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Turning apartments into a home


Posted on

March 3, 2023

Sometimes it starts as a simple request.

This Towson homeowner added a garbage disposal under their kitchen sink but discovered there wasn’t an available power source or switch to run it.  The plumber quoted a price to install a new outlet and switch, but the homeowner called Clinton Electric for a second opinion.  A garbage disposal is not much more than a motor. It pulls a lot of power in short bursts, and needs a dedicated circuit in order to run reliably.  Feeding off a branch circuit could overload the existing breaker and cause it to trip.  This may be what our plumber friend had in mind, but it would be against code and potentially dangerous.  Eric went into the basement to diagnose what we needed to run a new circuit and was met with a surprise.  Like many in the area, this home was reconfigured with 4 separate electric meters and panels so the house could operate as a multi-unit dwelling with separate apartments.  Most of the meters were not operating, but the panels were fully loaded.

Multi-unit dwelling with 4 meters and separate panels

The only panel with available space to install the dedicated circuit for the disposal would require a special tandem 15/15 breaker. The existing panel did not have space available on the ground bar, so a new one would need to be installed to accommodate. We were going to have to make significant changes in this panel, and afterward there would be no room for any future additions.

So should we make it work, or make it right?

After considering the available options, the homeowner requested we consolidate all of the panels to feed sub panels on the upper floors in the rooms that used to be apartments.  We would also remove the extra meters that were not being used. The final result is a much cleaner set up, everything in one place, with room to expand in the future if needed. Checked all the connections after installing the new panel, labeled all the circuits and checked to make sure everything is working. Including the garbage disposal.

200 Amp panel finished install in Towson basement