Installation of an Electrical Sub-Panel

Written by anastasia blackwood
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Installation of an Electrical Sub-Panel
A sub-panel is an addition to a main electrical panel. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

The primary purpose of an electrical sub-panel is to create a place to add more circuits when the main electrical panel is full. Sub-panels you use strictly for this purpose are usually close by the main panel. You might also use a sub-panel when you need power in an area far from the main electrical panel, such as a garage or shed. Installing a sub-panel eliminates the need to run the circuits from the far-off location all the way back to the main panel. For either purpose, electrical sub-panels are fairly easy to install.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Wire strippers

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  1. 1

    Decide where to install the sub-panel. Sub-panels are usually relatively small and do not require much space.

  2. 2

    Mount the sub-panel to the wall at its desired location using the screws that came with it. You can either flush-mount or surface-mount the sub-panel.

  3. 3

    Return to the main panel. The main panel will contain an unused circuit breaker, which you will need to use for the sub-panel. Make sure to switch this circuit breaker off. If the sub-panel is rated at 60 amps, you will need a circuit breaker that can support at least 60 amps.

  4. 4

    Run your wires from the main panel to the new sub-panel. The Renovation Headquarters website shows how. You will need black, white, red and green wires running from the main panel to the sub-panel. The black and red carry power, the white is the neutral, and the green is the ground.

  5. 5

    Route the four wires inside the new sub-panel. Strip 1/2 inch of insulation off the end of each wire.

  6. 6

    Route the black and red wire to the sub-panel source screws, usually located at the top of the sub-panel, and screw them in, advises licensed electrician David Lincoln. Route the white wire to the sub-panel's neutral bar -- this will be labelled as such -- and screw the wire in place, Lincoln says. Then screw the green wire, which goes to the ground bar in the new sub-panel, into place. You can usually find this at the bottom of the sub-panel; it is also labelled.

  7. 7

    Return to the main panel again. Install the black and red wire into the circuit breaker you have designated as the sub-panel power source. Install the white wire to the neutral bar and the green to the ground bar.

  8. 8

    Check all the screws for tightness and make sure everything is installed properly. Switch on the circuit breaker to power the sub-panel.

Tips and warnings

  • Call a licensed electrician if you are unsure how to complete each step in this process.

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