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Electrical Wire and Cable

Install an Electrical Sub Panel

Thinking about installing a Sub Panel? Here is what must be considered first, and you may find that you really do not need a sub panel at all.

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Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Installing a Sub Panel

Guide for Adding a Sub Panel
Electrical Question #1: What is the best way to install a sub panel?
Project #1

This electrical question came from: Barbaro, a Handyman in New Jersey.

Electrical Question #2: Can I add a sub panel to a sub panel?

Project #2

Thanks, Jack

This electrical wiring question came from Jack in California.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring questions.

Considerations for Installing an Electrical Sub-Panel

Circuit Breaker Panel

Application: How to Install a Sub Panel.
Skill Level: Advanced. This electrical wiring project is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor, Not Recommended for Homeowners.
Tools Required: Electricians pouch of hand tools and the various power tools necessary for installing the sub-panel.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type and size of the panel and available access to the project area.
Precaution: Any existing electrical wiring within the immediate area that may interfere with the installation of the sub panel should be identified and turned OFF and Tagged if necessary. Working in an electric panel is dangerous due to arc flash hazards and the possibility of electric shock.
Notice: Installing additional electrical wiring and a sub-panel should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Before Installing an Electrical  Sub Panel

Many electrical panels allow tandem, twin or quad circuit breakers to be installed which will allow the installation of a few more circuits, so research the type of panel that you have to see if it will allow installing circuit breakers of these types.

Factors that Determine the Size of a Electrical Sub Panel

Electrical Calculations and Decisions about Electrical Materials

The following resources will assist you when planning to ad a sub panel.

Online Electrical Load Calculator

Residential Electrical Load Calculator, Online and Interactive provides accurate panel load calculations.

Online Wire Size Calculator

Basic electrical calculations of voltage drop and power factors help you understand the requirements for electrical projects and safe circuit wiring.

Electrical Project Guidelines
Electrical wiring projects guidelines necessary to follow for most any project you may choose to do.

By following a few simple steps you will be considering the components necessary for a successful project.

See More about Electric Panels and Circuit Breakers for the Home


Circuit Breakers
An Illustrated Guide to Circuit Breakers Complete with Diagrams and Photos from an Expert.

Circuit Breaker Panel
The home circuit breaker panel contains several circuit breakers that are carefully installed by experienced electricians and electrical contractors.

Electric panel
House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers
This article looks at common 120 volt and 240 volt house wiring circuits and the circuit breakers that are installed identifying the types and amperage sizes used in most homes.

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Electrical Wiring
Electrical Wiring
Home electrical wiring projects with pictures and wiring diagrams.

The following may also be helpful for you:

electrical wiring book

A Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Be sure to get your copy of my BIG Book:
Perfect for Homeowners, Students and Electricians
Home Electrical Wiring - Room by Room
120 Volt Circuits
240 Volt Circuits
Multi-Wired Circuits
Wiring Methods for Installing Home Electrical Circuit Wiring
Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

More articles about Sub-Panel and Home Electrical Wiring:

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “Install an Electrical Sub Panel”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Bob,
    If the panel does not have room for another circuit then a twin or tandem breaker may be the solution, it just depends on your panel.
    When adding a sub panel the panel must be fed from a circuit breaker in the main panel. This whole process must be carefully planned out and is not something that can be easily explained here, and for your safety this is not recommended if you are not experienced.
    This type of project should be done with a permit and inspected – for your protection.

  2. Bob Romano says:

    Want to Install a sub box with a 20 amp circit breaker 120 volts. Main circit breaker is full. I want to use two wire with ground to sub box from Main box. Where do I connect wires from Main box to sub box with the 20 amp breaker.

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi David,
    I’m not sure where you are, but your local area building authority must have specific methods for installing a ground system, so be sure to consult them.
    You be have to install a longer ground rod, or multiple ground rods.
    If the domestic water system enters the dwelling through a metallic pipe then this will serve as at least one ground source.
    Concrete foundations can be grounded using a 20 foot #2 rebar to bond to or install a 20 foot length of copper ground wire into the foundation before it is poured. The size of the ground wire will depend on the size of the electrical service.
    Be sure to see the electrical code section of the web site for more information about grounding.


  4. David Eshiet says:

    Thanks DAVE for educating me, I have improved a lot at my work.
    Please I need to ground cable, but the environment is very swampy, what doIi do, if we dig water comes out and covers the excavated hole,what do we do?

  5. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Wayne,
    120 volt circuits require a separate neutral wire, and if the existing 240 volt stove cable is a 4-wire cable which includes a separate neutral and ground wire then the neutral wire may be shared with the black and the red or the two power legs to create the two 120 volt circuits. The grounds for the 120 volt circuits are spliced with the ground of the stove cable as well. The existing 240 volt stove circuit breaker will need to be replaced with a 2-pole 15 or 20 amp circuit breaker depending on the size of the wire that will be used for the 120 volt circuits or the desired amperage.


  6. Wayne M says:

    I have a sub panel that has a 240 line for a stove that is not being used.
    Question is how can I change over 240 to two 120 circuits?