most parts -- but not all -- of the United States and
Canada, homeowners are allowed to do their own wiring.
If you're at all unsure about what's correct or safe,
don't try it! Contact a qualified expert, licensed electrician,
or local electrical inspector. Electricity is no joke;
even small mistakes can result in shocks, fires, or
prefer fluorescent with a few low wattage incandescent
to kill the flickering phenomena, headaches for some
and nervousness for others and nothing for all the rest.
I have found that halogen, if not applied properly,
will cause hot spots and shadows. It seems to have a
glare that my eyes are sensitive to.
vs. Halogen...I use almost all Halogen in my shop.
It has two bulbs in each light fixture and it works
well for all the lighting needs I have. It is very bright
and leaves very little shadow effects due to their being
two lights in each fixture. I have several fixtures
that are targeted at different areas: bench, table saw
vs. Halogen...Halogen lighting is brighter, granted.
It also will cost more in power as well. If I recall
right, about 2 1/2 times more for the same lumens. But
it's a nice bright light.
There's lots of flavors in fluorescent as well: warm
whites, cool whites, bright whites. Look at the average
hours they recommend for bulb life as well. Fluorescent
go downhill as they age, that's why most places do group
re-lamping on a schedule. Blackening of the ends tells
of an aged bulb.
- Sonny Edmonds
you are lighting from scratch or doing a major makeover,
I would suggest staying away from cheap 'shop light'
grade fixtures and going for those that are closer to
'commercial grade', which are also available at places
like HD. The inexpensive fixtures (sometimes as low
as $7.00) use an inferior ballast which have a short
life. If you examine the fine print on some fluorescent
tube packaging they specify a shorter life for the lamp
when used in a 'shoplight'. Also, the better ballasts
tend to be quieter over the life of the fixture.
A couple of side notes: I personally prefer 'color corrected'
fluorescent, with a 3500 to 4000 kelvin rating, especially
in areas used for finishing. They cost a little more
(big surprise) but are much closer to the lighting your
work is likely to be seen under when finished. Also,
unless your fluorescent fixtures have cage guards or
are hung fairly high, the inexpensive clear sleeves
(at HD again) are a great idea to prevent falling shattered
glass in case of collision with long boards, etc.
is an industry standard that deals with minimum lighting
intensities for most applications.
General shop lighting is 70 footcandles with specific
task lighting at 100 to 150 foot candles. (I suppose
this is the time to explain what a footcandle is. One
footcandle is the measure of illumination on a one square
foot area one foot away from one lit candle.)
There are several ways to compute this requirement.
The formula I most always use is called the Lumen (measurement
of light) Method.
this formula, the number of fixtures required is equal
to the footcandle requirement times the area
of shop in square feet divided by the lumens
per fixture times the co-efficient of utilization
(amount of light actually used) times the light
loss factor (how clean a fixture is or kept).
Let assume a shop with dimensions of 18' x 20' this
equals 360 sq.ft.The light loss factor constant is
.75 and the co-efficient of utilization is .65
By substituting the above values into the formula
and solving for the number of fixtures we get...
X = 70 times 360 divided by 3150 times
2 times .75 times .65. (The number of
lumens 3150 is the standard for one 40 watt fluorescent
tube and I assumed 2 per fixture). In
solving this equation we get 8.2 fixtures required
to have a mantained average of 70 foot candles.
In this size shop I would have 2 fixtures down the center
of the 20 foot dimension with 2 foot spacing fixture
to fixture and 4 foot from walls. In the other direction
I would space the two rows of 3 fixtures, 7 foot off
of centerline, space them 3 foot apart in the middle,
and 1 foot off the walls. (If I were doing this in actuality
I would add one fixture and have 3 rows of 3.)
For what its worth that's the exact science of determining
the lighting levels you should have per the industry
standard on lighting. I know that most would not go
to this trouble but it really doesn't ake long to compute.
The old saying if it's worth doing, it's worth doing
with the 20 amp outlets. That way you shouldn't ever
be "wanting" for amps on any of your 120V tools. Of
course a separate 240V line is in order for the dust
collector and the table saw.
- Shawn DuGay
cost of the outlets is something that I never worry
about. The commercial outlets are designed to be used.
The box of ten outlets you find at HD for a low price
is designed to have a light plugged in and left for
5 years until your wife decides she wants to redecorate.
The commercial outlets hold up to the kind of abuse
we put things through in the shop.
You also want to dedicate a circuit to each of your
large tools. Table saw, dust collector, jointer, planer,
etc. Now is the time to get these wired, it is much
is a pain. I suggest that in-wall wiring should be 12GA
or 10GA. The reason is this, 12GA (20Amp), 10GA (30Amp)
can be used now for 110V devices. Later you may want
to switch some of those devices to 220V and the wiring
will be able to accommodate them, the only changes being
the breaker and the receptacle: no tearing through the
walls. The other way is to run most of your wiring in
conduit surface mounted on the walls. If you need to
change wiring you can pull new wiring through. Just
make sure to use large conduit.
don't forget to install some outlets in the ceiling.
Ceiling mounted power cords are great.
When installing wall boxes use the largest and deepest
ones you can. If you properly wire your circuits (i.e.
using pigtails) you'll have lots of wire to store in
your boxes. Finally, think about using a couple of sub
panels to control your tools. For example the main panel
(or main sub panel in your shop) should have the lights,
emergency lighting, and a couple of 110V circuits on
it. You should then have a subpanel for your machine
circuits (table saw, dust collector, air compressor,
jointer, powerstrips for hand tools, etc.). Now
lets say you turn a bunch of tools on and trip the subpanel
breaker. At least you will still have your lights on
so you won't be working on a table saw in the dark.
BTW, if your building a shop the cost of the wiring,
breakers, panels, switches, light fixtures, outlets,
etc. are a part of the building cost and will reduce
the amount of capital gains when you go to sell. So
it doesn't make a lot of sense to fuss over the cost
of these fixed items.
would suggest 15Amp system. Odds are your not going
to be using more than one power tool at a time except
perhaps a lamp or shopvac as a dust collector. If your
popping a 15Amp breaker reassess what your doing. The
bigger stationary tools should be on their own 15Amp
leg. I've yet to use my portable planer and or say my
RA at the same time.
If a tool can be converted to 220 do it. It's not cheaper
per amp\hr but is better for the tool and may enhance
its performance. Also consider the addition of a few
switch operated outlets, be nice if, say you could flip
a switch for the shopvac\DC to come on.
your wiring is old (fuses went out 30 years ago) and
you know little about electricity, I would suggest that
it's time to call in a pro. Ask around and find out
if one of your friends/coworkers knows a good electrician
who would be willing to come out and give you some suggestions.
Electricity can burn your house down if not properly
managed. You reach a certain point when it's time to
bite the bullet and pay a good electrician to come in
and straighten out the mess. If you've been having intermittent
electrical problems elsewhere then this is DEFINITELY
time to call in an expert. While it may cost some $$$
to have your panel & service upgraded, this can be a
wise investment in your home.
- Mad Mark
Make sure that you put electrical outlets every 6' or
so and run electric down any adjust-a-posts in your
- Robert Walker
bought my home from an electrician, I have 110v outlets
ever 30 inches along three walls and one 220v on two
am 80% completed with my workshop, after waiting years.
I was lucky enough to have a lot of space (more space
than money; one always exceeds the other). The funny
thing is that the most important preoccupation turned
out to be power and wiring. I ended up running metal
conduit across three walls, with plug-ins every 4 feet
(I hate extension cords), and light with switches on
the walls, regularly spaced. There are two circuits
but it all turns off with one main switch on the wall,
so I can sleep at night not worrying about shorts, etc.
might want to add power outlets in the floor if at all
- Ralph in San Diego
the lighting so that you have adequate lighting for
sanding and finishing. The new tubular halogen lights
are great... far better than fluorescent shop lights.
- Robert Walker