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Old 09-02-2008, 07:57 PM   #1
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Electricity to barn


Hey I'm new to the boards so sorry if I don't know all the ropes I just had a quick question about electricity. I'm looking to take my two story barn right now and refurbish it. It is in bad condition but I will be putting up new walls carpeting etc...My barn is really old about 70 - 100 years... I have a feeling I will have to run all new electricity to the barn which leads me to my question... granted I don't know anything about this.. Price wise would I be better off running it from my house somehow which is about 50 ft... or just putting new everything? About how muc will it run me for parts and labor? If it matters Im looking to run the essentials... TV, Fridge ( possible mini fridge) Lights, Fans xbox 360 and a PC ( not really essentials but fundamentals :P)

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Old 09-02-2008, 10:13 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum Sherdogmma. Don't worry, you'll get used to the lunitcs here. Oh wait...that's just me. Seriously, you should get great info from everyone and learn a lot. I suggest you state in your profile where you are from. It might make a difference on some items.

Parts and labor is generally a market thing. I'm in mid-Michigan and my prices are different than say, Las Vegas. As far as is it cheaper to put in new versus running a sub-panel off your house...depends on what size service you have in the house, what your house load is, what the barn load will be, how easy the soil is to trench to the barn (assuming you are thinking underground), etc. It doesn't sound like the load you propose for the barn will be that much...are you considering for furture electrical needs as well??

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Old 09-03-2008, 01:21 PM   #3
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Wise words from SD. Without knowing what you have now (main service panel) there is no way we can tell you if the sub panel would be better than running a feeder from the main panel to the barn.
What size panel do you have (Amps), and how many spare breaker slots. What type of meter enclosure do you have? Is it a combo unit with breaker slots in it, or is it just a meter. Just answer these questions and we can start.
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Old 09-03-2008, 02:10 PM   #4
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Hi Sherdogmma,

I live near Toledo, Ohio. We have a 3 car garage with a walk up loft. I wanted a wood working shop and a place to repair my car and use my welder. There was no electricity to the garage. So, the main 200 amp panel in the house had a spare break location for a 220 volt breaker. The electrician installed a 90 amp, 220 volt breaker in the box, you can buy one pretty inexpensively at Home Depot, drilled a hole in the wall and ran conduit outside and down the side of the house to about 18" into the ground. While he was doing that, my neighbor and I dug a two foot deep x one foot wide trench 90 feet to the garage. that was not easy but it went along okay. The electrician laid three separate strands of #2 aluminum direct burial cable in the trench and out to the garage. He also installed another 8' long solid copper, grounding rod. In the garage he drilled another hole in the wall, ran conduit from about 18" down in the ground, straight up the side of the outside wall, through the wall and into the new sub panel. Then he ran circuits for lights and 110 volt receptacles and also one 60 amp breaker for my little welder. The idea was that I can only operate one machine at a time and will proably never use more than 30 amps unless I briefly use the welder. It was very affordable and it has not been a problem with any power usage in the house. As a bonus, the 90 amp breaker in the house can, in an emergency, be used to cut all power to the garage. the electrician wnated to use a 100 amp breaker in the houyse but the cost difference between the 100 amp and the 90 amp was substantial so he compromised and said he would use a 90 amp in the house and a second 90 amp in the garage. It honestly has not been a problem and netierh one has ever tripped. the welder has it's own panel mounted to the wall with a separate switch and fuses. I have a 12" radial arm saw, 10" table saw, wood lathe, welder, and various other devices. I have not had a single problem. Hope that helps.
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Old 09-03-2008, 02:42 PM   #5
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Nice reply RandallS1. Also live near Toledo.

Unless you run a single circuit or multiwire circuit to the barn, you must install a sub-panel and all that jazz (in layman's terms) similar to what Randall mentioned above. You may not need 90 amp service however based on your wants.

Based on your description, sounds like you would be better off with the sub-panel option and the related wiring work.
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Old 09-03-2008, 04:38 PM   #6
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yea thanks guys... To go underground what exactly does that mean just dig a hole traveling to the barn and fill it in? I don't know all that information about the sub panel I have 2 open breakers as for the rest of the material is it listed on the breaker or somewhere on the house or would i have to have an electrician take a look at it?
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Old 09-04-2008, 10:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherdogmma2010 View Post
yea thanks guys... To go underground what exactly does that mean just dig a hole traveling to the barn and fill it in? I don't know all that information about the sub panel I have 2 open breakers as for the rest of the material is it listed on the breaker or somewhere on the house or would i have to have an electrician take a look at it?
No, you dig a trench, just like a water line.
You still have not provided the information we need to help you.

1) Existing panel Amps
2) You need two open breaker SLOTS or a spare two pole or two spare single pole. You need a place to install a 2 pole breaker. Like the one for your range, water heater etc....

The depth of your trench depends on how you are planning to run the feeder. Direct burial cable or conduit.

From reading your responses, I am concerned this may not be a job you should do yourself.
Get 3 quotes from licensed pro's and be done with it.
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Old 09-04-2008, 12:03 PM   #8
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Electricity to barn


JV has the right idea. If you are not knowledgeable about electricity and wiring and electrical service in general, don't mess around. Get a pro. It's cheap insurance and it will be up to code and safe. Tell him to pull the permit. It will cost a little more but then you are not liable. If you pull the permit, your building regulations office may not allow you to hire professional help, and if you do anyway, you might be liable for anything that might happen.

We hired a professional for our job and we saved some money by asking him what we could do, like drilling holes where he wanted to pull the wire, digging the trench, and other simple labor jobs that did not directly involve the actual wiring, but were time consuming. the hardest part was finding an electrician who was willing to take on such a small job. With the way the economy is right now and the downturn in the construciton business that might not be so hard to do. youmight get a very good price from someone who needs some work. Local builder's might give you the names of a couple of residential electricians they use as sub contractors.
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Old 09-04-2008, 02:21 PM   #9
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I apologize in advance if anyone sends me a private message. Being a newbie I cannot reply until I have 20 posts. This is my 10'th one.

In answer to a question I received, I am pretty sure the electrician ran four wires from the house to our garage. He only ran three heavy cables. I am pretty sure the fourth wire was smaller than the three #2 cables. It might have been a ground. So, there would have been two conductors, one neutral and one ground.

But, now I am curious. What if he had not run that fourth wire but instead had installed a second copper ground rod at the garage for the ground circuit? Would that have caused a problem with the ground rod at the house?

The system I have has worked really well for several years now and I have never had a problem. I have both 220 and 110 volt power, plus lighting.

Hope that helps.
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Old 09-04-2008, 03:24 PM   #10
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For an unattached building such as a garage, a grounding rod is required for the sub-panel even if it is a four wire feed. The neutral and ground terminal blocks in the sub-panel must be separated or NOT bonded together. If there had been a three wire feed, with no "grounding electrode conductor", then the neutral and grounding buss bars in the sub-panel would be bonded like in your (main) service panel in the home. In either case, a separate grounding rod is required for each panel.

Normally there must be no metal path connecting the two bldgs, whether wires, pipes, etc. for a three wire feed.

Adding the extra grounding rod should have no detrimental effect on your enetire wiring system. In fact, it enhances it.

BTW- the fourth "grounding" wire will normally be (sized) a few wire sizes smaller than your feeder cables such as #6-8 AWG copper for the line that was run to your garage.

Last edited by EAP; 09-04-2008 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 09-05-2008, 11:12 AM   #11
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After reading the post from EAP, (Thank you! EAP), I went out to the garage and checked for a grounding rod. There is a second solid copper grounding rod driven down into the ground right outside the garage, near the panel, with a separate, bare, twisted, copper cable clamped to the rod and running through the wall to the garage sub panel.

The county I am in does not allow panel bonding and I could not see anything in either panel that looked like a bonding connector so I am thinking the panels are not bonded at either end.

Thank you guys for the heads up on making sure it was done right. Can't be too safe with electricity.
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Old 09-05-2008, 11:38 AM   #12
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Be sure to get rg/6 (if you can, use quad shield)

And run 2 cat 5s, one for network and one for telephone

(do not exceed 300ft with Ethernet or you will need to have equipment to amplify it)
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Old 09-05-2008, 06:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randallS1 View Post
The county I am in does not allow panel bonding and I could not see anything in either panel that looked like a bonding connector so I am thinking the panels are not bonded at either end.

Thank you guys for the heads up on making sure it was done right. Can't be too safe with electricity.
Just to clarify...a (main) service entrance panel will always be bonded unless it is a sub-panel. Bonding refers to neutral "grounded" conductor and "grounding" (bare or green) conductor being tied together in a (main)panel. Usually these will be strapped together inside the panel. Or they can be bonded to the metal case itself, or both.

Some codes disallow a subpanel to be bonded if that panel is located in another (out) building that is NOT connected to the main building. And in fact, a sub-panel located in the same bldg as the (main) service entrance panel must NEVER have neutral and grounding conductors bonded.

In layman's terms, it has to do with current following the least resistive path. In the case of a main, "potential" current leakage needs to flow to the "grounding" (bare wire) conductor. If the neutral is not bonded to it, then the path may flow elsewhere like through a person.

A sub-panel on the other hand, must have the neutral and grounding conductors separate for a similar reason, if there is a leakage in the current and the two are tied together, the natural path back to the main panel could be compromised with the "bonded second" path. And a shock could occur.

Basically, a four wire feed "not" bonded at the sub-panel provides for only one path back to the main and from there to ground. This would be the path of least resistance. Electricity normally follows the path of least resistance.

It might sound confusing, but if you think about it long enough, it will make sense.


Last edited by EAP; 09-05-2008 at 06:32 PM.
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