electrical question: "shore power" for barn

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by jennigrey, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. jennigrey

    jennigrey Well-Known Member Supporter

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    our leased barn has no electricity going to it. there's conduit, a junction box, some light switches, floodlights, an outlet or two, etc. just nothing going TO the barn. the people we're leasing from said somthing about using a long extension cord.

    this is lease is lease-to-buy. in six months it'll be ours. at that point we'll have a certified 'lectrician come out and run a new line from the street especially for the barn. in the meantime, what are my options?

    electricity will have to come from a dedicated 20AMP breaker with one GFCI outlet on it, 175' away. it has a nice weatherproof cover on it. looks safe enough.

    in the barn are approximately eight floodlight bulbs of unknown wattage. off the outlet in the barn i plan on powering using a 7" circular saw and a run-of-the-mill drill.

    CAN i power the aforementioned lights and tools off a 175-200' extension cord plugged into an outlet on a 20AMP breaker? what gauge of wire does the extension cord require?

    i don't want to cut the end off a perfectly good 200 foot extension cord just so i can wire it into this junction box. is there any reason i can't buy a male cord end (such as you would use to repair the end of an extension cord) and wire it into the junction box with some romex and plug my female extension cord end into it?

    i know this isn't the Electrical 101 board. i hope that my situation is sufficiently in keeping with the make-do philosophy of homesteading. jury-rigging electrical connections isn't normally my cup of tea. don't want to burn the barn down before it's even mine.
     
  2. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Things like this have been done.

    You have about 2000 watts available. Roughly.

    Eight bulbs, figure 100 watts each, 800 watts used up.

    3/8" drill, you'll be fine. 1/2" drill, that gets you over 1000 watts on a good strong one, you are getting close.....

    The saw likely will want 1500 watts - on startup it will want more. Going to be tough to run it & all the lights at the same time.

    For 20 amps, you need 12 gauge wire minimum.

    For that length, you need bigger. Probably 10 ga will get you by. Line losses will be bad with less. Bad thing for the motor on the saw.

    You have to consider the distance from the breaker box to the outlet, the length of te extension cord, and the wire in your barn from the junction box to the outlet you will plug into. That can be close to 300 feet. Running electric motors gets to be a challenge....

    Of course, none of this is to code....... All just speculation on my part, others might have better thoughts.

    --->Paul
     

  3. Explorer

    Explorer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you are really going to buy, why not fix the electrical now. The barn needs at least a 100 amp service, 200 would be better. Have the barn wired correctly. It is cheaper to do this than rebuild the barn after a fire.
     
  4. Lerxt

    Lerxt Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I don't think I'd run an extension cord 175' and try to draw 20 amps over it. Bad idea.

    We have a seperate box off with it's own cut-off switch from the meter running a 60A line over 6ga (I think it's 6) to the barn. Maybe 100'. I didn't install it. It was there when we bought the place. And I really wish it was larger gauge - and that it wasn't using a tree as a post to hang it from mid-way to the barn.

    Although I know I wouldn't do any improvements on a place until I knew that I was going to be the owner - meaning mortgage or title in hand. It's too easy to increase the value of a place and have the actual owner decide they want more for it because it's now worth more even though they didn't do the improvements.
     
  5. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    20 amps is not enough, Your lights alone would eat that. You also dont want all of that fed off a GFCI circuit. You will want GFCI in the barn but not from the feed side. If your really going to buy then I would work out with the landlord approval to install the power now. Your going to need some big wire to keep the losses down. I have a similar setup and I ran "trailer drop" wire. Its direct buriable cable, 3 wrapped wires, feed it from a 100 amp breaker, put in a subpanel in the barn and I have more than enough power in the barn now.
     
  6. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Yup, I would not use an extension cord, a large size one is going to cost a bundle. The better option for you now might be to just buy the actual wire. Probably something big enough and rated for direct burial. Then you might have the problem of how big the feed source should be. Something around 30 Amps should do fine. So maybe #10 wire. I've run contractors saws well over that distance on #10. You could try your 20 amp source on the #10 for now, see how things goes.

    Depending on future needs you might want the barn to have its own electrical system somewhere down the road. For now I would use standard electrical wire as my means to get the power. If your barn deal falls through you would still own the wire.
     
  7. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    If you can cut down on your lighting load I think you'd be fine with a 10ga feed over 200 feet. Could you replace the flood lights with flourescent fixtures, perhaps those cheap "shop lights" you can get at the home center? This would be okay for a temporary hook-up. Expect the lights to dim considerably when you start the saw.
     
  8. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    To make the hook up I'd just use romex and put a 20 amp plug on the house end, and wire the other end into your junction box. This is not going to be code, but with a gfci on the house it should be safe. Just don't drive over the romex or flex it a lot.
     
  9. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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  10. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I bought 10-2 w/ground romex and ran it 200 ft overhead---to cheap to buy underground wire---but I hooked the wire up to 220/240 volt then divided the two hots and shared the ground wire. It worked good for 5 years(got a service then). I used lights, air compressor, drills circular saws etc daily------never had a problem. Randy

    PS But if you just want to run a drop cord---------get a 250ft roll of romex and make a drop cord the length you need by putting some heavy duty ends on it.
     
  11. jefferson

    jefferson fuzzball in the Cascades

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    when I built my barn I was to cheap to get an electric permit and didn't want the tax man to have to much glee. So I used an extendtion cord (#10 romex) with a big plug. passed code because it wasn't "hard wired" But 100 feet of number 10 couldn't give the juice I needed. A few years later I did it up right and now have plenty of juice.........still haven't mentioned it to the tax man or public works, oops.
     
  12. Yvonne's hubby

    Yvonne's hubby Murphy was an optimist ;) Staff Member

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    I have run my power tools, lights, etc for about a year on a piece of 10 2 w/g plugged into a 20 amp gfi approximatly 180 feet, without problems as long as I didnt have the portable heater running, that would trip the breaker when I fired up my table saw. In your case, since your buying anyway, talk to the current owner and see if you cant hook up the main power now, Its the best thing to do and shouldnt cost a whole lot since the barn is already wired.
     
  13. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge Well-Known Member

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    If the barn is already wired, it got juice somewhere. Find out where. Perhaps there's a conduit or buried wire just waiting to be used.
     
  14. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    My electric coop will set a new meter for a building or well that is that far from the existing meter. Is this an option? It would cost me less than running the power that far from the house.
     
  15. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

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    Voltage drop will be a killer, making it expensive to run a temp. extension cord. I would just buy a good generator and use that until the barn is yours. You can always sell it and get your money back.
     
  16. SolarGary

    SolarGary Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    The voltage drop at 20 amps over a 200 ft extension cord is:

    For #12 wire -- 14 volts drop

    For #10 wire -- 8 volts drop

    I think for a temporary deal, a #10 extension cord is OK -- #12 is probably pushing it a bit.

    I'd worry more about protecting the wire over that 200 ft from accidental damage.

    When you get it wired in the end, you might want to think about getting 220VAC out to it.

    Gary
    www.BuildItSolar.com