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3 Important Questions To Answer Before Running Permanent Power To Your Workshop

by Harvie Simms

Sprucing up your workshop is a smart investment whether you're a weekend bowl turner or a full-time metal fabricator. If your converted garage or recently built shed still lacks power, it is high time to call an electrician to wire and connect the place to the grid. Before you make your installation appointment, answer these three crucial questions to make sure you are ready to give clear directions to the electrician.

Where Do You Need the Outlets?

Think outside the box when picking locations for your new workshop power outlets. Instead of placing them all at the same level around the room, try mixing it up with:

  • Outlets set into the floor or at the base of the walls to prevent trip hazards from dangling extension cords.
  • Power connections at the halfway point up the wall or at the ceiling line to plug in tools and equipment sitting on benches and counter tops.
  • One to four outlets for every 12 feet of wall space, depending on the number of tools you plan to use.

Check out the local building codes to make sure your wiring and outlets fit the rules. While many areas allow very small outdoor buildings to go without inspection, adding a permanent power connection usually means the workshop has to follow all the local codes for a living space.

Can Your Supply Handle the Demand?

Before you start up that welder to work on your project car, check that your home supply can handle the heavy-duty draw created by most workshop tools. Homes built in the last 40 years likely feature a 100-amp or 200-amp connection. The 200-amp line is generous enough for supplying both homes and workshops in most cases, but 60-amp and 100-amp connections need upgrading before you start on the wiring process for the workshop.

Do You Need Special Outlets?

Don't forget the requirements of your favorite tools. If you need special equipment like ceramic kilns, welding guns, and turning mills, you need to ask your electrician for a few 220-volt outlets. Consider spending a little more for built-in surge and fluctuation protection worked into the outlets and wiring to protect sensitive equipment.

An experienced electrician like Mr. Sunshine Electric can complete the process of running power to your workshop in just a few days. Expect to spend at least $3,000 for an underground connection from the house to the workshop, the wiring process, and the outlets and lighting connections. Try to get a few extra outlets or lines of wiring added in the process to save a lot on upgrades after the walls are closed up again.