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I am currently in the process of remodeling my detached garage and have run into a snag with the electrical. The previous owner ran 6-2 wiring out to the garage into a 50A outlet but then pigtailed a 20A outlet off of that (see attached pictures). Wiring - coverWiring - no cover

I have a Cadet Garage Heater that needs the 6-20R outlet. The heater would only be used in the winter and when I am making something out in the garage which is not that frequent. I am assuming the pigtail connection the previous owner ran is not safe.

Ideally, I would run 6-3 wire out to the garage for a subpanel and come off of that but I am hoping for an easier solution in the form of an adapter. As mentioned before, the usage of the heater would be limited to the winter, running maybe 2-3 hours max a couple times a month. I would like to keep the 50A outlet in case I ever decide to flirt with a welder.

The 6-2 wiring is on a 50A breaker and is run underground to to the garage. Also ran out to the garage are two 14-2 lines as well as a 14-3 line. The two 14-2's are on a 15A breaker and the 14-3 is on another 15A breaker tied into a few things inside the house. I have already replaced the fluorescent lights with LED lights and added a couple more plugs off of the 14-2's. The 14-3 controls the lights on the garage (other switch is at the back door).

All help is appreciated. Let me know if I need to provide more details. Thank you!

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I believe you could have a safe, code compliant install now if you used the 6/2 to feed a small subpanel with no neutral. The 240V receptacles don't have a neutral.

There may be a tap rule that would allow you to tap the 50A circuit with #12 if you keep the tap very short, but only if you hardwired the heater, not with a receptacle.

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If the heater has a built-in breaker or fuse, then I would just make a cheater cord. Totally not legit, but it should be safe, provided the heater has its own breaker or fuse.

  • No, an adapter cord for plugging a 6-20 device into a 6-50 receptacle is fine – ThreePhaseEel Sep 18 '18 at 23:39
  • @ThreePhaseEel Because it's not part of the building wiring, and thus out of the bailiwick of the electrical code? – Harper Sep 19 '18 at 0:36
  • @Harper -- partially, at least. – ThreePhaseEel Sep 19 '18 at 1:41
  • It's only fine if the heater has built-in protection to prevent overload of its wiring and cord. Otherwise, swapping in a 20 amp breaker like @EdBeal suggests is a better idea. – longneck Sep 19 '18 at 12:14
  • This is the heater that I have cadetheat.com/products/garage-heaters/RCP402S I would like to keep the 50A outlet in case I get a welder so really do not want to run new line although it may sound like I have to? Two winters ago, I used the heater for about 2 hours without incident with the current setup. Last year, I did not even use the heater. – Rudy Sep 19 '18 at 19:37
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You can pull the 50 amp breaker or add another 20 and remove the 50 amp outlet since this is not code . you can run the 20 amp circuit on the number 6 wire but may need to pigtail for the breaker. If you want to use for a welder at a later time you still have the breaker and outlet that can be reinstalled

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