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Old 02-22-2009, 09:51 PM   #1
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


Hi,

I am just wondering if it is legal to have a subpanel in the garage. I am buying a house with the main 100 amp panel and a subpanel inside the garage (unknown amps). During the inspection it was suggested that I should get rid of the subpanel in the garage and add the line directly to the main house panel of 100 amps. I have seen that many people do have a subpanel in there garage by reading posts here. I live in Whittier CA in case anyone is familiar with the codes here. I will be doing some electrical work on the house since some of the wires for outside lighting is not safe and also the line from the house to the garage is not to code either. I wonder if it would be recomended to upgrade the main 100 amps panel to a 200 amp (The inspector said this would not be nessesary)? and does the subpanel in the garage offer any advantages over having the line connected to the main house panel?.

Thank you

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Old 02-22-2009, 09:55 PM   #2
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


Nothing wrong with a sub-panel in the garage, I think what was suggested that you upgrade the 100 amp to a 200 amp service and just have 1 panel.

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Old 02-22-2009, 09:56 PM   #3
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


Hmm...Its not wrong to have a subpanel in the garage.

If you really are wondering about service upgrade, I would do a load calculation first.
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Old 02-22-2009, 09:59 PM   #4
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


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If you really are wondering about service upgrade, I would do a load calculation first.
I agree, and kind of figure for future projects, swimming pool, AC, etc.
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:15 PM   #5
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


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Hi,

and also the line from the house to the garage is not to code either. I wonder if it would be recomended to upgrade the main 100 amps panel to a 200 amp (The inspector said this would not be nessesary)? and does the subpanel in the garage offer any advantages over having the line connected to the main house panel?.
Not sure I follow? What would your option be other than a sub panel, just running a single circuit out to the garage. Nothing wrong with a properly setup sub panel.

Your not saying there is a seperate meter on the garage are you?

Can you post some photos?

Jamie
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:50 PM   #6
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


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Originally Posted by gante View Post
I am buying a house with the main 100 amp panel and a subpanel inside the garage (unknown amps)
So the main panel & the sub-panel are in the garage?
That's not a problem

What line from the house to the garage?
Is this a detached garage?
Is there panel in the house?

2 meters? 1 meter?

You need a load calc to figure out if you need a service upgrade
I'm at about 143a out of 200a once my addition is completed
That includes a hot tub, electric HW, radiant floor heat, and a big SW tank setup
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:11 AM   #7
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


I was going to say leave the subpanel there and keep using it, but if the wiring is totally not up to code then you have to string new wire anyway.

For an attached garage have the choice of stringing one fat set of wires, say a 6/3 Romex, and keeping/replacing the subpanel, or stringing several skinny cables (12/2, etc. or for combination 120/240 volt loads, 12/3, 10/3, etc.) and not having a subpanel. Regular lights and receptacles may not be on a circuit breakered at more than 20 amps.

For a detached garage, only one feed, fat or skinny, 2 or 3 conductor plus ground, can be strung. Without a subpanel this limits you to the equivalent of two 20 amp. 120 volt branch circuits (12/3 cable).

A detached garage will need a ground rod and should* have a ground wire going back to the (main) house to go with the subpanel. Are these the only things you are missing to come up to code?

*Must have if there are other metallic paths such as cable TV wires or plumbing going from the garage to the house.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:06 AM   #8
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


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I was going to say leave the subpanel there and keep using it, but if the wiring is totally not up to code then you have to string new wire anyway.

For an attached garage have the choice of stringing one fat set of wires, say a 6/3 Romex, and keeping/replacing the subpanel, or stringing several skinny cables (12/2, etc. or for combination 120/240 volt loads, 12/3, 10/3, etc.) and not having a subpanel. Regular lights and receptacles may not be on a circuit breakered at more than 20 amps.

For a detached garage, only one feed, fat or skinny, 2 or 3 conductor plus ground, can be strung. Without a subpanel this limits you to the equivalent of two 20 amp. 120 volt branch circuits (12/3 cable).

A detached garage will need a ground rod and should* have a ground wire going back to the (main) house to go with the subpanel. Are these the
only things you are missing to come up to code?

*Must have if there are other metallic paths such as cable TV wires or plumbing going from the garage to the house.
Must always have under 08 I believe.
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:26 AM   #9
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


I guess I misunderstood the inspector then. I have a subpanel in the garange with old fuses (with not meter obviously) and the main panel on the outside wall of the house (100 Amp). The inspector suggested to get rid of the subpanel in the garage and just ran a line from the main panel to the garage. I will be doing electrical work to get this done properly since the garage wiring is not up to code. The only thing I was trying to decide is wheter to have a subpanel in the garage or not? Any advantages on having a subpanel in the garage?. I will be eventually upgrade my panel to 200 Amps. I am not sure if I may want to do this at this point, it depends on the cost of the upgrade plus the other wiring work that must be done for the line to the garage and outside lights. '
The current plan is to remove the subpanel in the garage (its old) and install a new line from the main panel, and new lines to outside lights on the house (to code that is).
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:33 AM   #10
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


Quote:
Originally Posted by gante View Post
I guess I misunderstood the inspector then. I have a subpanel in the garange with old fuses (with not meter obviously) and the main panel on the outside wall of the house (100 Amp). The inspector suggested to get rid of the subpanel in the garage and just ran a line from the main panel to the garage. I will be doing electrical work to get this done properly since the garage wiring is not up to code. The only thing I was trying to decide is wheter to have a subpanel in the garage or not? Any advantages on having a subpanel in the garage?. I will be eventually upgrade my panel to 200 Amps. I am not sure if I may want to do this at this point, it depends on the cost of the upgrade plus the other wiring work that must be done for the line to the garage and outside lights. '
The current plan is to remove the subpanel in the garage (its old) and install a new line from the main panel, and new lines to outside lights on the house (to code that is).
How much power will you need in the garage? What are you planning on running in the garage.

If your plan on running any amount of power tools, you need a sub panel.
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:40 AM   #11
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


I plan to have the following in the garage,
washer/dryer, tv, radio, lights, fridge, ocassional use of light power tools such a circular saw, small compressor, pressure washer and possibly two future post lights that may be tapped to the garage circuit panel. Just what an average guy would have in his garage. I do not have any heavy equipment or tools and do not plan to use any other than what I have listed for homeimprovement projects.

If I decide to add a subpanel on the garage, what size should it be?, how big would the breaker on the main panel to feed this subpanel if I upgrade the main panel to 200amps?.
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Old 02-24-2009, 11:51 AM   #12
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


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Originally Posted by gante View Post
I plan to have the following in the garage,
washer/dryer, tv, radio, lights, fridge, ocassional use of light power tools such a circular saw, small compressor, pressure washer and possibly two future post lights that may be tapped to the garage circuit panel. Just what an average guy would have in his garage. I do not have any heavy equipment or tools and do not plan to use any other than what I have listed for homeimprovement projects.

If I decide to add a subpanel on the garage, what size should it be?, how big would the breaker on the main panel to feed this subpanel if I upgrade the main panel to 200amps?.
You have to have a sub panel in the garage with the items you want to run. There is no way around it.

Questions:
1. Is this a detached garage? I assume it is, but could not find where you specifically mentioned if it was.

2. How is the current sub panel connected, is there conduit running to it?

3. Do you really need to upgrade to 200A service? - Do you use electric hot water, electric dryer, a heat pump, hot tub, pool? I mean, I don't care if you upgrade, it is just unnecessary for many people.

4. What model and size (number of breaker slots) panel do you have in the house - a photo of this would be great, one with the cover off would be even better if your comfortable removing the cover. -I just want to get a feel for what you dealing with. If it's in reasonable order, and has space, then I'd may lean towards leaving it alone, if it is a mess and or it is full, I would lean towards replacing it, and perhaps a service upgrade if your going to have to replace the whole panel, but I just can't tell you that without more details and or photos.

Do you have or can you take and post some photos of the setup with the current panels?

Once you help fill in a few more details, we can get to specifics as to what you want /need to do.

Jamie
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:12 PM   #13
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


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You have to have a sub panel in the garage with the items you want to run. There is no way around it.

Questions:
1. Is this a detached garage? I assume it is, but could not find where you specifically mentioned if it was.

2. How is the current sub panel connected, is there conduit running to it?

3. Do you really need to upgrade to 200A service? - Do you use electric hot water, electric dryer, a heat pump, hot tub, pool? I mean, I don't care if you upgrade, it is just unnecessary for many people.

4. What model and size (number of breaker slots) panel do you have in the house - a photo of this would be great, one with the cover off would be even better if your comfortable removing the cover. -I just want to get a feel for what you dealing with. If it's in reasonable order, and has space, then I'd may lean towards leaving it alone, if it is a mess and or it is full, I would lean towards replacing it, and perhaps a service upgrade if your going to have to replace the whole panel, but I just can't tell you that without more details and or photos.

Do you have or can you take and post some photos of the setup with the current panels?

Jamie
1. Yes, it is detached.
2. The current sub panel is fed with over-head line from the house to the garage.
3. I do not know if I need to upgrade. I don't have a pool, hot tub, electric dryer. The usual, fridge, dishwasher, fans, AC, lights, tv, etc. Nothing big or that would require major power. I may not need 200 Amps at this time but I do plan to build a guest house on the back in the future.
4. I will post pictures as soon as I get them.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:24 PM   #14
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Legal to have subpanel in garage?


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1. Yes, it is detached.
2. The current sub panel is fed with over-head line from the house to the garage.
3. I do not know if I need to upgrade. I don't have a pool, hot tub, electric dryer. The usual, fridge, dishwasher, fans, AC, lights, tv, etc. Nothing big or that would require major power. I may not need 200 Amps at this time but I do plan to build a guest house on the back in the future.
4. I will post pictures as soon as I get them.
I agree, get rid of the overhead wires. What you want to do is bury plastic conduit and run it from the panel in the house to the panel in the garage. The conduit is cheap, digging is the hardest part. Then I would suggest running 6gage wire for 60Amp service to the garage. That will be more than enough capacity for the laundry, tools, compressor, etc.

I'll watch for some photos from you, so we can figure out if your main panel is going to be ok to run this from or if it is going to need some help.

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Old 02-24-2009, 01:36 PM   #15
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I agree, get rid of the overhead wires. What you want to do is bury plastic conduit and run it from the panel in the house to the panel in the garage. The conduit is cheap, digging is the hardest part. Jamie

Does it have to be underground?. Is overhead not permitted anymore?. I believe that the underground installation will cost me a bit more since obviously there will be digging to do and specially because there is cement in the path.

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