Power tap for adding garage lights and outlets

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Old 03-11-14, 07:59 PM
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Power tap for adding garage lights and outlets

Here's my scenario:

1. I want to add a switched light fixture outside of my garage back door, where the patio is. None has existed before.

2. I want to add a couple of outlets to the garage.

3. I'm decently handy with electrical (for a girl, heehee) and when I called my county licensing/inspection bureaucrat today, he said that he would issue me a homeowner permit for the work based upon a "short quiz", and wiring diagrams and description of the work to be done. (I decided to go for the permit to prevent any insurance/resale problems and to be a good citzen. :-0)

Problem: where to tap into power for the garage fixtures.

I was planning to use my laundry room outlet, which is directly adjacent to the garage and would be a cinch to fish the new wires to. Then I read the NEC code more carefully, and discovered that my 20-amp outlet in the laundry room can only be used to power "laundry equipment" in the room itself. So that's a no-go.

There is a 20-amp outlet in the family room, also directly adjacent to the garage, that would also work .... HOWEVER ... it is part of a GFCI circuit that feeds the kitchen countertop outlets. Note that when the kitchen was remodeled, circa 2005, the NEC code requiring two dedicated 20-amp circuits to the kitchen was not in force. (I think that changed in 2011.) The kitchen does have two 20-amp circuits that feed the countertop outlets ... but those circuits also serve several outlets in the family room and dining room.

My question is, can I use one of those family room outlets to tap into for the garage work? Would it be considered grandfathered, since the code in force at the time that those non-dedicated outlets were wired up with 12 gauge, even though they also serve the kitchen countertop GFIs? Or as new work, would it somehow cause the newer code to be in force, even though the circuits are certainly not "dedicated"?

Thanks for your time and kind assistance!
 
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Old 03-11-14, 09:24 PM
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I would definitely add a new circuit for the garage. And, I would put it on a GFCI breaker (required for the receptacles), not sure about the light. If you've never added a circuit, don't be intimidated. It's pretty easy. Basically you check your breaker box to see if you have room for another breaker. If so, you write down the manufacture and model number of your breaker box, and take it with you to Lowes or Home Depot. Ask someone to help you pick up the right GFCI breaker for your box. I'd go with a 20amp. When you go to put it in, it just pushes in. That's it. Then you connect your 20 amp cable's black to it, and the white and ground to the neutral bar. The rest is just running cable, and installing fixtures.
 
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Old 03-11-14, 09:34 PM
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Bigfred,
Yes, I was pretty sure a new circuit would be in my future. I'm comfortable with wiring a new breaker into the service panel, but the wire run will be difficult ... pretty far from the panel to the garage, and up a floor and a half. Would actually be easiest to go from service panel to garage outside, along the foundation. It's a straight run that way. What are the code requirements for that route? Thanks again!
 
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Old 03-11-14, 09:44 PM
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If you use a GFCI breaker and the circuit is 20 amps or less you can bury it as shallow as 12". If you want to run it above ground you could use a GFCI receptacle at the garage. The light does not need to be GFCI protected. You would use " PVC conduit with one black, one white, one green #12 THWN wires.
 
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Old 03-11-14, 09:54 PM
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Any empty spaces in your main panel?
One of my many pet peeves is DIY's running power to sheds and garages and thinking there only going to need a couple outlets and a light.
No one here is there to see what you have so it's hard to tell you how to get from point A to point B.
Adding a 60 amp 220 volt subpanel in the garage would allow you to have the lights one one 15 amp. circuit, all the outlets you could ever want one there own 20 amp., a window A/C, power the garage door openers. And even add other outlets for an air compressor, welder, ECT.
No way would I just run single GFI 20 amp. line!
That one breaker would cost 3, times as much a single GFI outlet that would protect all the outer outlets down line.
If it's a detached garage it's needs a 4 wire supply and two ground rods about 6' apart.
 
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Old 03-11-14, 10:08 PM
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The requirement for 2 20 amp small appliance circuits was in place way before your kitchen was changed.
 
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Old 03-12-14, 12:09 AM
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In addition to PC's statement about the two "small appliance branch circuits" requirement predating your kitchen that same provision ALSO required that receptacles in dining rooms be part of the required small appliance branch circuits in case a roaster or some other type of cooking appliance is used in the dining room. Even pantry receptacles are part of the required "small appliance branch circuits.
 
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Old 03-12-14, 12:26 PM
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Joe,
Thanks, you make a lot of sense. Yes, there are about 5 empty spaces on my main panel. However, my panel is only 150 amps. The subpanel in the garage is a great idea ... but my main service might be too skimpy for that.

The garage is attached. And I may not have mentioned that I have a fridge (7.1 amps) and a freezer (5 amps) plugged in out there along with a few lights and a garage door opener. All on a 15 amp circuit.

So the need for more and/or bigger circuits is evident.
 
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Old 03-12-14, 12:58 PM
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PC,
I realize that the two 20-amp small appliance circuit requirement was in place prior to the kitchen remodel. But what I'm confused about, especially after reading Furd's post, is the DEDICATED part. As I said, my two 20-amp kitchen circuits (#2 and #4 on the circuit map I made) feed the following:

#2:
Kitchen: One (out of the 4) GFCI countertop outlets; two other wall outlets (both non-GFCI).
Dining room: Three wall outlets, all non-GFCI.
Family room: One wall outlet (non-GFCI).

#4:
Kitchen: Three (out of the 4) GFCI countertop outlets; fridge outlet (non-GFCI).
Dining room: One wall outlet (non-GFCI).
Family room: One wall outlet (non-GFCI).

All of the dining room outlets are on the small appliance circuit.

But as you can see, there are also two outlets in the family room ... one outlet on circuit #2 and one on circuit #4. Was that a kosher installation?

Remember, this is the house that I posted about a couple weeks ago. The kitchen remodelers left a hot Romex 14/2 in the wall behind the new cabinets, just nestled in the insulation. I found it when I removed an old gas range vent hood to scrape and repaint. It's on circuit #15 which serves my kitchen overhead lights.

Thanks for all your patience with me!

So I don't have faith that they did everything right, indeed. The remod was done before we moved in BTW.
 
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Old 03-12-14, 01:01 PM
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Furd,
Please see my reply to PC's post; it addresses your post and asks some follow-up questions. Thanks!
 
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Old 03-12-14, 01:08 PM
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Hi Ray,
Joecaption1 suggested a 60-amp subpanel to my garage, which I like the idea of. I've spoken to my utility provider and they gave me the heads-up for upping my main service from 150 to 200. You mentioned running cable above ground in PVC conduit. Could the 60-amp circuit from the main panel to the subpanel in the garage also be run above ground, along the back of my house? Any requirements on the height of the PCV from the ground?

I'm gonna try to get as much done on my own as possible, to minimize costs. Of course, I will have a licensed electrician come and switch out the main panel and handle the permits and the planned outage with the power company, etc.
 
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Old 03-12-14, 03:04 PM
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You may not even need the service upgrad, especially if you are not adding any or little additional load.

The family room receptacles are an issue on the small appliance circuits.
 
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Old 03-12-14, 07:30 PM
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As PC stated, the receptacles in the family room being on the small appliance branch circuit(s) is not code compliant. I would not go to the trouble of changing then unless it became a problem of overloaded circuits but at the same time they are not to be considered for any extensions to the dedicated circuits.

All of my dining area receptacles (both of them ) are on the same SABC as my microwave and counter top convection oven. I changed my pantry to a new circuit (technically still a SABC) and I will be adding at least one and maybe two more SABCs when I remodel the kitchen, assuming I live that long. In my opinion the code that mandates two SABCs needs to be updated to at least three and maybe even four such circuits to properly serve all the electrics in a modern kitchen.
 
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Old 03-13-14, 02:46 PM
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Hi PC,
Can you explain more about the issue of the small appliance circuits in the family room? I know it's not code compliant, but is it actually hazardous (shock or fire-wise) to my family? Thanks!
 
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Old 03-14-14, 02:57 AM
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The original intent behind the two dedicated SABCs was to provide sufficient power to counter-top appliances such as coffee makers, toasters, electric griddles, waffle machines and the like. Back in the days of a single earner it was not uncommon for the entire family to have a real home-cooked breakfast together before Dad went to work, Mom started the household chores and the children went to school. It would not have been the least bit uncommon to have a percolator brewing coffee, an electric frying pan frying bacon, a toaster and a waffle machine or electric griddle making waffles or pancakes all going at the same time. Because ALL of these items are heating appliances they take a substantial amount of electricity, far more than could be supplied by a plug adapter in a hanging light cord fed from a 15 ampere circuit. (Yes, people used to try to do that.)

Later with the advent of the portable (more or less) roasting oven it became popular to have the roaster in close proximity of the dining table so the meat could be kept warm. Add in the after dinner coffee moving the coffee pot from the kitchen to the dining room. Some people had electric bun warmers as well. Just as in the older kitchens adding these high-power appliances to a 15 ampere circuit in the dining area that probably served other areas of the house as well caused problems. Remember also that much of this happened in the days preceding the use of circuit breakers in homes and that the common "plug" (screw-in) fuses used the same thread size for 15, 20 and 30 ampere fuses. It was COMMON for someone (usually Dad) to replace a burnt out 15 ampere fuse with a 20 ampere fuse or even a 30 ampere fuse to reduce the frequency of the fuse blowing. Sometimes ole Dad would get really creative and drop a penny or a machine washer into the fuse holder and THAT would take care of the fuse blowing for good...or bad depending on how you see it. Of course the result was badly overloaded wiring and quite a few fires.

The people that write the electrical code, being totally reactive in those days, finally saw the light and mandated the dedicated circuits. They also suggested that fuses be manufactured so that a higher rated fuse could not be substituted into a lower rated circuit. That led to the development of the "type S" non-tamperable fuse. While type S fuses were made available they were mostly a retro-fit solution and few people actually used them. They ARE still made however for anyone that has an old plug-fuse panel and wants to make them a bit safer. It was also about this time that the cost of circuit breakers started to come down and so manufacturers started offering these new "overcurrent protective devices" (OCPDs) to builders for inclusion into new homes. Since the circuit breaker panels were totally enclosed and there was nothing to replace in order to restore service when a circuit breaker "blew" the possibility of over-fusing circuits dropped like a rock. The insurance companies LOVED the new technology and today there are many insurance companies that flat out refuse to write coverage on a house that has fuses. This is in spite of fuses being inherently more reliable than circuit breakers.

Now the answer to your question. No, having those receptacles in the family room on the SABCs is NOT hazardous. It DOES reduce the amount of power to the kitchen appliances by the amount used by the items in the family room but the worst that will happen is tripping of the circuit breaker.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 03:04 AM
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It is not a shock or fire hazard at all. It could just lead to potential overloads and does not meet the code requirements.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 06:44 PM
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Furd,
What an amazingly comprehensive and detailed explanation and history you have provided. Very well-written, too. This seems to be an issue that few homeowners have a good understanding of (just Google it, and you'll see it comes up again and again).

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain. You guys are all amazing and so helpful; I'm learning so much from this forum. I really appreciate your patience, and kind advice to the very basic questions of an enthusiastic DIYer.

Seriously, dude, you should consider writing a book. I'd buy it.

Thanks again!
Carol
 
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Old 03-14-14, 06:50 PM
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PC,
Thank you. Makes me feel better. Someday, maybe I'll have the time, patience and knowledge to redo the circuits altogether.

I think it was you that mentioned that a pantry needs to be on a SABC. My pantry is not actually in my kitchen, but rather in the foyer. (I think the original intent was to use it as a coat closet, but when we moved in, we put in shelves and now use it as the pantry.) I would like to light it up, and was planning to pull power from an outlet on the opposite side of the wall (living room outlet) for some low voltage lights for the pantry. Since it's not in the kitchen, is this allowed?

Thanks much.
Carol
 
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Old 03-15-14, 12:47 AM
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Receptacles in a pantry are required to be on a SABC but not the lights. You may connect the lighting to any circuit that is not dedicated. The reason for the dedicated receptacles is that some pantries are large enough that they may have a coffee maker or a microwave oven.


Thank you for the kind words. I AM writing a book but I rather doubt that you would want to read it. It is about the now gone and mostly forgotten steam-electric generating station close to downtown Seattle. Some day I will get back to the writing but probably not anytime soon.
 
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