Electrician in the house?


Active Member
We have a "wierd" shaped lot with the house on the main part and are working on a variance to build a garage and workspace on the "flagpole" part. The lot borders on two streets. It's basically a big corner lot that has had a smaller corner lot carved out of it.

I'm kicking around ideas on power for the new building and would love to hear some opinions.

We currently don't have any kind of generator and the power goes out frequently around these parts due to old trees. With the new garage, I'd like to get a generator and would like to be able to support some circuits in both buildings.

To power the garage building, I've two choices: add a 2nd electrical service from the "other" street that the garage will be adjacent to or run an underground line up from the house.

I might add that when the power goes out around here, it's often on one street or the other, not both. That is, there appears to be two circuits. So I wonder if having two separate "feeds" would offer sufficient redundancy to forgo the generator?

Obviously, if I wanted a generator up at the garage, I'd need the underground line in any case, but perhaps as a backup vs. the primary power source.

The garage/workspace would use electric for heating and cooling and will likely house a small office with computer gear.

I'd expect to trench at least some low voltage to network the two buildings together and hope to run them off the existing Elk M1 in the house.

Any thoughts on high voltage designs or things to look for or avoid?

First I am NOT an electrician but here are some thoughts.......

If you are doing electric heat/ac and and office maybe even a workshop area would your existing service be adequete with that additional load? If not you would probably have to go with a second drop.

A generator is loud and could only be used during the day most likely. If you have the financial resources available you might want to consider going solar with battery backup.
It will eventually pay for itself and you would have limited power day and night and it would be silent during a blackout.

You might incorporate it into the roof of the garage and put the battery backup there as well. Then you could feed it into your house through a transfer switch when needed.

Just some ideas...... its easy to spend other peoples money.
If you run long lines in a trench, make sure you have lots of lightning protection at each end of the trench. Lightning induces major transients into the lines.

I installed a 20KW standby gen at my house. Not an electrician, but also wired the 6k sq ft house. I got to know the electrical inspector really well.

I agree with digger. Unless housed inside a building and properly ventilated and muffled a generater is likely to upset your neighbors.

If you do bury lines, be sure to use a larger conductor size to compensate for voltage drop.


When you talk about lightning protection, are you talking whole house surge devices, or something else?

I got to talking with the support eng at the gen manufacturer, about lightening protection, and he left me with the idea that unless you spend thousands of dollars, the protection you add is of limited value(he didn't say don't, just don't expect to work if you really get a strike on the property).

We got into the discussion because he mentioned that lightening was one of the more common generator failures they see, and most people don't think about protecting the generator, even if they protect the house.

Also not an electrician, but if you do go with a second service, it will probably not come off the other distribution system, because the possibility of bridging them with any house-to-garage circuits, low voltage or otherwise, would be a serious risk the power company would not allow someone to make (I don't think). I could be wrong, so you may want to check with them.