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Old 12-08-2014, 02:09 PM   #1
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


Hi all!

I've been planning on adding some power to my garage for a while now to allow me to add a charger for my electric car, and adding some outlets for other purposes in the garage. I think I've thought through the process, but I want to make sure I'm doing the right steps, and I want to ask if anyone has better ways to do this.

Step 1: I think that I want to add three circuits to my breaker box. One for the car charger (220v, 50A), one for woodworking tools I have (110v, 20A), and one for a tankless water heater I want to have installed (110v, 15A?). I think the first thing I need to do is add up all the amps that are already being pulled by my main box, and see if I have spare capacity. Is that correct? Does anyone recommend a different load-out?

Step 2: I want all the outlets along the same wall. I'm pretty sure that they need to be more than 24 inches above the ground, and the line needs to be encased in conduit; the outlets in stand-out receptacles. I'm a little less sure the gauge of wire I'd need to run for each of the circuits, but I figure that there is a standard table I can use for reference. All that conduit would terminate in the bulging pillar-like enclosure that the existing panel is in, then I would run the wire into the panel, into the breakers, etc. Do I need to patch up the hole the conduit runs into, in the drywall? Is there a specific type of conduit that I need to use?

Step 3: This is more of a meta-step. I know in my area I can request a permit for something like this for pretty cheap, but do I even need to do that? Will I need someone to inspect the work, or submit plans for this? I'm not expecting anyone on this forum to know all the minutia of my area, but this seems like pretty simple and routine work, and I want to make sure that I don't do something that will cause me a headache come home inspection time, someday in the future.

Anywho, thanks for reading all this! I'd really appreciate any feedback you folks may have!

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Old 12-08-2014, 02:57 PM   #2
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


Quote:
add up all the amps that are already being pulled by my main box,
Adding up the numbers on the breaker handles will not tell you anything of value. You need to do a load calculation on the home, or get an electrician to do one for you.

Receptacle height in the garage is your choice in most areas. I like mine above 4 feet so I can lean sheets of 4x8 sheets of plywood against the wall, or place equipment/storage items there w/o having to move them to get to a receptacle.

Most of the car chargers I've see are wall mount, so a high receptacle works for them.

120V 15 amp will work for a gas tankless water heater. Electrics take a lot more power.

You didn't tell us your location (just said my area). Telling us the location or putting it in your profile often provides better answers. In some areas you may use PVC conduit, in others EMT is required.

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Old 12-09-2014, 11:46 AM   #3
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


I understand it seems little silly to get a permit/inspection for piddly little things, and I myself might have even performed a couple of minor repairs on the sly. But it depends one where you draw the line, what you define as "piddly little".

IMHO, if you're adding a 240V 50A circuit, that's no longer "piddly little" and I would encourage a permit/inspection. Just my 2.
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Old 12-09-2014, 12:09 PM   #4
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


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Originally Posted by timrob View Post
I've been planning on adding some power to my garage
...charger for my electric car, and adding some outlets

Step 1: I think that I want to add three circuits to my breaker box.
I'd really appreciate any feedback you folks may have!
ONE 2pole breaker 60A in the existing panel.
ONE cable (6/3) run into the garage
ONE sub panel installed there.

Then do you charger and lights and other from that
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Old 12-09-2014, 01:08 PM   #5
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


50A may be adequate for the electric car charger you have in mind today, but it is likely to be very inadequate for a future one. You do not mention how far the receptacle locations will be from your panel. If it's very close, then it doesn't matter because it will be easy to replace later. If it's a long distance, then it would be better to run a 100A or larger feeder to a subpanel, so you have more power available for the next generation of car chargers. You also do not mention what kind of tankless water heater you have. If it's gas, any size circuit will do. If it's electric it will require a much larger dedicated circuit, similar to a car charger (or even larger) and may require a service upgrade. Also, a single 20A circuit isn't much for woodworking tools. At the very least, install two circuits for shop tools.
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Old 12-09-2014, 01:14 PM   #6
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


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Originally Posted by mpoulton View Post
Also, a single 20A circuit isn't much for woodworking tools. At the very least, install two circuits for shop tools.
Good point. Usually a dust collector needs to run at the same time as whatever tool is actually cutting wood. Two circuits is an excellent idea.

Also if the garage will be air conditioned (heating or cooling), you might as well dedicate another circuit to that, while you're at it.
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Old 12-09-2014, 01:33 PM   #7
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


Wow! Thanks for all the great replies!

I live in the Seattle area (King county), and I think that it might be best to go ahead and get a permit/inspection no matter what I do.

The house panel is in the garage, and the outlets I would install would all be along the wall that already houses the panel. I'm not too worried about the distance of any of the runs, more interested in how the junction between the conduit and boxes on the outside of the drywall and the panel set into wall will work.

It will be a gas water heater. I had two companies come out for quotes and they both stated that I would need an outlet at the location (in the garage, about 12-15 feet from the panel) for the pilot and electronics of the water heater.

I didn't think I would need to run a sub-panel and feed, since the existing panel is already in the room, and will be quite close to where the outlets will be located.

Thanks for the recommendation on having two circuits for the shop part! Right now I run one vacuum and one tool at a time, and unplug everything else that might be plugged in, in the garage.

The last bit I still am not sure of: can I just pop a hole in the drywall and run the conduit into that, without needing to patch or do a special junction of any sort?

Thanks again for all the feedback and advice!
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Old 12-09-2014, 01:45 PM   #8
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


I would patch up any holes you make in the drywall for two reasons: 1st is that the garage has fumes that you don't want to enter the living area and 2nd is because it looks less like a hack job and more like a professional installation.

I also agree with what was said about adding more then one 20 amp circuit for tools and such. It doesn't take that much more material and time and you or the next owner will appreciate it.

I also agree with the subpanel idea. Running one run from your main panel with 4 wires to the sub then branching out to the individual runs makes for simplicity in my mind. A 100 amp sub panel is relativaly cheap and you can use whatever size breaker/wire to feed it that you need up to 100 amps. For example a 80 amp breaker on the main panel feeding the sub you would use a pair of #4AWG wires for the hots, one #6AWG for the neutral and a #8 AWG wire for the ground. I'm not licensed so get a 2nd opinion on that to be sure. This would be run through a 1" conduit. This would only use 2 slots on your main panel and give you room to expand in the garage if desired down the road.
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Old 12-09-2014, 02:06 PM   #9
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


I wouldn't run a subpanel 15 feet away, if you're got room in your existing panel for the new breakers.

I'm assuming you need to send conduit through drywall because your panel is flushmount? I don't know if code requires a full-on junction box, but I would definitely go ahead and use a box anyway, for two reasons. One, the box will be fastened to the building structure with screws for a strong and secure system unlike conduit which will just kind of be floating around. Two, the box will cover up the ragged hole so there is no need for mud and paint.

You probably already know this, but NM can't be in conduit and you can't have THHN without conduit. If you don't want to open up the wall and install conduit between your panel and where you come out to surface mount, you could instead fish NM from the panel to the surface mount box and then use that box to transition from NM to THHN.
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Old 12-09-2014, 04:49 PM   #10
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


Sorry about replying again, I don't seem to be able to edit my previous post.

So I was wrong about NM in conduit. That's only a no-go for when the conduit is in a wet location, because NM isn't rated for wet conditions.

Even though you can run NM in conduit inside a dry garage, you may not want to... solid conductor cable will be a nightmare to pull.
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Old 12-10-2014, 12:01 AM   #11
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Validation and Questions on Adding Outlets to Garage


In Washington state you need a permit for the type of work you are proposing, state law and the LNI adopted the NEC without too many amendments.

HOWEVER
I believe the city of Seattle has their own permitting and inspections process that is more restrictive than the state, so you'll want to check with city hall on any amendments and permitting processes and cost.

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