Shop power in a rental garage

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Forum topic by Spelcher posted 09-06-2016 07:29 PM 258 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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131 posts in 271 days

09-06-2016 07:29 PM

Got my shop moved to the garage at our rental house, but the power coming into it is 120V on a shared 15 amp circuit with a light and a couple power outlets in the separate basement suite, so I’m guessing there’s about 12 amps available. Table saw, lunchbox planer, and band saw all have 15 amp rated motors (120V) – and the main panel is in the basement suite so we don’t have access to it if a breaker trips unless the other renter is home.

Ideally I’d love to put a subpanel in the garage and would be happy to pay for it since we’ll probably be here at least a year, but the landlord isn’t willing because the required municipal inspection would expose a bunch of non-permitted additions to the house.

There is a separate basement laundry room that we do have access to, and I was thinking an option might be to take power from the 220V 30A dryer outlet when the dryer isn’t being used via an extension cord and some means of converting to 120V, maybe even two 120V 20A circuits. The landlord doesn’t want anything permanently wired in for insurance reasons, but was wondering if something like this might work, or whether it might split the 220V circuit disproportionately and damage machine motors, seeing as it’s meant for a generator?

Two 20A 120V circuits would be amazing as it would allow for a dust collector and machine at the same time…

Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated. Sometimes renting sucks…

-- Jason

4 replies so far

View WhyMe's profile


575 posts in 980 days

#1 posted 09-06-2016 08:30 PM

If the dryer outlet is four prong then it’s 120/240V. A four wire extension cord of the correct gauge will provide both 120V and 240V out to the shop. But, and this is a big BUT, you need to have some type of overcurrent protection at the garage end to tap off 120V keeping it to a max of 20A protection for the 120V. I assume the dryer outlet is 30A.

View MrUnix's profile


4028 posts in 1618 days

#2 posted 09-06-2016 08:52 PM

Buy (or build) a temporary distribution box… basically a small breaker panel with 4-6 outlets. Wire it up with the proper sized wire/plug for your dryer outlet. The box will split out the two 120v circuits and provide overload protection for them, since 30A is more than a typical 15/20A 120v outlet can handle. As mentioned above, you have to have a 4 wire dryer outlet (2 hots + neutral + ground) for it to work.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View Spelcher's profile


131 posts in 271 days

#3 posted 09-09-2016 12:37 AM

Thanks guys, that’s great advice! It is indeed a 4-prong dryer outlet. Just noticed the landlord took a 120V branch off the dryer outlet box to power a baseboard heater in the laundry room. As long as I remember to turn the heater off when using the shop I would guess that wouldn’t be a problem…

Brad, I really like your idea of a temporary distribution box…

-- Jason

View runswithscissors's profile


2127 posts in 1445 days

#4 posted 09-09-2016 03:15 AM

No wonder the landlord is afraid of an inspection.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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