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Can I make my main panel a sub panel from a detached garage?

Can I make my main panel a sub panel from a detached garage?

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Old 07-20-17, 08:47 AM
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Can I make my main panel a sub panel from a detached garage?

Hi everyone, newbie here (electrical, not construction). Anyways, here's the situation:

I'm about to build a detached 2-car garage on my property, and I was thinking I would also like to wire in a 240v outlet in addition to the basic garage wiring.

My service entrance to the house is above ground (very low, too - no weather head), so on another occasion I thought about having a new meter box put in with some nice conduit and a weather head. BUT the thought occurred to me, since the garage would at the back of my property (where the lines are coming from), could I kill 2 birds with one stone here and just move my service entrance to the garage and run a line from the garage to the house?

I understand I would likely have to have one big "main" breaker at the garage, and then a small sub-panel for the garage electrical. But if I were to then run a line to the house underground to the main house panel, this would cause my 100 amp house panel to become a "sub" panel as well, correct?

I figured I could use one electrical permit to get the work done that I would have had to pull two for, since adding the weather head later would be a separate item of work. Has anyone done this before? If not, does it sound like something that could be done?

Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 07-20-17, 08:56 AM
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Neutrals and grounds need to be separate in a sub-panel. Bonding must be in the first panel at the service entrance. Is the wiring going to be easy to change in your current main panel?
 
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Old 07-20-17, 09:09 AM
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Can it be done - absolutely. Is it a good idea or cost-effective? That would depend on the details....
 
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Old 07-20-17, 09:17 AM
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Some areas will allow the main service to be on an outbuilding and some will not. A reasonable work-around might be to install the service to a pedestal or pole near the barn then feed both buildings as subpanels. This would also be a great time to install a generator transfer switch if you've ever wanted to do that.
 
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Old 07-20-17, 09:19 AM
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Thanks guys, as far as the main panel goes... it's fully utilized. I don't have a single breaker free. Which I know means I should replace the panel and at least upgrade to 150 amp. I was hoping to get away with leaving it as is, but if I'm gonna go through all the other work this project would require, I suppose it would only make sense to upgrade the panel too?

As far as "easy" goes, I don't think it would be super easy to work with. But if the scope of work changes to adding a new panel for the house... I don't know if I have a choice.

And yeah, I guess the real question is would it be cost effective.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 07-20-17, 04:53 PM
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I don't have a single breaker free. Which I know means I should replace the panel and at least upgrade to 150 amp.
Just because the existing panel is full doesn't mean you need to upgrade to 150 amps. There are 30 space, 30 circuit and 20 space, 40 circuit 100 amp main breaker loadcenters available. Do your plans include some major additions of load to the house such as electric heat? Do you have any idea what the actual load is now on the 100 amp house panel?
 
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Old 07-21-17, 08:38 AM
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True, I've been told that the standard around here for new work is 150 amp - so I figured if I were to update I would just bite the bullet and get something like that. I don't have much load I suppose - to be honest I'm not sure what the load I have on it now is. I do have 3 x 20 amp circuits (kitchen, basement, exterior) and a 30 amp dryer circuit. AC is on its own. I guess if my garage is separate, I could stick with 100 amps and be fine
 
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Old 07-21-17, 10:06 AM
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There are many ways you can do what you are thinking. There should be no problem having the panel at the garage as the main service and the house a sub panel on the property. Grounds and neutrals would need to be separated in the house panel, but that is not very difficult to install ground bars.

The only issue I can see with increasing the house panel/feeder to 150 amps is that plug in breakers mostly go up to 125 max. You might be able to find a 150 amp on the internet, but it will need to be special ordered.

Other options would include:

Installing an outdoor panel on the garage as the main panel on the property. Then add the required disconnects to feed the house and garage.

Install a set of disconnects on the outside of the garage, one for the house, one for the garage. (you may have up to 6)

You could also ask the power company if you can add an additional service drop on the property to feed the garage. There will be a minimum charge for the extra service.
 
 

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