Installing a New Breaker in the Main Panel

For those of you who have the knowledge and are brave enough to do things which relate to electricity should not be facing any problems when trying to install a new circuit breaker in the main electrical panel. Always be extra careful when dealing with electricity because even if you have turned off the main circuit breaker, there is always the potential that you will be touching wrong terminals and also able to receive a shock of up to 110 or 220 volts. It is recommended that you use the same brand, size and style of your existing circuit breaker when you are installing a new breaker and if you are not sure which one to purchase, you can simply take the old breaker to your local home improvement store or electrical store to seek their advice.

What you need to do:

  1. Screwdriver
  2. Flashlight or helmet light
  3. Rubber-soled shoes or rubber mat
  4. New circuit breaker
  5. Safety glasses or goggles
  6. Utility knife
  7. Wire cutters/Strippers
  8. Pliers
  9. Breaker box wire clamp

New Breaker


  1. For safety precautions, you must always wear a rubber-soled shoes and safety glasses or goggles, plus also place a rubber mat beneath the circuit breaker box. Always make sure that the main switch has been turned off into the ‘Off’ position when you are working on the installation.
  2. Then, you have to remove the metal panel that covers your circuit breaker box by using a screwdriver. Always put all the screws and the panel in a safe place so that you will find it easily when you want to reassemble them back again.
  3. The old breaker needs to be removed by grasping it near its inner portion of the panel enabling you to pull it out. Next, you have to loosen up the screw that holds the wire to your circuit breaker before you start to pull the wire away from the breaker.
  4. After that, flip to ‘Off’ position of the switch for the new circuit breaker and attach the wire onto it plus also ensure that its screw is securely tight. The next step to do is to plug in the new circuit breaker into the slot beginning with the breaker’s end which is closest to the wire that you have just attached until it is snapped into place.
  5. Finally you can replace the panel cover using the screws that you kept in the safe location earlier before you flip back the main circuit breaker to ‘On’ position and followed by turning on your new circuit breaker.
  6. Whenever you have an uncertainty feeling during any of the steps above, you should discontinue your work and cover back the panel cover. You should also consult a professional electrician to seek advice from him or her on how to do the project the correct and proper way.
  7. Always remember that once you removed the panel of your circuit breaker box, whichever main wires that come into the box are live wires and you should not ever touch them.

Image Credit:

Flickr CC

Additional Reading:

Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices, Second Edition

Ortho’s All About Wiring Basics (Ortho’s All About Home Improvement)