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Overhead vs wall mounted electrical / pneumatic outlets

by William Shelley
posted 01-24-2017 08:41 PM


21 replies so far

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1978 days


#1 posted 01-24-2017 08:43 PM

Rather than making my own cords, I’d probably use something like this, and just cut the male end off and hardwire it into a j-box:

https://www.amazon.com/Watts-Wire-Outdoor-Lighted-Extension/dp/B01FX6JSGC/ref=sr13?ie=UTF8&qid=1485290202&sr=8-3&keywords=triple+tap+outlet

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

6362 posts in 2713 days


#2 posted 01-24-2017 09:20 PM

Hello William,
For what its worth from my point of view
Air: If you have the space fit a retactable air line unit on the ceiling
Power: you will need outlets at your bench area for chargers and hand held power tools phone chrgers and test outlets for repairing stuff.

BTW What are Trading cards and their use?

-- Regards Rob

View alittleoff's profile

alittleoff

541 posts in 1785 days


#3 posted 01-24-2017 10:33 PM

I can see using a couple of electrical drops, but no more than that.seems to me their in the way when you have something plugged into them. I would wire all outlets at the work bench in the wall or use power strips. I have 2 drops from the ceiling, 2- 6 ft. Power strips, 2 short power strips and outlets every 6 ft. Around the wall. I would use the reel for air. I m planing on using 2 elect. Reels later on instead of the drops.
Gerald

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clin

1067 posts in 1505 days


#4 posted 01-24-2017 11:31 PM

There’s no such things as too many electrical outlets. I would definitely put many on the walls. I would put some overhead, and if that’s how you like to work, go ahead and put in more than most.

On the walls, I’d put some high ( 4 1/2 feet) and low 18”. That way you have outlets above your workbench (and above a plywood sheet leaning against the wall). As well as ones below the workbench.

Having a lot of wall outlets means you don’t have to worry if you need to position something in front of one or more and therefore can’t use them. You’ll have plenty of others to use.

It’s really, really easy to add outlets to a new shop when walls are bare. Wire and outlets are pretty inexpensive. You can do a lot for <$100 in material.

I for one would hate to have cords hanging from the ceiling. I’d be smacking them with boards and such all the time. I would be sure to use outlets and not hard wire anything in. Which I suspect may be against code anyway.

I can certainly see dropping power to machines where otherwise you’d be running cords across the floor.

-- Clin

View OSB's profile

OSB

147 posts in 1035 days


#5 posted 01-25-2017 07:22 AM

If you haven’t planned the floor yet, there are recessed electrical boxes that you can install in floor.

If you can place them where your tools are, you can plug straight in with no cord running over the floor and several places to plug in more portable power tools.

Air probably isn’t a good idea in the floor.

I would probably ring the walls and add strategic drops, quick disconnects at ceiling level and recoiling hose. Add some 1/4 turn valves so you can reduce leakage on unused runs.

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

4183 posts in 2497 days


#6 posted 01-25-2017 12:12 PM

I am thinking also about putting some outlet/cords on the ceiling. Are there any electrical requirements for doing this or strain reliefs needed to prevent problems.

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PaulHWood

457 posts in 2762 days


#7 posted 01-25-2017 02:53 PM

all around the outside with electric included dedicated outlests where tools are (240V), and a retractable reel overhead, everything is covered then. If you have the cash, double outlests with 120 and 240 in each.

Air, I only have a central mounted reel which covers everything for me. Two reel would be nice, one wall and one center ceiling, but I get by.

-- -Paul, South Carolina Structural Engineer by trade, Crappy Woodworker by choice

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

401 posts in 2509 days


#8 posted 01-25-2017 03:29 PM

WAAYYY back in Jr high wood shop we had overhead electrical outlets hanging down from the ceiling. They worked pretty well as long as you were not trying to work directly underneath them. Then the cord was in the way smacking you in the face and such. When using a portable power tool it seemed the cord was least in the way when the ceiling outlet was behind you, but of course then when you set the tool on the bench you walk into the cord and pull the tool to the floor.

-- Ted

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1978 days


#9 posted 01-25-2017 04:07 PM

The floor is already a poured slab, and I don’t want to get into changing it at all, so I won’t be putting any outlets in the floor.


I am thinking also about putting some outlet/cords on the ceiling. Are there any electrical requirements for doing this or strain reliefs needed to prevent problems.

- Redoak49

Yes, you have to support the hanging cable within 6 feet of where it leaves the box with an approved support device, such as this one.


all around the outside with electric included dedicated outlests where tools are (240V), and a retractable reel overhead, everything is covered then. If you have the cash, double outlests with 120 and 240 in each.

Air, I only have a central mounted reel which covers everything for me. Two reel would be nice, one wall and one center ceiling, but I get by.

- PaulHWood

I like the idea of the reels. I think they’re around $40-70 at harbor freight or home depot. I think I could roll that into the whole cost of the shop and not feel too bad.

What about one of those coiled yellow nylon air hoses somewhere near the workbench/assembly table?

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1978 days


#10 posted 01-25-2017 04:09 PM

To clarify about the support of hanging cables, the first one I linked is a grip that supports the cable as it leaves the box. You can also use “Bus Drop” grips, like this one.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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Bobsboxes

1370 posts in 3173 days


#11 posted 01-25-2017 04:22 PM

I have a coiled air line and a cord reel above my bench, I use them a lot. I also have a ceiling outlet for my table saw, my hanging air cleaner, and two of my router tables. I am clumsy enough, so no floor cords for me. Good luck.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

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woodbutcherbynight

5974 posts in 2918 days


#12 posted 01-25-2017 04:48 PM

I have overhead air “outlets” in several key places in the shop. Very useful. Make sure you can easily get to them to change out the ends, they go bad sometimes. Also would suggest cut off for air to be inside the shop. If a line breaks or you have an issue you can quickly cut the air off.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

3129 posts in 2682 days


#13 posted 01-25-2017 05:08 PM

Ceiling drops for air is probably all you’ll need maybe put one down near a door so it is easier to pull out doors. You definitely will need wall outlets. Ceiling drops are handy to have in some locations but in others The cord interferes with travel, swinging material and feeding material. My tablesaw is connected with a ceiling drop, the only way I would do it differently is if I had a floor outlet. The cord goes up off the right end of my table and I can cut up to 30” in width without interference. I would like to have more but it would interfere with the outfeed on my planer.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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drcoelho

12 posts in 1200 days


#14 posted 01-26-2017 07:35 AM

I installed vertical unistrut floor to ceiling every few feet around entire perimeter of my shop, then attached 6”x6” electrical gutter to the unistrut and ran that around entire perimeter at about 20” height, and have electrical outlet boxes every few feet around entire perimeter with short EMT feed from bottom of gutter to outlet box. I also installed a few outlets in the ceiling here and there. In my case, needed 3-phase 230V, 220V and 120V, so have various different types of electrical outlets at each location. Also, have two trenches across the entire length of concrete floor with removable aluminum plates, with electrical outlets every few feet inside the trench for easy out of floor power.

Ditto for compressed air, just attached piping to the same unistrut, and ran the piping below the electrical gutter, with outlets every few feet and also in the trenches and overhead.

For ceiling I also setup a matrix of unistrut across the entire ceiling which has been very useful for mounting electrical and air, and also setup with unistrut trollies that are very convenient for supporting drop down electrical extension cords, air hose, etc…

Needless to say, all that unistrut is also super helpful for supporting dust collection piping as well.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18671 posts in 4185 days


#15 posted 01-26-2017 08:30 AM

There is supposed to be an outlet at the ceiling to attach the cord drop. Flexible cord in not legal permanently connected at part of the branch circuit.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Jeff2016's profile

Jeff2016

115 posts in 1373 days


#16 posted 01-26-2017 01:11 PM

I tried using electrical cord drops at first but only have 4 now. I have a smaller shop and found myself swatting cords at every turn with boards. So I moved all outlets down the walls save for lighting and my air cleaner.

And yes with outlets its “the more the merrier”. I’ve added 8 to my original design. Just make sure you have the proper space in your breaker panel. I also have color coded outlet covers/ breakers. I always know what breaker to reach for when I want to work on the system, or for the occasional breaker reset.

-- Proud owner of an electronics free workshop. Please check your cell phone at the door!

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sawdustdad

379 posts in 1394 days


#17 posted 01-26-2017 02:54 PM

In my previous shop (24×24) I ran conduit under the slab and put several circuits in the middle of the floor for a tool cluster. It worked very well. In my new shop, I elected not to have the floor outlets and ran several circuits overhead, I have three 30A/240V outlets and a half dozen 20A/120V outlets in the ceiling of this 28×46 shop. The drop cords are generally out of the way, as they come down behind the tools or are attached to the dust collection drops. I also have dozens of wall outlets everywhere, all placed about 50 inches above the floor level or over the workbenches.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1978 days


#18 posted 01-26-2017 05:09 PM


There is supposed to be an outlet at the ceiling to attach the cord drop. Flexible cord in not legal permanently connected at part of the branch circuit.

- TopamaxSurvivor

Incorrect. Per NEC 400.7, flexible cord may be integrated into the building wiring in certain circumstances.

See this article: http://ecmweb.com/code-basics/flexible-cords-cables-and-fixture-wire

To elaborate, it would be a violation to use a flexible cord hardwired between a junction box and the switch box on a dust collector or other machine. NEC wants you to use flexible metallic conduit or other approved raceway for such an installation.

But doing a cable drop where one end of the cable terminates in an attachment plug satisfies the NEC 400.7(B) requirements.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

358 posts in 2243 days


#19 posted 01-26-2017 05:28 PM

Like most other things woodworking related, preferences run the entire spectrum. I say put outlets on the walls and on the ceiling and see how things work best for you. Like clamps, you can’t have too many outlets (as long as you follow code, yadda yadda yadda). You may find you gravitate to one or the other more often, but then you still have the other option should circumstances call for it.

If you’re curious, here’s my experience:

All of my electrical is run in conduit on the wall (as opposed to inside the wall). That way I can easily make changes should I ever want to.

I have three 20 amp circuits on the walls. I have outlets for two circuits in junction boxes every 10 feet (conduit comes in 10 foot lengths). the third circuit is dedicated to my compressor so I don’t pop a breaker if I’m using a power tool and dust collection and then the compressor kicks in.

I have a separate 15 amp circuit for the ceiling, mostly for lights (wouldn’t want to be left in the dark if my power tools were to pop a breaker despite my attempts to prevent it). But I did throw in a couple outlets in junction boxes up there, too. I rarely use them. I have a ceiling mounted, coiled treble light near where I park my cars, but that’s about all I use.

I find myself walking into the hanging wires and prefer to run extension cords along the ground. Much easier to step over a cord than around one, I’ve found. Also, if you need to move something through that area (cabinets, tool carts, work tables) you can kick the floor cords out of the way, and they stay out of the way rather than swinging back into your way like the hanging cords do. Sure, I could unplug from the ceiling outlet, but why bother if I don’t have to.

My shop is a pre-existing 3 car garage with 8ft ceilings. So I didn’t have the option of running lines before the concrete was poured, nor am I willing to lose height to build up the floor to put in floor outlets.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

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JackDuren

388 posts in 1468 days


#20 posted 01-26-2017 05:33 PM

Your going to want power and air overhead,on walls and included in work tables. No substitute for access…

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18671 posts in 4185 days


#21 posted 01-26-2017 06:59 PM

I guess it must be in the WAC Rules. They don’t allow that here unless the cord is part of a UL listed assembly. Check local codes, YMMV.

There is supposed to be an outlet at the ceiling to attach the cord drop. Flexible cord in not legal permanently connected at part of the branch circuit.

- TopamaxSurvivor

Incorrect. Per NEC 400.7, flexible cord may be integrated into the building wiring in certain circumstances.

See this article: http://ecmweb.com/code-basics/flexible-cords-cables-and-fixture-wire

To elaborate, it would be a violation to use a flexible cord hardwired between a junction box and the switch box on a dust collector or other machine. NEC wants you to use flexible metallic conduit or other approved raceway for such an installation.

But doing a cable drop where one end of the cable terminates in an attachment plug satisfies the NEC 400.7(B) requirements.

- William Shelley


-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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