Need advice - retrofitting 220v in basement laundry room

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
16
Reaction score
7
Location
Falls Church
Hey all, I'm looking for advice from people experienced with 220v. For starters, please excuse the absolutely childish drawing I've supplied below - its the best I could do.

Anyway, I have an existing 220v/30a circuit (blue text) in my basement laundry room that's currently being used for our dryer. The washer/dryer (green) are stacked, nearly snug against the wall, blocking access to the outlet. I can't just simply unplug the dryer and plug in my ebiab system.

The question I'm asking is can I tap into the 220 inside the existing junction box, run a new line (red) up the wall, over the ceiling and drop it down into a new 220 junction box on the left, at the new brew location (orange)? I know I cannot run the dryer and ebiab panel at the same time, are there any other hazards that I need to know about?

Also, I do plan to replace the existing 30a breaker with a GFCI 30a breaker.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
17,549
Reaction score
7,653
Location
Pasadena, MD
Disclaimer: I'm not an electrician or totally up with "the code."

I don't see anything wrong with what you're planning. As long as there is actually a junction box behind the dryer receptacle to tap your new branch into. IOW, do not connect your new branch to the receptacle lugs itself.

Now the GFCI breaker needs to be able to handle the (asymmetrical) 110V draw without shutting off due to current imbalance it creates. Many use a "spa panel" to power their brewery also providing GFCI protection on all draws as such, 220V and 110V.
Spa panels usually cost (much) less too than a main panel GFCI breaker, although lately pricing on either have been creeping toward each other.

BTW, no need to apologize for your drawing, it's clear and concise as can be. I like it!
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
17,549
Reaction score
7,653
Location
Pasadena, MD
Can you elaborate on the asymmetrical 110v draw?
You're likely going to use a 110V (Hot to Neutral) draw for powering the panel instruments, lights, PIDs, pumps, etc. Doing so would create an imbalance between the 2 110V poles (Hot to Hot) that have 240V between them.

The correct GFCI should not shut off due to that imbalance between the 2 Hots. IOW, it should monitor all 3 draws (H-H and 2x H-N), while protecting from any current to ground.
 
OP
H
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
16
Reaction score
7
Location
Falls Church
You're likely going to use a 110V (Hot to Neutral) draw for powering the panel instruments, lights, PIDs, pumps, etc. Doing so would create an imbalance between the 2 110V poles (Hot to Hot) that have 240V between them.

The correct GFCI should not shut off due to that imbalance between the 2 Hots. IOW, it should monitor all 3 draws (H-H and 2x H-N), while protecting from any current to ground.
Ok, that makes perfect sense.

In the instance where I would replace the 30A breaker with a GFCI breaker in the panel - can you give a suggestion which part? I'm looking at this: https://www.amazon.com/Square-Schne...r_1_2?keywords=30a+gfci&qid=1582032104&sr=8-2

In the other instance where you mentioned a spa panel - could it be "safely" done as I've drawn it in the picture. Similar to before, steal power from the existing receptacle feeding into the new spa panel, then power the new receptacle on the other side of the spa panel?

Thanks in advance for your help, it's greatly appreciated!
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
17,549
Reaction score
7,653
Location
Pasadena, MD
In the instance where I would replace the 30A breaker with a GFCI breaker in the panel - can you give a suggestion which part? I'm looking at this: https://www.amazon.com/Square-Schne...r_1_2?keywords=30a+gfci&qid=1582032104&sr=8-2

In the other instance where you mentioned a spa panel - could it be "safely" done as I've drawn it in the picture. Similar to before, steal power from the existing receptacle feeding into the new spa panel, then power the new receptacle on the other side of the spa panel?

Thanks in advance for your help, it's greatly appreciated!
If you have a SqD Homeline main panel (not QO) that would be the right breaker. The curly pigtail gets directly connected to the Neutral bar. Make sure to install it in a space where it can reach the neutral bar. It SHALL NOT be lengthened/extended!

Using a spa panel that's the right way you drew it. Basically you're extending the circuit, the spa panel protecting the extension with GFCI. For some reason I have the feeling that may not be up to code, since the spa panel is considered a sub panel. I'm not sure any draws before a sub panel are allowed.

Use 3 conductor #10 wire with ground of course.

Just thought of something. Your dryer receptacle is 4-prong, not 3, right? IOW, it has a Neutral connection. That's essential for your case.
 
OP
H
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
16
Reaction score
7
Location
Falls Church
If you have a SqD Homeline main panel (not QO) that would be the right breaker. The curly pigtail gets directly connected to the Neutral bar. Make sure to install it in a space where it can reach the neutral bar. It SHALL NOT be lengthened/extended!

Using a spa panel that's the right way you drew it. Basically you're extending the circuit, the spa panel protecting the extension with GFCI. For some reason I have the feeling that may not be up to code, since the spa panel is considered a sub panel. I'm not sure any draws before a sub panel are allowed.

Use 3 conductor #10 wire with ground of course.

Just thought of something. Your dryer receptacle is 4-prong, not 3, right? IOW, it has a Neutral connection. That's essential for your case.
I can't be certain, but I'm about 99% sure it's a 3-prong. I can check when I get home tonight.

If it's a 3-prong, does that make this a deal breaker all around?

EDIT: I would assume so since the panel I'm building would have a 4-prong plug. Nevermind. I'll check tonight when I get home. Thanks!
 

crazyjake19

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2013
Messages
99
Reaction score
38
Location
Upstate NY
What you're proposing is possible if you have a 4-wire dryer circuit (separate neutral and ground). It would not be to code (IRC issue, not NEC) but would work if you didn't run the brew setup and dryer at the same time.

Unless it's a ridiculously long distance back to the panel, it wouldn't be much more work just to run a new 30 amp circuit to the brewing location, assuming you have room in your panel for the extra breaker. We do a lot of laundry in our house, and I know it would end up being an issue for me at some point if I shared the one circuit.

If the existing dryer circuit is 3-wire, you'd have to run a new circuit anyway.
 

Deadalus

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Messages
806
Reaction score
798
You can't run the spa panel like your drawing. If the spa panel has a 50 amp breaker it won't protect you properly with wires sized for 30 amps. The breaker in your main box is only 30 amps, it'll trip. The spa panel wouldn't be doing anything.

If you put your brew receptacle box on the same line as your dryer box, you run the risk, however small, of overloading the branch line. Significantly. I doubt an inspector would sign off on it. If your house burns down, I think your insurance company might take issue too. Maybe some kind of switch would be allowed to make it idiot proof. You could maybe move the dryer plug to make it accessible, then unplug but really, just run a new line with another circuit breaker.

A spa panel is, I am reasonably certain, just a specialized sub-panel. It would still need its own breaker (GFCI if the one in the spa panel is not) in the main panel. Sometimes I think though these spa panels can branch off the panel the main power comes in, before the "main panel". I'm not so familiar with those types though. I think they are 400 amp panels with just a few large breakers.
 
Last edited:

Deadalus

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Messages
806
Reaction score
798
Actually, an electric dryer is supposed to be on its own dedicated circuit per NEC code. Besides that, if you were to branch off the dryer box, that box is probably not sized (the volume) for another set of wires.

Since we have an international group here, I am mot sure of electrical code outside the US.
 
OP
H
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
16
Reaction score
7
Location
Falls Church

I'm about 99% certain I have a 3-wire setup. This house was built in the mid 80's before the code switched to 4-wire. Anyway, I'll double check when I get home today, but I think I'd be faced with running a new line in a finished basement - which I'm unlikely to undertake because of the hassle.

TBH, an easier (and probably cheaper) set up might just be to build a 120v ebiab panel with a single 1650 watt element on one GFCI protected circuit, then add a second 1650 watt element - and run this straight to another outlet with an in-line GFCI protector. IOW - I'd have two 1650 watt elements in my kettle, one would be run through the PID in the panel, the other would be operating at 100% power straight from the outlet. Does this seem feasible? Super awesome picture attached for clarity.

I own the home, but I'm not looking for this to be permanent. We're likely selling within the next 18 months or so, just need a decent solution that can get me by without a ton of work.

As always, thanks for everyone's input - it's greatly appreciated!
 

Deadalus

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Messages
806
Reaction score
798
A different solution for 240V if you don't want to run wires through the finished areas is a long 240V extension cord. Since you may move, put the brew outlet close to the main panel. They're not cheap cords though. My brew rig is in the garage but I need to run a vent. I put wheels on it and the cord is long enough to reach the garage door from the outlet but I also happen to have a 40 ft extension for my generator.
 

Deadalus

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Messages
806
Reaction score
798
Sorry for multiple posts. With a 1650 Watt element, you'd only have 150 watts left on a 15 amp circuit. New code I think is for two 20 amp GFCI circuits just for the kitchen countertops. 20 amps gives 2400 watts. I don't think wiring as old as yours will even have the 20 amps but maybe. Probably more than one circuit present in your kitchen? A stovecwould be separate if electric. Kitchens have a lot of appliances, that's the reason for the code. Depending on your wiring, any number of appliances in the kitchen might trip your circuit while brewing.

Homebrewing is received much more favorably if you are not brewing in the kitchen. Just my own experience.
 
OP
H
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
16
Reaction score
7
Location
Falls Church
I could also do dual 1500 watt elements and that would give me some breathing room.

Either way, you've been extremely helpful. I've got some good information to chew on and I'll go home tonight and assess my situation.
 
OP
H
Joined
Oct 16, 2019
Messages
16
Reaction score
7
Location
Falls Church
Thanks to everyone who shared advice on my proposed build - it was greatly appreciated.

I confirmed that my 220v/30a dryer outlet is indeed only a 3 prong. So I will be scrapping the idea of using that circuit, as well as the idea of running a new circuit back to the panel (60ft+) - it's possible, but more than I want to undertake any time soon. As Deadalus suggested, I could go the route of adding a new gfci breaker and adding a new 4 prong outlet below the panel, then running a 60ft+ extension cord to the laundry room, but for now I'm going to put this idea on hold.

I assessed my panel and I have 3 120v/20a circuits in my kitchen alone, and multiple 15a in close proximity to the kitchen as well. I think the easiest, most cost effective and most flexible solution for me at this point is to do the dual 120v element setup. Building on what Deadalus said above, I could run the main panel, pump and integrated 1650w element on one of the 20a kitchen circuits, then run the standalone 1650w element on one of the other 20a circuits and be in good shape. Ultimately, this gives me the flexibility to brew in the my kitchen and easily vent out my back slider in the cold months, then also be able to pull the whole system outdoors (with extension cords) for the warm summer months. One of the other main hurdles of the basement build was going to be ventilation, and this fixes that issue.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling. Thanks again for all the input and talking me through some of this. One I get to the actual build I'll update you all on the progress.
 
Top