Outlet placement


sdkidaho

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I go 44" on all wall switches and outlets about 6 feet apart, except a couple fourplexes by the handtool bench, but only because I have 2 big windows there. For everything freestanding, I brought up the appropriate outlets to each through the floor. I also have my DC piped under the shop and stubbed up for each tool. I didn't want anything hanging down from the ceiling which would get in the way of moving product through the shop.

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All of mine are 42" off the floor and 6' apart. So I never have to look for a plug or run an extension cord, which is great. I do have a dedicated 110 outlet that is 24" off the floor but it's for my table saw. I only wired the shop for 110 volt,I don't have any 220 volt outlets which is a pain.

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All of mine are 42" off the floor and 6' apart. So I never have to look for a plug or run an extension cord, which is great. I do have a dedicated 110 outlet that is 24" off the floor but it's for my table saw. I only wired the shop for 110 volt,I don't have any 220 volt outlets which is a pain.

Aaron,

You may be able to convert some 110V outlets to 220V. It's not difficult provided the circuit configuration allows it.

Joe

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For a 220 device, you still only need 2 conductor (+ground) wire so you are fine with the black/white/ground wire. Both black and white will be hot; per code you need to label the white hot by putting a strip of electrical tape around it.

So you can switch the wire from 110 to 220 without running new wire although if you switch the wire at the service panel, remember that the entire circuit will now be 220 (if it continues on to other plugs).

That box Don posted is interesting. I'll have to read about it. You can convert two 110 circuits to get a 220 plug if the circuits are on different sides of the service panel (so the hots on the plugs are either wire of a 220 circuit.s.

As for current, remember that a motor running 110V @ 15A would only use 7.5A at 220V (same motor). For a larger motor, the amperage goes up, definitely, but still you can have a pretty nice motor < 15A on 220 so maybe you could still leave the lights on :)

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For a 220 device, you still only need 2 conductor (+ground) wire so you are fine with the black/white/ground wire. Both black and white will be hot; per code you need to label the white hot by putting a strip of electrical tape around it.

So you can switch the wire from 110 to 220 without running new wire although if you switch the wire at the service panel, remember that the entire circuit will now be 220 (if it continues on to other plugs).

That box Don posted is interesting. I'll have to read about it. You can convert two 110 circuits to get a 220 plug if the circuits are on different sides of the service panel (so the hots on the plugs are either wire of a 220 circuit.s.

As for current, remember that a motor running 110V @ 15A would only use 7.5A at 220V (same motor). For a larger motor, the amperage goes up, definitely, but still you can have a pretty nice motor < 15A on 220 so maybe you could still leave the lights on :)

This is a very interesting topic. I would also like more information about that converter box. I would love to be able to use 220v power tools!

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I found this. Model: A220-20D Version 2 Includes: •Quick 220 (A220-20D) •Outlet tester (TEST001) 20 Ampere, 4600 watts 220/240 volt dual straight blade outlet, NEMA 6-20 For US/Canadian 220 / 230 / 240 volt equipment. This system requires adapters to fit ordinary outlets. $185.00 Call to order. 1-800-347-0394 It comes with a tester. But, I'm not sure it will test for proper wire size. You will need the one I've referenced for most 220 machines. They will require a 20amp outlet and that means the wiring has to be at least 12 guage. If you need 30amps, the wire needs to be 10 gauge. This is critical. If your outlets are not configured like the ones shown in the photograph on that page, it is likely you have 15amp outlets and 14 gauge wire. Do NOT overload your wiring.

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My electrical code knowledge is a bit rusty, but if the previous wiring was done by a non-professional and they got one of the polarities backwards, wouldn't that cause quite a light show? Or am I wrong on that one? I wonder if the converter detects that.

The way that box works is to take the hot from one circuit and the hot from another and put them on the socket. The neutrals are ignored. One ground will be used (but not both). That is the reason you need to plug into two 110V outlets on different circuits.

Assume a homeowner wired a box and switched white and black. The hot (narrow blade) will be on neutral.. if the other plug was wired correctly, you will have just made a standard 110V socket (1 hot, 1 neutral). If both were flipped, you'd have 2 neutrals and no voltage at the 220V socket. If both hots are on the same circuit, you'll again get no voltage at the 220V socket (to prove that to yourself, put a volt meter with both probes on the positive side of a battery). The only way the 220V will have 220V is if both are wired properly and on different circuits. You'll only damage your "load" if you don't check the resulting socket and basically plug a 220V load into a 110V socket. (There is a bad scenario, to be clear, but that would require you to plug that box into something on a main panel circuit and the other in a subpanel circuit, but that would literally be a stretch; but it exists)

Okay, that was more than you likely wanted to know :) point is that this is how you can pretty easily create a 220V socket and to be honest, there's nothing but the socket and wires in that $185 box that you can make yourself (the tester you can buy for $3 at Harbor Freight).

To add to Vic's post, those are 20A sockets although more recent code makes exterior plugs GFCI protected and 20A and they can look like regular sockets (without the tab); whether it's the case at your house depends on when it was built and code adoption in your area.

Hopefully a real electrician reads this and can correct anything grossly in error.

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The way that box works is to take the hot from one circuit and the hot from another and put them on the socket. The neutrals are ignored. One ground will be used (but not both). That is the reason you need to plug into two 110V outlets on different circuits.

Assume a homeowner wired a box and switched white and black. The hot (narrow blade) will be on neutral.. if the other plug was wired correctly, you will have just made a standard 110V socket (1 hot, 1 neutral). If both were flipped, you'd have 2 neutrals and no voltage at the 220V socket. If both hots are on the same circuit, you'll again get no voltage at the 220V socket (to prove that to yourself, put a volt meter with both probes on the positive side of a battery). The only way the 220V will have 220V is if both are wired properly and on different circuits. You'll only damage your "load" if you don't check the resulting socket and basically plug a 220V load into a 110V socket. (There is a bad scenario, to be clear, but that would require you to plug that box into something on a main panel circuit and the other in a subpanel circuit, but that would literally be a stretch; but it exists)

Okay, that was more than you likely wanted to know :) point is that this is how you can pretty easily create a 220V socket and to be honest, there's nothing but the socket and wires in that $185 box that you can make yourself (the tester you can buy for $3 at Harbor Freight).

To add to Vic's post, those are 20A sockets although more recent code makes exterior plugs GFCI protected and 20A and they can look like regular sockets (without the tab); whether it's the case at your house depends on when it was built and code adoption in your area.

Hopefully a real electrician reads this and can correct anything grossly in error.

In addition to what Paul has said, the two circuits have to be on opposites sides of the electrical panel, one on the A phase bar and one on the B phase bar to make 220. That is why you can't get 220 from a double mini breaker.

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My electrical code knowledge is a bit rusty, but if the previous wiring was done by a non-professional and they got one of the polarities backwards, wouldn't that cause quite a light show? Or am I wrong on that one? I wonder if the converter detects that.

actually since it's AC (Alternate current, as opposed to Direct current = DC) there is no polarity, there is just hot and neutral. or 2 hots in 220 lines. although for switching you want to make sure you connect the same wires on both sides to the same terminals.

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i live in the UK and i don't know how u run things on 110 volt not that i am that good at understanding electrics :blink: .... tha standard plug here run 240 volt and 13 amps.... however if i called my electracal company i could have my shop set up with 410 volts power supply its just the machine that run of that are a bit to prices for me so instead i just stick with 240 25amp ring net which could run a couple of houses :o:D

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actually since it's AC (Alternate current, as opposed to Direct current = DC) there is no polarity, there is just hot and neutral. or 2 hots in 220 lines. although for switching you want to make sure you connect the same wires on both sides to the same terminals.

You are talking about a Double Pole Double Throw switch not trying to use a single pole single throw switch, right ;>)

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Do any of you have suggestions on outlet placement? In a home they are generally a foot or so off the floor. I'm thinking in the shop you probably want them just above bench height, and maybe some that are closer to the floor for whatever purpose. Any insight or wisdom on this topic?

Thanks

Hi Sdk...

Regardless of the discussion of wiring discussion that is raging, I will attempt to answer your question.

I am not an electrician although I play one at my house. I probably do not have as much information on the wiring as other folks here do.

As stated, your question relates to the HEIGHT of the outlets in the garage.

Back in the day, there was no consideration to the height of outlets in areas such as the garage. As time went on safety features were considered which included equipping garage and exterior circuits with GFCI wiring, elevating the outlets from the ground to prevent accidental fires from arcing during the operation of electrical outlets and fumes that were heavier than air (in addition to making the outlets more accessible).

Your own physical garage setup will depend on the age of the house, the region of the country you are living in, and more complicatedly the building codes being used by the municipality in charge at the time the home was built.

If you are installing NEW wiring, you would be required to follow the current electrical codes. The city might require a permit for this type of installation. The fact that almost NOBODY gets permits may or may not help you when it comes time to sell your house.

If your house is relatively new your garage electrical outlet circuit typically runs around the interior of the garage and additionally the exterior perimeter of the home. If this is the case converting 110V to 220V would work but render all of the other outlets useless for 110V purposes (unless you have 4 strand wiring running through the wall which is not likely).

So, back to the new wiring. As a licensed home inspector, I would recommend that you have the wiring installed by a licensed electrical specialist with knowledge of the current codes and the ability to get the work permited as needed. Because almost nobody does that... Typically you want to install the new outlets and switches at about 42" in height (At the base of the outlet box) for safety and ease of use - center them off of the light switch(es) in the garage.

Also, I would recommend buying a book on wiring. The one I have is the Black & Decker - The complete guide to home wiring. I find this invaluable for 110V wiring purposes, 3 way light switches and 220V wiring as well. Color pictures help too. Just remember that electrical is not something you want to play with if you are unsure of how to properly protect yourself and your family.

Good luck and stay safe ;]

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Thanks Mike, and everyone else also.

It's a new shop and so there is no existing wires to deal with. I did go to Home Depot and look at electrical wiring books and I did see the Black and Decker one - it was my second choice as I actually picked another book that seemed a bit more intuitive.

I'm thinking the 42" height (to the base of the outlet) is a good idea, so I'll be doing that, and spacing them every 4 to 6 feet. I had a 100amp service pulled out to my shop so I should have sufficient power for whatever I want to put out there. I think I'll do all the wiring myself though rather than hiring it out, simple to save the cost of having it done. However, having said that, my cousin is an electrician and so I will have him check my work before I power anything up just to be on the safe side - I don't mind paying him to come have a look to keep me safe. I have a healthy respect for power - I've worked with electronics since the early 90's and some of the circuits that we actually trained on in school were Television circuit boards - I've been hammered a few times but high voltage DC and I've even ran my hand across an exposed extension cord that was plugged in (AC) - not a good time.

I'll definitely be safe in whatever I do.

Thanks again, guys, I appreciate your help and advice.

Darby

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks Mike, and everyone else also.

It's a new shop and so there is no existing wires to deal with. I'll definitely be safe in whatever I do.

Thanks again, guys, I appreciate your help and advice.

Darby

Check with your local building dept. Each town can have its own rules, you may need a permit, and may have to use a licensed electrician. If you are in violation and have any issue, your insurance may not cover you. If no permit and inspection, you may have issues when selling. This goes for the height as well. My inspector said no issue for height, but a coworker said his town's inspector insisted outlets remain standard 18 or so off ground level (except where permanent counters are installed). You know, if the floor is not finished you may have a requirement for GFI outlets as first outlet on the circuit.

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Like the previous poster, and to try and get this topic back on track, I would recommend you put the receptacles at a height were the bottom of the cover plate is slightly above 48". Why you ask, well so if you place a sheet of ply on it's side against the wall you can still use and find your outlets. I recently bought a new house and rewired the garage to my needs. I ended up with the original 15A recept circuit that only has 5 recepts on it and also added 2 20a circuits each with 8 or 9 receptacles on it(got tired of popping breakers and not having enough outlets). Also dedicated a circuit to my 9 fluorescents and put in two 220v circuits One of those 220v circuits i have a 20A 220v duplex receptacle installed and my dust collector on and the other is blank for future use.

Bottom line though is figure out your bottom line need, draw up a rough shop layout and figure out your budget. After all those items have been done then you can put in the circuits.

I do love my recpts higher though it's already proved to be worthwhile to have placed them higher.

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