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Wire Size for a Sub-Panel in an Attached Garage and Troubleshooting Loose Neutrals

May 16, 2010

DIY Electrical Wiring Help Lee asks:
I want to run a sub panel to my attached garage fifty feet from the main panel which is 150 amp service what is the maximum size sub box i can run and what size wire to connect?

Answer:
It really depends on how much power that you need in the garage and if you will be using large loads in the house at the same time that you are working in the garage. You can easily install a 100 amp sub-panel in your garage. However, you can use the range and dryer at the same time while you are welding in your garage.

As for the wire size, you need either #3 AWG copper wire or 1/0 AWG aluminum wire. With a sub-panel, you need to install 2 hot wires, 1 neutral wire and 1 ground wire. You also need to ensure that your neutral and ground wires are separated in the sub-panel.

 

Gabriel Fequiere asks:
I was adding some wiring in order to add some recess lights in a dining room when suddenly I noticed the tool that was plugged in an adjacent room was turned off. Thinking the problem was related to my new wiring, I removed everything and began testing the 3 receptacles in question. I thought that the receptacle were cold (no juice) through testing the conventional way however, testing EACH insert against the box turns out to be hot and at no time that the circuit breaker was tripped. How can i solve the problem?

Answer:
It sounds like you are missing a neutral. You need you open the receptacles and test for voltage between the hot and neutral terminals. You should have 120 volts here. If you do not, then you are missing a neutral. You need to go back to each electrical box that you worked in and look for a loose or disconnected neutral wire. Make sure that you turn off the power first. A neutral under load will grab you faster than a hot wire.

 

Ken Snyder asks:
Hi everyone. My problem is I have 6 pendant ceiling fixtures all on the same 3 way switch. Problem is that when I turn on the lights sometimes light 3 doesn’t turn on. I then replace the bulb and light 3 turns on but light 4 doesn’t. I repeat and light 4 now goes on but not light 3 doesn’t. I’ve checked the wiring and it appears right and the work was performed by a licensed electrician several years ago. I don’t remember when this first started but I have ignored it for some time. I am completely baffled and the licensed electrician who installed it has retired and moved away. Any suggestions?

Answer:
Check for a loose connection. You will find these at the wire nuts, the screw on the lamp holder and if not originally stripped properly, at the back of the electrical box. If you are burning out light bulbs, then you may have a neutral issue as well.

 

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