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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Albany, GA
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    Default sizing service for a small shop

    I'm getting ready to start on a project to convert our attached single-car garage into a mud room/workshop. I'm going to put a partition wall in the space to divide the areas.

    Currently the garage is served my a single 20-amp circuit that also services some porch lights and ceiling light fixtures in the house. There are three outlets on in the garage. Right now, the washing machine and garage door opener are the only appliances plugged into the circuit. We also have plans to obtain a chest freezer at some point and put it on one of the outlets.

    I need to put some electrical service into the shop area of the garage, and want to know if an additional 20-amp circuit is sufficient. I plan on running power rails down each side of the shop, and I'll have a TV and several consumer-grade power tools (saws, drills, etc.), although the chances of me utilizing more than a couple of tools simultaneously is pretty slim.

    My concern is that the our service box is already full... I'll need to convert one of the two remaining single-pole breakers to a tandem breaker to get my shop service working. Do I need also split the mudroom into two circuits, since I'll have two large appliances in that room? We've also kicked around the idea of replacing the porch light with some flood lights for the backyard.

    We just bought this house and have all sorts of pie-in-sky dreams about how to fix it up... I'm just trying to figure out what we can reasonably accomplish before we start investing in these projects.

    Thoughts?
    -Cameron Lashley

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,560

    Default Re: sizing service for a small shop

    I would suggest a 50 amp 240 sub-panel in the garage.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Shamokin, Pa.
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    Default Re: sizing service for a small shop

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    I would suggest a 50 amp 240 sub-panel in the garage.
    Jack
    I agree with JLM.
    A sub panel can be half the amps of the main panel. So if you are lucky enough to have a 200 amp service on the property you could have a sub panel of 100 amps, which would allow for other future projects as well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    jersey
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    174

    Default Re: sizing service for a small shop

    Before adding a sub panel I would want to know what kind of load your house currently has, what size service, how many circuits in the panel and where the current panel is located in respaect to the shop. I would upgrade existing before addig to it, otherwise adding a sub could be compuonding a problem you dont know you have.

    your small shop could be just as well served with the addition of a few 20 amp circuits on the benchtop. Of course addressing the freezer seperately.

    I'm not so fast to start throwing sub panels around, they can complicate things. IN MY OPINION
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Albany, GA
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    Default Re: sizing service for a small shop

    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post
    Before adding a sub panel I would want to know what kind of load your house currently has, what size service, how many circuits in the panel and where the current panel is located in respaect to the shop. I would upgrade existing before addig to it, otherwise adding a sub could be compuonding a problem you dont know you have.

    your small shop could be just as well served with the addition of a few 20 amp circuits on the benchtop. Of course addressing the freezer seperately.

    I'm not so fast to start throwing sub panels around, they can complicate things. IN MY OPINION
    I've included a picture of the existing service panel... it's basically full. My only opportunities for expansion currently are replacing the two remaining single-pole breakers with tandem breakers, but that only give me two circuits. I would really rather have two 20A circuits for the shop alone, and an additional circuit for the freezer, so I'm already coming up short.

    The existing panel is installed near the back of the garage, and will end up in the laundry room portion of the house once I get the partition wall constructed. If I do go with a sub-panel, it would have to be located on the opposing (shop) side of the partition wall, as there isn't enough space to locate a new panel next to the existing service panel.

    I do have a couple of other long-term projects that I want to accomplish, including exterior flood lighting and outside outlets (the house has no external outlets, which is a pain in the butt), so I'm leaning toward the sub-panel as the best option to accomplish my immediate and long-term goals.

    The existing service panel is on the opposite end of the house from the utility drop, with the service leads running through the attic. The utility company is actually in the process of re-wiring the entire subdivision, and they've staked out my yard so they can replace the buried lead between the transformer and the meter sometime before the end of the year... if I need to upgrade my incoming service, now is the time to do it.

    Thoughts?
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    -Cameron Lashley

  6. #6
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: sizing service for a small shop

    Or you could remove the existing and put in a panel with more spaces.
    Last edited by canuk; 10-04-2009 at 02:21 PM.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Albany, GA
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    19

    Default Re: sizing service for a small shop

    Quote Originally Posted by canuk View Post
    How about removing the existing and put in a panel with more spaces.
    I'm operating on the assumption that subpanel would be a less expensive alternative to completely replacing the existing panel, which would likely need to be moved since there's not space in the corner were it is currently (it's boxed in by the water heater and the kitchen door). Maybe I'm wrong, but that was my original thought process.
    -Cameron Lashley

  8. #8
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    Default Re: sizing service for a small shop

    Quote Originally Posted by clashley View Post
    I'm operating on the assumption that subpanel would be a less expensive alternative to completely replacing the existing panel, which would likely need to be moved since there's not space in the corner were it is currently (it's boxed in by the water heater and the kitchen door). Maybe I'm wrong, but that was my original thought process.
    That's the problem with the internet .... can't see all the details.

    Then sounds like the sub-panel is the way to go ........ if there's 2 slots available for a 40 or 60 amp double breaker to feed the sub for future expansion.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Shamokin, Pa.
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    645

    Default Re: sizing service for a small shop

    Quote Originally Posted by canuk View Post
    That's the problem with the internet .... can't see all the details.

    Then sounds like the sub-panel is the way to go ........ if there's 2 slots available for a 40 or 60 amp double breaker to feed the sub for future expansion.
    Truth about the net !!! I tell people I can't see the problem from here, and that is communicating via a celly....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    jersey
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: sizing service for a small shop

    Quote Originally Posted by clashley View Post
    I've included a picture of the existing service panel... it's basically full. My only opportunities for expansion currently are replacing the two remaining single-pole breakers with tandem breakers, but that only give me two circuits. I would really rather have two 20A circuits for the shop alone, and an additional circuit for the freezer, so I'm already coming up short.

    The existing panel is installed near the back of the garage, and will end up in the laundry room portion of the house once I get the partition wall constructed. If I do go with a sub-panel, it would have to be located on the opposing (shop) side of the partition wall, as there isn't enough space to locate a new panel next to the existing service panel.

    I do have a couple of other long-term projects that I want to accomplish, including exterior flood lighting and outside outlets (the house has no external outlets, which is a pain in the butt), so I'm leaning toward the sub-panel as the best option to accomplish my immediate and long-term goals.

    The existing service panel is on the opposite end of the house from the utility drop, with the service leads running through the attic. The utility company is actually in the process of re-wiring the entire subdivision, and they've staked out my yard so they can replace the buried lead between the transformer and the meter sometime before the end of the year... if I need to upgrade my incoming service, now is the time to do it.

    Thoughts?

    Uprage the existing panel.
    use an eaton cutler hammer type ch (classic) 200a main breaker 40 circuit panel
    That bryant thats in there is garbage anyway and probably in mediocre condition at best anyhow. remember K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid)? why add a panel when the existing one is likely going to need to be replaced soon anyway? That will give you plenty of room to add a few 20 amp circuits on your bench or anywhere else in the house. A pro would cost you 800 - 1200 depending on what part of the country your in. (assuming the rest of the service in good condition) Update the grounding while your at it. Probably needs a ground rod and a waterpipe ground. Then any questions you have about running the 2 circuits yourself he can show you right there on the spot, and even give you a price for it so you know how much your saving.

    edited to add
    You actually DONT have two spaces left to add. You cant put any breakers in those slots opposite the main, in fact there should be a small red plastic tab inside there to prevent you from doing so. Not only is it not listed for it, but if I recall on the inside of the panel cover in the fine print it actually tells you not to. The reason has to do with heat on the main. those br mains put alot of heat out, probably why they burn up so much, add a few breakers next to them ... even more heat.. etc etc upgrade.
    Last edited by Lloyd; 10-04-2009 at 11:06 PM.
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