125 Amp overkill?
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    125 Amp overkill?

    I've started thinking about bringing power into my year old barn which has been all DIY. I was planning on a 100 Amp sub panel with a main breaker to disconnect from the line coming over from the house. Now I'm considering possibly going to a 125 amp panel because there really isn't that much cost difference between buying a 100 amp or a 125 amp main breaker panel.

    The question is will it be overkill. I will have in the barn, three or four lighting circuits, four or five 120V outlets, a 230v/30 line for the air compressor & possibly another 230v line for a heater & one dedicated 20 amp line for a Lincoln Mig 140 welder. I don't think the air compressor will ever be on at the same time as the heater, but even if they were I think I'm still ok. But in any case, is going to a 125 way over my needs. I highly doubt I will ever have more in this barn then what I have stated. I'm not so sure if more is better in my case. Any opinions? Thanks.
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    There really isn't any such thing as "overkill" when it comes to this sort of thing. The cost difference is just a few dollars and the extra 25 amp capacity is there if you ever need it. There is really no downside to this other than the possibility that you'd want a larger wire to feed the panel if you want to use it for it's full 125 amp capacity. But you can always install the 125 amp panel and feed it from a 100 amp breaker.
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    Will the 125A box give you more circuits? That would be the only reason I would go bigger than 100A.

    Code here is 6 circuits or less in a sub panel you do not need a main breaker, but I think 6 circuits is too few.
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    More circuits is good and if your starting fresh and the heavier wire is good as well. I have a 100amp breaker feeding my shed and a 200amp panel in the shed with wire rated for 200. It keeps down the voltage drop and I don’t have to hear my wife complain about the welder or compressor dimming the lights.
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    As I recall the code when I put my subpanels in a number of years ago; the subpanel could be 80% of the feeding panel's capacity (e.g. a 150A subpanel fed from a 200A main panel). 150A panels are available; but I've never seen one in the big box stores; so I went with 125A subpanels.

    Go with as big a subpanel as you can as it will cost more in the future to redo it.

    If I recall correctly, a subpanel didn't need a main breaker if it was next to or within a few feet of the feeding panel; but a subpanel that is remote and out of sight from the feeding panel requires a main breaker in the subpanel and an equivalent breaker in the feeding panel.

    Panels are also called load-centers.

    Hopefully, GTT's electricians will see this thread and tell me I'm right or full of it.
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    Yes the sub panel itself is similar in price. It's the wire that costs a lot when you have to go a size or two up in gauge to handle the extra current. Also it can increase cost a good bit if you have go up a size in conduit.

    Cost for adding the extra amperage is mostly dependant on how long the wire run is.

    If your wire is sized properly to limit voltage drop for the amperage of your feeder breaker you won't really notice the difference between 100 and 125.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zebrafive View Post
    Code here is 6 circuits or less in a sub panel you do not need a main breaker
    Personally, I wouldn't have a subpanel without a main, even if it was just 5" from the primary.

    Quote Originally Posted by CJadamec View Post
    Yes the sub panel itself is similar in price. It's the wire that costs a lot when you have to go a size or two up in gauge to handle the extra current. Also it can increase cost a good bit if you have go up a size in conduit.

    Cost for adding the extra amperage is mostly dependant on how long the wire run is.
    Wire is cheap w.r.t. labor & time at install vs replacing it later. No need then to worry about:
    I don't think the air compressor will ever be on at the same time as the heater, but even if they were I think I'm still ok.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dianedebuda View Post
    Personally, I wouldn't have a subpanel without a main, even if it was just 5" from the primary.

    Wire is cheap w.r.t. labor & time at install vs replacing it later. No need then to worry about:
    I agree!

    When my Mom's detached garage was wired it only had three circuits, opener, lights, outlets. So the sub panel had no main breaker. A big difference, to her in panel costs, and it met code. It probably could have been run off three breakers from the main panel in her basement?
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    OK. I want to use a 125 amp main breaker subpanel. From the house to the service entrance at my barn is about 75 feet.

    This is all new work. I have a 2 inch underground conduit. I will probably run aluminum wire from the house panel to the barn. Originally I was going to use a 100 amp panel but now I'm strongly considering the 125 amp. setup. The question I now have is what size conductor do I use from the house over to the barn. I'm thinking that a #2 size will work for either 100 or 125 amp & at a distance of 75 feet away, my line voltage drop should be no more than 2%. I tried looking it up on a National electrical code chart, but frankly I'm not knowledgeable enough to under stand all the notes, etc. found on the charts I looked at.

    I should ad that maybe I should not concern myself with this part of the job because I will be asking my electrician to bring the power over from the house to the barn. But I like to have an understanding as to what materials are involved. I will be doing all the work in the barn except for the final power hook up. I think for me that is the most dangerous part of the job & I want to leave that to a pro.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maddog View Post
    OK. I want to use a 125 amp main breaker subpanel. From the house to the service entrance at my barn is about 75 feet.

    This is all new work. I have a 2 inch underground conduit. I will probably run aluminum wire from the house panel to the barn. Originally I was going to use a 100 amp panel but now I'm strongly considering the 125 amp. setup. The question I now have is what size conductor do I use from the house over to the barn. I'm thinking that a #2 size will work for either 100 or 125 amp & at a distance of 75 feet away, my line voltage drop should be no more than 2%. I tried looking it up on a National electrical code chart, but frankly I'm not knowledgeable enough to under stand all the notes, etc. found on the charts I looked at.

    I should ad that maybe I should not concern myself with this part of the job because I will be asking my electrician to bring the power over from the house to the barn. But I like to have an understanding as to what materials are involved. I will be doing all the work in the barn except for the final power hook up. I think for me that is the most dangerous part of the job & I want to leave that to a pro.

    You'd need 2/0 (aka "00") aluminum wire, not #2. 2 Gauge is only rated for 90 amps. 2/0 is rated for 130 amps.

    Click image for larger version. 

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