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macman44 01-17-2013 10:29 AM

Workshop requirements in Ontario
I am finishing my basement, and plan to include a workshop - just a place for my workbench, tool storage, and portable power tools such as a table-saw.

Are there any special electrical requirements in the Ontario code for such a room? I plan to put most of the receptacles at workbench height rather than at floor level, but don't know if there is anything I have to do apart from respecting the max 12 on one circuit.

As a second question, I plan to have a modest dust collector in an adjacent space. This will be connected to dust ducts from the workshop, but it will still be a plug-in type, i.e. not permanently wired. In order to somewhat automate it, my thought was that some of the workshop receptacles will be fed through a current-sensing relay which will turn on the dust collector when any connected device (e.g. a router) starts to draw current. The thought is to split some or all of the duplex receptacles, one outlet direct and the other current-sensed, but that isn't necessarily firm. I have the current-sensing relay (and it does have a Canadian Approvals mark), and will have to install a suitable enclosure for it close to the dust collector. What issues am I likely to run into with ESA concerning this arrangement, and is there anything special I have to do to make it OK?

Any thoughts on these two topics would be appreciated.


joed 01-17-2013 10:55 AM

I don't know where you find the current sensing switch, but why not just put in a switched receptacle for the dust collector. Turn it on when needed.

The plan is fine by the code.

tylernt 01-17-2013 11:57 AM

I know nothing of Canadian law, but consider this.

If you have multiple dust ducts, you probably have blast gates so you get good suction at the one location you're using collection. I have heard of woodworkers putting low-voltage microswitches on their blast gates; these are wired to a relay that switches the dust collector on when a blast gate is opened. Seems like a good idea to me, though perhaps not of much use to you since you already bought the current-sensing relay.

If you do use the current-sense relay though, splitting the receptacles makes a lot of sense because sometimes you want to use a power tool that doesn't need dust collection. Splitting receptacles will make for a lot of wire and connections in your boxes though, so you may wish to use double-gang boxes and install only one duplex outlet in each (to give you more room for box fill). You can either use a "mud ring" (centers a single gang device in the double-gang box), or you may be able to find a cover plate that has outlet cutouts in one side and is blank on the other side.

FYI if you split the receptacles, and if the current-sensed outlets and non-current-sensed outlets are fed from different breakers for some reason, US code wants a handle tie on those breakers. (Unsure about Canada.)

One more thing to consider -- if you have outlets on a wall away from the workbench were you might conceivably lean a 4'x8' sheet (or the metric equivalent), consider positioning the outlets so the bottom of the outlet cover plate is 4' off the floor.

macman44 01-17-2013 06:06 PM

Thanks for the replies, and the news that it should be OK with ESA. Because the dust collector will be in a different room of its own, because of the noise these things add to the din of a table-saw or router, and also to confine the dust as much as possible, some form of remote switching seemed appropriate.

Since I will only ever have one machine running at once, I was planning to run both the direct connections and the current-sensed connections from the same circuit breaker - just run 14/3 wire to all the split receptacles. But because a dust collector uses a fair bit of current (and things such as a table-saw will almost max out one 15 amp circuit), I was going to use a separate circuit for it. Because the two circuits (dust collector and receptacles) will have to come together in the same enclosure for the current sensor, I was thinking to tie the two breakers together and run 14/3 from the distribution panel. A lot of 14/3, but it keeps the number of wires to a minimum.

After I posted, I looked at the 1990 Electrical Code manual, and wondered whether ESA would consider a workshop such as mine a "hazardous environment" because of the potential for air-borne wood dust, and impose stricter wiring rules. Since I will only use the facility intermittently, and certainly only for personal use, I don't see such a hazard, but ESA might. Is there any way of describing this room on the ESA Inspection Application so as to minimise this risk?

joed 01-17-2013 07:44 PM

NO such designation (hazardous) for the workshop. The 14/3 multiwire from the panel will need a double pole breaker properly installed so that you have 240 volts between the red and black circuits.Some panels, especially FPE, you can easily install the double breaker so both are on the same leg.

tylernt 01-17-2013 11:57 PM


Originally Posted by macman44 (Post 1095895)
Is there any way of describing this room on the ESA Inspection Application so as to minimise this risk?

"Rec room"

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