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Old August 24th, 2013, 07:17 PM   #1
ArcticCat843
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Default Running electric from house to garage

I recently finished rebuilding a old shed/garage on my property and im wanting to get some electric and heat in it before winter sets in. I understand the basics of wiring and wired my house by myself but ive never ran wires underground and i don't really have a idea how to size the wire for this project. I have a 200amp service in my house that was installed 2 years ago. It has a 40 spot box that is maybe half full. From my house box to my garage box it is right about 80 feet.

The garage started as a 16x22 and I built a 12x22 addition on it. I plan to run a welder, a large air compressor, and a few other high amp tools like a old table saw. I am also wanting to design the system to be able to backfeed my house in an emergency. (I understand how to do this safely and it would only be used if the power was out for several days)

Then there is a second part of this project. I have another 10x20 shed that is 30 feet beyond the first on. This shed houses my tractor and lawn tools. I would like to have some lights and maybe a couple plugs for a battery charger or something in this shed. The biggest thing in that shed would maybe be a little pancake compressor or something to air up some tires.

So my idea is to run a line to the first shed and put in maybe a 10 circuit box and then just run one or two circuits of that to my other shed. Is this a horrible idea? I really dont want to run another line all the way back to my house just for some lights in my little garden shed.

If this is acceptable, how big of wire should i run from the house to the main garage? What size breaker should it be on in the house box? How deep does the wire need to be? Can i run a water pipe in the same trench? Should i go with a direct burial wire or run it in conduit?

Then the second shed questions, Should i run one big wire to the shed then a small subpanel there too? Should i just run 2 circuits out of my garage box over and no panel at all in the shed? What size wire in either case and what size circuits should they be? From the garage box to the farthest point of the shed is no more than 50 feet. Im kinda thinking 2 20 amps circuits and understand that it has limitations and i should be fine but i could be convinced otherwise.

Thanks in advance for any help guys
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Old August 24th, 2013, 07:41 PM   #2
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Garagejournal.com has lots of info on the subject.

My first garage, with similar items to what you have, I ran off a 50 amp breaker from the house. My present pole barn is run off a 70 amp breaker.

For me, I had to run the electric 24" deep. I ran everything in conduit. Conduit is cheap, and protects the cable. I ran 2-2-2-4 Mobile home feeder USE-2 (aluminum), its about 1/4 the price of copper. It is capable of direct burial, but I prefer the protection of the conduit. It must be run in conduit inside the structures on both end.

If you run a water pipe at 24" deep, then its not below the frost line. I threw one in my trench when I did mine, but I never have done anything with it.

I ran 2" PVC conduit for the big power cables, and 1.25" PVC for satellite, internet and phone. Those cost about $0.50 a foot, so it doesn't cost too much.

You'll need a ground rod or two at your garage. I have two 8' copper ground rods driven straight down, 8 ft apart, connected back to the panel in the barn with 4 gauge bare copper.

You will need to isolate the ground and neutral in your sub panel. There should be a bonding screw or jumper in the panel to remove.

I had no trouble passing my electrical inspection on the first try.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 08:40 PM   #3
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Check with your electrical inspector on what you need and what you can do. My inspector helped me a lot. He told me what size box to get and cable size. I don't recall the size of the cable but it was about the diameter of my middle finger and was a bit of a pain running through the conduit at each end (required). I went with direct bury because I did not want to mess with approximately 130 foot of conduit. I also put phone line, cable and a water line in the same trench. He even allowed to put items on his suppliers account and billed me for them! He also did the final hook up to the house for free. I learned later he helped a lot of people the same way. Sadly he died a few years back!
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Old August 24th, 2013, 08:50 PM   #4
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You can use this calculator to help size wire.

http://www.southwire.com/support/vol...calculator.htm

Wire wise, Aluminum is much much cheaper than Copper. You probably will find best prices on a quadriplex cable, rather than single cables. You are likely going to want something in the range of #2 or #4 gage wire.

It wasn't too bad pulling the cable through the conduit.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 09:12 PM   #5
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I just up graded my pole barn form 50 amps to 100 I had to change the wire to 222.(?)
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Old August 24th, 2013, 09:16 PM   #6
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I think for the price of conduit, Id rather have the extra protection. I would also rather over build it and not have to worry about it later. Haggar, how far does your current setup run underground? Is it somewhat comparable to mine? I guess i will check out the wiring at lowes tomorrow and see what they have before I decide what todo. Im a little scared to look at the prices. When we put a new service in my house i bought some heavy wire and if i remember right it was 3 bucks a foot or so and im sure it hasnt went down. I believe that was also aluminum.

Im thinking that if i rent a trench digger thing i might as well bury it deep enough for water. (42 inches i think???) My house only has 2 outside faucets so it would be nice to have one over by the garage.

As far as the electrical inspector goes, Ive dealt with him before. Trust me, he is not as friendly as your was. Id rather not get them involved.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 09:26 PM   #7
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It was under $2 a foot for my feed wire, which is about 180 ft from box to box, about 140ft underground. I actually dug my whole trench myself by hand.

the run has 2 90-degree long turns to go from garage box into the house, then an LB box, then 3 more 90s to get to the main panel.

Here's similar wire to what I ran. It costs more by the foot but you get the idea..

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwire...9#.Uhlq65I3tpo

Conduit is about $4-$5 per 10 ft stick. One factor for me was I built my barn in December, so I wanted to get the conduit into the ground, and then pull the cable later on in the winter after the ground would be frozen. But I feel better with it with one extra layer of protection from the errant shovel.
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Old August 24th, 2013, 09:28 PM   #8
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The aluminum wire I got 4 wires that I think was 222 was less than a dollar a foot the Used copper wire is worth about 55 cents. I don't think it has to go that deep. I dug up my old wire and laid the new in the trench. I just wish I had the money I'd have separate service ( meter) on pole barn.
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