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Re: FAQ: Wiring a shop

To: Lee Hart <LeeHart@LeeHart.Com>
Subject: Re: FAQ: Wiring a shop
From: Richard George <>
Date: Sun, 08 Oct 2000 08:00:39 -0700

Lee Hart wrote:

> I didn't see anything related to this in the FAQs, and I don't see a way to
> get to the archives.
> I recently bought a house with a nice shop/garage (36x33 inside, ~16' high).
> It isn't yet insulated, and what little wiring there is mostly needs to be
> replaced. Basically it's a nice blank slate. It has its own 200 amp service,
> so power shouldn't be a concern.

Ah, but you didn't get 3 phase :-)  Sounds like it will do though :-)

> My current thinking is to run outlets every 4-6 feet, one above counter
> height, one below counter height. Both would have 4 jacks (2 circuits) so
> that should the need arise, it'd be straightforward to switch it from 2x110
> circuits to 1x220 circuit. Then I'd insulate and cover it with well painted
> pegboard (painted to keep the pegboard dust down, as well as to eventually
> paint outlines for the tools for poseur value). Inside the walls I'd also
> run a few (one or 2 per wall) heavy gauge 240 circuits for welders or other
> high power devices. To many locations I'd run CAT5-E and RG6 quad shield to
> some locations (for future network and/or TV uses). Outside the wall I'd run
> cast iron pipe for air lines and a large (6" or so) PVC pipe for a central
> dust collector.

4-6 feet is good, though you might want to think about where your benches are - 
its fruitless
to have plugs behind/below them where you can't get to them.

Be sure to run at least two circuits and "alternate" circuit connections to the 
plugs between them - often
you'll end up with a bunch of stuff plugged into adjacent plugs and this will 
make it harder to
pop the breaker...

run at least one size bigger wire than you think you need (much bigger on the 
welder stuff - you always
end up buying a bigger welder than you planned for, and...)

put your lights on a different circuit from the plug wiring, so when you blow 
the breaker you can see
what's going on.

and on the subject of lights, put up as many as you can afford - you can always 
unscrew a few flourescent
tubes if its too bright, but its a pain to install more later...  (and the 
fixtures are cheap, so...)

consider running the wiring in conduit - it provides protection + you can then 
run additional/different
wiring later as your needs change (same for the low voltage stuff - cat5 sounds 
nice, but you might want
to pull fiber or something else  in 5 years or something - and PVC conduit is 
basically free - leave
several different colored pieces of string in it to make pulling stuff later 
easier...).  Remember not to
run the high voltage and low voltage stuff in the same conduit...

Be sure to plan for separators on your air lines...

Then comes the "safety" stuff - install a BIG fan (or several) capable of many 
air exchanges/hour
(real useful when you're welding/grinding/...) - the OSHA guidelines for the 
number you like to do are
probably OK...  If its attached to the house, be sure you can create negative 
pressure so all that
nasty stuff you work with won't get in...  Somebody actually suggested going so 
far as to install
sprinklers in a shop installation - might not be a bad idea (I saw a "this old 
house" on somebody
converting a church in the bay area where they recommened filling the system 
with antifreeze and
a one way valve - so freezing wouldn't be an issue...).  I personally take 
issue with this "pegboard
over insulation" idea (can you say 25 chimneys/square inch?  I knew you 
could...).  if its a structure
you care about I'd recommend at least 5/8" wall board over your insulation - 
shops have a much
higher chance of a fire breaking out, and the more you can do to contain it 
until it gets put out the
better...  And speaking of that, don't forget the fire extinguishers (several 
is good), eye wash/first
aid stuff (bottles of eyewash are cheap), etc.,.  If the structure isn't one 
you care about, at least use
solid material of some sort so the insulation works out right and is protected 
from what you do...

I've always been ambivalent about hanging tools on the wall anyway - the bigger 
stuff makes sense,
but its mostly just going to expose them to all the crap that's flying/floating 
around in the shop which
can lead to damage, more cleaning work, etc.,. (I've got several rollarounds - 
BTW, benches on rollers
are great if you haven't thought about that yet...).

Have fun,

(Richard George)

> Is  there anything else I should plan on running in the wall? Does anyone
> here have any strong opinions on how far to space the outlets? How about the
> number of outlets I should run for each circuit?
> A blank slate is such a rare thing when wiring a shop. I'd really like to
> hear stories about things people wished they'd done inside the walls. I'd
> rather run too much than too little, so there'd be little or no need to rip
> open the walls again.
> Thanks,
> Lee

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