50 amp mains breaker

I inspected a 1,100 sq foot town home today built in 1972. I could not locate the main service panel. In the distribution panel there was a 50 amp main service breaker would this be sufficient.


More then likley Gas furnace? gas water heater ? I can not see where they would need more NO place for a welder or shop tools ? Roy Cooke

Hi Carl,

that does not seem to be adequate power for the square footage you report, especially if it has high output circuits like AC, Stove and dryer. Normally the smaller units may have a 60 but thats as low as they normally use.

The full answer would need a load calculation but that is way beyond our scope.




Hello Roy,

Just to let you know the water heater and range where both electric

First of all, you won’t find a “main service breaker” in a load side panel.

Were the feeders (from the service) connected to that 50 amp breaker, or were they attached directly to the bus bars?

The service equipment for townhomes and condos are often located in a common closet or room. In CA, they are generally outside at one end or the other of the building. That is where you will find the “service disconnect.” That is also where you will see the service capacity of the unit.


To add to what Jeff has stated…( BTW…it is ok to have a main disconnection OCP breaker in a remote distribution panel…if you want…sometimes they are cheaper to put in a “SUB” panel with breaker versus a main lug only…has to do with cost sometimes as believe it or not Main Lugs are on some sizes more expensive than a panel with a main breaker.)

Also how many wires did you have coming to the panel you DID find…3 or 4 wires feeding this panel…That would be step one .

As for the size of the service…now I do the math on WHAT we do know…consider this…

1,100 Sq Ft x 3VA = 3,300VA
(2) Kitchen Circuits = 3,000VA
(1) Laundry Circuit = 1,500VA

Total VA = 7,800VA -------First 3,000 @ 100= 3,000VA
-------Remaining @ 35%= 1,680 VA

Total G/L VA = 4,680VA

Appliance ( Fridge Only ) 1,400 VA ( Guess Here…)
Range- Gas…NO VA
Dryer- Gas…NO VA

OK…assuming no other appliances…no AC units, no HP nothing…based on what you have posted…NOTHING other than a receptacles and lights and a fridge on the electric…everything else is gas…

Then 55A would be enough based on WHAT you have provided and assuming all GAS applicances and no HVAC loads…However I am not sure why they did not put it on a 100A panel…but again not a problem IF that is all that is on it and as Jeff has stated their is a panel room or the MAIN Disconnect panel located at the point of entrance…or within a few feet of entrance.

The panel you DID locate…Was their a meter can back to back with it…or did you locate the meter can outside…

Most of the townhomes we wire have a normal service back to back with a meter can…in the basement…we dont see equipment rooms and panel rooms until we get into apartment complexes for the most part around when i am from.

I know you’re partial to us HI’s Paul, and I, for one, appreciate your soft spot. :wink: .

However, a disconnect in a panel is not what I was referring to. Obviously, a switch or OCPD to disconnect power to the panel and/or the unit can serve to be quite convienent.

I was referring to this statement. . .

A service “breaker,” or a service “disconnect” is located in the service equipment.

From the NEC. . .

I think it’s important as Home Inspectors to try and be accurate and consistant when reporting on and/or addressing specific issues.

There may have been a “disconnect” located in the distribution panel, but it was certainly not the “main service breaker.”

Oh Jeff…you just HAD to throw the word “MAIN” in their…lol…notice how I said it is OK to have a main disconnection OCP breaker…lol…and then said “Remote Distribution Panel”…lol

Oh and I am partial to you guys…me Loves ya…:slight_smile: