Do Separate Suites Require Separate Breakers?

For many people, buying a house is an excellent opportunity to sublease to a family or friends. The upfront costs are offset gradually by income supplementation—with some planning; you can have the ongoing property costs paid off by the tenants while you keep a little pocket money month-to-month and build equity at the same time.

For larger properties, a stable tenant may be hard to find. Families that will be able to afford and fill a house may have changing life circumstances or personal goals that make relying on their long-term support untenable. In those instances, a cost-effective approach would be to split the home into two or more legal suites.

Dividing your property allows you to rent each portion of the home out separately and generate income from two or more sources. The immediate benefits are greater margin opportunities and less risk, as even losing one tenant will leave you with some supplemental income until you can find a replacement.

Preparing the separate legal suite may seem cost-prohibitive with renovations and decorating, but the long-term gains have much to offer.

When you consider a separate legal suite in your rental or inhabited property, you might wonder, do separate suites require separate circuit breakers?

The answer is simple in theory but slightly more complicated in practice. This blog will go into some of our thoughts on legal suites and how you can set yourself up for success in both renting and inspections.


Legally, No.

Put simply, no; a legal suite does not require a separate breaker by law. However, seeing as a separate suite will invariably double the occupant electricity usage (especially with electric ranges, fridges, high-voltage appliances, and household devices), you will need to ensure your circuit board is up to the task.

When investigating your suite renovations, an inspector will immediately flag older or inefficient circuit breakers. With insufficient electric support, you are opening up your property to fire risks, increased rates of tripping, and lower tenant satisfaction.

Luckily, upgrading your circuit panel is something any qualified electrician team is ready to undertake.


Why You Should Consider Two Panels

While upgrading your existing panel is a great start, there are situations where having two panels will make for a smoother tenant experience.

For instance, when one unit is responsible for more electrical usage than the other, their trips will not affect the other tenant. Similarly, if the tenants are out in one unit and the power goes out, there may be complications with food spoilage or other essential appliances, not to mention fire detectors and other monitoring devices.

No situation is perfect, but having greater control over contingencies will mean happier tenants, fewer midnight calls, and greater peace of mind.


Whether you’re upgrading existing circuits or splitting them, Lakeview Electric is happy to guide you through the considerations and complete the work with a satisfaction guarantee.

Contact us to get started on an inspection and plan for breezing through inspections, tenant walkthroughs, and anything else electric!

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