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Old 08-18-2010, 03:49 PM   #1
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Subpanel location and size


Hello,

This is my first post. I just got done rewiring my whole house but now thinking of ways I could have done it quicker, cheaper, better, etc. Does code allow a subpanel in the attic, even if there is no steps to the attic and the height at center is at most 6 ft? Also, what size panel would you recommend for this subpanel which would feed 4 average size bedrooms and two bathrooms? Appreciate any advice!

-Ryan

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Old 08-18-2010, 04:20 PM   #2
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Subpanel location and size


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Hello,

This is my first post. I just got done rewiring my whole house but now thinking of ways I could have done it quicker, cheaper, better, etc. Does code allow a subpanel in the attic, even if there is no steps to the attic and the height at center is at most 6 ft? Also, what size panel would you recommend for this subpanel which would feed 4 average size bedrooms and two bathrooms? Appreciate any advice!

-Ryan
You need to be able to access any panel. You can't have it in a area with limited access (i.e. tight attic space) like a junction box. There are a number of rules on how much clearance you need around the box.

I put a panel in my "attic", but it has walk in access, has enough height and clearance around the panel, is not a clothes closet, etc. In reality, what I call my attic could be another functional room, except the ceiling is at a slope and gets too low quickly, so I use it for storage and call it a "attic".

However, most of the time an attic is not an appropriate or code legal place for a panel. If by no steps you mean that the attic is at a higher level and you need a ladder to access it, then most certainly no. If by no steps you mean that the attic is a walk in like I described mine to be, then maybe.

I used a sub panel because it supplied my kitchen & 2 bathrooms, and it was far easier and more efficient for me to run a 60A sub than it was to run all those circuits back to the main.

In your case, it is likely much easier to run a conduit to a accessible location and then just run the wires back to the main panel. You could put in a 3/4" run of ENT and pull 4 hot, 2 neutral 1 ground for a total of 4 circuits. 1 for each bath, and split 2 between the bed rooms, unless you know there is going to be a heavy load in the bedrooms, then pull 2 more hots and 1 more neutral and put each bedroom on it's own. Run all as 20A.

Jamie

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Old 08-18-2010, 04:24 PM   #3
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Subpanel location and size


A panel in an unfinished attic space is bad idea because of the excessive heat in the summer time. The higher the ambient temperature level, the lower the amperage a conductor is able to provide.
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Old 08-18-2010, 04:27 PM   #4
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In this situation I would opt to put it right in the hallway on the second floor. You can feed all the cables down to it from the attic.

Install a flush mount panel, get it inspected. When the inspector is gone put a picture over it and you're done. It's easily accessible yet you won't have to see it nor will guests know it's there.
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Old 08-18-2010, 04:30 PM   #5
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A panel in an unfinished attic space is bad idea because of the excessive heat in the summer time. The higher the ambient temperature level, the lower the amperage a conductor is able to provide.
In my case, my "attic" is insulated, but has no HVAC. So it does reach higher temperatures, but is well within the temp rating of everything used. I really doubt my attic ever sees much past 90f. Though I can see how a regular attic could easily end up being too hot, especially in southern climates.

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Old 08-18-2010, 04:49 PM   #6
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Subpanel location and size


thanks for all the responses so far! Another question i have while I'm thinking about it is what is typically done to rewire an old house as far as the upstairs is concerned? Are all the branch circuits brought up individually (using romex) into the attic through the interior walls or would it be easier/cheaper to run conduit up the side of the house? I had a total of 8 circuits going to the upstairs (1 for each bedroom, 1 for each bathroom, lights, and smoke detectors) so i had to rip the sheet rock off an entire wall in one of the bedrooms to bring two romex cables up between each stud cavity, not to mention ripping down lots of drywall downstairs to even get all those cables up to the bedroom wall! There must be a way to do this so that you don't have to rip half the drywall in the house down!

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