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Need help putting a subpanel in my attic for easy wiring to bedrooms/bathrooms

Need help putting a subpanel in my attic for easy wiring to bedrooms/bathrooms

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  #1  
Old 04-24-12, 05:46 AM
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Need help putting a subpanel in my attic for easy wiring to bedrooms/bathrooms

Hello all,

My first thread was originally for kitchen wiring and then it went into all kinds of other topics like aluminum wiring around the house. That thread is here. I created this thread to focus on questions on putting a subpanel in the attic. My second floor has 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths plus the attic above running on 2 shared circuits. I'd like to update the wiring by having the outlets on each bedroom on its on circuit and all the lighting on its own circuit. This means 3 new 15A circuits and 2 new 20A circuits. To make things easier and also to allow future wiring installs (like for a central A/C retrofit I have planned) I'd like to install a subpanel in the attic. The kitchen wall is open right now which will make the installation easier than when its closed.

That makes 6 circuits that I will have within the next couple of years. I am thinking I want a panel with 10 spaces so that I have space for future needs.

Do you think 100A with 10-12 spaces is plenty?
What gauge and type of wire do you recommend (I'd prefer to use only copper even if it costs more) to run a wire about 100ish feet across my basement ceiling up through the walls to the attic and feed a subpanel?
What brands of panels do you guys prefer? I currently have a Murray/Siemens 200A panel. My mom's house has an Eaton (sp?) 200A panel. They both seem fine to me. I prefer to purchase one that is Made in the USA. I would also prefer if they sell it at Home Depot since that is easy for me to go to and get breakers/accessories.

Thank you!

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  #2  
Old 04-24-12, 07:30 AM
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The downside of installing a subpanel in the attic is accessibility. Presuming it's accessible enough to meet code requirements, it seems like a pain to have to get up into the attic any time you need to access it. Not a reason not to do it... just a consideration.

For the lighting a receptacle loads you specified, a 60A subpanel is quite sufficient. You're looking at #6/3 w/ground.

You'll need to provide some more details about the AC you have planned to ensure that the 60A feed will be sufficient. Is it just for the air handler, or will it power the condenser too? You will likely see a slight dimming of lights when the condenser kicks on if you wire it from the subpanel.

As for panel brand, I'd stick with the same brand/model as you have now, so one set of breakers work in either.

Be sure to factor in separate 20A GFI circuits for the baths.
 
  #3  
Old 04-24-12, 08:54 AM
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Consider this before putting a panel in the attic:
-Heat may effect the operation of the panel and related equipment
-Must have an approved access to the attic
-Must have a minimum head and wall space
 
  #4  
Old 04-24-12, 08:57 AM
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The downside of installing a subpanel in the attic is accessibility. Presuming it's accessible enough to meet code requirements, it seems like a pain to have to get up into the attic any time you need to access it. Not a reason not to do it... just a consideration.
That is a reason not to do it. As it would be in violation.
 
  #5  
Old 04-24-12, 11:37 AM
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I agree that workspace and clearances could be an issue along with accessiblity. You also have the high ambient heat in an attic.
 
  #6  
Old 04-24-12, 06:50 PM
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I have foldable stairs that can be lowered to get to the attic. Is that good enough for accessibility? I measured the height in the middle of the attic and it was only 5 feet. I've read that there needs to be a minimum of 6.5 feet. I am assuming this would violate code?

Do you guys have any alternatives for having easy access to put new wiring in the second floor?
 
  #7  
Old 04-24-12, 07:11 PM
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-No, the foldable stairs want work, you need a permanent access. Seems you want be able to install one in the attic!
-You can always run a couple circuits to a couple junction boxes in the attic (Sized per code), and jump from them at a later date.
 
  #8  
Old 04-24-12, 07:19 PM
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I have an idea on what I need for my bedrooms. Do you have any idea how much power an A/C air handler could use? I want to have a wire ready for when I get central A/C installed in my house and I am sure they will put the air handler in the attic.
 
  #9  
Old 04-25-12, 04:48 AM
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You would need to get that info from your HVAC contractor. A straight A/C unit may only need a 15 amp 120 circuit, but adding heat would change this.
 
  #10  
Old 04-29-12, 07:35 PM
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Thanks for your help all. I cancelled the idea for the sub panel in the attic due to not meeting code requirements. I have decided to just put a conduit and will let the HVAC specialists shoot the wire up. I will be their dream customer to make their lives a little easier.

I will probably just hire an electrician to add the subpanel in my basement in the future. Thanks again everyone.
 
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