Determining Level of Electrical Service in Barn


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Old 04-13-21, 06:05 AM
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Determining Level of Electrical Service in Barn

Hi!

I am doing a barn renovation (1350 sq. ft.) to turn it into a fitness studio which will require electrical to power heating (likely forced air gas), lighting and other light electrical like a computer and vacuum, no major machinery. There is existing electrical service but I'm not sure what level, and if it will need to be upgraded. There are about 12 florescent lighting panels in the barn and a few receptacles running a stereo and a large chest freezer. I have the following pictures of the panel in the barn, as well as at the house. There is also electrical in a detached garage closer to the house.

Can anyone PLEASE help me make sense of this?

Thank you!






 
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Old 04-13-21, 06:08 AM
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The first picture is a 20 amp service. You probably want to upgrade that to at least a 60 amp service.
 
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Old 04-13-21, 06:22 AM
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Thanks for the response joed! Would that just require a new panel in the barn or potentially upgrades at the house panel and running new electrical wire to the barn? I'm trying to avoid burying new wire as it's about a 450' run. Cheers!
 
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Old 04-13-21, 08:08 AM
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Obviously a new panel in the barn, new 4-wire cable to the house. Probably an upgrade to the house panel as well, if it is 100 amp service. I can't see the main breaker well enough to see if it's 100 or 200.

That wire is going to be expensive. Might be cheaper to have a new separate service and meter installed on the barn. Might be better to do that if you plan to have a business there, as well.
 

Last edited by I Mullins; 04-13-21 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 04-13-21, 10:20 AM
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I see a 15A 240v feed. Breakers 21/19 are a 15A breaker Can't tell if the cabling is 14ga or 12ga, but either way, it's not going to support much more than just lights and a few convenience receptacles.

You'll probably need somewhere between a 30-60A feed, but the major factors will be:
* Heating type (gas forced air is low-electrical requirement, but if you need to switch to electric, it'll be a huge jump
* AC?
* Water heater? For just a sink (small point of use, 6-gallon heater) or is there a full bath?

450' is a long run, so the wire will need to be up-sized to compensate for the voltage drop. Which is even more important to understand your projected loads so you don't over-build it.
 
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Old 04-13-21, 04:01 PM
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I agree with Zorfdt's post.

I do not believe you will need to upgrade the 100 amp service in the house.

Adding a separate service might be the better option depending on the power company.
 
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Old 04-14-21, 05:37 AM
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Thanks everyone! Very helpful, even though it's not necessarily what I wanted to hear, haha.

@Zorfdt

There will likely NEVER be AC, and the likelihood is it will be forced air gas (going to have to run a gas line to the barn also.) Though I have considered putting a small solar setup on the roof instead of having to run new electrical, and then looking into electrical heat to avoid running the gas and a new electrical line. If it's $15K for the solar array and batteries vs. the same to run gas and upgrade electrical it might be more economical long-term to do the solar.

You are exactly right on the water heater, small point of use under bathroom sink. Not putting a shower in.


450' is indeed long which is why I am considering other options like solar for electrical and even something like a pellet stove for heating. I imagine we'd need a 4 or 6 gauge wire for that length run?

Saving a few thousand to not have to upgrade the 100amp service at the house (so it's 100 and not 200?) would be nice. If I'm drawing 60amps to the barn from the house panel does that mean the house only has access to 40amps? Sorry for my ignorance!

Thanks again everyone!
 
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Old 04-14-21, 09:12 AM
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I doubt that a new service drop and meter would cost anywhere near $15k. unless the distance from the barn to the nearest power pole is going to require setting new poles on your land.
Keeping the house and the barn separate should also make the inspections go much easier (all new, no need to upgrade anything in the house).

Regarding the breaker panel in the house. If you connect the barn, you're going to need a free space for the new double breaker serving the barn. Your panel looks full already.

Also, although you probably won't be using anywhere near 60 amps in the barn, someday you may sell to someone who wants to use it for a welding shop or whatever, and is going to find out that the service is inadequate.

EDT: If it were me, I wouldn't scrimp on the service either (like running 20 or 30 amp service to save money). That converted barn with useful power adds to the value of your property.
 
Josh Ford voted this post useful.

Last edited by I Mullins; 04-14-21 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 04-14-21, 10:25 AM
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new service drop and meter
If you go this route make sure to discuss with the power company that this is the same property as your existing service. Sometimes they will combine the reading of the two meters on one account and you pay only for the additonal usage avoiding the base line, flat rate charges that a second single service would incur.
 
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Old 04-14-21, 12:43 PM
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I would suggest you use 2 gauge wiring (6 gauge ground) for 60 amps and 4 gauge wiring (8 gauge ground) for 40 amps. This would result in a little more than 3% voltage drop.

Provided that local code allows (no unfavorable whole house load analysis requiring an immediate new service and service panel) you could do part 1 upgrade the barn feed and barn panel and (later) part 2 upgrade the whole house service.

Running a separate service and meter for the barn would be useful only if a pole transformer closer (e.g. the street runs closer) to the barn is available. Usually you have to pay for any new pole or transformer in the middle of your property so this alternative might well be more costly than both parts 1 and 2 preceding combined.

Connecting the barn to the house service with 100 amp main breaker, and although you won't be using 60 amps in the barn all the time, if at some moment you are using 6o amps to do welding or whatever in the barn you cannot use more than 40 amps back at the main house.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 04-14-21 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 04-15-21, 08:36 AM
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Then there's always the thought that this would make a nice place to retreat when the power is out, if it only had solar.

Decisions, decisions....
 
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Old 04-15-21, 06:33 PM
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In order to utilize solar off-grid, you will need a large number of batteries to store the power. This would likely not be cost-effective when you have power available.
 
 

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