Do I need a garage subpanel?

I need a 240v outlet right now, and I want to do a full rewire of the garage in the near future. A subpanel sounds like a really neat idea. The main panel is just about full already and I just like the idea of a separate panel in the garage.
But,
A. It looks like it's going to cost a lot.
B. I really don't know what I'm doing.
If it's the right way to go, I'll learn how to do it right and spend the cash.
Alternative: I've seen those 2-circuit-1-slot breakers. If I take a few of the existing circuits on the main panel and switch them over to those, it'll open up enough space for a 240v breaker for the MIG welder and a few 20amp circuits so my air compressor will quit making the lights go out. Wiring that up is within my existing knowledge.
Is that a half assed solution? Sometimes the simple route is the best, but it's my house and I want it done right.
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On Sat, 29 Nov 2008 19:50:55 -0800 (PST), The Reverend Natural Light

The farther the garage is away from the house, the better the idea a sub panel is.
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On Sat, 29 Nov 2008 19:50:55 -0800 (PST), The Reverend Natural Light

An upgrade of Main is much better than a subpanel. Get 3 or 4 estimates.
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Attached or detached garage? Having a sub panel with power tools can save some trips down to the main to reset breakers.
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On Sat, 29 Nov 2008 23:49:47 -0500, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

I'll second that. Do you really want to run into the house when you have oil, grease, or mud all over you to reset a breaker?
Mike D.
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.
Our house is about 60 feet long. The garge (originally a carport is attached. We have: A 200 amp 115/230 volt service. a) A main panel still with several spare positions after 38 years.. b) A sub panel near the kitchen about 30 cable feet away. Fed from a 100 amp breaker. c) A sub panel about 40 cable feet away for garage/storeroom. etc. Fed from a 50 amp breaker. d) A double pole switch/fuse above work bench about 15 cable feet away in basement workshop which can 'kill' all power to workshop tools etc. Fed from a 30 amp breaker. All panels can supply additional 15/230 volt circuits as required. All have spare positions.
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.
Our house is about 60 feet long. The garage (originally a carport) is attached. We have: A 200 amp 115/230 volt service. a) A main panel still with several spare positions after 38 years.. b) A sub panel near the kitchen about 30 cable feet away. Fed from a 100 amp breaker. c) A sub panel about 40 cable feet away for garage/storeroom. etc. Fed from a 50 amp breaker. d) A double pole switch/fuse above work bench about 15 cable feet away in basement workshop which can 'kill' all power to workshop tools/ outlets etc. Fed from a 30 amp breaker. All panels can supply additional 115/230 volt circuits as required. All have spare positions. Works for us. Btw our basement remains basically unfinished so it's easier to route new circuits across and then 'up' into partition walls etc. (wood frame construction). An example being a dedicated circuit from a basement located UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) to a main floor room, for our computers.
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Or it's dark and sleeting outside? Guess why it's dark, and where the breaker is ............. If it's like my garage, you'd have a 50/50 chance of making it to the house alive in the dark.
Steve
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If you were having heart problems, who would you call?
Don't dick around with something that will burn your house down, electrocute you, or just be a PITA because it doesn't work right.
In a lot of cases, a "run" of wire can feed the whole panel, and you can have circuits off that. Is it expensive? No. Your life and the life of your family is worth it. Now, you can shop around and find different prices, but if you know how to compare apples to apples, you can get the "best" price. The "best" price doesn't mean $44 for the whole job, but it will mean the "best" price for the job using the same components. All sparkies buy their stuff at the same places and charge different for their labor. Now, if you can get one that will let you do some of the work and lower the cost, that's good, too. You can dig the ditch and save a couple of bucks, or if you aren't that energetic, then you have to pay someone to do it.
Steve
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There is nothing wrong with either solution. Typical modern panel is designed to take either full sized breakers, or depending upon the model, a combination of full and half sized breakers. It should spell this out on the inside of the panel door. If you want or need more circuits and possible future circuits in or near the garage, then install a sub. It's really no more difficult than running any other circuit, except the cable will be larger
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If you plan on adding more circuits to the garage I would say that a sub-panel is the way to go. This has been discussed many times in this newsgroup. Do a search in Google to find past discussions. Maybe you can find an electrician who will work with you and let you do some of the work. You can only use twin circuit breakers in panels that have been approved for them. Read the labels on your panel to see if they are permitted. I strongly suggest that you get a permit and have an inspection by your town for this project.
If you post some pictures and more details about the garage and location we can probably give you better information.
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On Sat, 29 Nov 2008 19:50:55 -0800 (PST), The Reverend Natural Light

If the code means anything to you the answer is simple, you need a sub panel if you have a detached garage and want more than one circuit.
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On Sat, 29 Nov 2008 19:50:55 -0800 (PST), The Reverend Natural Light

Then ya gotta do your homework.
Learn to spec the job. Collect max amp draw numbers for the welder and all expected devices on new circuits.
Then determine max amp draw on all the old stuff in the house. Will the old panel safely support both the old and the new? If so then proceed. If not, you may need a new main panel.
Once you've got that far, the rest is not difficult to figger. A sub-panel shouldn't cost very much, and isn't very hard to wire. If you know what you're doing.
Do it right and you'll have something.
P
"Take Yo' Hand Out My Pocket (I Ain't Got Nothing What Belongs To You)!" - Rice Miller, who probably never even _heard_ of GW Bush, Paulson, etc
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