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Electrical Wiring for a Garage Workshop

Installing an Electric Panel for a Detached Garage: Electric Codes for a Detached Garage Panel, Can I use a Main Lug Only Electric Panel Load Center for a detached garage?


Garage and Workshop Electrical Wiring

Electrical Question: Can I use a Main Lug Only Electric Panel Load Center for a detached garage?

  • I intend to electrify a detached garage, which is about 60 ft. from the house panel.
  • The Power needs will be convenience outlets and lights for a workshop.
  • The project and circuits to be installed are the following:
    • I will use two 30Amp circuits, 3 wire + equipment ground, #10 wire, in 3/4″ underground PVC conduit to provide the power to the garage.
    • I plan to install a 30Amp load center in the garage with two 20Amp circuit breakers.
  • Can I use an MLO or Main Lug Only Load Center or do I need a Main Disconnect as well?

This electrical question came from: Jim, a Property Manager from Urbana, Illinois.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Jim.

Installing an Electric Panel for a Detached Garage

Application: Installing an Electric Panel for a Garage or Workshop.
Skill Level: Advanced – Best installed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Electricians pouch of hand tools and the various power tools necessary for the specific method of electrical service installation.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type of panel, the location, and available access to the project area.
Precaution: This is an extensive project. Working in an electric panel has shock and arc flash hazards and should be performed by a Certified Electrician or Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Notice: Installing an Electrical Panel should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Electric Codes for a Detached Garage Panel

Jim, because the garage is detached it would be best to have a main disconnect, however please see the following electrical codes that will apply to your question.

  • The panel may not have more than 6 circuit breakers.
  • If the number of circuit breakers are more than 6 then a main disconnect is required.
    • NEC Electrical Code Reference articles 225.31, 225.32, 225.33, 225.36.

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2 Responses to “Electrical Wiring for a Garage Workshop”
  1. John Engel says:

    You will need a main disconnect for the load center or panel you will install. The easy way to do this is with a convertible Main lug Main breaker setup. This is more expensive than putting in a 30 Amp load center, but it is safer and will be code compliant. Why are you just putting 2 20 Amp circuits in the garage? You are not leaving any room for upgrading the amperage. I would install a 60 Amp circuit to the garage that should take care of your needs. The #6 AWG wire will cost you about .88 a foot, but you will have enough amperage for an electric heater if you use your garage in the winter. Hope this helps you.

    • admin says:

      Excellent advice John,
      Thank you for your addition to this article. It is so very important to plan for any future circuits. The panel will be rated for a larger service, so it would be well to take advantage of that and run a larger feeder to provide more amperage.
      Dave

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