Best sub panel location

Old 11-15-08, 03:06 PM
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Location: Loveland, Colorado
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Best sub panel location

Now I have a question?

I have 200A main service panel that has no slots open. When I wired my basement I included a 50A 240V breaker that occupies the last 2 slots. (I removed the drywall to access my existing panel so I went ahead and pulled my 6/3 and 2 other 12/2 wires off the panel and re-installed the drywall) I ran about 50 feet of 6/3 nmb with ground (4 wires total). I had originally planned to use this wire for my AC compressor but ended up getting the power from my meter/disconnect which was designed for a main disconnect and additional breakers for equipment. (This is not a service panel but a combination meter panel / service disconnect / equipment panel) If you are building or upgrading I would definitely recommend this meter panel.

Now here is my question... Where is the best place to put my sub panel?

Option 1: in the basement I don't need any additional circuits. (2 20A circuits and 1 15A lighting circuit already exist)
Option 2: in the garage. When running power tools existing 15A breaker trips sometimes. I would isolate garage workshop circuit from existing laundry room outlets and probably add a 20A circuit for power tools.
Option 3: exterior panel for future hot tub. Chances are I will never install a hot tub.

Before answering consider re-sale and my uses equally.

I’ll run the 6/3 from my crawl space to my attached garage. I will run the nmb through conduit to the subpanel to prevent rodents from chewing the cable and to comply with NEC. (I'd rather not cover the panel with drywall so it can be easily accessed for future needs.)

It all boils down to what is the best location for a sub panel.

4 wires total 6/3 w ground nmb run through interior crawl space to attached garage.
The sub panel
Isolated neutral from safety ground.
No ground rod.
50A main
15A breaker – existing 14/2 GFCI outlet first in series with 3 additional outlets.
20A breaker - New 12/2 – GFCI outlet 20 A pass though capability and 2 additional outlets protected by the GFCI.
I may pull a separate 15A or 20A circuit for my home theater as my breaker trips in the family room if the vacuum cleaner is fired up and the home theater is going strong.
Future capability for 240v shop stuff.

Now for rants .. in my opinion all receptacles should be 20A by code. When I refinished my hardwood floors I tripped 4 breakers as I moved along to different outlets/circuits.
Old 11-16-08, 06:57 AM
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The best placement of a subpanel is really based on the size of your house and how many circuits go where. From your description, all things being equal, I'd suggest putting your subpanel right next to your main panel so everything is in the same place.

On the other hand, if you're going to save 4-6 runs across the house, you can locate the sub in your garage. Other than the one additional 20A circuit in the garage, do you plan on any future requirements.

As for resale value, unless there is something wrong with the electrical system, which would detract from the cost of the house, basically nothing would help increase the value of the house.
Old 11-16-08, 08:04 AM
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The ideal place to put a sub panel is centrally located for all the wire runs needed. The idea being you would use less wire with shorter runs.

The above is fine and dandy for new construction with the walls all open, but with existing construction, I would say to locate it where it will be easiest to run all those wires to where they need to go.

Other then that, shortest easiest run to main panel as the main wires are a pain to run and cost a young fortune.

Then take pictures of where you want to put it and the height you want to place it at (outline with masking tape or whatever). Pictures of what would be in front of the subpanel. Then take these to your electrical inspector and ask if this location would be OK. Some areas are not allowed and it can't be blocked in front.
Old 11-16-08, 08:36 AM
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I agree with above. Place the sub panel where it will be the easiest to get to in the future and where you may need to get more circuits.

As far as your rant, I would disagree. In 99% of the time the 15 amp circuits are fine. When not refinishing your flooring does your electrical system work out fine? You were running a very heavy load and it doesn't surprise me that you were tripping breakers. A better option would have been plug into the kitchen, bath or laundry circuit. Or install a temporary circuit for the sander.

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