Garage power question

Originally Posted By: DaveK913
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Hello. This is a very interesting and educational forum. I’ve enjoyed visiting, but I came across it by searching while looking for information.

I do some woodworking in our attached garage. The power comes from one 15 amp circuit. My dear bought me a new table saw that draws too much power when it first powers on, dimming the lights almost to the point of blowing the fuse. I haven't used it yet as a result.

The table saw is currently wired for 120V but can be wired for 240V, and we have a 30 amp 240 volt circuit for a range that is unused. The house was built in 1967 and has 100 amp service running through a Square D 125 amp rated fuse panel. The wire currently running to the range outlet is 8 gauge copper. The area of the garage I would be interested in running power to is 30 feet from the range outlet, and about 55 feet from the fuse panel.

My neighbor is an electrician, and said I could either:

Re-route the 240V line to the garage, and wire the saw for 240V, or

Use the 240V to feed two separate 20 amp gangboxes, using one hot for each box and the white as the neutral. (I'm assuming this is what he meant.)

What I was wondering is, could I use the 30A 240V to feed a small subpanel in the garage with one 20 and one 15 amp or two 20 amp circuits? I would never be using more than one tool at one time. That's ingrained in me by the limitations I'm already under by the single 15 AMP circuit, but it would be good to have extra outlets on that side of the garage on a separate circuit. The only outlets currently in the garage are 15 feet from where I work.

I pondered his second suggestion, but it didn't sound particularly safe to me. It's not that I believe he would suggest something unsafe, but he doesn't and hasn't done residential work in over 15 years and I would appreciate a second opinion before I go calling anyone.

I would truly appreciate any input. I'd like to go just go ahead and upgrade the fuse box to a breaker panel and just add another circuit, but that's not in our budget at this time.

Thank you in advance, and from what I've read around here, be careful today or tomorrow! (Not that any of you need to be told.)

Originally Posted By: Greg Fretwell
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The main problem with the subpanel idea may be the type of wire you have going to the range outlet. If it is 3 wire <insulated> plus ground you are good to go. Otherwise you can’t serve 120v loads in your subpanel.

Originally Posted By: lewens
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I did this for years. Wire your saw for 220 and hook up a couple of quick disconnects and short ends, one for a dryer plug and one for a range. Even on a job site it was no problem to find either plug to hook up to. Only thing, it might tick off your “dear” when she wants to dry the laundry.


Just my usual 12.5 cents

From The Great White North Eh?

Originally Posted By: DaveK913
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Thank you both. I’m going to go with the panel, and have already gotten my equipment. Square D 70 amp box with 2 spaces, and 4 circuits. I’ll have a 20 amp for larger tools, and a 15 amp for general purpose. It’ll just be good to have outlets on that wall, and separate circuits is even better. I mentioned it to my neighbor, and he said sure you could do this, but he was just suggesting a less expensive method. I figured, what’s another $25-$30 for a little extra peace of mind?

He's lived in this development for 20 years, and he assures me that the 240 lines have a separate ground(2 hot, neutral, ground). He's worked on and helped other people around here in the past, and it's always been the case. If there were to be an exception to the rule, it would probably be me though. I wasn't known as Charlie Brown when I was younger for nothing. Always had a Lucy around to pull that football away. ![icon_lol.gif](upload://zEgbBCXRskkCTwEux7Bi20ZySza.gif)

Lewens, we have a gas dryer and range. When my wife first moved here 30 years ago she had electric, but someone wired the dryer outlet and the central air to the same circuit. Since the panel had no room for another 240V, she had a gas dryer installed. She went to a gas range a few years later because she preferred having one.

This house must have been wired by Homer, because the circuits zigzag all over the place. I'd love to have it redone, but there's no way we can afford it. She had already taken out a second mortgage 8 years or so before we met, and when that gets done being paid, that's it. We looked into a third a few years ago, but decided it wouldn't be worth it.

Thanks again for your advice!

Originally Posted By: mboyett
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Maybe Greg F can quickly & easily explain 208/220/240, i.e. Delta, Wye configurations. You mention 240 vac and I suspect your power is more likely 208 vac. Just something you should be aware of and knowledgeable about before proceeding. You want to match the equipment to the power. Also, I assume you are not a HI and I think we would be amiss by not strongly recommending that any work you have done be performed by a licensed electrician.

Mike Boyett

Capital City Inspections

Austin, Tx

Originally Posted By: Greg Fretwell
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There may be some multifamily folks with 3 phase wye (208v) but single family is usually going to be 240/120. This will be derived from a center tapped, single phase transformer.

Good luck on your sub panel. You can probably go with 40a in (8 ga copper feeder?)

With “diversity” your breakers can add up to a more than that, but two 20a 120v and a 15 or 20a 240v for the saw is perfectly reasonable.

If this is the panel I am thinking of it will take a skinny 2 pole and 2 single poles. Your electrician buddy can tell you.

Originally Posted By: DaveK913
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Michael, I’m going to mount the panel and outlets, but I’ll have my neighbor help me with the actual connections. I believe I could do it, but I trust his experience more than my own beliefs. The logistics don’t bother me any as all areas are easily accessible, but I’ve never worked with wire that thick, or made connections to a panel. I’m content to observe, learn and have it done properly.

Greg, I'm going to keep the circuit at the main at 30 amps, and run one 20A 120V for the saw and other large tools, and one 15A 120V for general purpose use. I'm going to use 12 gauge from the box to the receptacles so I suppose I could just install another 20A breaker, but I think it's just as a reminder to myself to keep from becoming greedy. I'll be like a kid in a candy store as it is, just having 2 extra outlets out there that aren't tied to one circuit.

My wife's parents lived with her at one time, and I've spent parts of the last few years trying to right his wrongs. A motion detecting security light for the driveway wired to two old brown 2 wire extension cords connected by exposed wire nuts. Fluorescent lights hardwired into the garage circuit using their stock cords with no junction box. The wiring from an old garage door opener left behind strewn across the rafters after a new one was installed. An extension cord run from the outdoor outlet along the back of the house, across the gate to our privacy fence, along the fence to a shed around 30' from the house, powering a power strip with a fluorescent fixture plugged in. ![icon_eek.gif](upload://yuxgmvDDEGIQPAyP9sRnK0D0CCY.gif) That's just electrical outside. I could probably cover every topic this group of forums covers. He's 76 and still something of a stubborn "know it all", but at least now he's in no position to damage any property or lives.

Originally Posted By: dbowers
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- If you or the neighbor have to ask how to do it, you’re really not qualified to be doing it. Quit fooling around with us on this board and call a competent and qualified electrician.

It will be cheaper than rebuilding after the fire.

Originally Posted By: Greg Fretwell
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With 30a per phase two 20s is not greedy. Four 20s would not be totally out of line. Obviously you couldn’t be using all 40 amps at one time but I doubt you could. My whole house cruises at about 40-60 per phase with the A/C on and our normal lighting load.

Originally Posted By: roconnor
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I agree with Dan. Get a licensed electrician who knows the answers to actually do the work.

General discussions and gaining knowledge is great. But keep in mind that this is a Home Inspection website, and a little bit of knowledge can be very dangerous. Electrical problems are one of the major causes of house fires that kill people and destroy property. It's just not worth it ... ![icon_wink.gif](upload://ssT9V5t45yjlgXqiFRXL04eXtqw.gif)

Robert O'Connor, PE
Eagle Engineering ?
Eagle Eye Inspections ?
NACHI Education Committee

I am absolutely amazed sometimes by how much thought goes into doing things wrong

Originally Posted By: jmyers
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Bob O,

I agree but one has to look at the bright side. If it were not for the advent of the big orange and the DIY'er, home inspections would probably not be all that popular! ![icon_cool.gif](upload://oPnLkqdJc33Dyf2uA3TQwRkfhwd.gif)

Joe Myers
A & N Inspections, Inc.

Originally Posted By: DaveK913
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I mentioned in my original post my neighbor is an electrician. The reason why I asked about the panel here is he’s not always readily available during the week with his hours, and it seemed the members here weren’t above giving advice from what i’d read.

I have no designs on doing the wiring myself, only mounting the boxes. I believe I can manage that without destroying the house.

Greg, I was merely being facetious. I mentioned I couldn't afford to upgrade the entire house, and that was what I meant by being greedy. If I had a little bit extra I might want more. It was purely in jest.

I assure you, my intention was not to "fool" with anyone if that's the impression I gave. I apologize if this topic has been a waste of anyone's time, but I appreciate the advice that's been provided. Have a pleasant summer everyone.

Originally Posted By: Greg Fretwell
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Dave I was just suggesting the thin breakers in case you wanted a mix of 120 and 240 in the shop