved line indicates a miniature circuit breaker. Once again, this is very helpful to the electrician.
This is the entire panel label for the panel in the picture at above left. This label has all of the information the electrician will need except for a picture showing all of the breakers that are currently installed. Leave this picture, as well as all others, in their original high resolution when submitting them with your plans.
The problem with that is most general contractors have no clue about electrical considerations so you can't count on them either. Many times this issue is not even addressed in the bidding process and later on the customer gets blind sided by a hefty change order cost. If you want to keep the cost of your remodel project down then try adding some pictures like the ones below to your plans to save your electrician from having to make a special trip out to your place just to make a five minute inspection of a panel when a mere few pictures included with the plan would suffice. This is where the customer's participation comes into play. Following are some examples of pictures you might want to include with your plans when you submit them to a general contractor for bid. Do not compress these pictures- leave them in their original high resolution. Do use a decent camera, and not a cell phone camera as focus and readability are important. These pictures have been compressed for use on a website and may not be perfect examples but for the sake of this article work just fine. Some of these pictures are included for the reader's understanding of how additional circuit breakers are added.