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How can I tell if I have 220 to my garage?

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Forum topic by jaydubya posted 687 days ago 4109 views 0 times favorited 58 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jaydubya

183 posts in 1447 days


687 days ago

The previous owner of my house did some strange things here. I have a fusebox in my garage/shop and am trying to determine whether it has 220 run to it or not. the box has 4 small glass fuses for the outlets and light sockets, and above it has 2 pull-out “sleds”, each with 2 large fuses (about 3 inches long x 3/4 wide). One is the main, and the other is marked “range”. Should the one marked range have 220? Can I measure it with my multimeter to find out? Im hoping i already have 220 so I can purchase 220 tools from now on and reewire my tablesaw for 220, as well as run a medium size 220 mig welder


58 replies so far

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oldretiredjim

180 posts in 1020 days


#1 posted 687 days ago

sounds like the guy used an old box. labels might not mean anything. the power comes from somewhere. that is where you will get your answer. a typical residence has a point where the service enters a house. be where the meter is. someplace there is a main breaker box and the probability is there is a breaker for the garage. that breaker will answer you question.

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MJCD

452 posts in 1006 days


#2 posted 687 days ago

Glass Fuses …; not sure I’d want to start messing with this. 220 requires two separate 110 lines to the ‘breaker’ or fuse. While a range is typically 220, just because it’s labelled ‘range’ doesn’t mean a whole lot. Your Volt meter is the only way to be dead sure, and with 220, if you get it wrong, you can be (this is why the US decided to go 110/120 in Residential, while the rest of the known universe, save Japan and a few other countries, are 220V.

I’m unsure of what country you in – in the States virtually all hand power tools are 110v – unfortunately. Certainly, the mig and the tablesaw should be wired 220.

Start with the voltmeter; also, I’d be concerned with the number of amps which you have available.
MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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dhazelton

1173 posts in 931 days


#3 posted 687 days ago

I’d get an electrician to change your sub panel over to modern breakers and look in the houses’ main panel and let you know how much capacity you have. A lot of people used to put ranges in the garage to do canning so the heat and steam would stay out of the kitchen and that may be why that says that, but let someone who knows more take a look at it.

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John

45 posts in 708 days


#4 posted 687 days ago

Weird coincidence – this morning one of my coworkers showed me a photo of her fusebox, to ask about turning off power to a light in her house, and it’s exactly like you describe. Yes, the “range” sled is holding two fuses which are intended to feed a 220v circuit. The screw-in fuses are each intended to feed a 110v circuit. Is this fusebox dedicated to the garage, or does it feed the whole house? If the former, you should be able to use that 220v circuit for machinery without too much worry. If the latter, you might be able to, but you’ll probably run into current limitations if other 220v electrical items (clothes dryer, hot water heater, electric heat?) are used in the house at the same time.

If someone really did do some strange things, it’s possible that they used the two “range” fuses as separate circuits, each getting 110v, and if they’re on the same phase, you can’t get 220v out of the box. You can measure the 220v if you like. Just pull out that sled, put your meter on VAC mode, and see what you get when you touch the probes to the two input sides of the sled’s connectors. Just don’t lick anything! Seriously, be careful not to short anything out if you do decide to poke around in there. There’s a reason those boxes are not used in modern construction.

-John

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Everett1

208 posts in 1169 days


#5 posted 687 days ago

eww, old fuses.

step one – replace that with a breaker box

-- Ev in Framingham, MA

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jaydubya

183 posts in 1447 days


#6 posted 687 days ago

The fusebox is only dedicated to the garage, which used to be a freestanding structure but had an addition on the house built out to it. the house has its own more modern breaker box. I have nothing in the house that runs on 220. everything is gas although I do have 2 double breakers in the breaker box in the house. double breakers are usually 220 right?

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Poppy3

3 posts in 688 days


#7 posted 687 days ago

Is the garage attached or detached.. if it’s detached, do the lines go overhead or underground and what is their size (as a rule of thumb, 220 should be run through 8-3 of it’s an attached garage, if its detached, you need to compute the loss due to the length of wire). If its underground, you will need to run an additional ground wire from your load panel in the house to the sub panel in the garage, and then from the garage panel to a grounding rod driven into the ground.

I’ve seen some strange and dangerous set ups in my time… be careful!

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Charlie

1008 posts in 921 days


#8 posted 687 days ago

grounding rods are supposed to be “bonded”. Meaning you need to run a bare #6 from one grounding rod to another if you have more than one.

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jaydubya

183 posts in 1447 days


#9 posted 687 days ago

The garage WAS detatched, but then the house was built out to meet the garage, so now its attatched. Im not sure exactly how the wiring runs. It might be underground, or it might have been run through the house when the addition was done

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1369 posts in 1267 days


#10 posted 687 days ago

Electricians can be pricey. But it sounds like it’d be worth every penny in this case.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3380 posts in 1606 days


#11 posted 687 days ago

If you have to ask if you can use a multimeter to check the fuse block for the presence of 220Volts, I would strongly suggest you call an electrician. . . and sell that meter.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

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jaydubya

183 posts in 1447 days


#12 posted 687 days ago

I think Ill keep the meter. I use it pretty extensively in my car audio hobby…

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REO

607 posts in 709 days


#13 posted 687 days ago

Hmmm. some curious opinions here!? As you have been told you can check for 220. Pull the mains “sled” and check across the top terminals. The mains are just like the main breaker in a breaker box they limit the total current demand of the box. The range fuses were typically for the Range which was a large consumer and when this was installed the only use of 220 in a home. Since then Water heaters and air conditioning have been added to the need for 220. The glass screw in circuits were for general use circuits like the outlets, lighting and refrigerator. As far as the feed for the box and the Main fuses if you have #8 wire you are good for 40 amps PER leg. If you have #6 you are good for 60 amps PER leg. the internal connections in the box were rated and the sockets will allow only one particular size of fuse to be installed in the screw sockets. You are kind of limited but For a small shop it could be totally doable.

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EEngineer

890 posts in 2248 days


#14 posted 687 days ago

The only one that makes any sense here is REO. The rest…

eww, old fuses.
Why say that? Fuses used to be all we had and they protect circuits just as well. Granted, for new work, I think you would be crazy to use them, but for existing circuits – they work and they are safe!

If its underground, you will need to run an additional ground wire from your load panel in the house to the sub panel in the garage … and then from the garage panel to a grounding rod driven into the ground.
Since NEC 2011 (maybe earlier), the additional ground wire is always required. Attached, detached, underground, overhead, whatever… You may be “grandfathered”, but I think the separate ground wire has significant safety advantages! The grounding rods depend on how the wire is run. For instance, metal pipe from the main structure to the garage can serve as a ground with restrictions (NEC Handbook search detached building grounding subpanel).

Your Volt meter is the only way to be dead sure, and with 220, if you get it wrong, you can be (this is why the US decided to go 110/120 in Residential, while the rest of the known universe, save Japan and a few other countries, are 220V.
Ahhh, bullcrap! You can be just as dead with 110VAC! It all depends on how well you connect! You need to treat 110 circuits with the same care you do 220!

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

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dhazelton

1173 posts in 931 days


#15 posted 687 days ago

DON’T MESS WITH IT! Every one is giving you advice as to how to test, if you are unfamiliar with electrical theory or the electrical history of your structure (“Should the one marked range have 220?”) then just hire a pro. It will be safe and legal. And you will not get fried trying to save a few hundred dollars.

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