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Old 05-21-2009, 09:23 PM   #1
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We just moved into a house a few weeks ago and are finally starting to get settled. The house was built in 1975. There is a 2 stall unattached garage. I do some work on my cars so I would like there to be light and a few outlets for smaller task lighting and the occational power tool. I figured this would be a nice project. As I got to looking at it, I think I may need to update the power panel.
There are currently 2 outlets in the garage. One by the door and another up by the gd opener. How the power gets to the garage is my current problem. I have photos so this may get a little long.

I have 2 wires that come into the garage. Both are 14-2 NM-B. They run to this outlet were a single wire runs up to another outlet for the opener.

They both come out of my house here and it looks like one of them was cut and, with wire nuts, tied back together. I am 99.9% sure this is not a wire that is supposed to be buried.

Once in the house, both wires run to a box and are tied together to a singel 2/C 12 NM cable. This runs to my box and appears to be tied to a breaker labeled 'Hood'. (small blue one on the right had side)



Um, I guess I now find myself getting into a pretty decent project. I am thinking I need to update my main panel, and properly run power to the garage so I can get the power I want out there. At the same time, I need to go through and properly label everthing. A couple of things are labeled wrong. The 30 breaker on the bottom there was off when I moved in. I haven't pulled the cover yet to see if anything is attached.
Looks like a fun project. Should I begin with a panel update?

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Old 05-21-2009, 09:54 PM   #2
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Begin with assesing your needs. You may not need to change it unless you want to add a lot more stuff.


Take a pic of the panel with the cover off.

You must replace the NM feed to the garage.

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Old 05-22-2009, 05:36 AM   #3
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I don't know if you need to replace the panel or not. It looks a whole lot better than mine!

The wiring to the garage has got to go. That will make for a nice summer project.
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Old 05-22-2009, 06:10 AM   #4
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When I get home from work I will post a shot of the inside of the panel.
If there is nothing on that 30amp breaker there on the bottom maybe I will use that to run to the garage. I can add a box in the garage so I can keep the lights separate from the outlets.
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Old 05-22-2009, 06:33 AM   #5
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The 30 amp breaker most likely goes (or went) to an electric water heater.
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Old 05-22-2009, 02:15 PM   #6
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I would like to put a 100 amp panel in the garage and feed it with a 30 amp breaker from the house for the time being. I know the 100 amp breaker in the garage panel will just act as a shut off for now. I am looking down the road and would eventually like to upgrade my main panel to 200A service and run 100A to the garage.
Future plans (next couple of years) include a compressor, hot tub and some outdoor lighting. Would something like this necessitate 200amp service or just more room on a 100A panel?

Would a panel like this be acceptable for the garage? Link

Last edited by Mcamnl; 05-22-2009 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:42 AM   #7
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Here are the shots of my panel that 220/221 asked about.
There is nothing on that 30amp breaker so maybe that can run to the garage for now.



Last edited by Mcamnl; 05-25-2009 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:11 PM   #8
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Hmm, shall we start off with the violations in the panel?

Just some of the violations:
- Double tapped breakers that are not listed for use as such (I counted at least 3 of the left side breakers that I can see there)
- Several circuit neutral wires and ground wires tied together (overload LIKELY on the short pigtail to the neutral bus)
- Bonding of the panel's neutral bus to the panel appears to be done incorrectly and with too small of a wire (I don't think that screw was intended to bond the panel to the neutral bar.....) Of course this is assuming that the 14 gauge green wire tied to the panel just below the breakers is serving as that tie, I can't see it going anywhere else.
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Old 05-26-2009, 09:02 AM   #9
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Right now I am leasing this home with the intention to buy it at the end of the lease. Are these things that need to be fixed now? I intend to update the panel down the road anyway, but if this needs to be dealt with now, I can see if my landlord will take care of it. Or at least split the cost of it.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:33 PM   #10
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The couple things I noted are easy to fix, the neutral/ground issue may or may not be so easy if the neutral bus is full. Fixing the multiple neutral wires pigtailed is a concern, as that short piece of white wire has the potential to carry more than its rated ampacity. It just means moving those 3 white wires to their own screw on the neutral bus, they may need to be extended to reach (wirenuts inside the panel ARE OK). The ground wires I wouldn't be so concerned about.

The double tapped breakers just need to be pigtailed so that only one wire connects to the breaker. So long as the pigtail is 14 gauge for a 15 amp circuit or 12 gauge for a 20 amp circuit you will be fine. Those lugs on the breakers are designed for only one wire, the potential problem is arcing and the wires being loose.

As for the green wire, in that I can't see it leaving in a wire through the top of the panel, I assume its tied to the neutral bus. There should be a screw that screws into the panel housing through the neutral bus that would serve this purpose (usually a Green Screw).
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:52 PM   #11
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The above-ground NM to the garage with the wire nuts should be fixed promptly as well.

About your situation... Would you be buying the wire and conduit for these upgrades and repairs? That seems like not a very smart move, unless you have a first-refusal option contract of some sort, to make sure he can't pull the rug out from under you when the housing market recovers.

Oh and the other part... you will be doing these upgrades which will enhance the value of the house, and then you'll wind up paying the current owner again for your free labor! You'll both give away your labor and pay him for it!
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Old 05-27-2009, 11:04 AM   #12
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We have an option, and are planning, to buy this home at the end of our lease. The sale price and interest rate are already locked in so I am not to worried about the rug yet.
I talked to my landlord and he has no problems paying to correct the run from the house to the garage. He doesn't want to pay for conduit so I'll need to bury it. I told him I would install it. My brother has equipment he uses for his irrigation installs I can borrow. I would like to use the 30amp breaker on the lower right in the photos. I am going to run that to a 100amp panel in the garage. I just want to make sure I have the right stuff on my list.

10-3 UF cable. Buried 24". 2 of the wires to the 30a breaker and the white to the neutral bar. 100amp panel in the garage. Two wires to the 100a breaker and the white to the neutral bar. Ground rods with wire run to ground bar in panel. Does this sound about right? I have the NEC 2005 Handbook I can reference to make sure I am on the right track.

Thank you.
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Old 05-27-2009, 12:20 PM   #13
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You'll need 10/3 w/ground UF to run to the garage. Under the old code it was acceptable to use a 3 wire feeder to detached structures, but new code dicates it must be a 4 wire feeder (this includes 2 hot conductors, neutral and a separate ground). You will need to isolate the neutral bus from the panel, and install a ground bar.

There is plenty of info on the forums here regarding sub panel installations, just use the search feature and you should be able to find just about anything.
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Old 05-27-2009, 12:49 PM   #14
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Are you sure you want to limit your garage to 30 amps @ 240 volts (or 2 x 30 amps @ 120 volts) with the 10 gauge cable?
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Old 05-27-2009, 01:13 PM   #15
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Don't use UF cable and don't use a 30 amp breaker to feed your garage sub panel. You can put a 100 amp breaker in place of the 30 amp and run #3 wire for the 100 amp panel, for an example. But since you really are not the owner yet, just fix those exposed wires on the ground outside. The ones with the wire nuts on them. Thats first on your list.

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