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  • New panel in garage

    Hello all,

    I am just about to start converting my 13' x 23' garage into a workshop. Although there are a few outlets available they are 15amp. The house was built in 1932 and currently has a 100 amp service. I want to add a new 50 - 100 amp service in the garage. The garage walls are open, standard 2x4 studs.

    I am a DIY guy and can do most of the work myself. What I am looking for is advice in the overall considerations I should think about. Actually, I would love to have a local Minneapolis person work with me (for pay) and make sure I do it right.

    The only tool I have at the moment is the TS3660.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: New panel in garage

    First thing you should do is get a service change done on the house and upgrade it to a 200 amp if you want to have 100 amps out in your garage.

    That being said, do you actually need 100 amps in your garage? I have it in mine, but I have a very large air compressor, multiple welders, a plasma cutter, and a plethora of other large draw tools. My other hobby is restoring old cars so it is very possible for multiple large draw items to be used at one time.

    Do you foresee yourself using multiple large tools at one time? If you are talking about an average wood shop, chances are the table saw will be your largest draw unless you convert it to 240volt.

    You probably could get away with 50 amps in your garage. Do you have electric range and electric dryer in the house? How about central air conditioning? All of these are high draw items, that you would just have to be careful about using too much when you are really drawing some power out in the garage.

    I always ask people, what they feel the chances are that they will be making a turkey in their electric oven while drying a load of clothes in the electric dryer, while also running the table saw and various other tools? If you think it could happen, then you should upgrade the house to 200 amps. If you laugh at that and say it will never happen, then you should be Ok to pull 50 amps out to your garage.

    Jeff

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    • #3
      Re: New panel in garage

      Since I have a 100 amp service now, what is involved in updating it to 200 amps? Can the same box be used and just update the main breaker? I have an electrical contractor coming out to look at the garage and want to be able to discuss options.

      Thanks

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: New panel in garage

        You'll need a new panel in the house for the 200-amp update. Get yourself a LARGE panel with 42 openings. Stay away from the crappy Homeline stuff. Breakers aren't worth a crap. You can re-use your existing 100-amp panel in the garage as your subpanel. If your electrician isn't out to sell you a bunch of stuff, you might check your local Habitat for Humanity Restore for a used 200-amp panel. I bought one for a friend of mine's new cabin last year for $100 bucks plus about 30 breakers that were in it. Panel was basically brand new and in beautiful condition. Shop. Check E-Bay too. Your power co. will want a fee for the service upgrade. Call them yourself and ask the price. That way you'll know what's up first hand. They'll pull in heavier cable from the pole to the weatherhead and then down to the service entrance. Don't be shocked at what price you get. This is not a cheap upgrade. Remember, wire prices, both copper and aluminum, are UP. Tell your sparky you want a good quality installation. Might you have a friend, neighbor, relative, etc. who is a licensed electrician to help you with this? They may need the work/money right now as work is tight all over. Help him and he'll help you. Offer to work with your sparky too. He might give you a break on cost if you're willing to help him with pulling wire, mounting, etc. Of course let him do the skilled work. That's what you're paying him for. Don't be afraid to ask him questions if you're not sure of what's going on, or why something costs what it does. This is NOT A PLACE FOR SHORTCUTS OR AMATEURS. So work and ask appropriately. Good Luck, and don't be afraid to come back with more questions. Hope this has helped somewhat.
        Jim Don

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        • #5
          Re: New panel in garage

          Excellent advice Jim..... thanks

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: New panel in garage

            If you do end up wanting/needing to upgrade to 200 Amp service, you'll end up having to start with your electric utility company. They may need to install a new transformer on the pole or in your yard. Then your electrician (This is not a DIY job) will need to run new wiring from the transformer to the meter socket which more than likely will need to be replaced and then new service cable from there to the new 200 Amp main breaker load center in your house.

            As for staying away from crappy products, I would only want to go with Square D QO series. The others are simply not as good and while some are pretty good finding breakers later on for them gets painful. Be sure you do not end up with any QOB commercial bolt-on breakers or panels. You want to stay with the standard stuff. This is where a good electrician can really help you. As for running wires out to the garage and connecting them, please let a licensed electrician do that along with checking over everything before powering up. In many areas inspections are required by your home owner's insurance and county or state codes. Do it right and stay out of trouble. Do it yourself, mess up and there's serious hell to pay.

            Do you need to upgrade everything? That really depends on what your total load would be under worst case. If you have a gas fired furnace, stove, water heater and clothes dryer, then most likely your existing 100 Amp service is enough. I really doubt you'll need more than 50 or 60 Amp 120/240 out to the sub-panel in your garage. You can start and run a well made 5 HP motor with that. Chances in a home shop you'll never go above a 2HP motor and just be sure to start up the largest first and then wait a few seconds before starting the next motor. It's where people have large motors cycling on and off automatically that you really need heavy service or if you want to run several large loads at once. Now if you have an all electric house, then by all means please go for a service upgrade to 200 Amp service and a nice 40 or 40 space load center (breaker panel) with 200 Amp main breaker in it.

            This is a good time to beef up grounding too for safety and also look into ground fault circuit interrupter receptacles and/or breakers as needed.

            The cost is something people hate, but it is a good investment that will pay off for you.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: New panel in garage

              I have had two electrical contractors stop by to look today. One said they could grab 50 amps from the meter and still retain the 100 amp service.

              The other was an idiot and said he could grab 50 amps from the existing panel and I would still have 100 amps for the rest of the house. Total service is 100 amps so his math was a little weak.

              I have one more contractor scheduled next week.

              Thanks for the feedback guys. I will have it done by a contractor for all the reasons mentioned from your posts.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: New panel in garage

                Depending on the meter socket and wiring coming into it, you may be setup for 150 or even 200 Amp service at the meter socket. In most areas older houses where setup for 60 or 100 Amp service. As for the one electrician having a math problem, maybe he had in mind that the house would still have a 100 Amp main and he felt it was OK to just install a 2 pole 50 Amp breaker in your house panel and run a line out to a sub-panel in the garage.

                For what this is worth to the forum please list the following info.

                A) What type of heat does your home have? Oil, Gas, Electric
                B) Range-Stove
                C) Clothes Dryer
                D) Water Heater
                E) Any other major heating device
                F) Do you have either central air conditioning or several large window ACs?

                If you have natural gas coming into your house, you can save yourself big $$$ over time. First be sure the house heat (boiler or hot air furnace) uses natural gas as the fuel. Then check your water heater and clothes dryer. If they are electric, please do yourself a big favor and replace both with gas. Over the next 10 years they will more than pay off for doing so and you'll have loads more hot water for showers and lots of laundry. Then finally you might look around the kitchen. If you do have an electric range-stove just work timing out. No heavy duty cooking if you're running machinery out in the garage.

                With a little management of electric power use it's pretty amazing what 100 Amp 120/240 Volt service can do in the average home as long as you don't heat the place or your water with electricity and adding a gas fired dryer can really help too.

                For now, please list the above and what type they are.

                If the only serious electrical load you have is running air conditioning for now, then there's no good reason not to just add a circuit breaker for the garage and run the wiring out to it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: New panel in garage

                  Originally posted by osgoor View Post
                  I have had two electrical contractors stop by to look today. One said they could grab 50 amps from the meter and still retain the 100 amp service.

                  The other was an idiot and said he could grab 50 amps from the existing panel and I would still have 100 amps for the rest of the house. Total service is 100 amps so his math was a little weak.

                  I have one more contractor scheduled next week.

                  Thanks for the feedback guys. I will have it done by a contractor for all the reasons mentioned from your posts.
                  As for the first two contractors, both are quoting to do the exact same thing. The only diffrence they have is where they are putting the main disconnect for the sub panel. The first one is going to use a main breaker panel and come off the meter (by the way, this is only legal if you have lugs rated for double taps in the meter), the second will most likely use a main lug panel and put the disconnect in the main house panel.

                  Personally if it were me, I would go with guy number two, the idiot. Reason being the service coming into your home is likely only good for 100 amps, the meter socket and service entrance cable. This is why you have a 100 amp breaker in your main panel. So by adding a 50 amp breaker for a sub panel in your garage after the 100 amp breaker, you are still limiting yourself to 100 amps. Now if you do like guy number one said, the non idiot, and use a 100 amp main breaker in the house and then another 50 amp main breaker in the garage, you have the potential to draw 150 amps on a service only good for 100 amps.

                  Keep in mind this is all assuming your service is only rated for 100 amps, which I would be about 99% sure is the case.

                  Jeff

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: New panel in garage

                    Ok, first let me retract the idiot statement. Seems to hit a nerve. Both contractors are going to mail quotes so I will post their statements when I get them and then you folks can point me in the right direction.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: New panel in garage

                      I don't know about the SQ D QO breakers. They have been making them since the 1950's and they were the best by far. Then I put in 3 SQ D panels and with all 3 the breakers did not trip well. Maybe they just had a bad batch. Now I would use a Siemans before a SQ D panel. The Siemans also have the neutrals all the way down the side which makes them easier to wire, particularly in a retrofit.

                      Like Piette says takes a lot to use up a 100amp panel if you don't have electric heating. You actually have a 100amps at 240v not just a 100 at 120v.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: New panel in garage

                        Originally posted by osgoor View Post
                        Ok, first let me retract the idiot statement. Seems to hit a nerve. Both contractors are going to mail quotes so I will post their statements when I get them and then you folks can point me in the right direction.
                        No nerve hit, just calling them what you did for clarity. Without having been there to hear what either of them said I have no way and no reason to judge either of them fairly.

                        Jeff

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: New panel in garage

                          Here are two options from one of the contractors estimates:

                          Scenario 1
                          * Fish #6 cable to south side of house
                          * Install conduit to garage
                          * Install 6/12 circuit to garage
                          * feed 50 amp breaker from house
                          * Isolated neutral bar in sub panel
                          * Provide electrical permit
                          This bid is for using existing service and running 50A to garage
                          Price - $1550.00

                          Scenario 2
                          * feed garage with 100 amp breaker
                          * Install 12 circuit panel in garage service entry
                          * Install new 2" mast (mine is damaged)
                          * feed house with 100 amp breaker
                          * ground rod and bond service
                          replace #6 bare copper with #4

                          Price $2,675.00

                          I will post the other one for comment when received.

                          Thanks

                          Our appliances
                          * Electric dryer
                          * Electric range
                          * Boiler heat
                          * Central air
                          * Sauna (never use cause it trips breakers) We did not install this.

                          Comment

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