Electrical panel question

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Blog entry by curliejones posted 01-25-2013 12:44 PM 1910 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As I plan the new shop, I’ve come across a common spec. for electrical panels that puzzles me. OK – save all the buzz about – if you don’t know this, you should hire an electrician before you burn the place down.
Common to many GE and other panels, I see the statement “neutral holes sized to 14-4 wire”. These include 125A panels with 14 spaces (what I’ll probably use), as well as 200A panels with 40 spaces. My confusion lie in the 14-4 size statement. I’ll have a bunch of 20A circuits for tools and lights and one 30A circuit just in case I ever decide to upgrade from hobby-sized tools to a bigger table saw. My plans include using lots of 12-2 wG for most of the circuits and 10-2 wG romex for the 30A circuit. So just what is the 14-4 statement about since not many folks use size 14 wire? – Thanks!

-- Like Guy Clark sez - "Sometimes I use my head, Sometimes I get a bigger hammer"

11 comments so far

View johnstoneb's profile


2967 posts in 2225 days

#1 posted 01-25-2013 01:57 PM

Its been a while since I did any wiring but I believe the ground wire is a smaller diameter than the two insulated wiring. 12-2 wG the ground is 14 gauge.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3789 days

#2 posted 01-25-2013 02:43 PM

It means the holes that accept the wires (terminal points) will accept wire sizes from #4 to #14 gauge.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2059 days

#3 posted 01-25-2013 03:15 PM

I thought it meant that the holes in the neutral bar will accept up to 4 size 14ga wires.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Grandpa's profile


3260 posts in 2728 days

#4 posted 01-25-2013 03:16 PM

multiple wires in one of these holes is the same as a double tap. Single wires in the bus openings only

View Brohymn62's profile


125 posts in 2308 days

#5 posted 01-25-2013 10:06 PM

John is correct in saying that the hole will accept wire sizes # 4 – # 14… #14 gauge wire, although used less frequently now a days, is still used in residential wiring… so panel makers accommodate the size… you should never put more than (1) wire in those holes because as grandpa said, it would be like a double tap and the connection could fail and cause problems.

-- Chris G. ; Los Angeles, CA

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2059 days

#6 posted 01-25-2013 11:06 PM

I was posting from memory…. and I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing that out.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Bigrock's profile


292 posts in 3015 days

#7 posted 01-26-2013 02:30 AM

Please let me give you some new Facts.
1) On a Shop I would use nothing but 12-2 with ground. The ground is now the same size as the primary wires in most of the USA. Make as many of your 20 amp outlets on a separate circuit. This way it can be converted to a 20 amp 220 circuit.
2) On you 30 amp circuits please use 10-2 with ground.
3) Get a Service with a Main Breaker.
4) Watch what your local Building Code will allow. This panel is a sub panel to your homes main panel.
5) Panels come in several sizes. I don’t know how big your shop is, but I would get a 150 Amp or larger Box as long as the code will allow.
6) Make sure the wiring is large enough for future equipment. Like a heat pump or a AC.
7) There are lots of good books on wiring at the Library or at the Big Box Stores, that may help keep you out of trouble. I would hate for a Inspector make you remove all your hard work.
Good Luck

View Wiltjason's profile


56 posts in 2015 days

#8 posted 01-26-2013 02:48 AM

if this is a sub panel off your main house panel the NEC says that your sevice entrance cable has to be a 4 wire from the main panel to your sub panel ( 2 hots a neutral and a seperate ground wire) and your sub panel should be a main lug panel not a main breaker panel. when i wired my last shop i used 12-3 wire and every place i put an outlet i put a 2 gang box and had 2 duplex outlets in each box on seperate circuits. since it was only me working in there i never had a problem with overloading a circuit cause the most ever running on one time was 2 items, dust collector on 1 circuit, what ever power tool on the other. the information on the service entrance cable and the panels are from the national electric code but if you getting it inspected you’ll definantly check with your local code enforcment

View curliejones's profile


179 posts in 2319 days

#9 posted 01-26-2013 10:23 AM

THANKS TO ALL! Your input is appreciated. I now understand the 14-4 awg spec. I recently bought a dust collector, so Wiltjason scheme should work for me, as well, that is two duplex outlets per location, each on it’s own 20A circuit. – Another can of worms but here goes – I’ve run into this NEC sub-panel requirement before, when wiring a small transfer switch box for the input for a portable genset. It basically came down to needing one ground for the system, and one only. I ended up putting a switch on the ground wire for the portable 5500W genset so that I can ground it to the house when hooked up for emergency use. When used independently from the house, e.g., building a shed on the back of the lot where there’s no e-juice, you flip the switch back to the original position where the genset is grounded to it’s frame. In either case, a ground wire from frame to earth is permissable. I have a ground rod set just off the carport near where the genset lives during emergency use. – Looking forward to more space in this new building, hopefully finishing this year.

-- Like Guy Clark sez - "Sometimes I use my head, Sometimes I get a bigger hammer"

View Wiltjason's profile


56 posts in 2015 days

#10 posted 01-26-2013 07:29 PM

I’ll tell you now just for jokes but I live in an apartment complex and my shop is in a row of single car garage stalls. The manager told me when I rented it that she didn’t care what I didin there. . So I wired the he’ll out of it with 5 lights and 9 outlets all running off 1 15 amp circuit. The only time I have a problem is I have to start my jointer let it come up to speed then start my dc unit or it will trip the breaker and if I big my drum sander down it will trip the breaker, I would love to add a 20 amp circuit to put both these on but I’m not in an end unit so I can’t get to the panel . But on the good side, I don’t pay for the electric in my shop! Lol

View DocSavage45's profile


8639 posts in 2895 days

#11 posted 02-02-2013 05:38 PM

That’s a big problem re insurace and electrical code. Hopefully you will not exceed the aperage drawn but the weakest link can cause an electrical fire. I use to do electrical wiring a long time ago. For my present shop I hired an electrician to work with me. since I knew what I was doing he agreed. and I have the electrical inspector come out and tell me what I need to do over.

I also worked in electronics a long time ago. Rewired an old house from the pole. The power company guy made me change my ground wire. At the time I just got angry and complied, but I thought my way was better. Had two wires which made it overall a larger ground, but he required a wire of equal gage to my largest house wiring.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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