LumberJocks

All Replies on Electrical problems in my new shop. Help please

  • Advertise with us
View SweetTea's profile

Electrical problems in my new shop. Help please

by SweetTea
posted 08-06-2017 09:36 AM


26 replies so far

View georgieporgie's profile

georgieporgie

54 posts in 1086 days


#1 posted 08-06-2017 11:39 AM

Hello Sweet Tea, I think these are subpanels that are fed from the main panel in the house. To know the amp rating of these subpanels you have to go to the main panel and see what the amp rating of the feeder breaker is. You are right, there is not room to add breakers to these panels for new 20 amp circuits. As for why your tools seem to be sluggish, I wonder if there are poor connections that are limiting current flow to your machines. If you have experience with a multimeter, you can turn off power to the circuit and then measure the resistance from the breaker to the receptacle. If you don’t have much electrical experience then I recommend getting an electrician. A fire or worse seems possible if a mistake is made. Good luck! George

-- - George: Richland, Washington

View SweetTea's profile

SweetTea

463 posts in 1171 days


#2 posted 08-06-2017 12:12 PM


Hello Sweet Tea, I think these are subpanels that are fed from the main panel in the house. To know the amp rating of these subpanels you have to go to the main panel and see what the amp rating of the feeder breaker is. You are right, there is not room to add breakers to these panels for new 20 amp circuits. As for why your tools seem to be sluggish, I wonder if there are poor connections that are limiting current flow to your machines. If you have experience with a multimeter, you can turn off power to the circuit and then measure the resistance from the breaker to the receptacle. If you don t have much electrical experience then I recommend getting an electrician. A fire or worse seems possible if a mistake is made. Good luck! George

- georgieporgie

Oh I am definitely having the work done by an electrician. The only other panel that I can find in this buildings is in the pic below. Doesn’t seem to be any other main panel. I think the problem with the sluggishness of my equipment is because there are 7 outlets and two lights on each breaker. Only 14 outlets in this building.

All of those take up only two breakers, the other six breakers are 1.-air conditioner, 2. Heater, 3. Lights that aren’t connected to run with the outlets, 4.-bathroom lights and one bathroom outlet, 5.-second room with 4 outlets, and the last breaker I am unsure of.

View SweetTea's profile

SweetTea

463 posts in 1171 days


#3 posted 08-06-2017 12:15 PM

What I might do, assuming the sub panel is getting enough juice, is rip out the existing wiring, which is in conduit mounted on the face of the walls throughout the building. Then dedicate each breaker for two outlets, 12/2 wire, and sacrifice a few outlets. Then I could leave two slots open for my two 220 lines. Does this sound reasonable?

View ocean's profile

ocean

179 posts in 1344 days


#4 posted 08-06-2017 02:27 PM

The box you labeled First Box looks to be the incoming main line. What is the breaker rated in it? That is all you will have for amps everywhere else. You definitely need an electrician! From main box two sub panels – one for shop and one for rest of house. Good Luck

-- Bob, FL Keys

View SweetTea's profile

SweetTea

463 posts in 1171 days


#5 posted 08-07-2017 09:14 AM



The box you labeled First Box looks to be the incoming main line. What is the breaker rated in it? That is all you will have for amps everywhere else. You definitely need an electrician! From main box two sub panels – one for shop and one for rest of house. Good Luck

- ocean

I will check the main box and see if I can figure out how many amps I got coming in. Also, this is a commercial building that was built during the 1950’s, it is not my garage, nor is it part of a house.

View Gilley23's profile

Gilley23

489 posts in 893 days


#6 posted 08-07-2017 10:00 AM

The first box pictured is a Federal Pacific, those are known fire hazards and some insurance companies won’t even insure a house with them in it. No matter what you decide to do, replace that panel.

View jonah's profile

jonah

2080 posts in 3809 days


#7 posted 08-07-2017 11:46 AM

Given the 1950s origin, you’re almost certain to have something like a 50-60A main coming in through that fire hazard of a main box. You’ll want to replace the main box at the very least. Sometimes they would have fed the main with up-sized wire, so you might be able to get a 100A main installed without pulling new wire from the pole. That is unlikely, however.

View SweetTea's profile

SweetTea

463 posts in 1171 days


#8 posted 08-07-2017 02:30 PM



Given the 1950s origin, you re almost certain to have something like a 50-60A main coming in through that fire hazard of a main box. You ll want to replace the main box at the very least. Sometimes they would have fed the main with up-sized wire, so you might be able to get a 100A main installed without pulling new wire from the pole. That is unlikely, however.

- jonah

That is what I was thinking as well. I wonder what kind of money I would be looking at to have the power company come out and run a new 200 amp line from the pole? Do you guys think that would in the sub $1,000 range just for the power company to run a new line? I have an electrician friend that can do the rest. I just wonder approx what the power company would charge? I should note that I have a meeting setup for tomorrow with an engineer from the electric company to discuss this with. I was just curious what you guys thought about the $$ they would want. That way I don’t get shell shocked by what ever the engineer says. LoL

View jonah's profile

jonah

2080 posts in 3809 days


#9 posted 08-07-2017 03:34 PM

If you’re using one tool + dust collection at one time, you could quite easily get away with a 60A service. You’d just need to replace the panel with one that is a) not a crappy fire hazard 1950s relic and b) roomy enough for the breakers you need to run.

You don’t need separate 20A breakers for the shapers unless you plan to use more than one of them at the same time. With 20A receptacles, you can put more than one on a circuit. Assuming single person use, you realistically only need two 240V circuits – one for tools, and one for dust collection. That leaves you plenty of capacity for 2-3 120V circuits for everything else.

View Holt's profile

Holt

280 posts in 3140 days


#10 posted 08-07-2017 03:45 PM

Cost is hard to say, it will vary hugely by region. Here in Chilton, County, Alabama, you and I could completely rewire your shop, have the Co-Op hook you up, then go eat BBQ for way less that $1000 (including materials).

Cost aside, I’d be tempted to do away with all those existing boxes, drop in a Square D, QO panel, and rewire everything from that point.

On your apparent low power problem, even with the best of intentions and practices, any junction between aluminium wiring and any copper is prone to corrosion. In addition to being a possible fire hazard, those corroded joints can cause increased resistance and thus power loss. If you have an AC voltmeter, you may want to spot check voltages and see if you are seeing a drop where your tools plugged. of course, all that is moot if there is no aluminium wiring involved…

-- ...Specialization is for insects.

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

6448 posts in 1223 days


#11 posted 08-07-2017 03:47 PM

I GUESS…..... the cost depends on where you live ….. 15 years ago in Pa. hunting camp had 100 amp service brought in for around $800.00 .... :<((

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View BlasterStumps's profile

BlasterStumps

1425 posts in 950 days


#12 posted 08-07-2017 03:58 PM

Here in this area, not sure about where you are, the location of the meter (on the pole, or on the building) will affect the cost of an upgrade as well. If you have a service pole and the meter is on it and then there is a triplex coming to your building, from the meter on is yours to upgrade. IOW, the power company, at least here in this area, doesn’t service anything beyond the meter. That is all customer owned and maintained. Some areas could have different policies.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." - Mike, western Colorado

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3287 days


#13 posted 08-07-2017 04:26 PM

I would highly recommend what they call a “heavy up” to a new panel. If you are looking at putting in a central A/C system or heat pump, I would go with 200 Amp 220/240 volt service. The heavy up includes the cables to the pole and main breaker. This will give you the capacity that you will need now and the future.

I would then put new lines from the new panel to the shop and out in a sub-panel there (60 Amp, 220 volt) should be more than enough with 6 breakers (4 for 120 and 2 for the 220).

This will give you power for the equipment, lights, dehumidifier, dust collection, etc…

Make it safe from the start – costs you a little more but much less than recovering from an electrical fire.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5755 posts in 3004 days


#14 posted 08-07-2017 05:08 PM

Like others have said, the cost of changing that meter will vary widely (hugely) depending on who provides your power. Co-ops are usually the most friendly, and municipal power the least (IME). The only way to know for sure is to ask them. The other that may vary is the amount of red tape involved. A local co-op is little more than a phone call to get a meter installed, but the public power provider I have expects a complete write up on their forms before agreeing to run a meter.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3287 days


#15 posted 08-07-2017 05:17 PM

For my daughter, required the electrician, permits, inspections, all of it. The result is a safe electric environment.
Worth every penny.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View SweetTea's profile

SweetTea

463 posts in 1171 days


#16 posted 08-09-2017 09:36 AM

Ok, quick update. Met with the engineer from the power company today. I do indeed have a 200 amp line. There is a breaker box outside the building next to the meter that has a 100amp breaker feeding the subpanels in the shop. I have the potential to run another 100amp sub panel as right now my setup is only utilizing 100amps of the 200 amps available.

What I plan to do now is install another 100amp breaker on the box outside and run a new subpanel totally separate from the others. This subpanel will be 100amps and will feed to three 220v recepticals, and several standard 110v recepticals. I also plan to rewrite some of the existing sub panels to reduce the number of recepticals on each breaker. Right now on the old sub panel that are approx 7 or so 110v recepticals on each breaker.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3287 days


#17 posted 08-09-2017 11:49 AM

Good job.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View jonah's profile

jonah

2080 posts in 3809 days


#18 posted 08-09-2017 11:55 AM

There’s nothing really wrong with having a bunch of outlets on one circuit. It’s not ideal, because it increases the chance that you plug two things (say, a Shop Vac and a tool) into the same circuit, but even in that case if the receptacles are 20A you’d be fine.

Running a 100A sub panel for just a handful of outlets is way, way overkill. You can feed everything in that shop off a 100A sub panel. Your 3HP shapers only use ~11A each (at 240VAC). Most 120V tools use < 10A.

View Robert's profile

Robert

3538 posts in 1992 days


#19 posted 08-09-2017 02:58 PM



Oh I am definitely having the work done by an electrician.
- SweetTea
Then why are you asking us? We can’t see the wiring or circuitry….......

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5755 posts in 3004 days


#20 posted 08-09-2017 04:14 PM

Sounds like things are going to work out well…congrats.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1980 days


#21 posted 08-09-2017 06:16 PM

Slightly offtopic but… One thing I’d reccomend to anyone installing new general purpose outlets in a shop is to run what’s called a multiwire branch circuit. Basically, you take a 2-pole (240v) 20A breaker, and you run a ground wire, a neutral wire, and two hot wires, all with 12AWG. Run it in conduit to each receptacle box. Wherever you put receptacles, use a 2-gang box and install two duplex receptacle devices. Put the left receptacles on the black hot wire, put the right receptacles on the red hot wire.

The awesome thing about this configuration is that a box can be changed from 120V NEMA 5-15R or 5-20R receptacles to a 240V receptacle like a NEMA L6-20R simply by changing the device configuration in the box. All the wiring stays the same.

If this sounds crazy or incomprehensible, don’t worry. your electrician should be familiar with multiwire branch circuits. It’s a good way to reduce the amount of wire used and to make the electrical system more future-proof.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3287 days


#22 posted 08-11-2017 01:34 AM

Now that – is something I will keep.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View bobkberg's profile

bobkberg

439 posts in 3584 days


#23 posted 08-11-2017 05:03 AM

Hi SweetTea,

Interesting reading on your “adventures”. The note about the possibility of aluminum wire caught my eye, as did the recommendation to use a multimeter to find out the end voltage.

The other recommendation I would make is to have your electrician use a clamp-on ammeter to find out how much current is being drawn. This would also help find out if there is some electrical load that you are not aware of which could be causing the problem.

Regards,

Bob

-- Bob www.singularengineering.com - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View SweetTea's profile

SweetTea

463 posts in 1171 days


#24 posted 08-11-2017 12:31 PM



If you re using one tool + dust collection at one time, you could quite easily get away with a 60A service. You d just need to replace the panel with one that is a) not a crappy fire hazard 1950s relic and b) roomy enough for the breakers you need to run.

You don t need separate 20A breakers for the shapers unless you plan to use more than one of them at the same time. With 20A receptacles, you can put more than one on a circuit. Assuming single person use, you realistically only need two 240V circuits – one for tools, and one for dust collection. That leaves you plenty of capacity for 2-3 120V circuits for everything else.

- jonah

The only 20amp machines in my shop are my two Grizzley G1026 3HP shapers, my SuperMax 25×2 drum sander, and the air conditioner. So when I install the new 100 amp sub panel, I plan to run two 20a lines. That should be fine for what I am doing: very rarely do I have more than one shaper going at once. Usually it’s just one shaper at a time, in addition to the dust collectors. Which are 110v and will be on a separate circuit.

View SweetTea's profile

SweetTea

463 posts in 1171 days


#25 posted 08-11-2017 12:37 PM



I would highly recommend what they call a “heavy up” to a new panel. If you are looking at putting in a central A/C system or heat pump, I would go with 200 Amp 220/240 volt service. The heavy up includes the cables to the pole and main breaker. This will give you the capacity that you will need now and the future.

I would then put new lines from the new panel to the shop and out in a sub-panel there (60 Amp, 220 volt) should be more than enough with 6 breakers (4 for 120 and 2 for the 220).

This will give you power for the equipment, lights, dehumidifier, dust collection, etc…

Make it safe from the start – costs you a little more but much less than recovering from an electrical fire.

- dbray45

That is exactly what I intend to do. Although no heat pump or central A/C only a window unit. This is a very old commercial building. I did that in my old shop as well. Once the electrician connects the sub panel to the main line from outside, I will run 12 awg wire from each breaker to their respective recepticals.

View B4B's profile

B4B

163 posts in 1869 days


#26 posted 08-11-2017 01:56 PM

I would strongly reccomend getting a qualified electrician to check your existing system. Amperage is just one part of the story, voltage is another. You may have the amps, but not the volts.

Did the Power Company engineer check to see if there was adequate voltage and amperage at the meter? How far is the transformer from the meter drop? How far is the meter from the first panel in the shop?

When lights dim its usually due to voltage drop, not a lack of amps.

If you are not tripping the breaker then your shop is not drawing anywhere near the limit of the amperage for that curcuit. The circuit breakers do not limit the amount of power going to an outlet like a faucet varies the flow of water, they prevent devices from pulling too mich amperage to prevent damage (ie melting) to the wiring.

Hence my statement, get a qualified electrician to evaluate what you have as you may not need to do as much work as you think you need to do. . Or there could be much more work to do than meets the eye.

I recently hired an electrician to do work on my house, the first thing they did was spend a good 2 hours looking at everything. They do this for every job whether just replacing an outlet or doing a home rewire. The panel, meter, wiring devices, etc were inspected before doing any work. It was worth it.

-- There's two routers in my vocab, one that moves data and one that removes wood, the latter being more relevant on this forum.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com