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RE: FAQ: Wiring a shop

To: "'Shop Talk NG'" <>
Subject: RE: FAQ: Wiring a shop
From: Lee Hart <LeeHart@LeeHart.Com>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2000 06:13:17 -0000
Steve Hammatt wrote:
>What I think you meant to say was
>"Outside the wall I'd run steel pipe for air lines...."

D'Oh! Yes, I did. Hey, it's all ferrous, and cast iron blows up so well.

Dave Williams wrote:
>I ran mine every 4 feet.  I should have used 2 feet.
>My Dad did his at 3 feet.  He says he should have used 2 feet.
>It seems like all the stuff that needs to be plugged in clusters in 
>one spot.

This is one reason I was planning on running 2 circuits to each outlet 
location. With 4 foot outlet spacing, every location on the benches 
is within 2 feet of an outlet.

>If your shop is subject to local building codes, you're limited to 
>how many outlets you're allowed per breaker.

Hmm, I suppose I should check with a local electrician to see what the 
code specifies. A good portion of my basement is all on just one 
circuit (outlets and lights), but it probably wasn't done to code 
in the first place.

>I ran eight pair of CAT-5 cable while I was at it, for Ethernet, 
>fire alarm, thermostat, telephone, intercom, etc.  Never have done 
>anything with them yet, but they're there.

Wow, I was thinking just a few Cat5-E runs would be good. My network 
and phones are both wireless, and the phones work well as an intercom. 
Fire alarms and a whole-house control system would be good, and for 
computers that aren't laptops, it would be good to have dedicated 
lines, and 2 or 3 RG6 lines run to one or two places on each wall 
and the corners (and the ceiling; I'm taking the projector from my 
old house to create a real "drive-in" theatre. Goofy, perhaps, but 
I can't use that projector in my new house, and 4 cars or a load of 
motorcycles should be able to park inside and watch the screen.

>Mine are at 4 feet, it seems to work fine.  Don't even bother to put
>any lower than that; "stuff" will eventually block them.  <grin>

Yeah, but I have a number of movable pieces of equipment that I'd 
rather plug in closer to the floor rather than drape the cords 
across the work surfaces. This worked well in my father's shop, 
in the few locations that he had below-counter  outlets.

>When I rip the latest pieces of junk down I'll put
>outlet boxes and just plug them into the switched outlets.

That's a good idea. I was planning to use a lot of task-specific 
lights, and this would be out of the way if the outlets were on the 

>The white "security light" fixtures put out more light and take less
>electricity than the flourescents, but they take a long time to warm up.
>You need at least a few flourescents or conventional incandescents for
>when you just walk out to the shop to get something.

I assume you mean an arc lamp (sodium vapor, mercury vapor, or other HID 
design). Hmm, I like the efficiency, but these tend to be more 
monochromatic, and I wonder how that would work in a shop. It can impact 
depth perception some. I do like the idea, and it should be a lot 
brighter for a lot less power than a halogen.

Martin Scarr wrote:
>You didn't mention plumbing; I put a sink in my shop.  It gets used 
>all the time.  

I'm planning a 3/4 bath with an industrial sink, but that will be in 
a separate room. I need to think whether it makes sense to have a 
sink in the main shop (dust, etc). If I did it would be a good place 
for the eye wash station, etc.

>You mentioned having an dust collection system; you might want to prewire
>for remote control of the system.

Hmm, usually I've seen the signal wires run along the PVC pipe, much 
like whole-house vacuum systems. This makes it much easier to 
reconfigure for moving equipment around. I assume it makes sense to 
have the collector pipe run along the ceiling and have lines drop 
down for individual pieces of equipment. Has anyone here wished they 
had run the collector piping differently? Since the pieces won't be 
glued together (so that they can be disassembled to better clear jams) 
it shouldn't be too hard to reconfigure.

Bill Gilroy wrote:
>Remember to label all outlets and devices with the box and breaker 
>number. That way when/if you trip a breaker you know what is on that 
>circuit. Sometimes it is good to alternate which outlets are on which 
>circuit. If you have 3 circuits install the outlets like this:

>1 ---- 2 ---- 3 --- 1 --- 2 --- 3 ---- 1 ......

>That way you don't wind up with a bunch of stuff installed on one circuit.

This is one reason I'm planning on running 2 circuits to each box. At any 
one location there would be 4 circuits (2 above counter height, 2 below), 
and I'd probably alternate the circuits so that what is high and what is 
low switches back and forth.

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

It was one of the first things I checked. The 200 amp service was installed 
by the previous owner. 3 phase would have been nice, but I think I'll be OK.

>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
>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 

As long as I can run the conduit through the studs then sure. Of course if I
this I wouldn't be able to alternate high and low, so I'd be running 4
through each pipe. I don't think this would be an issue. This would
make sense for the low voltage stuff. I was planning on running it in a star

configuration; I could easily run it up the studs to where the attic will

>leave several different colored pieces of string in it to make pulling
stuff later easier...).  

Good advice. Does it make sense to run a loop of string instead of several 
pieces? This way things could be pulled while leaving the string in there.

>Remember not to run the high voltage and low voltage stuff in the same

Thanks, always good advice.

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

I was planning on it, particularly in the wet Seattle area climate. I've
some interesting designs using old truck driveshafts to dry out the air.

>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...  

Hmm, given that it has 3 large garage doors (one is 10x14, the others are
would I need an exhaust fan?

>Somebody actually suggested going so far as to install sprinklers in 
>a shop installation - might not be a bad idea 

Hmm. This would make sense to me.

>I personally take issue with this "pegboard over insulation" idea 
>(can you say 25 chimneys/square inch?  I knew you could...).  

Fire was my concern as well. I can see the convenience, but it may make
to wallboard and then mount pegboard over the wallboard. But if I set up a 
sprinkler system, I may be able to live with the additional fire risk.

>Have fun,

No worries there. I'm in the earlly mulling & design stages. Think thrice, 
measure twice, cut once.

Thanks to all; this has certainly given me more things to think about.


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