Garage Electrical. Trying to plan ahead ... thoughts?
Ok so, I'm trying to plan out the electrical situation in my garage, as I am planning on having drywall put in. I'd appreciate any advise on a few things.
1) Is it always advisable to put in a subpanel. currently I was not planning on it. But I'd like to hear arguments for/against. (I suppose I couldn't really put in the 220 outlet without a dedicated dual breaker ... right?)
2) I read that it's better to put in more outlets now, so that all the wire is run ahead of time. But I'm not sure what is overkill. I understand that what really matters is if I'm "using" each outlet at the same time I can quickly use more watts than is safe. However, what do people think? On the left & right walls I was going to have 3 outlets each (12" off ground). On the back wall, I'll have a work bench, I was going to install 6 (3 low, 3 high) all 20amp outlets... just in case. Is this enough, too much? I considered having 6 on the side walls as well, having 3 low and 3 high. Or maybe 4 low?
3) Currently I don't have any use for 220v. However, I'm young, and I like to tinker. I was thinking ... I may get a big mill, or a welder or something? This would obviously not be a 30-50amp outlet, but would it still be advisable to plan in 1 (or more) 20amp 220 outlets now? If so, is there a preferred location for placement? (By the door, by the workbench, totally relative?)
4) Is it overkill to place a bunch of 20amp outlets, especially considering I don't really have a current application for them? Or is this considered safe. I don't mind spending a little extra money to cover my future bases.
Any other thoughts, tips, or suggestions?
There isn't too much to consider over kill, as long as your not loading all the receptacles to the full 20amps all at one time. In my house the rooms are 12 by 12 and have 15 in each, 15 amps of course. Is this an attached garage, or detached garage? If it's detached, I would recommend to put in a sub panel, either main lug or main breaker, 100 amp. This way your wiring would be neat, all your circuits would be place together, and if a breaker trips, you don't have to go into the house to turn it back on. Also, my thoughts on it is go with a main breaker. So if something happens, you have a means of disconnecting at that panel, rather in the house to get to the main panel to shut the power off to it, plus if you have to do service in the panel you can shut the main breaker off so it's safer, that no one can energize the panel while your working in it. I seen on your list you are using 15amp as well as 20 amp. For the 15 amp, I wouldn't by the .59 priced ones, I'd buy the little more heavy grade, don't need to be commercial. They last longer, plus they look better. Your security lights, are you placing them on a switch to control them together, separately, or no switch at all on them? How many openings do you have to access the garage? Just the garage door and one door? With your recessed lights, I would separate them circuit wise so your not over killing with light brightness having 12 lights on at a time. If you would like, if you would send me like either a layout of what the garage looks like, or just give me particulates on where openings are and such, I could do a layout for you and see what you think? Also a material list included.
Personally, it sounds like you need some guidance as some of the things you said raised some flags. Not trying to be hard on you, just want you to have the right information and ideas.
Depending on how much work you plan on doing in the garage, me personally would like to have a subpanel where a the main power for the garage could be shut off without affecting the house.
I would first plan where I would be wanting any bench space so that I could place outlets above the bench making them easily accessible. I wouldn't bother with any 15amp outlets, all the outlets I would run would be 20 amp. Again depending on how much use this garage will be getting I would either run 1 - 20amp circuit for outlets or 2 - 20 amp circuits. I just don't see the demand for more than 2 - 20 amp circuits for a typical garage shop. Both of these circuits would need to be GFCI protected given they are in the garage.
As far as lighting I would run 1 - 15amp circuit for the lights and you could split the two sides of the garage if you would like, I wouldn't but that is just personal preference, I would also plan for any task lighting that you might want (i.e. additional lighting above a workbench, etc.).
Your comment on running a 220v circuit is what really threw red flags for me, as you will need to know how many amps the given appliance is going to draw to decide on what gauge wire to use and whether or not it will need to have a neutral (i.e. if the appliance needs 110v service as well).
It sounds like you need to take some additional time to plan out some of the steps and get some advice from people on here or in person, to help you out.
Another thing that raised a flag is that you wanted to use 12 gauge wire on 15amp outlets, I wouldn't do this, most simply because its a waste of money.
Thanks for the help.
My garage is detached, but only by about 8 feet. The Main Panel to the house (200amp) is about 8 feet from the side door to the Garage. Which has just that door, and the main "garage door" as entrance.
Due to the close proximity of the main panel, I wasn't too concerned about the hassle of going outside. I live is So. Cal, so it's not like it'll be extreme weather or anything. But having a more future proof setup ... I may want to do the sub panel in the end.
For my outlets, the 15amp ones I did get the more pricey "professional" ones from HD, it was like $17 for 10.
I'm actually only installing 1 security light technically. In the front. the other in the back is the same light, but no motion sensor, it will have a switch to turn it on/off as needed to light up the backyard for occasional use.
For the recessed lights I have three rows of 4. I was either going to put them on two switches, or 3 ... wasn't sure what is the best practice there.
I've uploaded a "Current" setup of things as they are now. I'll try and upload my "thoughts" for re-wiring for scrutiny.
I also attached a New (without Sub-panel) mach-up ... although I'll probably have to drop the 220 outlet unless I tie the breakers together at the main panel.
I'm pretty new to this, that's why I'm on the forums, trying to plan before anything else. I've wired plenty of 15amp outlets and am familiar with everything there. I appreciate your feedback truly. About the 220, I totally understand, as there are many outlet types, and needs depending on the required amps. I get that ... I actually don't have a need at all for one, I was just trying to put something in when it is "easy" just in case ... trying to find the easiest thing to add now, that I "may need" later. I figure since I only have 12 gauge wire running to the garage, the most I can hope to get is 20amp, so I was just going to through one in ...
I should even say, I MAY get an electrician to do all this, but I like to have a plan down before I start anything. I was under the impression that things only had to be GFCI if it was near water, my Garage doesn't have a sink/water of any kind... perhaps this is different from state to state?
I'm only running 12gauge since I have extra ... I'd have to buy 14, then have extra for both.
I totally appreciate guidance, suggestions, feedback. I mean, In all the things I read, you can only get so far without experience or specific questions.
To a detached structure you can have:
(1) single circuit
A MWBC - 2 circuits that share a neutral
If you need 120v & 240v then a sub is the way to go
You may need ground rods at the detached structure
If you have a 200 main I'd add a 100a sub in the garage
Wire would not be that much for the distance
Thanks for the tips. Currently, I have 2 Circuits that share a neutral (permitted & done by an electrician) going to the garage.
I guess I need to weigh the cost of adding a subpanel (and a 220/240 outlet) or just sticking with what's already there.
Currently I'm leaning toward just leaving what's there and using one circuit for the lights, and the other circuit for the outlets.
I'm still torn up on to use 20amp outlets for everything, or only for some ...
For myself I will suggest to run the subpanel due when you add a 240 volt device like welder or air compressor or other power tools it will make it easier to deal with it and not to worry to change the circuit from main panel to the garage.
This what I will recomend that you bury the PVC conduit I will recomened that you use 1.5 inch the reason why I recomened that due you can always change the conductor size down the road if the situaution called for it.
And of course with subpanel in detached structures you will need ground rods.
While you are planning to make subpanel you can run a conduit from subpanel to the 4X4 junction box below so that way anytime in future you can add a 240 volt recepteale there with proper sized conductors there.
If you already have 2 circuits & do not need 240v I would wait
Use one circuit for outlets
I would put an outlet or 2 on the other circuit
Just in case you need more power
Using a lot of power on the same circuit as the lights will cause the lights to dim
I have a few "true" 20 a outlets w/T-slots
The rest are all 15a rated 20a pass thru
I do not have any tool/device that pulls over 14a
Biggest draws are a 1500a portable heater & the wife's hair dryer
Probably be cheaper to put a 240v outlet in the house when needed & run a 240v extension cord into the garage VS a sub
Unless you need 240v constant use...then go to the sub when needed
Hi Scuba, That's a good point.
Do you know if I need GFCI Outlets in a garage? I'm reading conflicting statements online...
Oui you do need GFCI all on 120 volt circuits unless your local code say something diffrent.
Yes you need the GFI protection for the receptacles in the outbuilding.
For a garage for my use I would put in a subpanel as it makes everything else a lot easier and gives you the additional circuits on separate breakers. I would place the 240 outlets at each end of the garage (near the door and near the back wall. I use the 240 outlet at the door for my welder and the one at the back for power tools.
Depending upon how you lay out the circuits you can have multiple outlets protected by the same GFCI and save a few bucks.
For lighting CFL's in recessed cans are the worst way to go in terms of lighting the space. High hats are fine with high ceilings or where task areas are small but a poor choice for most garages. Tube fluorescent fixtures work a lot better. I would put in a lot of ceiling outlets for the light fixtures and for the garage door opener.
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