My shop like many of you is in my garage. The main issue with this is that most garages are not made to host our shops that have power and lighting needs above a standard place to just park the car. My garage originally only contained two flush mount lights and one 15 amp electric receptacle. Both of these provided many issues.
As for the lighting during the day with both garage doors open I have enough direct sun light to provide a comfortable work environment but as soon as I shut the doors the lighting was far from adequate. I often found myself moving around my projects to get as much of the direct light from the small flush mounts as I possible could.
The single outlet was not much better of a situation. Winters tend to be the worst case as my only source of heat is a small electric heater. If I tried to run the heater and table saw at the same time the breaker would kick. Not only that but if I tried to run almost any tool and dust collection….the breaker would kick. The single set of receptacles just didn’t give me enough to plug anything into and I just don’t like the idea of adding splitters. Not to mention that the 15 amp breaker just could not carry the load required by most of the bigger power tools.
So the question was how far do I want to go and what is important to me? Lighting for me, I decided, was my biggest issue as it affect me whether I am using power tools or hand tools. The lighting not only affects building my work but also in documenting it with pictures and video. I decide on upgrading to florescent lights. I had several left from a construction office I had a few years ago that worked perfect. I added two 8′ sections and two 4′ sections to give me a total of twelve florescent bulbs….now that is a lot of light when you are used to working with very little.
Now, I must say here that I don’t recommend just going into the shop and start wiring…get a professional. Luckily for me my father is a licensed electrician so it was a quick weekend project for us. After removing the old flush mount lights we installed the new florescent lights. The wiring was linked together by conduit. In all it took us more time to make sure that they were lined up and secured that it did to actually wire the lights together.
To address the issue with the single set of receptacles, we installed a new 20 amp GFCI breaker in the panel box, then came straight down and install two set of receptacles, giving me 4 more places to plug in and I shouldn’t have to worry about running the small electric heater and table saw at the same time.
It has now been a few weeks since the upgrade and I can’t tell you how much of an improvement it is. The shop has a much better feel to it and working is just more comfortable. Until next time…. be safe, learn something, and have fun!