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Old 01-06-2006, 01:16 AM   #1
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GFCI protection for Shop/Garage Sub-Panel


A detailed, but I'm hoping not totally uncommon problem follows:

Background: I inherited a large garage shop in my 'new to me house' that a previous owner had wired. Subpanel is full Homeline. Overall the 50amp sub panel was done well w/ appropriate 15amp-14/2 double breaker for lights, a set of quad (dual 20/20) 2pole for 2 sets of 240 service and 4 circuits of 120 outlets on 10/3 and 12/2 wiring, appropriately.

MY PROBLEM:
NONE of the circuits are GFCI protected which is clearly specified in NEC code for garages (mine is below grade as well and could get wet!).
I'd like to fix this myself as no permit was pulled on original work and getting electrician in for my one fix is a lot of work. New Indiviual GFCI outlets will cost a lot for all the 4 20A/120V circuits, not sure on the 20A/240 whats available. GFCI breakers won't fit in sub-panel for all, so would need to be reworked.

My possible solution:
Swap out standard Culter-Hammer 50amp breaker supplying sub panel w/ a 50amp GFCI breaker. The GFCB250 from CH fits/rated for my CH-BR series main box and looks to meet everything I need.

If I remove the bonding screw on the subpanel neutral bus to box on the homeline subpanel and wire the neutral feed to the GFCB250 neutral lead I expect it will work well and from how I read my code, will meet as well (at least NEC portion, not sure on local adendums).

I can't find enough detail on line about how loads are balanced through the 2pole/240 as different legs will be loaded differently due to shop load on 120 and 240 circuits.

Thoughts?
Comments?

If so, the 50AMP GFCB250 is a great way for folks to make their shop/garage/basement subpanels (and circuits) safer by adding full GFCI coverage for not too much money (~$100 and 15 min of work).

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Old 01-06-2006, 07:29 AM   #2
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GFCI protection for Shop/Garage Sub-Panel


OK, the GFCB theory is a very good one. It's easy and quick. Only thing is you will need to confirm that 4 (four) wires were run to the garage.You need to have separate ground and neutral conductors. A ground rod at the shop is not nearly enough to have the grounds and neutral separate in the sub-panel. Since you mention removing the bond screwin the sub I would have to assume if it was done right only three wires were run.
At least one ground rod is required regardless of how many wires were run to the sub-panel.
One drawback is, if you protect the whole panel, you do risk tripping the GFCB for whatever reason, possibly at night. This can be a big problem if you are out there working and it is completely dark outside.

That being said, GFI devices are not that big of a deal. ONLY 120v, 15 and 20 amp receptacles require GFI protection. No lighting, no 240v or anything larger than 20 amps.
So if all you have are four 120v receptacle circuits you will only need four $15 GFI deviecs. You will get away cheaper this way but the labor is a bit more. Since you are doing this yourself that is not as much of an issue, especially considering we are not talking about a whole lot of time.


So the bottom line is: If you have a four wire feeder to the garage, it is your choice; feeder GFCB or GFI devices at each 120v receptacle home run box.
If a three wire feeder was run you have no choice but to put in devices.

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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC.
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Old 01-06-2006, 02:34 PM   #3
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GFCI protection for Shop/Garage Sub-Panel


Thx for the quick reply.

Based on accesibility/rework and cost, I'm going to rework the 20A/120 w/ GFCI's. It should be quick and inexepensive.

Follow on quick questions.... I confirmed that I have a 4 wire (6/3 w/ ground), to the sub panel. On the Culter Hammer BR series main panel neutral/ground are terminated on same bus. On the homeline sub they are separate. Should the bonding screw be there, or not, or does it matter?

Thx again for saving time/money and helping me make things safe!
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Old 01-06-2006, 04:33 PM   #4
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GFCI protection for Shop/Garage Sub-Panel


That's exactly what I meant, and it is correct. With a "4-wire" feeder the grounds and neutrals should be separate in the sub-panel and no bond. The bonding screw/strap should definitely be in place in the main panel.
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