Service to Barn/Workshop


Old 07-30-05, 02:49 PM
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Question Service to Barn/Workshop

Just found this site... the wealth of info is astounding.

Situation: I have one 120v line running to a detached barn. I have several power tools (table saw, etc.) that cause the lights in the barn to dim heavily when turned on. Essentially, I suspect there are not enough amps headed to the barn.

I have two 20amp-240v breakers on my subpanel that I am no longer using (old house, used to be used for space heaters). I would like to use the existing 120v lines for the barn lights only. I would like to then add another 20amp circuit for receptacles in the barn (for power tools).

Until I read some posts on this site, my plan was to add a 20a-120v breaker to the subpanel (after removing the 240v breaker), run the wire underground (in conduit) to some place in the barn, and split it from there to 6 or 8 receptacles around the barn.

Is this sufficient? Or should I add a breaker panel in the barn? If so, can I simply replace the 20a-240v breaker with a 60amp-240v breaker in the subpanel?

Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-30-05, 03:52 PM
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Some more info.

On the current 120v-20amp line is the following: four 4' dbl. flourescents, two 8' double flourescents, one 2' double flourescents, and 6 or 8 receptacles.

My route to run the new wiring will be about 100 feet.

I am looking for the best plan of action. What is best? What is safest? If i'm going to put the time, money and energy into doing this, I would like to do it right. The first time.
Old 07-30-05, 03:56 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
No can do. You can only run a single circuit to the barn, not two circuits.

You already have a single circuit. So you are stuck with that, or you can replace it.

Your other options are a multi wire circuit, which will give you two 120 volt circuits from a 240 volt breaker in the house, or running a sub panel in the barn.
Old 07-30-05, 04:05 PM
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What is my best option?

Thanks for the information.

I understand that I cannot run another single circuit. I assume this is per the NEC?

Would the idea of running a multi-wire circuit handle what I need? This is going to be a woodworking shop. I would be the only person working in there, so no problem with all of the equipment running at once.

Or would it best to install a breaker box in the barn?
Old 07-30-05, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
If you are going to go to the trouble of digging a trench and running wire, you should really run wire for a sub panel. Especially since we are talking about a barn, and not a shed or a garage.
Old 07-30-05, 05:45 PM
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As I stated earlier, I have two 20amp-240v breakers that are no longer in use. Is it safe to replace one of those with a 60amp-240v breaker?

With the 60amp-240v breaker, and with a run of over 100', what size wire is required?
Old 07-30-05, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
It is safe for somebody that knows what they are doing to replace a breaker. For somebody who might not understand a panel, it might not be so safe.

A 60-amp breaker requires #6 copper wire (three insulated conductors plus ground), which should also be okay for voltage drop depending on the value of "over" in "over 100 feet".
Old 07-30-05, 06:11 PM
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John, thanks for the info.

I have a fair amount of home renovation experience including electrical issues, but I've never attempted something like this. I have researched replacing breakers enough to figure out the "how to" part of it, and am confident in my ability to do so.

The entire length is close to 120'

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