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post #1 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
 
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Need help powering my garage - long

I need help running temporary power out the my garage in a way similar to what construction workers do when they're building a house. Here's what I've got, and I'm going to try to give it to you LEVE fasion:

1. I'm renting
2. I'm US Navy and not going to buy in this area (Groton, CT)
3. It's a two car garage that's not attached to the house
4. I currently run two extension cords from my basement (~50ft) when I work
5. The cords come from 15 amp circuits, and the only time one trips is sometimes when the air compressor attempts to start and there are other loads on that circuit in the house
6. I don't have enough power to run lights and heater and all the tools, etc.
7. It's too dark when I've got the doors shut and the heater on, so I haven't worked in weeks.

Here's what I want:

1. Install a 220v outlet with its own circuit breaker at my main breaker panel in the basement
2. Run a cord from there out to the garage where I want a subpanel with ~8 110v outlets each with their own breaker.
3. I want to be able to unplug this in the basement and coil it up in the garage when I'm not out there.

Here's what I'm thinking and what I've done:

1. I've never worked with house electricity, but I took the front off my main breaker panel and looked at it - I can do it.
2. I thought I wanted to send 100 amps to the garage - maybe more than I need, but more is good in my mechanics mind.
3. Went to Home Depot to check on prices and ask questions
4. The guy didn't want to help me build it because I'm not building it to pass inspection, but he was helpful with theoretical questions.
5. He thinks I only want 50 amps out to the garage, and I think it's because he's scared of someone getting hurt if I run 100 amps
6. The price of panel, breakers, outlets, etc would only be about $50, but the line he wanted me to buy to run it out to the garage was $3/ft or $150!

Here's my questions:

1. Have any of you done this before?
2. If so, what works?
3. I guess 50 amps should be enough since 30 amps is almost enough now, but will it?
4. What kind of line do I need to buy to run out there, knowing that it's never going to be permanent?
5. I don't want to be unsafe, but I don't want to spend $200 on the project either. Any of you guys with electrical backgrounds have ideas?

This was a little more wordy than LEVE would do it, but I appreciate the help anyway.

Clay
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 08:49 PM
 
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Re: Need help powering my garage - long

maybe this will help a little,

I run my welder from my dryer outlet, so I rigged a 25 ft 6-3 cord, with a 30 amp dryer plug on one end, and a 50 amp welder female on the other, that works fine, but that 6-3 is expensive and very un-felxible!

I also ran a dedicated circuit into my basement last year, pretty simple even for me ( not much of an electrician) once youve got the entire house power shut down, you remove the panel cover and determine what tye of rbeakers you have.
then go buy some more what ever amp rating you want, its pretty easy to see how its wired up and just think safe, make sure its grounded ( the house might not be wired right, keep that in mind!) in fact I suggest a good library book on wiring, or ask someone.

id suggest you wire the garage into the panel and then use breakers to shut it off, when you leave you can unwire and remove your breakers.

mainly
dont be a circuit and get hurt, but otherwise it isnt rovket science
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Need help powering my garage - long

I'd rather leave it semi-permanent in the main breaker panel, but I can't because there's a sidewalk that butts up to the house between the house and the garage that I won't be able to dig under. That's why I've got the idea to unplug it every time I'm done using it.

Is having it unplug a really bad idea, or just not the preferred method?

Also, I can see that I'll be able to figure out how to wire the stuff in the panel, but I have no idea what kind of wire is what. That 6-3 stuff is exactly what I need to know. I'll go search for it online now. Are there other solutions? Cheaper ones?

Thanks,

Clay

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post #4 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Need help powering my garage - long

Ok, I'm going to prove how electrically ignorant I am.

My quick internet search makes me think that 6-3 cable means #6 gauge with 3 wires. Am I correct?

If so, the 3 wire stuff will only carry 110v, right? My welder and air compressor are currently both 110v, so it wouldn't be a problem to only have 110 out there, but I thought I'd build it for 220v just in case I find a good deal on a bigger welder or compressor. What do you guys think?

Clay
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 09:21 PM
 
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Re: Need help powering my garage - long

ok we are on about the same level so dont be afradi to ask, and please dont interpret what I say as gospel!

the 6-3, does mean 6 guage and 3 conductors ( I cant recall if it has an additional bare copper ground or not)
Im using it for a 220V welder, so it will carry 220V, but its expensive, and its very unflexible, I dont think its sheathing ( outer coating) is rated for teh abrasions and such that it would see being used as an extension cord , although Im using it that way!

220V scares me, I dont like to plug, unplug that dryer plug, especailly not while standing on a concrete floor..but thats really not a good reason to use only 110V!

I think the 6-3 cable was rated at 50 or 60 amps continuous ( maybe it was more I cant recall) im pretty sure it was less that 100amps though.

How about adding 3 dedicated breakers, and gettign 3 heavy duty extension cords?

if you dont need 220V and you can get by with 3 15 or even 20 amp circuits?

just ideas.

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post #6 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Need help powering my garage - long

That 3 breakers and 3 heavy extension cords is a good backup plan. I honestly hadn't considered that. One of my problems is overengineering stuff to make it cost 5 times what it needs too!

I'll see what ideas other people have, but that would sure get me through the rest of this winter and into warmer weather.

Thanks!

Clay
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 10:02 PM
 
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Re: Need help powering my garage - long

I will start with the 6-3. It means #6 wire and three conductors. It will not include the ground usually. You will need four conductors for 220 V red, black, white and green. Buy the wire that has #6 in the black, white and red. Green can be smaller. You will need #6 for a 50 Amp feed. White is neutral, red goes to one 110 V leg the Black goes to the other 110 V leg. Green is ground. It is called 220 V because of the 110+110=220. Either side voltage to ground will be 110 V. I absolutely do not recommend 100-amp service. You will need to use #2 wire at least.

The easiest will be to make a "drop cord" like Ozark says. The drop cord should use range plugs and not dryer plugs. Dryer plugs are rated at 30 amps, range plugs are 40 amps. Closer to 50 amps but I will caution you later about this. Put a male range plug on the "Inside the house" side and a female range receptacle on the "Outside the house" side. This is for safety. What if somebody who doesn't know how your contraption works, unplugs the male garage end first, drops the exposed plug on his leg and gets a real shocking wake up call!!

I would mount a 50 Amp (or 40 amp-explain later) Load Center on a ply wood board; mount your receptacles each on its own breaker. For the incoming from the load center I would put on a male range plug, plug it into the female outlet when needed. I would mount 4 20-amp breakers, 4 20-amp outlets. Garage outlets are supposed to be GFCI outlets. It sucks for some things but thatís code. Wire the outlets with number 12 wire. White goes to the side with the big plug(silver on the outlet screws), black to the hot side (brass screws on outlet) and green to the frame (green screw)of the outlet. I would also add one 220 V female outlet on the board for your air compressor etc. This is a long run for 110V loads and is hard on the compressor motor.

Now my cautions. Again, dryer outlet=30 amps and range outlet=40 amps. If you have these already in your house, the wire to these is rated to handle 30 or 40 amps, not 50 amps like your garage board is designed for. The wires in the house may overheat and cause the fire. The weakest link thing... You have to make sure the whole circuit can handle 50 amps. If not, only go the 40 amps with the range stuff and number 8 wires. This should be enough for your garage.

Hope you understand this. Buy good wire-I recommend SO type wire, flexible, tough, made for this type of use but expensive. But....paying for dead people and burnt houses is too.

By the way...legal stuff since I am a Professional Electrical Engineer. I recommend a permanent installation to the local codes and the NEC, and not this temporary thing.
[img]images/graemlins/givemebeer.gif[/img]
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 10:05 PM
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Re: Need help powering my garage - long

So it's not rocket science...Sub guys...

6-3 IS actually 4 wires Red, Black, White and Ground...it is what you want for 220V. A plug in near your panel is not PREFERED but is OK. you will be very smart to buy...pretty much the biggest plug and outlet that HD sells...check the Amp draw of the plug and dont skimp match your breaker size...I would not worry about doing a panel in the garage...use the 50A in your primary panel and basically build a BIG extension cord...put a 2 or 3 gang outlet box on your garage end. Put in 2 duplex(110v) outlets and your single 220v. so you've now got a bf plug attatched to a "power strip" prefferably by 6-3, you could go 8-3 or even 10-3, you could try the 10-3 run everything, if the wire gets hot, you are too small...and will have to move to the 8 or 6.

how much snow did you get today Clay...Jeep Wife was supposed to be in Groton/New London today...didnt get out of NC...

Just went out to the shop...do the 6 guage wire...I'm running 10 for my Tablesaw & Dust Collector(both 220) and a little space heater...If I'm running all thee for very long the wire gets hot...
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 10:25 PM
 
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Re: Need help powering my garage - long

I used to use 6-3 homemade extension cord to get 220 power out to the garage when I needed it. I'd umnplug the stove and plug it in, carefully unroll it out thru a window, etc. It's a real PIA, but if you are very carefull with it, it will work. It's made for permanent installs, not for use as an extension cord, so it's made of a small number of solid strands. It's stiff like a frozen garden hose. Its covering is designed for indoor installs, so it's not sheathed like a welder's cable, making it more susceptable to damage. As for getting 100 amps out to it, the stove outlet (if you plan to use an existing one) will have its own fuse or breaking limiting it. 50 feet of it works fine for powering a 220 welder. I really don't think it's made for 100 amps. But you can look that up easily on the net. I'm sure length and AWG determines current ratings. I used a welder's plug at each end, then made adapters that you plug into it, or it plugs into to fit various needs (stove outlet). It's not the safest thing to use, as electrical power is dangerous, and welding, grinding, etc or working around it could somehow breach the insulation accidentally. Don't forget it could rain unexpectely, etc.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 02-17-2003, 10:30 PM
 
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Re: Need help powering my garage - long

Just looked it up. The chart I found shows 6 gauge wire is rated for 65 amps up to 100 feet.
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