Barn wiring project - breaker box extension

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  #1  
Old 01-21-15, 12:42 PM
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Barn wiring project - breaker box extension

I have very little info, so I will provide what I have. My house has a line out of it's breaker box (double pole, 200amp breaker) that runs about 250 feet to a breaker box inside a pole barn. Where it comes into the barn is short of where I need it to come into the barn. Long story short, I am building a living space in the BACK of the barn and I don't want to run all my electrical to the front of the barn when I could potentially just extend the inbound line from where it is (inside the barn) to the back where I need it.

Facts: The house only has one meter (this may be irrelevant). The line to the barn is direct bury 4 lead line which is gray in color. Hopefully someone can identify it, and I can probably get pictures of where it goes into the barn box if we need it.

Here is what I need to know:
1) How many amps is that direct-bury line able to carry?
2) What kind of junction box (is that the way to go?) do I need to put where the barn breaker box is in order to begin extending the location of that box?
3) What kind of line do I use to extend the barn box once the junction box is in place?
4) Am I even thinking about this the right way?

Thanks in advance for your feedback, I really appreciate it!
 
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  #2  
Old 01-21-15, 01:21 PM
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1) How many amps is that direct-bury line able to carry?
Depends on the gauge wire. What do the markings read?
My house has a line out of it's breaker box (double pole, 200amp breaker)
That sounds awfully large for a barn. What size is your main breaker or is that the main breaker? If you mean your main breaker we need to know what size breaker the cable to the barn is on.
 
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Old 01-23-15, 06:26 AM
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The better approach is probably to leave the panel in the barn as-is and run a small (60A?) subpanel from that panel to the back of the barn where the living space will be. Splicing the large feeder would be more expense than it's worth.

What kind of distance and overall square footages are we talking inside the barn? A couple runs of EMT conduit from the existing panel to some junction boxes in the living area may be an even simpler and cheaper option yet.
 
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Old 01-23-15, 06:02 PM
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The better approach is probably to leave the panel in the barn as-is and run a small (60A?) subpanel from that panel to the back of the barn where the living space will be. Splicing the large feeder would be more expense than it's worth.
I agree, it's cheaper to just leave the existing panel in place. The only thing I am not so sure about is that if the new living space has electric heat the subpanel may have to be 100 or even 125 amps, but we'll never know if the OP doesn't come back.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 09:48 AM
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Sorry for the late response, I thought I would get email alerts when I got responses. Gotta go check my settings.

I can't see the markings on the buried line, but could take apart the existing barn box to check it out.

The barn is a 60x40 workshop so maybe the size is why they used a 200 amp breaker to the barn. It is not the main breaker, I am pretty sure it is 200 amps coming into the house.

ibpooks, the distance from the existing box to where I was thinking about putting the new box is about 30 or 40 feet. The total barn is 2400 square feet, but the living space is two floors for a total of 1400 square feet. As far as the junction boxes, can you give me a web site that would show that kind of set up so I can picture it? I hadnít thought of that option. I want to make sure I am not underestimating the amperage needed in the living area. It will be an apartment with gas heat, but plenty of electrical appliances such as water heater, stove, refrigerators, etc.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 09:53 AM
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The line to the barn is direct bury 4 lead line which is gray in color. Hopefully someone can identify it, and I can probably get pictures of where it goes into the barn box if we need it.
Yes pictures please. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...rt-images.html We need to know what size breaker is it connected to to know if it is suitable. You wrote:
My house has a line out of it's breaker box (double pole, 200amp breaker
which is confusing. Logically the 200 amp breaker is the main panel breaker but the feed to the barn should be on a smaller breaker inside that panel.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 12:38 PM
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In that case I think it is reasonable to classify this this as a "dwelling unit", which should have a 100A panel minimum running into it. At 1400 sq ft. it's a little bigger and have more amenities than I thought it was going to be so I don't think my original suggestion to run a few circuits would work.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 09:55 PM
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Excellent, thanks for all this info. I will snap some photos tomorrow/this weekend and get you guys a good picture of what is going on here. I appreciate the assistance!
 
  #9  
Old 02-15-15, 05:24 PM
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Okay, here is a picture of the conduit bringing the electric into the barn and into my breaker box, and a picture of the inside of that breaker box showing that flat gray wire I mentioned. It is labeled Hillyard/Goodwin 11/11/00 E30445 UL AWG6 CU 3 CDR W AWG 10 GROUND.

The house box is definitely sending 200 amps to the barn. At this point what do you think I should do to extend service closer to the living space in the barn? Thanks!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hdixhz8kta...64802.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5xlt30gvnw...75054.jpg?dl=0
 
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Old 02-15-15, 05:27 PM
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The #6 UF is only good for 50 amps. You do not have 200 amps available in the barn. The wires are way too small.
 
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Old 02-15-15, 06:24 PM
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here is a picture of the conduit bringing the electric into the barn and into my breaker box
It looks more like DWV plumbing pipe to me. PCboss is right, you don't even have close to 200 amps feeding that little panel.
 
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Old 02-15-15, 06:25 PM
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The house box is definitely sending 200 amps to the barn. At this point what do you think
A fire waiting to happen if that cable isn't connected to a 60 amp or smaller breaker. I'd disconnect it now if not on a 60 amp breaker.. Second problem is the pipe in the picture going in to the barn panel looks white. If it is that isn't conduit. It is plumbing pipe and not intended for electrical wiring. Best bet is abandon what is there and start over.
 
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Old 02-15-15, 06:54 PM
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I am hoping the OP meant that 240 volts is being sent to the barn and just confused that with 200 amps.
 
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Old 02-16-15, 04:44 AM
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Yikes. That is what I was worried about. Thanks, rethinking the project...
 
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Old 02-16-15, 05:56 AM
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Just to be clear are you saying the feed is not connected to a branch circuit breaker? Is it connected to lugs at the bottom of the main panel? If so turn off the main breaker and disconnect. If they added it to the connection for power in don't touch it for now. Post a picture.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-16-15 at 06:20 AM.
  #16  
Old 02-16-15, 06:23 AM
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Ray2047 no, there is double pole, 200 amp breaker (200 amps total) labeled "Barn" in the breaker box. It is not connected at the lugs.

So obviously I need to have a new line run to the barn from the house. Maybe not as big of a deal as one would think as I have to have some trenching done on another project anyway so maybe I can piggyback this a bit. I have heard of running line the same mine is run but with the appropriate size of line (would I need to run 100 or 200 amps for the barn/living space?) and I have also heard of having a second meter added at the house and running the line from there.

Thoughts on these approaches?
 
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Old 02-16-15, 06:32 AM
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If you can add a correctly sized breaker to protect the barn feeder you could safely use what is already in place. A load calculation would be needed to see if the feeder is large enough for the existing and planned new usage.

The utilities may not allow a second meter. If they did you might end up with a commercial rate for one meter of the two.
 
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Old 02-16-15, 06:56 AM
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Ray2047 no, there is double pole, 200 amp breaker
I'd suggest for safety keep it turned off till you can swap it out for a 50 amp breaker.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-16-15 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 02-16-15, 07:06 AM
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pcboss my understanding from this thread was that the line running between buildings was restricted to 50 amps. I believe in this unit I need at least 100 amps. Doesn't that eliminate the possibility of using what is already in place?
 
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Old 02-16-15, 07:35 AM
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If you do need 100 amps the existing is too small.

Feeds to outbuilding are based on calculated loads.
 
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Old 02-16-15, 08:16 AM
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Is the new living space going to be a rental unit?
 
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Old 02-16-15, 09:48 AM
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No on the rental question, it will be my office/bar/guest house/deer stand. However, it is in the back of my mind that if we ever hit hard times it would be good if I built this to contain amenities I would otherwise not require such as hookups for a stove, washer/dryer, etc. so we could rent it out. If that's not a possibility then I can overlook it, but I thought it might be a good idea to overbuild for that purpose. It certainly couldn't hurt the resale value, either.

So it sounds like what I have has to go. As far as getting acceptable service out there should I A) run 200A off the main circuit, B) have a second meter installed at the house and run a 200A line, C) have a second meter installed at the barn, or D) other?
 
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Old 02-16-15, 10:42 AM
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Replace the line to the barn with #1 copper or 2/0 aluminum. Cost wise #2/0 aluminum 4-wire mobile home direct burial cable would probably be cheapest. You might be able to get away with smaller wire but given it is 250 feet that is probably minimum assuming no electric heat or large motors. You would use a 100 amp breaker in the main panel. If the subpanel in the barn isn't rated for 100 amps it would need to be replaced.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-16-15 at 12:19 PM.
  #24  
Old 02-16-15, 11:02 AM
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Thanks ray2047. It sounds like using your scenario I could keep everything but the cable and potentially the barn box. But given where I am going with my loads (1400 sq ft living space plus barn activity including compressor and other power equipment), should I be shooting for 100A or should I be looking at a 200A solution for this project?
 
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Old 02-16-15, 11:38 AM
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My gut feeling is that 100A is probably the right answer; however you can do a "demand load calculation" to get an answer supported by code. Google around and you will find several different kinds of calculators and spreadsheets to help you do it. I guarantee 200A is bigger than you need, however if you're a belt and suspenders kind of person then by all means do that.
 
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Old 02-16-15, 11:44 AM
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ipbooks "belt and suspenders kind of person." Made my day. lol

Okay, I will check out the load calcs and see what I need. What kind of changes would I need to make to convert to a 200A vs. a 100A system? Are we just talking about the cable size?
 
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Old 02-16-15, 12:26 PM
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Okay, I will check out the load calcs and see what I need. What kind of changes would I need to make to convert to a 200A
Cable size and if the subpanel isn't rated for 200 amps a new subpanel.

@ the pros: Don't know what main panel the O/P has but was surprised it would even take a 200 amp branch circuit breaker. Should he be concerned about maximum branch circuit breaker his panel takes?
 
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Old 02-16-15, 01:12 PM
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To clarify, the 200A circuit breaker resides on the home panel. The barn panel it goes to is a small panel.
 
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Old 02-16-15, 01:20 PM
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To clarify, the 200A circuit breaker resides on the home panel. The barn panel it goes to is a small panel.
Yes, that we understood. What I'm curious about what size is the main breaker in the main panel and its make and model number. Usually the panel is rated rated for branch circuit breakers smaller then its size. For example a 100 amp panel may only be rated for a 90 amp or smaller branch circuit breaker.
 
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Old 02-16-15, 01:42 PM
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Ah okay, I see where you are going there. I could go get a picture of that for you, but would it make a difference in this project anyway?
 
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Old 02-16-15, 02:06 PM
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Does this look about right?

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Old 02-16-15, 04:22 PM
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Not sure how that is relevant to what we were discussing. There should be a label on the inside of the house panel that gives you the maximum size branch circuit that can be in stalled. The size of the main panel is on the handle of the main breaker.
 
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Old 02-17-15, 07:11 AM
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That was regarding our load calculation discussion from earlier in the thread. I just attached a picture of the fuse box in the house/garage. You can see in the lower left corner the breaker marker "Barn."

All this being said, how about some final recommendations? It sounds like I either need to replace the existing cable with something bigger and go to a bigger barn box, or have service (new meter) run to the barn and go to the new, bigger box from there. What say the experts?

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