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Old 01-02-2011, 11:18 AM   #1
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OK, this is for you electricians, and I apologize in advance for all the newb questions. While I have TONS of experience running RG-6 cable, I am new to home electrical, and I have a project coming up that I need some advice on.

Here is what's going on:

I have a building in the backyard of the home I just moved in to. It's about 135 feet away from my house, and I have a clear path to the exterior electrical entry point for the building (I plan to rent a walk behind trencher...not planning to break my back here!). I have a Hot Tub that has an electrical junction box mounted to it (see pictures in my album, or below), and from what I was told from the previous homeowner, the panel was supposedly wired in a way that would allow for power to be attached and run to the backyard building. I am planning to run UL cable (for power), flooded RG-6 (for TV), and phone wire through conduit underground to the building in the backyard. Here are my questions:

What type of UL cable would you recommend for this project (and where can I get it cheap)?

-I only need 120 at the outlets in the building (no plans to run a dryer...but I do plan to run a window mounted A/C unit, TV, a computer and phone, and possibly assorted exercise equipment...haven't really decided what I am going to use the building for yet...lol).

-I plan to trench and run conduit (with phone and cable...but I already have both of these...it pays to work for the cable company ), and I measured it out, it looks like 150 feet should be more than sufficient.

Where can I get a good deal on conduit, or would you even recommend it for the UL cable?

-I plan to run it for the phone and RG-6 cable regardless, but I did not want to run UL cable down the same conduit as the other two...not sure if it would cause trouble.

Do I need to drive in an additional ground rod outside of the Backyard Building?

-Due to cable run being around 150 feet, is this a good idea?

Is there anything else I need for this project (other than UL cable, conduit, a rented walk-behind trencher, and the motivation to get this thing done)?

-See pictures below to see what I have to work with.


The Hot Tub Electrical Panel:


Hot Tub Panel (Close Up):


My Backyard Building:


Backyard Building Electrical Entry Point:



Interior of Backyard Building (plan to mount a window A/C unit in the window in this pic):


Interior Electrical Panel of Backyard Building:



Many many MANY thanks in advance for all the good advice!
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:39 AM   #2
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How much power is going to that hot tub breaker panel ?
And how much does the hot tub require ?
Hot tub needs a dedicated GFCI protected circuit
So if the feed is 50a & the hot tub requires 50a then you can't really add anything to that panel

With an AC, exercise equipment (some treadmills require 20a circuit) & a Computer I would not run less then a 60a panel to the building
You would need grounding rods
You will then need to take into account voltage drop
60a load at 135' with #6 wire would be 3.2% voltage drop, which would probably be OK since unlikely you would pull a full 60 a 240v
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:58 AM   #3
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WOW! That hot tub install is so illegal it's not funny. That disconnect MUST be AT LEAST 5 feet from the tub.
Did you get a home inspection when buying this house. I bet he missed this hidden violation. LOL

There is a lot going on here and I'll help as I can.

First things first.
It's UF cable, not UL cable. This is direct burial cable and not normally run in conduit. If you are going to run conduit we would always recommend THHN/THWN conductors. You will need four.

You say you only need 120v, but there is that sub-panel in the shed and there is absolutely no reason to only feed it with 120v. Just run 120/240v and have it there if you need it. Other things like voltage drop will also be lessened by running 240v.

To reiterate what Scuba asked:
What size wire is run to the hot tub?
What size breaker is feeding it?
What is the draw of the tub?

He is absolutely correct. If the tub is fed by a 50 or 60A circuit, and it requires a 50A circuit you CANNOT use that circuit to feed the shed.
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:01 PM   #4
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Ahhhh....I'm thinking a panel mounted to the side of a hot tub is a really bad idea too
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:01 PM   #5
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Yes, you need a ground rod at this shed since it is being fed with a feeder. It has nothing to do with the length of the run.

Conduit and wire can be had at any electrical supply house. Even home centers have it. If price matter that much just shop around.
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:12 PM   #6
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Thanks guys for the quick replies! I'll try to respond to everything I can here in one shot...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
How much power is going to that hot tub breaker panel ?
From the main house panel (in the garage), it looks like it is on a 60a breaker. Rough guesstimate the hot tub panel is about 60 feet from the house panel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
And how much does the hot tub require?
On the (apparently illegal as hell, and stupid to boot...) hot tub panel, it is on a 50a breaker. I'm not absolutely certain that it takes all 50 to run it (again, I am a newb to electrical), how do I find out for sure? Or is it safe to assume that since the breaker is a 50a, then it takes 50 amps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
Hot tub needs a dedicated GFCI protected circuit
So if the feed is 50a & the hot tub requires 50a then you can't really add anything to that panel
Tell me if I am wrong here, but as I posted above, it looks like the feed is 60 and the hot tub draw is 50. This means I can't use this panel in it's current configuration to run power to my shed? And I am certain that at least the hot tub is on a dedicated GFCI circuit. If it'll help, I can take a picture of the house panel, just let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
That disconnect MUST be AT LEAST 5 feet from the tub.
Did you get a home inspection when buying this house. I bet he missed this hidden violation. LOL
Lol...the "home inspection" was done by a...well, let's just say I live in Georgia, and the guy who did the inspection was related to the previous owner (who is related to...who is related to...welcome to the south...lol).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
First things first.
It's UF cable, not UL cable. This is direct burial cable and not normally run in conduit. If you are going to run conduit we would always recommend THHN/THWN conductors. You will need four.
Looks like my newb is showing...my apologies. Thanks for the correction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
You say you only need 120v, but there is that sub-panel in the shed and there is absolutely no reason to only feed it with 120v. Just run 120/240v and have it there if you need it. Other things like voltage drop will also be lessened by running 240v.
Am I looking at a huge price difference if I choose to go with 120/240 instead of just 120? Like I said, I have no plans at all to run anything that requires 240 out there, but I do kinda like the idea of having it there anyways.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
What size wire is run to the hot tub?
Not sure...what's the best way to answer this question for you (open the panel and check, or do I need to pull a little out of the ground)?




OK, hopefully that answers all your questions. Here's my next set of questions for you guys:


-A ground rod driven about 8 feet into the dirt right next to where the electrical panel in the shed is should do the trick, right?

-Obviously the hot tub panel needs moved (nobody has used it since we moved into the house...and now it'll stay that way until I get that panel moved to a safer spot!). Since it is being fed off a 60a breaker at the house panel, should I just plan to replace that breaker with something larger, run a larger wire from the house to the hot tub panel (if so, what size breaker and wire?), then proceed with trenching and running with the rest of my project as planned?

-You say that the UF cable does not need to be put into conduit...I plan to joint trench it with the RG-6 and phone cable, should I put a few inch separation (and if so, how many inches?) between these and the UF cable in the trench? Or is it safe to lay the UF cable right next to the conduit in the trench then bury it?



Sorry for the long-winded post, but it sounds to me like I'm in the right place to get some good answers. Thanks again for all the help guys.

Last edited by The Cable Guy; 01-02-2011 at 06:22 PM. Reason: spelling errors
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:54 PM   #7
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With a 60a feed & a 50a hot tub that does not leave you a lot of room to feed anything else...as far as a load calc goes
My hot tub has a 90a spa pack panel
That contains the 50a GFCI breaker & has room for (2) 20a breakers
Not sure why they called it a 90a (?)....as 50a 240v + (2) 20a 120v is 70a....

I have owned 3 hot tubs.....and I'm not sure what any of them pulled at a Max
But my current tub has (3) 4hp motors - 2 for pumps, one for air
Then it has the heater too
So very likely mine can pull a lot of juice when everything is on

If they used #6 to the tub...at 65' voltage drop is not a problem
You also need a general use outlet between I think between 6-10' from the hot tub

Running power to the building usually means a 4 wire connection
2 hots, neutral & a ground for 120/240v sub panel
Very rarely do you just run 120v (3 wires)
And possible an Inspector may not like it...unless you know him
For the cost I'd just run the extra wire
For #6 wire you are not supposed to relabel the wires (different color)
You need 2 blacks, 1 white & a green
I have seen people run all black wire with a green ground
IE buying a spool of 500' #6 black is less $ then buying (2) 135' pieces of black & (1) 135' white

I had to run (2) ground rods for my pool cabana 60a sub
8' long & at least 6' apart
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:16 PM   #8
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OK, I went ahead and took a few quick pictures of my main house panel (in the garage) for reference. It looks like the Hot Tub is running off of a dual 60a breaker?

Savannah Sunrooms & Windows, LLC. are the contractors who originally installed the hot tub, my back deck (which is falling apart), my all season room, and did the damage you see above the main panel in my garage. As far as I can tell, these butchers REALLY jacked some things up, and I have a feeling that the further I dig, the more code violations, safety issues, crappy work, and dangerous wiring I will unearth. I am close with the previous homeowner (the guy who had this hack shop come out and "install" everything), and he and I are going to look into options to get this situation rectified (anybody in the Savannah, Georgia area have any experience with this butcher shop - err - contractor? If so, pm me...may be a class action lawsuit coming down the pipe). But all of that has nothing to do with this project, so back on topic...

Pictures for reference:

Main house panel (thanks Savannah Sunrooms and Windows L.L.C. for the outstanding wallfish and drywall repair...you can't even tell it's there!)


Another shot of the main house panel (pleae ignore the clutter, we just moved in about a month ago, and not everything has found it's place yet...lol)



Panel Close Up...looks like a dual 60a breaker for the hot tub?




If there is actually 2 X 60 feeding the hot tub, then that means there (possibly...I'll open up the Hot Tub Panel tomorrow and inspect it's guts to see what's actually there...probably more pics to follow) is an additional 60a at the Hot Tub Panel for me to use to run power to the shed (someone PLEASE correct me if I am absolutely wrong here!!!). That means once I relocate the Hot Tub Panel, I can run #6 wire (4 total, 2 blacks 1 white and a green...for 120/240...just like Scuba_Dave says ) out to the shed, right?


Listen, if any of you guys ever have any questions about cable or satellite tv, please just ask...the information you've given so far is EXACTLY what I need, and I appreciate you taking the time to put it in terms I can understand!

Last edited by The Cable Guy; 01-02-2011 at 08:19 PM. Reason: Spelling...again
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:33 PM   #9
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That's 60a 240v to the hot tub
The tub uses 50a 240v....so no gain/good news there
No, there isn't 60a for the shed

I'd move that bottom left breaker to the other side for another 240v breaker for a sub in the out building

OR if you need more breaker space
Run another sub next to the main panel using that freed up 240v space
Then run the out building off that sub, or move circuits to the new sub & run the outbuilding sub from the main panel (preferred)
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
That's 60a 240v to the hot tub
The tub uses 50a 240v....so no gain/good news there
No, there isn't 60a for the shed

I'd move that bottom left breaker to the other side for another 240v breaker for a sub in the out building

OR if you need more breaker space
Run another sub next to the main panel using that freed up 240v space
Then run the out building off that sub, or move circuits to the new sub & run the outbuilding sub from the main panel (preferred)
This will probably be the route I go. Pretty sure I can handle moving the bottom 25a breaker (it's a single breaker...that means it's for 120v, right? Am I actually learning something here? Lol...) over to the right side of the panel, which will leave me room for a 60a "dual breaker" (or 120/240v...if I have actually learned something!) on the bottom left side of the house panel. If I have any questions doing this, I'll be sure to ask.

After that, it's drill baby drill (to run power out of the house, nearby where the panel is in the garage...no worries, I know what I'm doing with the old 18v DeWalt), and then trench baby trench from the side of the house straight to the outbuilding (which looks like 135 feet plus 60 feet or less...I will measure again long before I start buying wire...although I'm certainly going to look into that "500' coil might be cheaper..." bit). Then connect to the outbuilding panel (also make sure my ground rod is driven and everything is bonded properly) and done, right?

For my house panel, is a 60a 240v breaker going to be sufficient for my outbuilding (considering ~200 feet wire run...voltage drop and all that)?
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:14 PM   #11
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At 200' you would have 4.8% voltage drop pulling the whole 60a 240v load
50a load drops to 4%
40a drops to 3.2%......I don't see a problem really
Unless you expect to use a ton of power out there
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