Shop power question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by attaboy posted 07-10-2017 08:49 PM 826 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View attaboy's profile


2 posts in 1098 days

07-10-2017 08:49 PM

Love the show! Long time listener, first time caller.

Recently, I moved my shop from a 1,500 ft² basement to my 2 car garage (I am not bitter or anything). We are finishing the basement as part of a 2 year plan to move, so for the next 2 years I will be in the garage, after that I will be purchasing a house with a nice shop.

Problem being the garage plugs are on a 15 amp circuit, which will not even run the dust collector without kicking the breaker. Currently, if I pay attention, the 15 amp will run all my tools (without dust collection) but both the planer and jointer will get right up against that limit.

Now to the question: I can have a 50 amp sub-panel installed, but for that I really need to hire an electrician, or I can run one 20 amp plug up there for the dust control and deal with it for the two years. Obviously, if this was my forever shop I wouldn’t hesitate to run the sub-panel but since this will only last 2 years I really think spending the money is a bit of a waste.

So what would you do?

8 replies so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4146 days

#1 posted 07-10-2017 09:03 PM

Welcome to the big show! Do you have any electrical experience so that you can do the work yourself? If so, it would not be very expensive to install a sub panel in the garage and run a few lines. Without experience I would suggest calling in an electrician. As to what to have installed, think hard before having a single line put in, see what the difference in cost would be.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 2247 days

#2 posted 07-10-2017 09:06 PM

I think you’ve already answered this:

Either, A) you’re comfortable around electricity. If this is the case, you can install a subpanel yourself. It’s just like installing a new branch circuit, just with a different device at the end and bigger wire.

Or, B) You’re not comfortable around electricity. Have an electrician do the work. Have him/her run the subpanel. Wire and a panel aren’t expensive. Labor is more expensive.

I don’t understand why everyone is terrified of wires. Electrical work is a discipline based on a set of rules, that are very explicitly spelled out in the NEC book.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View clin's profile


1113 posts in 1773 days

#3 posted 07-10-2017 09:20 PM

I vote DIY sub-panel. If you can install a 20 A plug, you should be able to install a sub-panel. As always, work must be done to code. Whether there is some other reason it MUST be done by an electrician is between you and your local authorities.

It isn’t rocket science. There are plenty of how-tos on the internet. Not much more to it than picking the correct wire and breaker sizes and being sure to separate the neutral and ground connection in the sub-panel.

And no reason the sub even has to be permanent. Meaning, you can do it in a way that you can easily remove it when you go to sell. Of course, if you pull a permit and do it up pretty it should help resale value (or at least won’t hurt it).

All you need is 4 wires from the main panel (two 240 V wires, neutral and ground). Of course a breaker in the main, then to the sub panel. Bring conduit out from that. Your choice as to how many circuits and how much conduit to run around the garage. But it’s quick and not that expensive.

In a lot of ways, adding a sub panel is not much more complicated than wiring a wall plug. There are a few details, but again plenty of detailed info on the web.

-- Clin

View JayT's profile


6402 posts in 2988 days

#4 posted 07-10-2017 09:43 PM

Two years is still quite a bit of shop time. I would install the sub panel, just to not have any hassle or worries when doing woodworking.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View attaboy's profile


2 posts in 1098 days

#5 posted 07-10-2017 10:59 PM

Just to be clear, I am comfortable around electric but we are talking 100’ from the panel and inspections.

I was going to forego the inspection on the one 20 amp plug ran to the garage, because, really, who is even going to know. However, with a sub-panel I will have to get an inspection, our city is easy going so getting the inspection on the sub-panel is not too bad, but I am not sure it is worth the extra cost and effort.

View Hermit's profile


240 posts in 2103 days

#6 posted 07-10-2017 11:53 PM

Not sure where your panel is located now but if feasible I’d just run a 20amp for your dust collector and deal with it for a short time.

-- I'm like the farmer's duck. If it don't rain, I'll walk.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6069 posts in 3186 days

#7 posted 07-11-2017 12:28 AM

A sub panel can be installed, and when the time comes, removed. My neighbor had one we put in for 18 months and worked with all manner of equipment with no issues. When they showed the house he hid the sub panel with a box frame and when sold just removed it. Even passed a so called house inspection with no notice of it.

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

View Kelly's profile


3021 posts in 3722 days

#8 posted 07-11-2017 04:47 AM

One more option is, install a 20 amp outlet near the box, then run a do-it-yourself extension cord.

I buy one hundred foot rolls of twelve gauge power cord. I prefer the three hundred volt because the insulation isn’t as thick as the six hundred volt, so it’s easier to install plugs and outlets. This allows me to replace defective cords and make extension cords for various uses.

On the matter of plugs and outlets, buy decent ones.

One advantage to this route is, you can take a good quality cord with you.

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