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Forum topic by unclearthur posted 03-22-2017 07:10 AM 1100 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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unclearthur

123 posts in 1627 days


03-22-2017 07:10 AM

This may be slightly off-topic but I’m feeling rather aggrieved and maybe need a reality check.

So we moved last year and the new place had an unfinished stand alone garage destined to become a workshop. I hired an electrician to install additional circuits (including some 240 V lines) , more plugs and additional lighting. He is a very experienced electrician and I didn’t really have the expertise to spec out the work in detail, I just told them that the garage was going to be a woodworking shop and I needed plugs for all the gear and lots of light as I’m getting old, LOL. We agreed on where all the plugs would go and I left them to do their thing.

No discussion at all about wire guages or breaker sizes. At the time I had no idea that there was a choice to be made with respect to what types of wiring to use, etc. Never occurred to me at all. Should have, but it didn’t.

When they were done I had the place insulated, drywalled and painted

Fast forward, and I now realize that all the 110V circuits was done in 14 g wire, with 15 A breakers. This causes a problem as some gear I’m interested in (e.g. drum sander) requires a 20 A circuit. This will not mean running a new line from the panel, outside the drywall etc etc. A real waste of money, given that it could have been wired like that in the first place for only a marginal cost difference.

I realize its up to me to spec what I want ….... but the guy is a professional electrician and charging me really top dollars for the work. He new the space was to be used as a shop – shouldn’t he at least have explained the wiring choices and let me decide?

Interested to know whether people think I have a legit beef or not.


32 replies so far

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OhioMike

79 posts in 2002 days


#1 posted 03-22-2017 08:38 AM

I don’t know if you have a legitimate case against the electrician since you didn’t provide specific requirements.

It sounds like you haven’t purchased the drum sander yet so one possible workaround it to select tools that can easily convert to 240 volts. Then, if you find they trip a 120 volt 15 amp circuit, you can switch the tool to 240 volt operation.

Mike

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Redoak49

2906 posts in 1828 days


#2 posted 03-22-2017 11:10 AM

That is too bad and an expensive lesson. I have found that when contracting a job for your home you need to specify everything and have it in writing. If you are uncertain, it is better to upside. If you do not know, then take time to find someone to make good suggestions.

A few years ago we added on to the house that included a new sewing room, shop extension and garage extension. I made certain the prints showed the circuits and wire size. Interesting, the contractor had me upside wire and circuits for the sewing room. With my wife using irons and other similar things it was needed. We also had them run cable and Ethernet everywhere.

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Fred Hargis

4764 posts in 2332 days


#3 posted 03-22-2017 11:16 AM

Chalk this up as a learning, I can’t imagine you have any legal legs to stand on, though attorneys seem to make cases out of nothing at times. I do agree the electrician should have went over the 15 versus 20 amp stuff, but there is no requirement to do so.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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dhazelton

2611 posts in 2136 days


#4 posted 03-22-2017 01:00 PM

It sounds like you have to either size the equipment to the circuit or get an additional 20 amp circuit installed in the box. If you put an outlet right next to the box (assuming it’s recessed) it should be pretty simple.

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dusty2

323 posts in 3268 days


#5 posted 03-22-2017 02:27 PM

Before you do anything to correct this situation – you need to contact a qualified electrician and provide him/her with details.

The only beef that you have should be with that person you see in the mirror every morning.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

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William Shelley

479 posts in 1308 days


#6 posted 03-22-2017 03:31 PM

This is exactly why I do all my own wiring. Can’t trust residential electricians to do work for a shop. They just don’t think the right way.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

747 posts in 334 days


#7 posted 03-22-2017 03:38 PM

I can tell you that my Powermatic 22-44 drum sander pulls every bit of 20A on startup and I suspect others do similar. So you are going to need a bigger circuit to run that equipment.

I’ve built 4 shops now, and every time I seem to go with more power. My rule of thumb is to run multiple 20A circuits, usually one circuit with multiple receptacles per wall. I run 15A for lighting only. I also have moved to more 220V equipment, and have those circuits run dedicated to each machine as needed. I do a detailed shop layout every time, to scale, and mark the exact locations for the boxes before the electrician starts working (including height off the floor).

so how to fix the problem- the electrician should be able to snake wire into the existing walls even with the insulation installed. they can then add an old work box and you will be good to go. This will be relatively easy if you installed a sub-panel when you had the garage wired. if not, consider adding one now if you expect to be adding additional equipment…100A minimum would be my recommendation.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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clin

751 posts in 835 days


#8 posted 03-22-2017 03:43 PM

In a perfect world the electrician would have raised the issue with you. Although an electrician must install to code, they are not the designers. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if code actually required larger circuits in a dedicated shop space. But presumably the shop was permitted and inspected.

My general experience with most people, is they can be very good at what they do day in and day out. Ask them to go a bit beyond, like wiring a shop vs a home, and they often come up short. I think this applies to all. Electricians, to doctors. I’ve learned to not trust anyone unless you have no choice.

Doesn’t mean you have to go to medical school to double check your doctor. But, is worth reading up on an issue to understand it better and know what questions to ask.

About 2 years ago I had an AC unit installed for my shop. I studied up on it, and was not surprised that all the contractors proposed oversized systems. I did a detailed analysis myself, and ended up with a much bettered sized unit for lower cost.

Another thing to keep in mind, that no matter how much thought you put into something like shop layout and design, you’ll always think of something later you would have done differently. So don’t kick yourself too hard.

-- Clin

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AnotherToph

4 posts in 284 days


#9 posted 03-22-2017 03:45 PM

This might be a silly question, but do you know if the work was done in NM (Romex) / BX (Armored Cable) or if it was done in conduit? If conduit, this should be a fairly basic job for an electrician to pull out the 14AWG and put in 12AWG. After that circuit breakers and receptacles are easy.

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WhyMe

910 posts in 1400 days


#10 posted 03-22-2017 03:48 PM

Any electrician worth their salt should have recommended 120V 20A multioutlet circuits in a shop. Gee.. even kitchens require 20A circuits for countertop appliances. To me it’s a no brainer.

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Manitario

2565 posts in 2722 days


#11 posted 03-22-2017 04:28 PM

Had 3 shops built in the last 5 years (getting tired of moving); had to specify 20 amp circuits for each of them. Also lighting, had to double or triple the amount of lights wired in for each shop. I think most people think “garage shop” and it means a toolbox, a mitre saw and maybe a small contractor sized TS, along with a beer fridge and a TV. None of the electricians I’d used had ever seen a shop with the tools that I have.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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jbay

1860 posts in 738 days


#12 posted 03-22-2017 04:35 PM

I always thought it was code to use 12 gauge for outlets and 14 gauge for lights?
I’m no electrician but I would check the codes.

-- If anyone would like to see my Portfolio, PM me and I would be glad to send you the link.

View unclearthur's profile

unclearthur

123 posts in 1627 days


#13 posted 03-22-2017 04:52 PM



This might be a silly question, but do you know if the work was done in NM (Romex) / BX (Armored Cable) or if it was done in conduit? If conduit, this should be a fairly basic job for an electrician to pull out the 14AWG and put in 12AWG. After that circuit breakers and receptacles are easy.

- AnotherToph


From images on the internet, I believe it is NM cable. Definitely not conduit.


Any electrician worth their salt should have recommended 120V 20A multioutlet circuits in a shop. Gee.. even kitchens require 20A circuits for countertop appliances. To me it s a no brainer.

- WhyMe

This is what bothers me. If it was his home garage and he was building a shop, I’m pretty darn sure he would have wired it with 12 g. He should have at least explained the choice and let me decide. Instead …. he didn’t give a crap, got his assistants to do the work at $70/hr and moved on.


My general experience with most people, is they can be very good at what they do day in and day out. Ask them to go a bit beyond, like wiring a shop vs a home, and they often come up short. I think this applies to all. Electricians, to doctors. I ve learned to not trust anyone unless you have no choice.
- clin

Yup, well said, you have to look after yourself which is where I failed.
But, still, this guy has been an electrician for 30+ years doing all sorts of different work which is why I hired him. I don’t think it was a lack of experience, just him not giving a crap because its not his space, or maybe his assistants (who actually did the work) getting it wrong.

I’m paying a guy $70/hour and I have to go research wire sizes before he starts? Shouldn’t be that way …..

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unclearthur

123 posts in 1627 days


#14 posted 03-22-2017 04:58 PM



Had 3 shops built in the last 5 years (getting tired of moving); had to specify 20 amp circuits for each of them. Also lighting, had to double or triple the amount of lights wired in for each shop. I think most people think “garage shop” and it means a toolbox, a mitre saw and maybe a small contractor sized TS, along with a beer fridge and a TV. None of the electricians I d used had ever seen a shop with the tools that I have.

- Manitario


All my stuff (TS, planer, jointer, air cleaner, shop vac, router table, spindle sander, disk sander, bandsaw, etc) was in the middle of the garage while they were doing the wiring. And the thing is – we talked about it – the whole purpose of the reno (extra lighting, extra outlets, 240 V circuits) was to make it a dedicated woodworking shop. Now I never said I was going to go buy some equipment that needed 20 A circuits – because I didn’t even realize that was an issue – but the overall purpose of the space was 100% clear.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2716 posts in 1320 days


#15 posted 03-22-2017 05:03 PM

IMO the electrician screwed up. Anybody worth their salt should have asked you what machines you planned on using. They simple did a knee-jerk residential wiring job.

You will have problems and you will have to change the wiring. I know this because when I was trimming out our addition, just about every time I used my miter saw the breaker popped. I don’t know if this is because of the arc fault protection or just undersized.

I think your solution is going to be to run external conduit or armor flex cable to upgraded breakers.

Now I’m curious as to what they did for your 240V circuits. They should be #12 w/20A breakers.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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