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Old 01-21-2009, 05:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Subpanel in attic question

Hey Guys, I am turning my attic into two bedrooms and a bathroom and want to install a subpanel in the attic since I only have 4 spaces left on my main panel.

My question is what type of wire do I need to run to the subpanel, it will be 60 amp panel and the run will be 12'-14' (inside the house). Do I use 6-3 copper, 4-3 copper or should I use the aluminum looking wire (not sure of the name). I am not a electrician, but I do work on marine AC\DC systems and we use stranded wire for both AC and DC and all grounds and bonding systems are connected.

I also have read that in a subpanel installed in a garage, out building, something not connected to your house, etc you must isolate the neutral from the ground by adding another terminal strip. I cant find any info on a subpanel installed in the same dwelling as the main panel, if you still isolate the neutrals from the grounds.

One more question, can I install a 100amp panel upstairs and only supply it with 60amps? I understand I wont have nor will I ever need 100amps, I wont even come close to needing 60amps but I figured the new A\C system will run off of the subpanel for the kids rooms. Home Depot has a deal on a 100 amp panel with breakers (5- 20amp) for $60.00, it is made by Square D Homeline brand. I dont know if it is junk or not, I never took notice to how many panels are out there.

I did read that you should use the same brand breaker as the panel manufacture, I'm not sure why, but someone said if you have a fire and all breakers do not match, you could have a problem with the insurance company . Thank you

Frank
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What size breaker is to feed the new subpanel?
This will determine wire size, new sub panel and other factors.

Have you considered an electrician?
Do you have children in the house?
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Old 01-22-2009, 06:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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good points

For instance he could supply the 100 amp sub box with a 50 amp breaker in the main box but I don't recommend it.

In most states you can't do this unless you pull a permit and to pull a permit you need a license........for obvious reasons.
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Old 01-22-2009, 01:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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In Jersy I know for a fact that a licenced electrician nees to do your work.

That being said you can put in a 100 amp box but only pull 50 amps from it, but in the future when your house sells or you forget you end up overloading the feed with a big box. I am sure that would not pass code, but if you are doing it yourself and never tell anyone, go for it.

I pulled 60 amps out to my garage with copper standed. Used 4 seperate wires, two for power, one to tie back to the house ground, and 1 for a redundant gound.

In a house I assume all that wire will have to be in conduit to the extra panel as well.
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Old 01-22-2009, 02:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuilderBob View Post
What size breaker is to feed the new subpanel?
This will determine wire size, new sub panel and other factors.

Have you considered an electrician?
Do you have children in the house?
I was going to install a 60 amp breaker in my main panel.

I normally do everything myself, I have been in several houses that were built, wired, plumbing work completed all by professional's and passed all inspections and the way some of the work was done makes me wonder how safe that house will be down the road. I do ask questions and make sure it is done the correct way and would never put my family, animals or house at risk. I am pretty hard headed and it does take me a long time to complete my projects.

My neighbor is a builder and helps me alot on the building side, I have three uncle's that are union electricians and the other three are union plumbers (I dont know how I ended up working on boats) but I hate calling people just when I need something. Thank you

Frank
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Old 01-22-2009, 02:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkEkberg View Post
In Jersy I know for a fact that a licenced electrician nees to do your work.

That being said you can put in a 100 amp box but only pull 50 amps from it, but in the future when your house sells or you forget you end up overloading the feed with a big box. I am sure that would not pass code, but if you are doing it yourself and never tell anyone, go for it.

I pulled 60 amps out to my garage with copper standed. Used 4 seperate wires, two for power, one to tie back to the house ground, and 1 for a redundant gound.

In a house I assume all that wire will have to be in conduit to the extra panel as well.
I bought this house from my brother in law about eight years ago, at that time the house was about seven years old. I helped build the house and the electrician who did the work was a friend of my brother in law and also a union electrician. I'm sure he was certified, but I dont think he was licenced, I could be wrong, but the house passed inspections with no problem.

I guess I could use a 60amp subpanel and a 60 amp breaker in the main, I was just being cheap. The 60 amp box and breakers cost more then the 100 amp panel package with 5 breakers included, (about $25.00 more) go figure.
Thanks for the help guys

Frank
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Old 01-22-2009, 04:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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First of all, don't let the Internet provide your final answer.

Start with a call to your local building inspector. Emphasis on "local". All kinds of laws and regulations vary from state to state, but building codes vary by city. Chicago's building codes, for example, are pretty strict (they're still a little touchy about the fire) but many of its younger suburbs aren't.

Whether the work needs to be done by a certified/licensed electrician, "supervised" and signed off by one, or whether a homeowner's allowed to do all the work is a political question, not technical, and needs to be answered locally.

Likewise conduit. Many local jurisdictions permit service entrance cable for this application, but you need to get the answer from your local AHJ. (authority having jurisdiction)

There's no reason not to supply a 100-Amp-rated subpanel from a 60-Amp breaker and 60-amp cable if that's all the load you're ever going to connect to the subpanel.
To suggest otherwise is as silly as saying you shouldn't tow a 6,000-pound trailer with a 10,000-pound-rated hitch.

The wire gauge is selected by the maximum current anticipated. It must have at least as much ampacity as the breaker feeding it. The type and alloy may be restricted by local codes. The length isn't terribly relevant until it's much, much longer than 14 feet. (if you've never done a voltage drop calculation, go ahead and do one once to reassure yourself that this advice is true and relevant)

Subpanels should have the grounded (white) and grounding (green/bare) conductors isolated from each other whether or not they're in a separate building. It will be necessary to assure that they're separated in the subpanel, too - there's usually a bonding screw to remove. If you're using metal conduit, that may suffice for the grounding conductor if you're careful about selecting conduit connectors.
(The "grounded" conductor is often erroneously called "neutral". There's nothing "neutral" about it unless it's in a balanced polyphase system without harmonic currents. Such circuits don't exist in residential work.)

There's no technical reason or National Electrical Code restriction not to use breakers and panels from different manufacturers. Insurance corporations and local codes, I can't say, but I find it hard to believe they'd get away with denying a claim if the building inspector signed off on the work. (not that they wouldn't try, but they routinely try to deny claims anyway)

Did I mention that most of your questions need to be answered locally? If not, let me emphasize that again.
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Last edited by drcampbell; 01-22-2009 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 01-22-2009, 05:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you drcampbell, I guess I need to stop thinking about boats, they need to meet a standard and there is only one proper way to do that. If they go over sea's then they are a little different.

I was suprised when I asked a couple of guys (electricians) who have boats that I work on, the question about the subpanel (ground isolation question)and WHY do they have to be isolated and they had no idea why. I did some reading and found out why, I'm still not real clear on why the main panel does not have to have the grounds isolated. Thank you again, I will stop by town hall and talk to our local electrical inspector.

Frank
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Old 01-22-2009, 05:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Boats have their electrical systems isolated from the hull, and all metal parts of the boat (electrical or not) bonded to each other, to minimize stray currents. Minimizing stray currents minimizes galvanic corrosion - not a small problem on a boat.

The grounded and grounding conductors in a building are isolated because they have different functions.

The grounded (white) conductor is there to carry return current every day for 120-Volt loads. (and unbalanced 240-Volt loads) As you turn things on, conductors and connectors warm up and expand a little. When you turn things off, they cool and contract. Over the years, this thermal cycling loosens connections.

The grounding (bare) conductor is there to blow the fuse when an insulation breakdown shorts a hot wire to the metal case of an appliance. By not running current through it every day, there's no heating, no thermal cycling, and with any luck, the connections will remain tight until the day they're needed during a short-circuit emergency.

The grounded (white) conductor is grounded at exactly one point for two reasons: First, if it's not grounded, a short circuit won't have any return path and might not blow the fuse, and second, it prevents any point in the system from having a potential greater than 120 Volts to ground, minimizing the severity of shock it's possible to receive. If you touch the one of the hot conductors of a properly-grounded 240-Volt residential circuit with your feet on the ground, you'll get a 120-Volt shock. Were it not grounded, you might get a 240-Volt shock.

I'm sure it'd be less confusing if they'd been given names that aren't so similar, but that's life.
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1986 Isuzu P'up, 177,673.8 miles.
- Hella headlights (highly recommended)
- DOT C-2 back end (also recommended)
- R-12 air conditioner converted to R-406a. Saved ozone and money
- 4.1:1 final drive converted to 3.4:1. Quieter, better mileage but it's a good thing I live in the flat Midwest.
- 9/22/2007, age 21: Still running well when reluctantly sent away for reincarnation, due to body & frame rust.

Last edited by drcampbell; 01-22-2009 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 01-22-2009, 08:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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How about, "If you touch the one of the hot conductors of a properly-grounded 240-Volt residential circuit with your feet on the ground ... "?
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1986 Isuzu P'up, 177,673.8 miles.
- Hella headlights (highly recommended)
- DOT C-2 back end (also recommended)
- R-12 air conditioner converted to R-406a. Saved ozone and money
- 4.1:1 final drive converted to 3.4:1. Quieter, better mileage but it's a good thing I live in the flat Midwest.
- 9/22/2007, age 21: Still running well when reluctantly sent away for reincarnation, due to body & frame rust.
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Old 01-23-2009, 05:19 PM   #11 (permalink)
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This post is very entertaining.
How about a good "generator question" for a good weekend laugh.


Good Luck on that attic job
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Old 01-23-2009, 06:03 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
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This post is very entertaining.
How about a good "generator question" for a good weekend laugh.


Good Luck on that attic job
Thanks Bob, I do have a generator connected to my house which was great on Christmas when the power was out, we were the only house with Christmas lights, x-box, Wii. I installed the panel for that also

Thank you

Frank
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2004 Pitbull Motorsports rigid chopper
121 TP 130rwh 250 avon
04 CRF250 mine
02 CR80 sons
03 XR100 daughters
425 Polaris magnum
500 Polaris sportsman and 300 lakota everyones
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Old 01-23-2009, 08:47 PM   #13 (permalink)
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panels sub or other?

If you had a generator power some of the ccts in the house did you isolate the neutrals? If not you would have back fed out to the transformer and energized the 14.4 kv line. Some linemen may have been killed because of that.
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Old 01-23-2009, 09:30 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This one has gone a bit far afield. Looks like most if not all the pertinent info has been posted.

Closed.
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