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Old 04-01-2015, 10:24 AM   #1
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Installing a Subpanel in Garage


Hi everyone, I've decided to go with installing a subpanel in my garage approx. 100 ft possibly more away from the main circuit breaker. This would involve digging a trench and running conduit under the yard area. I am relatively new to electricity and while I understand basic wiring and how everything works, do you guys think I should enlist the help of an electrician for this job? I understand how to do all the wiring, it is just the fact that I've never done anything this complex before especially with 240v. Please send your recommendations, thanks!
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:12 AM   #2
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My usual recommendation, that subpanels are not good candidates for the first project as a DIY electrician..
Get a more experienced help, if you can.
You can definitely save money by digging the trench yourself.
Rent the equipment or do it by hand.
Most likely, you'll need the trench to be about 18" deep plus the thickness of the conduit to be buried (I'd do 1.5" or 2" for that length, considering that you may be running 4 #2 wires in it)
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:18 AM   #3
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No one can guess on wire size or conduit size at this point.
We would need to know what size sub panel you are installing and how much power do you think you require in the garage.
Provide some detail and someone will help you.
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:30 AM   #4
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I plan on installing maybe two lights on the ceiling maybe an exterior light both controlled by individual switches, and a series of outlets for some power tools. Maybe a compressor in the future but most likely only one tool will be used at a time. What do you recommend? Do I need a subpanel or just a single circuit?
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbrando1994 View Post
I plan on installing maybe two lights on the ceiling maybe an exterior light both controlled by individual switches, and a series of outlets for some power tools. Maybe a compressor in the future but most likely only one tool will be used at a time. What do you recommend? Do I need a subpanel or just a single circuit?
What you are describing, calls for a subpanel.
Consult with a local electrician, but I would recommend 60A at the very least (6 AWG conductors)
You can do 100A as well, but that calls for #2 conductors, which may be a bit more expensive.
Discuss those options with the electrician.

To answer J.V.'s post: PVC conduit is cheap, so if you bury 1.5", you can do up to four 1/0 conductors, which should be plenty for almost ANY residential garage, and it will make the pulling easier.
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbrando1994 View Post
I plan on installing maybe two lights on the ceiling maybe an exterior light both controlled by individual switches, and a series of outlets for some power tools. Maybe a compressor in the future but most likely only one tool will be used at a time. What do you recommend? Do I need a subpanel or just a single circuit?
Since you mention compressor and power tools, I recommend a sub panel.
Do you have any extra spaces in your existing service panel?
You need room to add another two pole breaker for the feeder to the sub panel.
You will need a breaker panel for the sub and you will need to protect the feeder with the correct size breaker.

This is the most asked question on this forum. (sub panels) Use the search function above and get much information and explanations.
Then ask questions you need further explanation about. We have covered this subject countless times.
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutmegger View Post
What you are describing, calls for a subpanel.
Consult with a local electrician, but I would recommend 60A at the very least (6 AWG conductors)
You can do 100A as well, but that calls for #2 conductors, which may be a bit more expensive.
Discuss those options with the electrician.

To answer J.V.'s post: PVC conduit is cheap, so if you bury 1.5", you can do up to four 1/0 conductors, which should be plenty for almost ANY residential garage, and it will make the pulling easier.
You are getting way ahead of yourself. How do you know what wire size he needs? What if he wants to pull copper? He would not need #2 if he goes with copper.
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Old 04-01-2015, 12:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by J. V. View Post
You are getting way ahead of yourself. How do you know what wire size he needs? What if he wants to pull copper? He would not need #2 if he goes with copper.
My advice is a very general one, seeing as I'm recommending to talk to an electrician -- this is not a DIY project, not for a first-timer anyway.
I am just giving the original poster enough information about things to consider and to bring up in the conversation.
About the conduit -- the price difference between (let's say) 1" and 2" PVC is so small, that it's a no-brainer to go with an oversize conduit when you're digging and burying 100 feet of it, even if the possibility of the future expansion and/or upgrades are small.
I see it time and again, where streets, sidewalks and lawns have to be excavated 5-15 years later when the original builder who buried the service lateral thought that 100A service will be all that the house will ever need.
I realize that this is not a service but a feeder to a garage, but the same logic applies: if you're doing this, go with a bigger conduit, and you'll thank me later.
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutmegger View Post
My advice is a very general one, seeing as I'm recommending to talk to an electrician -- this is not a DIY project, not for a first-timer anyway.
I am just giving the original poster enough information about things to consider and to bring up in the conversation.
About the conduit -- the price difference between (let's say) 1" and 2" PVC is so small, that it's a no-brainer to go with an oversize conduit when you're digging and burying 100 feet of it, even if the possibility of the future expansion and/or upgrades are small.
I see it time and again, where streets, sidewalks and lawns have to be excavated 5-15 years later when the original builder who buried the service lateral thought that 100A service will be all that the house will ever need.
I realize that this is not a service but a feeder to a garage, but the same logic applies: if you're doing this, go with a bigger conduit, and you'll thank me later.
Fair enough.
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