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Old 05-15-2010, 03:07 PM   #1
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Is a 15 amp panel ok to do?


I want to add a sub panel in my garage and eventually run 100 amps or so to it. But for now, I'd like to just use the existing 15 amp 120v circuit to power the sub panel. I would split the hot in two across both legs (or just keep one dead if it's not ok to do that. I know DP breakers would not provide the 240v, but it would at least help me organize my electrical better for when I do run a proper install. When I have the money I would then run a conduit and make it a higher amperage panel.

Is there any physical reasons, or code reasons why I could not do this? For example would 14/2 even fit properly on the 100 or 200 amp breaker? Or would it be too loose?
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Old 05-15-2010, 06:13 PM   #2
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I don't think a 100a panel lugs will accept a #14 wire
You could back feed the panel with a breaker
Not sure on code



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Old 05-15-2010, 06:45 PM   #3
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Code only allows a minimum of a 30A feeder.
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Old 05-15-2010, 06:53 PM   #4
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Figured, I will wait till I can afford to do it properly right off the bat then. If I add any new circuits I will just run the wire in a way to consider the location of the panel so it's easy to just add it later.
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:15 AM   #5
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If it is really temporary, like a couple of days or even weeks, just use the 15. Worst thing that will happen is that it trips.
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Old 05-16-2010, 10:29 AM   #6
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If you want to get the panel in place and get all your wiring run to the new panel, you could probably just temporarily use the new panel as a junction box. As long as you keep your 15-amp limitation in mind, and keep the 15-amp breaker upstream, I'd probably be tempted to just bring my new circuits into the panel along with the 15-amp feed, and wirenut everything together. Then you don't have an illegal 15-amp feeder, you've got a legal 15-amp circuit.

Someone else might have to chime in on whether this would be completely legal, but for temporary use it makes sense to me. That way you can get all your wiring complete and energize what you need for now.
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Old 05-16-2010, 01:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McSteve View Post
If you want to get the panel in place and get all your wiring run to the new panel, you could probably just temporarily use the new panel as a junction box. As long as you keep your 15-amp limitation in mind, and keep the 15-amp breaker upstream, I'd probably be tempted to just bring my new circuits into the panel along with the 15-amp feed, and wirenut everything together. Then you don't have an illegal 15-amp feeder, you've got a legal 15-amp circuit.

Someone else might have to chime in on whether this would be completely legal, but for temporary use it makes sense to me. That way you can get all your wiring complete and energize what you need for now.
I was thinking this too, I might go that route. Then when I run a proper feed I can just hook them to their own individual breakers.
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Old 05-16-2010, 09:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
I would split the hot in two across both legs
According to my building inspector... this is a no-no. Not sure why, but I think code requires that a subpanel be feed with 4 wires.
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Old 05-16-2010, 11:26 PM   #9
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Feed your 15 amp hot into a 15 amp breaker in the new panel you are setting up. Make sure your neutral and ground busses are NOT bonded (connected) together, they probably won't be for a sub panel.

Add the breakers and wires properly they way you want them, just remember you can[edit]'t actually USE 20 amps even though you put in a 20 amp breaker.

Even though the other leg isn't energized, you can still hook things up there just to keep the future load balanced (say a second run of outlets).

When you are ready to run the big feeders, you simply pull the original breaker with the 15 amp feed out before you put the big wire into the main lugs.

Done!

BTW, I ran my hole house of a single 40 amp breaker when I cut over from my old service panel to my new one, doing it exactly as I described above - except I was able to energize both legs with the 220 40amp breaker.

Last edited by xxPaulCPxx; 05-17-2010 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxPaulCPxx View Post
Feed your 15 amp hot into a 15 amp breaker in the new panel ...
Add the breakers and wires properly they way you want them, just remember you can actually USE 20 amps even though you put in a 20 amp breaker.
Wait a minute!

You should not be able to get more than 15 amps @ 120 volts to share among all the loads in your new subpanel given the 15 amp breaker feeding the original garage circuit back at the main panel.

Does this need to be inspected before you string the new 2-3 or whatever cable? If not, there should be no problem pigtailing the incoming 14 gauge feed and backfeeding two breakers as a temporary hookup, one for each side of the line in the subpanel.
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Old 05-17-2010, 12:10 PM   #11
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Edited my post - forgot to add the 't to make "can't"!

Really, I can't specifically see a problem with feeding both sides off the same phase other than 220 lines won't work properly, but it still seems a little funky.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by xxPaulCPxx View Post
Really, I can't specifically see a problem with feeding both sides off the same phase other than 220 lines won't work properly, but it still seems a little funky.
While I don't recall exactly what my building inspector said, though I believe it has something to do with the next person ever owning the house perhaps trying to connect a 220 to it... but then you would think that if someone knew enough to try to wire 220 breaker, that they would notice when they opened the box that its only one phase.

I totally agree that I don't see the problem with there being only one phase provided all the correct size breakers and wire is getting used (however, keep in mind, the lugs are supposed to only have one wire under them in most panels, so you would need to either strip a really long piece of wire and feed it through both lugs, or use pigtails to both lugnuts).

But when I describe feeding a sup-panel with a single phase to my local head building inspector, he flat-out shot it down. I can't say for sure, but I want to say that when he called the electrical inspector in on the discussion, the electrical inspector said all sub-panels required 4 wires, two hots (2 phases), neutral, and ground.

So before wiring it up, I'd suggest talking to your local inspector to see if he will allow it.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:50 PM   #13
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Actually, the way I did it was how my building inspector told me to do it!

I would not feed the 14ga. wire to the lugs though, only back-feeding it though a 15 amp breaker and labeling it as FEEDER, on the wire and on the panel.

The point of this isn't that this is the final solution he's looking for, it's just a step so he can later add the wires to a fully setup and tested box.
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Old 05-17-2010, 02:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxPaulCPxx View Post
Actually, the way I did it was how my building inspector told me to do it!
If the OP can get his local AHJ to agree to it, I certainly had no problems with it.

I'm just trying to toss out the general warning because of what happened to me.

I wired up a small two phase sub-panel in my basement with only a single phase as un-permitted work. When I went to get a permit to finish in the basement and tried to include this sub-panel in the permit, my inspector shot it down for having only one phase supplying power to a two phase panel. If I wanted to keep the sub-panel, MY inspector required ME to run a 4 wire cable to the sub-panel. Your mileage may vary.
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