Author Topic: Shop Power  (Read 2648 times)

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Offline Hiersekorn

  • Posts: 10
Shop Power
« on: July 01, 2016, 02:07 AM »
I live in a newish tract home. We rent. My garage is my only shop space, and it there just aren't enough power outlets. There are literally TWO outlets in the entire garage. And, one of them is too far from the work area. So, out have one outlet with two plugins. That's it.

Has anyone dealt with this issue? What's the best approach? I'm trying to figure out whether I should mount a strip on the wall, use a series of exension cords, or something else. Oh, and I don't want to burn down my house.

I'd appreciate any ideas. Thanks.

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 868
Re: Shop Power
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2016, 02:38 AM »
How much do you want to spend?

Don't use undersized wire if you use extension cords.  Power tool manuals generally have good recommendations for extension cord wire size.  Look at the manual for the tool that pulls the most amps and use those recommendations.

I don't like running extension cords for shop wiring.  To easy to undersize the cord and you're tripping over it or running hooks to get it off the ground, and such.  I have an extension cord that is 10 AWG and has four outlets all four feet apart that I mounted on the wall behind my bench - that worked OK.

Power strips are less in the way, generally have to be closer to your outlets.  Get one that has hefty wire within cord distance of your work spaces.

If you have any leftover slots in your subpanel, and it's in the garage, you can always run additional circuits.  I did that in my garage once.  It costs a fair amount more than cords and power strips, but it was much less intrusive, and I was able to put stuff exactly where it was needed.  I ran conduit on the walls, so it wasn't pretty.  If the inspectors let you do the work yourself and you don't have the experience, make sure to run it by an electrician first.

The most expensive option is to set up a shop sub-panel off your main sub-panel, but that's only marginally more expensive than the above option, and gives you plenty of future with 220V tools if you're so inclined.  I learned electrical by starting out with minor repairs and graduating to small circuits off of my subpanel.  I still let the electricians set up the subpanels, but I did nearly all of the wiring in my current basement shop.

Think about ways that cordless tools could eliminate having to run wires.  I'm set for electrical outlets now, but I still prefer to use a cordless tool all other things being equal.


Offline RussellS

  • Posts: 276
Re: Shop Power
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2016, 04:25 PM »
You are renting.  Permanent changes are probably not allowed.  You cannot add outlets or wiring to the house unless you get the landlord's permission and all the inspecting that would require.  I like the suggestions given of running electrical cords from the far outlet to the area where you work.  Use a heavy gauge extension cord.  12 gauge should be fine for 110volt outlets.  25 foot or less length.  But also check what wire is used for the outlets.  Is it 12 gauge wire inside the walls that can handle heavier draws?  Or is it 14 gauge wire inside the walls that cannot handle heavy draws and will trip the breaker frequently.  Check if your two outlets are on different circuits or are on the same circuit breaker in the panel.  Check the breakers for how big they are.  15 amp or 20 amp breakers.  WORST case scenario, both outlets in your garage are on the same 15 Amp circuit breaker and uses 14 gauge wire in the walls.  In that case, just plug one of those six outlet strips to the plug in and that is all you can do.

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 4010
Re: Shop Power
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2016, 08:06 PM »
Assuming that the wires are big enough, then you would find it hard to burn the place down as the breaker limits the current. So do not use undersized sires/cords.

Offline JimD

  • Posts: 397
Re: Shop Power
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2016, 08:21 PM »
I think my Pittsburgh house only had one outlet and it was the same circuits as the bathrooms 2 stories above and was a 14 gauge 15 amp service.  For some reason, the GFCI in the upstairs bathroom liked to trip, not the 15A breaker.  After too many trips up the stairs, I added a circuit, 20A.  But you don't have that option.

20A outlets look different than 15A.  If you don't know which breaker the garage is in your rental, you can look at the outlets and tell.  A 15A circuit will work for all but the largest 110V tools.  In my case it was the table saw that would trip it, sometimes.  So it can work but it's best if you can reset it without climbing two flights of stairs for the occasional trip.

My shop has an outlet every 4 feet on the wall but I have a bunch of tools plugged into a strip on my shop vac.  It has a auto on switch that the power strip is plugged into so by plugging the tools into the strip I only have to move the hose.  I will fix the hose part at some point but I really like the auto on switch.  I use some of the other outlets but I mostly use the one.  A simple way to make your arrangement work is to get a 12 gauge extension cord (if you're on a 20A circuit) or a 14 gauge (if it's a 15A) and cut the female end off.  Wire on a double electrical box (I prefer plastic for this) with two outlets in it.  You could do a triple with 3 if you want.  The outlets will be more durable than a power strip and give you enough you aren't constantly plugging and unplugging.  You could even have two of these power cords plugged in if you need power in two different areas.