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MattOverMinder 12-13-2007 10:56 AM

Yet another garage subpanel thread (w/ pictures!)
Hi folks, I recently purchased a split-level house with attached garage. The house was built in 1962, and the only electrical in the garage is an overhead light that's fed by the 20 amp circuit in the living room, plus some DIY work from the previous owner that splits off the light and feeds an external outlet in the back of the house, as well as an additional switch that controls an overhead florescent fixture (also in the garage).

What I'd like to do is put a sub panel out there an feed it with a 60 amp circuit from the main panel. The heart of my question is regarding the best method of getting a run of 6/3 cable from the main panel on one side of the house, to the garage on the other...

The house is built into the side of a hill, and the bottom level, or "basement" is only partially below grade (about 4 feet) in the front. It's split into two sides. One is a finished den, which is next to the garage. The other is an unfinished area, where the main panel is located on inside of the far exterior wall. I would like to try to find the best way to run the cable through the finished section with as little demolition as possible.

The unfinished part is pretty cut and dry... I should be able to run the cable through the exposed ceiling joists (unless there's some reason that you folks think that I wouldn't be able to do this). As for the finished side... there is a steel support beam that runs the length of the house and hold up the second floor. The ceiling drops down about 12 inches or so in the middle of the finished side, in order to accommodate for the beam's presence. If it's allowable, I'd like to "fish" the cable through the gap left between the I-beam and the drywall from the ceiling drop-down. There's a good couple of inches available there, and as far as I can tell, it's a clear shot all the way through. The only thing I'd have to do is drill a hole in the cinderblock wall at the garage end. Would this be possible within code (FL is still under 2005 NEC until at least 2010)? Would I need to run conduit of some kind? We're looking at about 12' or so for the finished part of the run.

Here are some pictures...

The beam from the unfinished side:

The beam from the finished side:

The beam from the inside:

...and finally, my 1962 ITE 200 amp circuit-breaker panel w/ fused main (I'll be making another thread regarding this pretty soon). I plan on removing (or reusing) the unused 50amp breaker that went to the original range/oven, since the previous owners converted to a gas range/oven a few years ago.

Thanks in advance! I really appreciate any help or advice that you can give.

HouseHelper 12-13-2007 11:25 AM

They have hills in Florida?? :)

Your plan sounds good. I have done the same thing many times. You should know that with the 6/3 wg cable you do not have to run it through holes in the joists; it can be stapled to the underside of the joists. That's assuming, of course, that the unfinished section is not suitable for finishing at some later date.

MattOverMinder 12-13-2007 12:11 PM

We have some decent hills in north FL... after that, not so much. :)

Thanks for the info. I will need to run the cable through the joists, because we do intend to finish the other side of the basement in the distant future. Basement is a loose term, here. It's really more of a first floor. There are 8 ft ceilings and plenty of full-sized windows (for emergency egress). When I say that it's partially below grade in the front, I also mean that it's completely above grade in the back and most of the sides. I don't see any reason why it couldn't be finished and neither does my future father-in-law, who is a contractor.

MattOverMinder 12-14-2007 12:53 PM

OK, part 2... once I get the cable to the end of the beam, it will need to pass through a cinder block wall to get to the garage. Once in there, it will run part of the way along said cinder block wall, and then transition to the wood framing of the unfinished garage. I will definitely want to run the cable in conduit once it enters the garage, all the way to the subpanel location, since we don't have immediate plans to drywall the garage interior (though we may do that at some point). Does the cable need to be in conduit all the way through the point where it passes through the cinder block wall?

As far as the branch circuits are concerned, would it be best the run them in conduit as well? As I said, we don't have immediate plans to drywall the garage, but it may happen at some point. I'd like for the new wiring to be able to pass an inspection without finishing the walls, while still having the option to finish them at a later date, if we decide to do so. It's my understanding that a garage could qualify as an area that an inspector may regard as a place that exposed wiring could be in potential harms way... correct?

Thanks again. :)

Andy in ATL 12-14-2007 02:49 PM

I would ask your inspector. There are terms in the code that are (disappointedly) very subjective. "Exposed to physical damage" is one of them. The inspector gets to define what this term means. What if his definition and your definition don't match?:mad: :huh:


jbfan 12-14-2007 03:46 PM

I don't see any spare room in the main panel to feed the sub.
How are you connecting the panels?

MattOverMinder 12-14-2007 07:15 PM

I mentioned it in my original post. There's a 50 amp breaker (top-left) that used to be an oven circuit. We have gas now... :)

Although, there are a couple of other circuits that aren't in use anymore, or so it would appear. I've also found that I can order tandem breakers online for pretty cheap that are specifically made for pre-1965 ITE panels. I have options. ;)

jbfan 12-14-2007 08:36 PM

I can't read, only look at the pictures!

rgsgww 07-10-2008 07:36 AM

How did you do it?
Were you successful? How did it go? I hope the forums helped.

MattOverMinder 07-25-2008 02:15 PM

Whoa, someone dragged this thread back from the dead...

Unfortunately, the project got put on an indefinite hiatus due to other projects that had to take priority. I still want to do this one of these days... hopefully within the next year or so.

I do have a new question, though. One that may push forward the time line. Given the astronomical costs of 6/3 copper, would using 4/3 aluminum cable for the 60 amp load from panel to panel be acceptable. If it's acceptable, would it be wise? Thanks.

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