Advice on Subpanel for Backyard Pond.

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Old 04-10-11, 02:56 AM
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Advice on Subpanel for Backyard Pond.

Hello- Good DIY forum and this is my first post and hope someone can help me out please. I live in Northern CA.

Current Setup:
  • Pond accessories sharing 15A circuit with freezer unit in garage.
  • This 15A breaker in the main panel trips sometimes when running additional power tool on this circuit.
  • 3 #12AWG (Hot, N and G) in 3/4" dia. PVC conduit from house to GFCI outlet by the pond (55' distance).

My DIY Plan:
Option 1:
- Add one single pole 30A breaker in the main panel.
- Run Romex cable #10/3 rated for 30A from the new 30A breaker through attic and drop by the existing 3/4" conduit.
- Add J box or outlet box by the conduit.
- Pull/Remove the existing 3 #12 wires from the conduit.
- Route 3 new individual #10 wires (H, N, G) through conduit to the new 30A GFCI outlet.
- Piggy back 3 outlet boxes from the 30A GFCI outlet.


Option 2:

- Add two pole 30A breaker in the main panel.
- Run Romex cable #10/4 H,H,N,G (not sure if this cable exists) through attic and drop by the existing 3/4" conduit.
- Add J box
- Pull/Remove the existing 3 #12 wires from the conduit.
- Route 4 new individual #10 wires (H, H, N, G) through conduit to new subpanel.
- Add 30A GFCI subpanel by the pond.
- Add two 15A breakers in subpanel for separate controls.
- Each 15A breaker will power two dual outlets boxes.[/LIST]

Questions:
1. Any problems with either option? Will I be breaking any codes here?
2. Is option 2 overkill in my case?
3. Do I still need to run two 'Hot' wires (option 2) if I only need 120V power?
4. Option 2, where do I connect the ground wire? I readd that the N and G need to be separated.

Please let me know if I can help clarify my plan. Thanks in advance for your help.
 
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Old 04-10-11, 05:19 AM
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Option 1:
- Add one single pole 30A breaker in the main panel.
- Run Romex cable #10/3 rated for 30A from the new 30A breaker through attic and drop by the existing 3/4" conduit.
- Add J box or outlet box by the conduit.
- Pull/Remove the existing 3 #12 wires from the conduit.
- Route 3 new individual #10 wires (H, N, G) through conduit to the new 30A GFCI outlet.
- Piggy back 3 outlet boxes from the 30A GFCI outlet.
A general purpose 120v circuit can not exceed 20 amps.

Option 2:
- Add two pole 30A breaker in the main panel.
- Run Romex cable #10/4 H,H,N,G (not sure if this cable exists) through attic and drop by the existing 3/4" conduit.
- Add J box
You only need 10-3 for a 30a subpanel. The plan would be code compliant. Probably overkill. H,H,N,G is three conductor not four conductor. Ground isn't counted.

3. Do I still need to run two 'Hot' wires (option 2) if I only need 120V power?
You could run as a 120v subpanel but if you ran 12-3 NM-b to the outside and two hots, neutral, and insulated ground in conduit outside you could do a multi-wire circuit no subpanel required.

Using a single not multi-wire #12 dedicated circuit is probably all you need but with out knowing pump amperage it can't be said for sure.
 
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Old 04-10-11, 09:16 AM
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As Ray pointed out, general purpose receptacles are limited to 20 amps max. For this reason I suggest running a new miltiwire 20 amp circuit using #12 Romex as you described with the #10. (Run 12/3 w/g through the attic to PVC, then add another #12 wire. You may have to remove the existing wires and then pull all 4 in at once. If you do this be sure to add tie a pill string or fish tape you can be sure to pull it back. The pipe may be filled with grit or water.) Then you can either split wire a duplex receptacle or install a four-plex. Either way you would need to install a two pole, 20 amp breaker.
 
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Old 04-10-11, 09:51 AM
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Gfi is also required. I hate having to type 25 characters.
 
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Old 04-10-11, 12:16 PM
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thanks much for all the suggestions...

Really appreciate all the help here.

I want to make sure I understand clearly so I made a rough sketch but cannot find the option to attach a .jpg photo directly from computer.

Anyway, Can I do this?: - Add 20A CB in main panel for Hot, N, G.
- Run Romex cable #12/3 from 20A to conduit.
- Connect existing #12/3 wirres in conduit to new 20A GFI by the pond.
- Then run multi recepticle boxes from the 20A GFI box.

This option (if works) looks like a winner economical wise? All my pond equipments (pumps, UV, Air, lights) draw less than 7A under normal op condition.

Please let me know if this will work. I am planning on stopping by HD or Lowes to see if they have everything I need there.

Thank you again.
 
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Old 04-10-11, 12:33 PM
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Add 20A CB in main panel
It would be a 2 pole (AKA 240v) breaker.

for Hot, N, G.
- Run Romex cable #12/3 from 20A
It would be Hot, Hot, N, G.

Run Romex cable #12/3 from 20A to conduit.
Correct.

Connect existing #12/3 wirres in conduit to new 20A GFI by the pond
You will need four THWN. Two blacks, one white, one green. Note ground outside must be green and insulated. Bare wire can be used for ground on the Romex inside portion of the run.

Connect existing #12/3 wirres in conduit to new 20A GFI by the pond.
GfCIs must be after 12-3 is split to two 12-2s.
 
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Old 04-10-11, 01:20 PM
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ray2047, thanks so much for taking the time to provide such details. I am sure I am not asking or using correct electrical terms here. Learning something already here. Take care.

Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
It would be a 2 pole (AKA 240v) breaker.

It would be Hot, Hot, N, G.

Correct.

You will need four THWN. Two blacks, one white, one green. Note ground outside must be green and insulated. Bare wire can be used for ground on the Romex inside portion of the run.

GfCIs must be after 12-3 is split to two 12-2s.
 
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Old 04-10-11, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
GfCIs must be after 12-3 is split to two 12-2s.
You can wire the two GFCI's by just pig-tailing the neutral. No need to actually wire the 12/3 to 12/2 cable.
 
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Old 04-10-11, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
You can wire the two GFCI's by just pig-tailing the neutral. No need to actually wire the 12/3 to 12/2 cable.
Thank you for the correction.
 
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Old 04-11-11, 11:16 PM
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So I stopped by Lowes yesterday and got confused after talking to a gentleman who worked at the Electrical section about my plan.
He basically told me all I needed was add one 20A single pole in the main panel. Then run 3 wires of #12awg (H, N, and G) from 20A CB to a GFCI outlet by the pond.
And if I need more outlets just pig tail them off of a GFCI box.

Does this sound correct? If it does, half of the work is done already then. Please advice. Thank you.



Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
It would be a 2 pole (AKA 240v) breaker.

It would be Hot, Hot, N, G.

Correct.

You will need four THWN. Two blacks, one white, one green. Note ground outside must be green and insulated. Bare wire can be used for ground on the Romex inside portion of the run.

GfCIs must be after 12-3 is split to two 12-2s.
 
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Old 04-11-11, 11:22 PM
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So I stopped by Lowes yesterday and got confused after talking to a gentleman who worked at the Electrical section about my plan.
He basically told me all I needed was add one 20A single pole in the main panel.
No, he is wrong because you are running a multiwire circuit. You need a 240 volt breaker.
 
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Old 04-11-11, 11:39 PM
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Thanks again for your advice. I won't be talking to this person at Lowes anymore.
I will make a rough color coded wiring diagram of the plan so it is clear to me of what I need to do then will post for further advice and correction. Thanks again for your time.
Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
No, he is wrong because you are running a multiwire circuit. You need a 240 volt breaker.
 
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Old 04-12-11, 01:38 AM
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What we are suggesting will give you two 20 amp circuits. What he was suggesting would only provide one circuit. From you original post it seemed you wanted two 20a 120v circuits. Is that correct?

I will make a rough color coded wiring diagram of the plan so it is clear to me of what I need to do then will post for further advice and correction.
Yes, that would be good.
 
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Old 04-12-11, 03:24 AM
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First, I apologize for confusing you. For now, looks like a simple and workable solution for me is to use the existiing 3 #12 (black, green and white) from house to GFCI outlet by the pond. Then I just need to add a single pole 20A breaker at the main panel then run romex 12/3 (H,N,G)thru attic down to back of the house to the conduit. I don't foresee myself drawing more than 10A at one time.

1. Will this do it for me?
2. At the back of the house at conduit entry, I like to install an outlet there, do I need GFCI ouotlet or just standard outlet there?
3. Also I plan to install 2 or 3 outlets after the GFCI outlet by the pond, can I use non-GFCI outlets?

Thanks again for the great help.

Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
What we are suggesting will give you two 20 amp circuits. What he was suggesting would only provide one circuit. From you original post it seemed you wanted two 20a 120v circuits. Is that correct?

Yes, that would be good.
 
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Old 04-12-11, 09:14 PM
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any outside outlet should be gfci protected ether gfci breaker or gfci outlet. also as long as your first outlet is a gfci outlet your other ones can be regular outlets.
 

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Old 04-13-11, 12:49 AM
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Thank you solomonseo for the clarification. My next concern is I am not sure if I can just drop Romex cable from the attic down along the closed walls between the studs to the conduit junction at the back of the house. I will pick up a fish tape from Lowes or something that is about 12' long and give it a try this weekend. I hope there is just empty space between the studs or else I will just have to forget about this project. Thank you.

Originally Posted by solomonseo View Post
any outside outlet should be gfci protected ether gfci breaker or gfci outlet. also as long as your first outlet is a gfci outlet your other ones can be regular outlets.
 
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Old 04-13-11, 07:33 AM
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You can test using a 1" tape measure as a probe if no insulation.. On an outside wall in a newer house it is probably insulated and a fish tape will be required. Irony is the older the house lower probability of insulation the higher the probability of fire stops. Newer house high probability of insulation and low probability of fire stops.

You can run the conduit on the outside of the wall from the attic to the ground. Just paint to blend into the house.
 
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Old 04-13-11, 10:56 AM
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Thank you again ray2047. I really like to know exactly how to do this "You can test using a 1" tape measure as a probe if no insulation". Can you explain in layman's term, please? I was thinking of opening up one of the recepticles on the inside wall and check for insulation. Good suggestion on running a conduit and paint.

Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
You can test using a 1" tape measure as a probe if no insulation.. On an outside wall in a newer house it is probably insulated and a fish tape will be required. Irony is the older the house lower probability of insulation the higher the probability of fire stops. Newer house high probability of insulation and low probability of fire stops.

You can run the conduit on the outside of the wall from the attic to the ground. Just paint to blend into the house.
 
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Old 04-13-11, 12:09 PM
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You will need to be able to drill a one-inch hole in the top plate (upper horizontal framing member of the wall) from the attic, the roof angle may make this difficult to impossible. Once you get the hole just push a one-inch wide tape measure down the hole. If the wall is insulated you will have trouble pushing the tape, if the wall is not insulated it will push through easily. If there is a "fire stop" (horizontal blocking in the stud bay) then the tape will stop moving downward.

If you go the route of conduit on the outside of the wall you may not use type NM cable but must transition to either type UF cable or better, individual conductors with type THWN insulation at the point where the wire come through the wall.
 
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Old 04-13-11, 09:33 PM
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Thanks much Furd for clearing this up and advice on the cable types. Looking at the angle of the roof there is no way I can fit a drill in there to drill a hole period. My house was built 11 yrs ago so not sure if insulted walls are required by the city code. I wil have a closer look from the inside of the attic this weekend after I buy me a tall ladder and the attic access is in my master bedroom closet.

Originally Posted by Furd View Post
You will need to be able to drill a one-inch hole in the top plate (upper horizontal framing member of the wall) from the attic, the roof angle may make this difficult to impossible. Once you get the hole just push a one-inch wide tape measure down the hole. If the wall is insulated you will have trouble pushing the tape, if the wall is not insulated it will push through easily. If there is a "fire stop" (horizontal blocking in the stud bay) then the tape will stop moving downward.

If you go the route of conduit on the outside of the wall you may not use type NM cable but must transition to either type UF cable or better, individual conductors with type THWN insulation at the point where the wire come through the wall.
 
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Old 04-13-11, 09:54 PM
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Looking at the angle of the roof there is no way I can fit a drill in there to drill a hole period.
That is where conduit can be your best choice. Drill a hole into the attic from the outside. You can push a fish tape in far enough to reach it from the attic. Fasten your NM-b to that and pull it out. Fasten a single gang box over the hole. Transition from NM-b to THWN at that box. Run your conduit down from the box. You will probably need to use an offset nipple at the box to get the conduit to light flat against the wall.

If you have a soffit it is a bit different but maybe even easier.
 
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Old 04-14-11, 06:26 PM
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The receptacles and gfi also need to be listed weather-resistant.
 
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Old 04-14-11, 08:57 PM
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I run a 1300-gallon pond with one 20A circuit, although it was prewired to allow for a multiwire. My base load (UV and filter pumps, timer, small electronic relay module) run about 5-6A and the fountain pump adds another 1-2 amps when running. I frequently run a shop vac for filter maintenance and I have never once had the breaker trip in over five years. My GFCI is in the basement next to the load center, and it has tripped a couple of times probably due to water getting in the receptacle connections. It's roughly 60 feet end-to-end with 12 AWG.

Somebody correct me but I think for current code compliance your recep near the pond must be not closer than 5' from the water, twist lock, and weather protected or weatherproof while in use. Unless the pond qualifies as a lake, and I am a bit muddy about the criteria for that differentiation.
 
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Old 04-14-11, 09:47 PM
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Thanks ArgMeMatey for the word of assurance I should be fine with a 20A breaker. Now I have a concern of routing of the cable in the attic to the conduit which is a foot away from my main sliding back door. The wife does not approve the idea of installing a conduit from attic down along the outside wall so have to be creative somehow but will know more for sure when i can get up in the attic for inspection.

Originally Posted by ArgMeMatey View Post
I run a 1300-gallon pond with one 20A circuit, although it was prewired to allow for a multiwire. My base load (UV and filter pumps, timer, small electronic relay module) run about 5-6A and the fountain pump adds another 1-2 amps when running. I frequently run a shop vac for filter maintenance and I have never once had the breaker trip in over five years. My GFCI is in the basement next to the load center, and it has tripped a couple of times probably due to water getting in the receptacle connections. It's roughly 60 feet end-to-end with 12 AWG.

Somebody correct me but I think for current code compliance your recep near the pond must be not closer than 5' from the water, twist lock, and weather protected or weatherproof while in use. Unless the pond qualifies as a lake, and I am a bit muddy about the criteria for that differentiation.
 
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