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Installing an Electrical Sub-Panel
Thinking about installing a Sub Panel? Here is what must be considered first, and you may find that you really do not need a sub panel at all.
Guide for adding a Sub-Panel
- I want to install a sub panel.
- Can I install a sub panel from another 100 amp main panel?
- What size wire cable should I use?
This electrical question came from: Barbaro, a Handyman from Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
Electrical Question #2: Can I add a sub panel to a sub panel?
- My electrician was supposed to provide for three 220volt outlets in my garage sub panel, but he used all the available breaker space for other circuits.
- Now there is one 220volt outlet circuit with unconnected wires in the panel and no where to go.
- How can I get this one outlet wired up, without replacing the entire sub panel?
- Should I replace the sub panel it with a larger panel?
This electrical wiring question came from Jack, in Los Angeles, California.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Barbaro and Jack.
Considerations about Installing an Electric Sub Panel
Application: Adding a Sub Panel.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor, Not Recommended for Homeowners.
Tools Required: Electricians pouch of hand tools and the various power tools necessary for installing the sub-panel.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type and size of the panel and available access to the project area.
Precaution: Any existing electrical wiring within the immediate area that may interfere with the installation of the sub panel should be identified and turned OFF and Tagged if necessary. Working in an electric panel is dangerous due to arc flash hazards and the possibility of electric shock.
Notice: Installing additional electrical wiring and a sub-panel should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
Before Installing an Electrical Sub Panel
Many electrical panels allow tandem, twin or quad circuit breakers to be installed which will allow the installation of a few more circuits, so research the type of panel that you have to see if it will allow installing circuit breakers of these types.
- Before installing a sub panel the following should be considered:
- Does the existing electrical panel have enough electrical capacity for the additional load of the new sub-panel.
- Does the existing electrical panel have the physical space available for a circuit breaker that would feed the new sub-panel.
- The size of the sub panel and the cable size that is required for the new sub-panel will depend on the electrical load that will be connected to the new sub-panel.
Factors that Determine the Size of a Sub Panel
- List all the electrical devices that will be added to the panel.
- Identify any devices that require a dedicated circuit.
- Determine the number of spaces that will be required for circuit breakers in the new sub panel.
- Calculate the total connected electrical load that will be added to the sub panel.
- Using the total connected load and the number of required circuits, determine the amperage of the sub panel and total number of circuit breaker spaces that will be needed.
- NOTE: The amperage size of the sub panel may be less than the total connected load. The actual panel amperage may be factored upon the circuits and equipment that is connected to the sub panel.
More about Electric Panels and Circuit Breakers
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The home circuit breaker panel contains several circuit breakers that are carefully installed by experienced electricians and electrical contractors.
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This article looks at common 120 volt and 240 volt house wiring circuits and the circuit breakers that are installed identifying the types and amperage sizes used in most homes.
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Wiring GFCI Outlets
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Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
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Troubleshooting and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.