I'm building a small music studio on our property and I'm looking for some advice on the electrical end of things. The building is almost 130 ft. away from a proposed sub panel, and another 70 ft. away from the the main panel of our 48v solar system. I'm hoping to do this on one circuit after the sub panel (130ft. away)

The known items for load will be two 450w speakers, one 200w speaker, a 60w amp, 40w analog mixer, 6 10w LED lights, 60w computer charger.. some other chargers/peripheral devices, etc. that I can't account for yet.

Here's the plan so far. I'm wondering if I can run this all on one circuit by branching off in a few spots to the lights (in pink).

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  • 4
    The usual method is to install a small sub-panel in your outbuilding. This allows for multiple breakers protecting individual circuits as appropriate. It's a much more flexible approach, which also makes breaker trips less of a hassle. Is there some reason you can't do this?
    – isherwood
    Apr 30, 2017 at 17:32
  • There will be a sub panel about 130 feet away with a breaker for the whole building. Would you suggest then that I use 12 gauge wire leading up to the building, I think that's what we were planning on. And then 14 in the building?
    – threeoten
    Apr 30, 2017 at 17:39
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    One item to consider is that load is not the only issue. At least some interior lighting is often on a separate circuit for safety reasons if something pops a breaker.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 30, 2017 at 18:10
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    @threeoten 1 - 20 AMP outlet at 120V properly rated / loaded is about 1600 Watts of power. You should follow Isherwoods advice - because music studio - more and more will be added.
    – Ken
    Apr 30, 2017 at 20:20
  • @isherwood - you should take your very valuable comments and place them in answer - because that is absolutely what he should do - sub panel with additional circuits even if it is only 100AMP service he will expand that studio after starting - and surely will wish he had spent a little more now doing it right then both a little now and a lot later to do it right the second time. Right the first time is cheaper. I did not want to state my answer because I would simply copy select sentences of your comments. So please submit your comments in an answer - you are right on the money.
    – Ken
    Apr 30, 2017 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


I don't have the reputation to comment so I'll jot this down as a partial answer.

Install 12A wire in the building You are outfitting an accessory building to do music production; not just lighting a room. By July it will occur to you that you need a small AC window unit and a mini-fridge. Don't skimp on the wire now.

Strongly consider installing a sub-panel This allows you to run separate circuits for lighting and electronics. Not to mention a 20A circuit for your future wet-bar.

Think about lightning risk; think about ground loops If lightning strikes this building what is the path to earth? If you ground the sub-panel locally you can introduce a ground loop. Especially since you probably have a mix of grounded electronics (computers with 3-prong plugs) and un-grounded musical equipment (amps with 2-prong plugs). I suspect the best approach will be to avoid a separate local ground and tie back into your main house ground. So make sure your grounding conductor back to the house is of sufficient gauge. I don't know if putting the dimmers on a separate energized wire from your wall outlets will help avoid magnetically induced hum. If it does, this would be one justification for running MWBC as others have suggested.

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