I know nothing about electrical code or wiring. I want to add a breaker to my main disconnect panel. Reason being it is super close to my garage compared to my panel inside my home. The main disconnect panel is a full size panel with a main switch at the top then spots for breakers below. Its located at the front corner of the home and I would simply need to run the service 10 feet. I believe it's a 200a service, installed by the previous owner in 2012 and passed inspection at that time. I would like to feed from this panel to my garage and possibly add a sub panel for some additional outlets and a 220v outlet for welding. Is it ok to do this or should I plan to budget to run from the main panel inside the home?

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  • Can you post a picture of the main panel? Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 1:13
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    I had to figure out how to resize the photos. They are now posted. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!
    – Bpersch
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 2:24
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    Is there a reason you believe you can't use the panel with your main breaker? From your pictures (and a bit of inference from your description), it looks like you have an outdoor main service panel (with only a main breaker) and an indoor subpanel (with pretty much all your wiring). You should be able to add a circuit to either, unless you believe there is a reason you can't. Also, can you remove the dead front on the main panel so we can see the wiring behind it? I'm curious if it uses subfeed lugs to go to your indoor subpanel.
    – Hari
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 3:14
  • Where is the main panel located with regards to the garage? Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 3:38
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    Can we see the label on the panel that has the main breaker? Just because there are knockouts doesn't mean there are any breaker spaces behind it. The label will tell the tale. Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 5:37

3 Answers 3


I'll first put my disclaimer out there and say I'm not an electrician.

First, pictures are worth a thousand safety tips. Can you add some pictures of the existing panel(s)? Adding a run has it's challenges. The cable size, type, conduit type are all determined by length of run, amps, and location; might be 1 or 2 others I missed.

As far as adding a sub panel, there are some very strict code and guidelines that must be followed. Namely, the previously mentioned. If this is something you're thinking of doing on your own, be sure you know what you're doing. I had been in the trades for nearly 20 years, and I've played around with electricity plenty. When it came time to adding my sub panel for my shed, I decided there's too much to account for and know to do it myself.

I believe you would be able to do what you're looking to do with relative ease. You can tell your service by the breaker size of your main panel. If the main throw is rated at 200A, it's safe to say you have a 200A service.

As I recall, if your run is interior, you would need to run metal conduit and need no less than a 4 gauge stranded run. If it's exterior, you would need to run schedule 40 or 80 non-metallic conduit. Either way, the cabling needs to be stranded.

I would suggest calling a local electrician to verify gauge for service size and run. It's also good to note, there are specific height requirement, panel types, and grounding requirements that must be considered.

  • Thank you for that answer. I am a decently skilled tradesman but not with electric. I leave that up to the professionals. I fully intend to hire an electrician to come and make all hook ups. I plan to dig and install the service wire and conduit and drill the masonry where needed to get into the garage. However now I think I need to call a local as suggested and make sure I use the correct conduit and wire. I did post a picture of the boxes in the home, hopefully I can at least find out if it is possible so I can budget accordingly. The difference in the runs are about 40 feet, and wire is $
    – Bpersch
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 2:18
  • There is no restriction of metallic / nonmetallic indoors / outdoors. Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 2:33
  • Maybe it's a locality thing. I know in my area, using metal conduit underground is illegal. Consider the constant moisture contact of metal and ground, plus rain when that happens. @Bpersch I just have to guess the one posting is unskilled/non-trades if it isn't stated. Sorry if I offended :)
    – brehma
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 3:29
  • @brehma No offense taken, I was just explaining why I am asking the questions to begin with, instead of calling an electrician from the start. I would like to do as much of the install as possible to save in labor. Thanks again for your answer.
    – Bpersch
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 13:46

You could run a subpanel from that main panel, but it sounds like it's probably even easier to just feed the new circuits in your garage directly from that panel.


Not an electrician, but after reviewing your photos I would say go for it. Consider calling the power company to pull the meter when you hookup to the main panel. Or an electrician to discuss if code allows it. On the main, you can flip that switch and normally that will kill power to the lower section of your panel to safely install a breaker. The heavy wire coming into the panel will still be very hot, and plenty powerful enough to severely harm/kill you compared to just a 20 Amp circuit. However, use common sense and assume everything is hot. Carefully pull the front cover off after flipping the main, and examine the rail. You should have a place for breakers to snap in if it's designed to be done.

Also make sure you have a easy to knock out hole in the bottom (or side) of the panel. You'll need to use the fancy fitting that takes a locknut and a rolled edge bushing/nut that doesn't chafe the wire. You'll need to run the wire in schedule 80 conduit to the proper size if it's exposed to someone being able to touch the conduit. Underground is only schedule 40 I believe, but again, not an electrician so that will need confirmed. What you are doing is both very easy and very dangerous but using your head right will save you a lot of money and be a fun project!

I wish I installed a meter socket panel with the breaker slots available right outside the home so I could run some outside circuits easily. Lucky you!

  • a 20A circuit can kill you plenty good. The real difference between a 20A death and a 1000A (or higher) death is how much remains will be left and in what condition your body will be; and what kind of damage will happen to the dwelling. Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 22:27

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