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I bought an older house that the previous owner had rewire the whole house and have 200-amp panel which is a good thing. But there is a shed in the backyard that have absolutely no power. I am trying to think of a way to have electrical run here. So here is my situation. The shed is about 15 feet to the panel, very short, you can see the panel clearly standing from the shed.

  1. The 200-amps panel is full, which mean it might be a challenge to add a dedicate 60-amps breaker to home run this shed.
  2. There is a GFCI outlet that is 5 feet to the wall of the shed that is on dedicate 20-amp breaker at the back of the house currently have 12 gauge wire.
  3. I only plan for this to be a finished storage and "might be" as a temporary play room. So couple of lights, one outlet. the shed is pretty small like a 100 sqft. And most of the time would not be used. Possibly a table heat if I ever need to be there in the winter. But I don't plan to do any tooling like saw machine or power tool. The furthest that I might go for is turning it into a mini studio to take photography.

With all of those to work with. What are my options? Am I ok to splice from that 20-amp outlet to power the shed like a normal room? Again the breaker simply only connect to that outlet.

I am living in CA and trying to make this as right as possible. I am fairly handy and can diy.

In the image we can see that all breaker occupied to the end of the box.

Updated: Add picture of shed in question and the panel. The house have solar so I think 28 and 30 is to leave alone because it power the inverter enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

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  • updated with photo
    – smurf
    Dec 22, 2021 at 22:09
  • Can you post photos of any labeling on the inside of the box's door please? Dec 23, 2021 at 2:22
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    It looks like the bottom 5-6 positions on each side are rated for tandems. 2ea 20 amp tandems and that frees up 2 full sized spaces allowing for a GFCI double pole. That’s what I would suggest since the 15’s are already GFCI’s and you have a bunch of 20’s , easy way to make spaces in the panel also cheaper than a quad (I love square D but they think two highly of there limited quad selection $$$). A couple of tandems, or double stuffs and then the right size for the shed and you have room.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 25, 2021 at 17:48

2 Answers 2

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Double-stuffing will take some creativity here

The good news is that you aren't quite as full as you think, given that your panel accepts double-stuff breakers in the bottom six rows. The bad news is that given that:

  1. There are no double-stuff AFCIs in HOMeline, and
  2. We can't move or double-stuff the solar breaker

we'll have to do a bit of rearranging to wedge a power feed to the shed into this panel. In particular, the circuit from space 24 feeding the washer (laundry Small Appliance Branch Circuit) needs to be swapped with any of the circuits from 13, 15, or 17 (front yard outlet, back yard outlet, or furnace). That way, the washer circuit can have a full-sized space for a future AFCI retrofit, while the moved circuit in 24 along with the garage/outdoor outlet circuit in 26 can be replaced with a HOMT2020220 double-stuff breaker to provide the 2 existing 20A circuits along with a 20A multi-wire branch circuit to the shed.

If you take this route, you'll want to run a fat conduit to the shed: 1½" PVC is not out of place here at all, given that a future owner might want to do something more elaborate here, as that can accommodate up to a 125A feeder in the future. If you don't want to faff around with a reducer fitting at the shed end, though, you could run a 1" PVC conduit instead, but that'd make a 2-2-4-6 MHF cable a very tight squeeze, and prevent that future owner from bringing anything larger than the 90A that MHF cable can provide over. Laying a second 1" conduit in the trench for a future communications line while you have the trench open is a good idea, and you'll want to use individual 12AWG THHN wires in the conduit you're using for power purposes instead of trying to stuff a UF cable down it. Finally, your conduit run will need an expansion joint at the house end (for seismic reasons, if nothing else).

Or, you could run power from the backyard GFCI

If you don't mind being limited to a single 20A circuit, one could run power from the LINE side terminals on the existing backyard GFCI to the shed. You'll want to either use a conduit (½" PVC is adequate for this, though) buried 18" down, or UF buried the full 24" with warning tape, though, and you'll also probably need to replace the box that GFCI outlet is in with one that has two holes at the bottom -- a FSS or FDD box in PVC is what you're looking for. Once again, if you go the conduit route, you'll also need to use individual 12AWG THHN wires in the conduit.

Either way, once we reach the shed...

Once we reach the shed, the logic's the same in either case: you'll need either a protective conduit sleeve for the UF cable or a full expansion fitting for the conduit run, then a reducer to 1" if the conduit you run is larger than that, and then your disconnecting means for the shed. Fortunately, a non-fusible air conditioner disconnect is perfectly adequate for this task, and cheap(!) too. From there, you can run 12/2 NM out its back to the light switch and shed GFCI receptacle, which then feed the lights and the rest of the receptacles, respectively, with the receptacles protected by being on the LOAD side of the shed's own GFCI. (You could use a "blank face" GFCI device located at the light switch if you wanted it to be conveniently located without having a receptacle there, by the way.)

(NB for those who have read this far and are curious: the OP's shed only adds 105VA of factored load to their load calculation, or less than half an amp at 240V, so they'd have to be teetering at the absolute brink for the shed to push their load calculations over the edge.)

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  • Actually I have a local electrician recommend me your second approach so I don’t have to deal with shuffling the breaker. The lucky thing is that the gfci outlet at the back for some reason was on dedicated circuit so no other load is sharing that 20AMP breaker. And the shed is actually very small a size a normal room and I am not even plan to use any power tool but furthest as an office so I am leaning toward it. A quick question, should I remove the gfci outlet or just leave it there? I was told I could pigtail from there for the feed.
    – smurf
    Dec 27, 2021 at 2:27
  • @smurf -- I'd just leave the existing GFCI there, you should be able to come off its LINE terminals (that way, the outdoor GFCI is independent of the shed power, with the shed receptacles having their own GFCI) Dec 27, 2021 at 5:24
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Provided the panel supports it (it most likely does, but you have to check the panel label (usually inside the door) and/or specific model specifications to be sure, then tandem meters are the solution. For example, replace:

  • 24 - 20A
  • 26 - 20A
  • 28/30 - Double 15A

with a quad double pole 15 + double 20:

quad breaker

You connect the wires going to 28 and 30 to the outer 15A breakers. You connect the wires going to 24 and 26 to the inner 20A breakers. This does make the 20A common trip/common shutoff. If that's a problem, look for a quad that has 15A common trip and 20A not common trip.

That then frees up a pair of spaces for a 60A (or whatever) double breaker for a proper subpanel feed.

Note that you can only do this (a) if/where the panel instructions allow it and (b) to replace ordinary breakers. If breakers are GFCI or AFCI (if they have a TEST button) then you can't replace those, as tandems and quads are not available with GFCI or AFCI. Any double-breakers you replace (e.g., 28 and 30) must have common trip in a replacement - some tandems and quads have that, some don't.

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    Looks like 28,30 is an inadequately marked solar input that likely needs to be left in place and left alone. Dec 23, 2021 at 0:28
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    That may be. I used it as an example, without knowing what "SOLAR" really means, just based on "15A double". Dec 23, 2021 at 0:51

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