If you frequently use your garage for handiwork or entertainment, you may find that your main circuit breaker box in the basement of your house is insufficient. This is where a garage subpanel comes in handy. A subpanel, also known as a breaker box or a satellite circuit breaker panel, is a separate electrical panel that provides additional circuits to a specific area of your home or garage.
While installing a subpanel can offer practical advice and tips, it is important to note that for safety reasons, it is always recommended that you contact a licensed electrician before performing any electrical work. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of installing a subpanel in your garage and provide you with some tips on how to do it safely and efficiently.
What are the Benefits of a Detached Garage Subpanel?
If you have a detached garage, installing a subpanel can provide you with a range of benefits. Here are some of the most notable benefits:
Power Resource-Intensive Tools and Appliances without Worrying About Straining Your Main Circuit
One of the most significant benefits of a detached garage subpanel is that it allows you to use power resource-intensive tools and appliances without worrying about straining your main circuit. This can help reduce the likelihood of tripping a breaker and ensure that your garage has the power it needs to run efficiently.
Benefit from Multiple Circuits without Requiring Multiple Lines
Another key benefit of a detached garage subpanel is that it allows you to benefit from multiple circuits without requiring multiple lines. This can help you save money on installation costs and ensure that your garage has the power it needs to run all of the tools and appliances you need.
Introduce Multiple Lines into Your Home Even if Your Main Breaker is Full
If your main breaker is already full, a detached garage subpanel can allow you to introduce multiple lines into your home without needing to upgrade your main breaker. This can help you save money on installation costs and ensure that your garage has the power it needs to run efficiently.
Cost-Saving and Efficiency Over Time
Using a detached garage subpanel can also help you save money and improve efficiency over time. This is because you will be using a shorter length of wires, which can help reduce energy loss and improve efficiency.
What Kind of Amps Does a Detached Garage Subpanel Need?
When it comes to selecting the right amp size for your detached garage subpanel, it is important to consider your specific needs and the power of your main circuit breaker panel.
If you are planning to use one or more 240 voltage appliances, such as a refrigerator or central air conditioning unit, you may need more than the standard 12 openings in your subpanel. However, if you are only planning to power lighting and other low stake electronics, this will not be the case.
It is important to note that your main breaker may limit the kind of subpanel that you can install. Most homes will have either a voltage that runs anywhere from 100-amp to 400-amp. If you are dealing with a 100-amp main breaker or lower, there is a good possibility you may need to increase its capacity before even considering a subpanel.
Things to Consider in Running a Subpanel to a Detached Garage:
Before you start running a subpanel to your detached garage, there are some things you need to consider. These considerations will help ensure that your installation is safe, efficient, and meets all necessary regulations.
- First, check with your local government to determine if there are any regulations or codes that you need to follow. This may include requirements for the height of your subpanel off the ground and other installation conditions.
- Second, make sure that you account for all of your future power needs when installing your new panel. It is recommended to install roughly 20% more power than you anticipate needing to reduce the chance of needing to upgrade again in the near future.
- Finally, consider whether you truly need a whole subpanel or if an alternative solution like tandem breakers would suffice. This can save you money and time in the long run.
By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that your garage subpanel installation is safe, efficient, and meets all necessary regulations.
5 Steps of Running a Subpanel to a Detached Garage
If you are looking to install a garage subpanel, there are five easy steps to follow. While it is recommended to hire a professional, you can do it yourself with the right tools and knowledge.
Step 1: First and Foremost
Before you begin, it is crucial to cut your power. Failure to do so can result in injury, death, or even a fire hazard. Once the power is disconnected, use a screwdriver to remove your breaker’s cover.
Step 2: Prepare For Your Garage Subpanel
Dig a shallow ditch between the garage and house to bury your wire and conduit. Use a 1-inch PVC conduit for a 100-amp subpanel or 1 ¼ inch if your subpanel is less than 50-amp. If you do not have any internet or telephone wiring in your garage, you can ground your subpanel with a ground bar that sits outside your garage and runs between the new subpanel box and the ground rod. If you have concrete flooring in your garage, you will have to run the wire up the wall and outside of the garage.
Step 3: Install your Backer
Install a plank of wood, known as a backer, to mount your subpanel. The backer should be at least six inches longer than your sub-panel. Depending on where you live, you may be required by law to paint this backer black.
Step 4: Connect Your Wire to Subpanel
Connect your wires to the subpanel. The black and red wires should go on the main lugs on top of the main bus. The green wire goes to the ground bus bar, while the white wire goes on the main bus. Use #2 THNN wire for 100-amp panels and #1 THNN wire for 50-amp.
Step 5: Main Panel
Connect the wires again, this time at your main panel. The white wire goes on the neutral bus bar, while the green wire goes into the ground bus bar. The red and black wires go into the breaker screws. Use a voltage meter to ensure everything is in order with your amperage before calling the job done.
By following these five easy steps, you can install a garage subpanel on your own. However, if you need help or guidance, it is always recommended to contact a professional electrician.