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Old 04-04-2011, 07:28 AM   #1
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How would I approach this situation?


I have built a small work shop / garage behind my house. It is about 90% complete, and I want it to have electricity. The walls on the inside will be left unfinished, as it is just a shop. I have done some simple wiring before, but nothing to code. I live within the city limits, and the building dept knows about this project because I have gotten a permit to build it.

They were pretty lenient about the whole situation because it is not habitable space. I sat down and had a discussion with the building inspector before I ever started, so that I would be sure to cover ll of my bases. I am not a licensed contractor; just a diy'er like many here. I wanted to be sure I did it to their requirements.

In that discussion the subject of electricity was brought up. He said that is the one thing I cannot do, and I would have to hire it out. The electrician would have to come get the permit from the city and do the work. I asked if I could do the work and have it inspected by an electrician, and the answer to that was no as well. I understand the law, but surely there is a way that I can do some of this myself.

I don't know what it would cost to wire a shop like this, but I have a feeling it is more than I would want to pay. The whole reason I undertook this project was to learn about the whole proces of a structure and how it is done, and mainly to save money on labor costs. So now I am trying to figure out what to do.

I talked to a friend of mine who used to work with an electrician. He did it as a side job in high school during the summer. He said that if it were him, he would go ahead and mount all the light fixtures, plugs, switches, and run the wire. Leave everything disconnected and then call an electrician. This way I have done all of the grunt work and all they have to do is tie the wires down and flip the breaker.

Sounds like a decent idea to me, but I don't know the code. I would like to learn about the certain requirements, and try to do as much of as I can by myself. Maybe it will cut down on the cost involved with hooking it up, and I will do it correctly by the city law too. Of course the major benefit to me is that I will gain an understanding of how a structure is wired, why things are done, and what all is involved.

now, for my concerns about this

I know that alot of people, especially contractors are hurting for work right now. I feel like it would kind of be an insult to ask one to "half way do a job for me" just because I am trying to save a little money and learn to do it myself. I know that contractors don't like nit picky people like me either. I also know that if I didn't do something right they might not want to mess with it altogether.

That being said,,

My breaker box on the side of my house has one (1) open spot for a single breaker. Every other space is occupied. this would allow for one single pole 110 breaker. Not really enough - I know, but all I have I guess. I want to have one light switch, an overhead light or two, and about 3 or 4 outlets. That is all I will need. I would really like to have 220 to run a welder I have, but there isn't room in my breaker box for it unless I delete something else. The line running from the box to the shop will have to be burried of course, and I'm not sure what the depth requirements are, whether or not it needs to be in pipe, etc. I would like to do this as well myself too, because I know that will cost some serious money to get done.

Here is a thread about the shop with plenty of pictures.

Small Shop / Garage build thread

Please let me know what you think about this.

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Old 04-04-2011, 07:34 AM   #2
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How would I approach this situation?


Also forgot to mention, I know they make the little mini breakers for stuff too. I could get two of the little mini breakers into the spot where one of thre normal sized single pole ones would go. I think this would require two seperate lines running to the shop though if I'm thinking correctly. I think a better way to do it may be to just run one wire off of a single pole breaker to the shop that hits another breaker box inside, and split it in two right there. On breaker for lights and one for plugs..

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Old 04-04-2011, 07:55 AM   #3
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How would I approach this situation?


That was the first thing I thought as well, Subpanel. Google search Service line minimum depth should give something.
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Old 04-04-2011, 07:59 AM   #4
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I wanted to say "36 inches sticks in my mind" but then I thought "It's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're stupid than open it and prove it"

That's why I always keep a nice reference set at home and the library card well polished.

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Old 04-04-2011, 09:25 AM   #5
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How would I approach this situation?


Just an opinion, but this sounds to me like one of those projects that you might never be satisfied with, unless it is done right; i.e. "I wish that I could plug my welder in someplace", "I wish that I had lights over my saw", "I wish that I didn't need an extension cord every time I want to run something", etc. So, since it sounds like your jurisdiction does not permit homeowners to perform electrical work, and many good electricians will not "put their name" on work that has already been done and is now concealed to the point that they cannot ascertain what has been done, my suggestion would be to talk with an electrician before doing anything. Not only will they know what options you have, you may very well be surprised to learn that a project like this is affordable. Depending on who you ultimately hire, perhaps you could even work with them, in regard to contacting Miss Dig and digging the trench, or maybe even as far as boring holes in the studs for them to run wirees. DIY is a really great thing, but it is supposed to be rewarding, not problematic, and certainly not something that causes one to constantly look back and say "I wish I had...".
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:00 AM   #6
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How would I approach this situation?


J.S.
I feel your pain. I have a series of threads under my name (Joe Willie) addressing many questions you are asking. I built a shop house with sheds with the county inspecting each step (no plumbing or electrical). When I finally got around to the electrical part (60A, 200' of 6-3 UF, etc.) the estimate was $4900 and I was digging the trench! I've never asked the inspector if I can do the electrical work. I can't believe they said you can't. Wow. Anyway, I wish you luck in your project. I'm about to start my electrical. I am trading a tractor implement for the cost of 250' of 10-3 UF and the rest of the supplies. Plus, this guy has done a lot of DIY electrical stuff before and is gonna help as part of the deal. Have a good day.
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by DexterII View Post
Just an opinion, but this sounds to me like one of those projects that you might never be satisfied with, unless it is done right; i.e. "I wish that I could plug my welder in someplace", "I wish that I had lights over my saw", "I wish that I didn't need an extension cord every time I want to run something", etc. So, since it sounds like your jurisdiction does not permit homeowners to perform electrical work, and many good electricians will not "put their name" on work that has already been done and is now concealed to the point that they cannot ascertain what has been done, my suggestion would be to talk with an electrician before doing anything. Not only will they know what options you have, you may very well be surprised to learn that a project like this is affordable. Depending on who you ultimately hire, perhaps you could even work with them, in regard to contacting Miss Dig and digging the trench, or maybe even as far as boring holes in the studs for them to run wirees. DIY is a really great thing, but it is supposed to be rewarding, not problematic, and certainly not something that causes one to constantly look back and say "I wish I had...".
I just talked to an electrician, and he sounded like a really nice guy. I told him my concerns and everything I stated in this post. He said the problem with me doing any type of work is that it could jeopordize his license. That is the reason I asked, and now I understand better.

He did say we could work some things out as far as me digging the ditch and stuff like that so he sounded like he knew where I was coming from. He said he will try to get by the house this afternoon and at least take a look at what I need.

I would be lying if I said that I was okay with the fact that I have to have this done. I really would like to do this myself just to experience it and understand it better. I'm a little upset about the fact that I am going to have to pay somebody to do it.
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:15 AM   #8
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J.S.
I feel your pain. I have a series of threads under my name (Joe Willie) addressing many questions you are asking. I built a shop house with sheds with the county inspecting each step (no plumbing or electrical). When I finally got around to the electrical part (60A, 200' of 6-3 UF, etc.) the estimate was $4900 and I was digging the trench! I've never asked the inspector if I can do the electrical work. I can't believe they said you can't. Wow. Anyway, I wish you luck in your project. I'm about to start my electrical. I am trading a tractor implement for the cost of 250' of 10-3 UF and the rest of the supplies. Plus, this guy has done a lot of DIY electrical stuff before and is gonna help as part of the deal. Have a good day.
Wow, I can't believe the cost.

I wonder what a job like mine would run. If anybody has any ballpark guestimates, throw them out there. I'd like to know.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:12 AM   #9
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How would I approach this situation?


How far to your shed? That will determine the cost of the UF wire. 10-2 UF at the HD is $1.60 a foot. 20A single circuit does not require a breaker at the shop end...just a shut off (light switch), you could split the power in a junction box and just use one circuit at a time. The 20A should handle the lights and small fan and radio simultaneously or you could run 30A and split into two 15A. This multi-wired circuit would require a breaker sub panel, grounding rods and all the trimmings.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:19 AM   #10
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I have about 40 or 50 feet between my house panel and the shop. From what I've read, the ditch may have to be 36" deep...man there is no way I can do that by hand. sheesh. I'm gonna have to rent a ditch digger for that.

I build knives, so I will regularly have a light on, maybe a radio, and a grinder or two running. The reason I thought of splitting it into two circuits at the shop is so I could have the lights on a seperate breaker than the outlets. I Don't know of this is necessary though.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:44 AM   #11
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How would I approach this situation?


According to Table 300.5 Minimum Cover Requirements, in the NEC code for 0 to 600 volts if buried in Ridgid Metal Conduit it only has to be 6" below grade, if direct bury cable needs to be 24".

If I were going through all the trouble of bringing power out to "the shop" I would be going for a minimum of 50A and 220 Volt circuit, to allow for a welder and some good power tools.

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Old 04-04-2011, 12:01 PM   #12
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According to Table 300.5 Minimum Cover Requirements, in the NEC code for 0 to 600 volts if buried in Ridgid Metal Conduit it only has to be 6" below grade, if direct bury cable needs to be 24".

If I were going through all the trouble of bringing power out to "the shop" I would be going for a minimum of 50A and 220 Volt circuit, to allow for a welder and some good power tools.

Mark
I understand the whole 220 thing, but how can I do it if there is not enough room in my electrical panel on the side of my house? I guess I would have to delete something. I only have one (1) single pole spot available. All the other 110 breakers are the tandem piggy type. So in other words, I can't just grab two regular single poles and convert them to the tandem type, they are all already like that.
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:05 PM   #13
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You could move circuits, from the main panel to a sub panel, this would be more wiring, but it would solve your problem.

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Old 04-04-2011, 12:08 PM   #14
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It may be possible to combine two circuits that are not heavily loaded (and not required to be separate) to give you the space you need. If not, a subpanel may be necessary ($$).

Since you will have to trench between the house and shop, go ahead and plan on putting 1 or 1.25" PVC in at 18" minimum depth. Plan to run three 6ga THWN (hot, hot, neutral) and one 10ga THWN (ground). This will give you 120/240V at 50A to power a small subpanel in the shop. You will also need one or two grounding electrodes (rods) at the shop.

Hopefully the electrician will work with you to keep the cost down, especially if you offer to dig the trench (hint: rent a DitchWitch).
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Old 04-04-2011, 01:34 PM   #15
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It may be possible to combine two circuits that are not heavily loaded (and not required to be separate) to give you the space you need.
This sounds like a decent idea but wouldn't it require rewiring in the walls somewhere? I mean if I have two sets of leads coming up onto my box and they both need to go to a breaker..

The more and more I see into this the more a heavy duty extension cord seems like the best choice

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