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Garage Modernization – Amp’d Up

Garage Modernization – Amp’d Up

I don’t really talk about the garage a lot.  There isn’t a whole to really mention, its always just a large box shaped room that houses all of the different projects.  One week, I borrowed a thermal imaging camera from a friend at work so that I could get some good visuals of the heat profile on the 2.0l in Kyuubi.  Before I started, I decided to give it a test run so I wasn’t stumbling like I’ve never used it before.

While doing so, I found that my 100a breaker panel for the house was rather ….. hot.  By hot, I don’t mean, the sun laid its rays upon it in the morning and just made it warm.  I mean, I had a single 20a breaker that was 112F degrees and the main breaker with its feeds were over 108.  The alarm for this, is 140 is the last step to a house fire.  What was the cause of load on the 20a breaker?  Actually, the very servers that make this site view-able happen to plug into that. We also found that the left lug on the main was rusting, due to over heating and oxidation in the past.

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This was quiet the delima, as the panel didn’t allow for more breakers, everything was already populated. The servers in question actually want two 30a feeds to run ‘optimally’.  Even if I could run another circuit, it would completely overload the box.  The only solution here is to replace the panel with one rated for a higher service.

The plan is simple:  Install 200a breaker panel, run 200a service feed, move the lines from old to new.  If you’ve never done this before and live within city limits, there is also a paper trail.  It was $30 to get the permit to do the work.  The permit gets you the inspection and approvals to have the power company turn the power back on.  There really isn’t another way to do this.  I won’t even go into the ‘well you can’ topics, its not worth it.  I was able to do this all within a week, legally, safely, and still have power.  It did take some coordination and scheduling, but planning is something that any reader of mine should understand.

It was alleged that we would require a new meter base, too.  After spending $650 at Home Depot, we come back home with 45ft of 2-2-2-4 wire for the feed, the new 200a panel with plenty of room for additions, and a meter base combo.  I end up borrowing tools from a buddy, since most of them won’t be used again.  To make this simple, I’m just going to say that I discussed the code requirements with friends to ensure everything was placed correctly.  Code varies by location, so the specifics are a bit irrelevant.

Old meter base next to new

Old meter base next to new

During the location phase of the work, we found that the 2 primary garage inside lights also operate on the same breaker as the kitchen lights and living room lights, outlets.  We also found that the outdoor garage lights are on the same breaker as the insider garage outlets.  Weird, but that is how we bought it.   After some consideration, I decided that the best course of action would be to remove the garage lights from the inside and add the large work lights to the new circuit.  There is another possibility of adding the outdoor garage lights to this as well but the outlets won’t be joining that party.

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That is all for another time, though.  The focus is on getting things moved over and energized.  The actual installation took about 2 days worth of work.  The moving of the lines took me a Sunday evening and Monday morning.  I can’t really say this made the list of things I’d be okay doing again but I don’t think I would have done anything differently.  At the end of the day, I provisioned a single 20a breaker for the primary feed of the servers.  Its the hottest breaker @ 88 degrees, a huge improvement over the old set up.  In the coming weekend, I’ll be moving that up and running the redundant power, so that the site is readily available to my lovely followers.

About Ashley Young

I'm a North Carolina transplanted girl reaching my 30's. A few years ago, I procured my first DSM that would eventually mature many of my skills. This website is dedicated to the stories, adventures, and lessons that the car has brought to me over the years.
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