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Overhead vs wall mounted electrical / pneumatic outlets

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Forum topic by William Shelley posted 01-24-2017 08:41 PM 2912 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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William Shelley

477 posts in 1303 days


01-24-2017 08:41 PM

Hi all,

Still in the planning phases of a new 14×28 workshop. I know that I’m going to want numerous electrical outlets and several places to hook up pneumatic tools. My current workshop is in my basement and I only have outlets overhead, attached to the ceiling joists. One thing I’m considering in the new shop is a similar setup, but since the ceiling will be higher I would use short hanging cords with female plugs on the end. Likewise with air, i’m considering just dropping down a short length of hose with a coupler on the end.

I’m 6’2” tall so I’m thinking of having all the hanging stuff end up about 6’8” off the floor.

With enough hanging outlets, is there any need to run wire/air line along the walls??

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective


21 replies so far

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William Shelley

477 posts in 1303 days


#1 posted 01-24-2017 08:43 PM

Rather than making my own cords, I’d probably use something like this, and just cut the male end off and hardwire it into a j-box:

https://www.amazon.com/Watts-Wire-Outdoor-Lighted-Extension/dp/B01FX6JSGC/ref=sr13?ie=UTF8&qid=1485290202&sr=8-3&keywords=triple+tap+outlet

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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robscastle

4493 posts in 2038 days


#2 posted 01-24-2017 09:20 PM

Hello William,
For what its worth from my point of view
Air: If you have the space fit a retactable air line unit on the ceiling
Power: you will need outlets at your bench area for chargers and hand held power tools phone chrgers and test outlets for repairing stuff.

BTW What are Trading cards and their use?

-- Regards Robert

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alittleoff

445 posts in 1110 days


#3 posted 01-24-2017 10:33 PM

I can see using a couple of electrical drops, but no more than that.seems to me their in the way when you have something plugged into them. I would wire all outlets at the work bench in the wall or use power strips. I have 2 drops from the ceiling, 2- 6 ft. Power strips, 2 short power strips and outlets every 6 ft. Around the wall. I would use the reel for air. I m planing on using 2 elect. Reels later on instead of the drops.
Gerald

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clin

751 posts in 829 days


#4 posted 01-24-2017 11:31 PM

There’s no such things as too many electrical outlets. I would definitely put many on the walls. I would put some overhead, and if that’s how you like to work, go ahead and put in more than most.

On the walls, I’d put some high ( 4 1/2 feet) and low 18”. That way you have outlets above your workbench (and above a plywood sheet leaning against the wall). As well as ones below the workbench.

Having a lot of wall outlets means you don’t have to worry if you need to position something in front of one or more and therefore can’t use them. You’ll have plenty of others to use.

It’s really, really easy to add outlets to a new shop when walls are bare. Wire and outlets are pretty inexpensive. You can do a lot for <$100 in material.

I for one would hate to have cords hanging from the ceiling. I’d be smacking them with boards and such all the time. I would be sure to use outlets and not hard wire anything in. Which I suspect may be against code anyway.

I can certainly see dropping power to machines where otherwise you’d be running cords across the floor.

-- Clin

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OSB

147 posts in 359 days


#5 posted 01-25-2017 07:22 AM

If you haven’t planned the floor yet, there are recessed electrical boxes that you can install in floor.

If you can place them where your tools are, you can plug straight in with no cord running over the floor and several places to plug in more portable power tools.

Air probably isn’t a good idea in the floor.

I would probably ring the walls and add strategic drops, quick disconnects at ceiling level and recoiling hose. Add some 1/4 turn valves so you can reduce leakage on unused runs.

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Redoak49

2889 posts in 1822 days


#6 posted 01-25-2017 12:12 PM

I am thinking also about putting some outlet/cords on the ceiling. Are there any electrical requirements for doing this or strain reliefs needed to prevent problems.

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PaulHWood

409 posts in 2086 days


#7 posted 01-25-2017 02:53 PM

all around the outside with electric included dedicated outlests where tools are (240V), and a retractable reel overhead, everything is covered then. If you have the cash, double outlests with 120 and 240 in each.

Air, I only have a central mounted reel which covers everything for me. Two reel would be nice, one wall and one center ceiling, but I get by.

-- -Paul, South Carolina Structural Engineer by trade, Crappy Woodworker by choice

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Ted78

319 posts in 1833 days


#8 posted 01-25-2017 03:29 PM

WAAYYY back in Jr high wood shop we had overhead electrical outlets hanging down from the ceiling. They worked pretty well as long as you were not trying to work directly underneath them. Then the cord was in the way smacking you in the face and such. When using a portable power tool it seemed the cord was least in the way when the ceiling outlet was behind you, but of course then when you set the tool on the bench you walk into the cord and pull the tool to the floor.

-- Ted

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William Shelley

477 posts in 1303 days


#9 posted 01-25-2017 04:07 PM

The floor is already a poured slab, and I don’t want to get into changing it at all, so I won’t be putting any outlets in the floor.


I am thinking also about putting some outlet/cords on the ceiling. Are there any electrical requirements for doing this or strain reliefs needed to prevent problems.

- Redoak49

Yes, you have to support the hanging cable within 6 feet of where it leaves the box with an approved support device, such as this one.


all around the outside with electric included dedicated outlests where tools are (240V), and a retractable reel overhead, everything is covered then. If you have the cash, double outlests with 120 and 240 in each.

Air, I only have a central mounted reel which covers everything for me. Two reel would be nice, one wall and one center ceiling, but I get by.

- PaulHWood

I like the idea of the reels. I think they’re around $40-70 at harbor freight or home depot. I think I could roll that into the whole cost of the shop and not feel too bad.

What about one of those coiled yellow nylon air hoses somewhere near the workbench/assembly table?

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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William Shelley

477 posts in 1303 days


#10 posted 01-25-2017 04:09 PM

To clarify about the support of hanging cables, the first one I linked is a grip that supports the cable as it leaves the box. You can also use “Bus Drop” grips, like this one.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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Bobsboxes

1294 posts in 2497 days


#11 posted 01-25-2017 04:22 PM

I have a coiled air line and a cord reel above my bench, I use them a lot. I also have a ceiling outlet for my table saw, my hanging air cleaner, and two of my router tables. I am clumsy enough, so no floor cords for me. Good luck.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

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woodbutcherbynight

3634 posts in 2242 days


#12 posted 01-25-2017 04:48 PM

I have overhead air “outlets” in several key places in the shop. Very useful. Make sure you can easily get to them to change out the ends, they go bad sometimes. Also would suggest cut off for air to be inside the shop. If a line breaks or you have an issue you can quickly cut the air off.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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johnstoneb

2633 posts in 2006 days


#13 posted 01-25-2017 05:08 PM

Ceiling drops for air is probably all you’ll need maybe put one down near a door so it is easier to pull out doors. You definitely will need wall outlets. Ceiling drops are handy to have in some locations but in others The cord interferes with travel, swinging material and feeding material. My tablesaw is connected with a ceiling drop, the only way I would do it differently is if I had a floor outlet. The cord goes up off the right end of my table and I can cut up to 30” in width without interference. I would like to have more but it would interfere with the outfeed on my planer.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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drcoelho

12 posts in 525 days


#14 posted 01-26-2017 07:35 AM

I installed vertical unistrut floor to ceiling every few feet around entire perimeter of my shop, then attached 6”x6” electrical gutter to the unistrut and ran that around entire perimeter at about 20” height, and have electrical outlet boxes every few feet around entire perimeter with short EMT feed from bottom of gutter to outlet box. I also installed a few outlets in the ceiling here and there. In my case, needed 3-phase 230V, 220V and 120V, so have various different types of electrical outlets at each location. Also, have two trenches across the entire length of concrete floor with removable aluminum plates, with electrical outlets every few feet inside the trench for easy out of floor power.

Ditto for compressed air, just attached piping to the same unistrut, and ran the piping below the electrical gutter, with outlets every few feet and also in the trenches and overhead.

For ceiling I also setup a matrix of unistrut across the entire ceiling which has been very useful for mounting electrical and air, and also setup with unistrut trollies that are very convenient for supporting drop down electrical extension cords, air hose, etc…

Needless to say, all that unistrut is also super helpful for supporting dust collection piping as well.

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TopamaxSurvivor

18086 posts in 3509 days


#15 posted 01-26-2017 08:30 AM

There is supposed to be an outlet at the ceiling to attach the cord drop. Flexible cord in not legal permanently connected at part of the branch circuit.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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