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I have a NEMA 5-50 outlet wired from my main panel all the way down to where I am installing a garage. It was put in by the previous owner for a welder I believe. NEMA 5-50 is quite unique and hard to find but is 125V 50amp outlet.

If I buy a NEMA 5-50 plug, could I simply wire that into a sub panel to split out multiple 120V outlets into the garage? Is there a better/easier way than installing a subpanel?

I would like to avoid having to run another 100 feet of line down to the area.

Thanks for the help!

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  • Which of your appliances currently require a 5-50? Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 23:09
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    Can you use a prefabricated Power Distribution Unit instead, or replace the receptacle with a subpanel? Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 0:03

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If you really, really wanted to do it from the plug, then you need something called a Power Distribution Unit (PDU). The difference between that and something you could make is the UL Listing.

However, since I supremely doubt you have anything that uses a NEMA 5-50, my advice is to tear the socket off the wall, fit a large 4-11/16” junction box there, and extend via conduit to a place where a subpanel is legal.

  • Where is that? Not a bathroom, and not over steps. Also, it’s illegal to block the 30” wide x 36” deep working space in front of the panel, so place the panel somewhere that won’t happen, e.g. a pathway, threshold or hallway.

The purpose of the conduit is to protect the wires from physical damage... and let you use the smaller #8 THHN wires, as they are vastly easier to work with than balky #6 cable. It’s worth the trouble of fitting the conduit.

Now. Inside the panel, the neutral and ground each go to independent, isolated bars. Remove the neutral-ground bonding screw or strap. The hot is split (a big wire-nut will do) to go to both “main lugs”. Now you can put as many 1-pole breakers as you want in the panel. Do not install multi-wire branch circuits (shared neutral)!!!

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  • Is that a new requirement? My house (1950s) has the main panels (rule of 6, real mess) in the laundry room, which is also the furnace/hot water heater room (and conveniently right below the kitchen which made gas/water/electric upgrades for the kitchen easy). I do have a problem (which I inherited from previous owner but pretty sure from original construction) that I don't have the 30x36 working space, but that's a separate problem. But is laundry room strictly forbidden? Or just "not generally a good idea". Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 16:32
  • I'm also curious about laundry rooms, since where I live, common practice is to put laundry appliances in the garage, which is also a common panel location.
    – Nate S.
    Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 16:37
  • @manassehkatz I thought I recalled a recent code change prohibiting that. I could be wrong. Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 17:32
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica -- yeah, I have seen nothing that indicates that panels are now prohibited in laundry rooms/areas Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 0:03

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