Ceiling outlets

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Forum topic by biglarry posted 04-24-2011 05:02 AM 6660 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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76 posts in 2926 days

04-24-2011 05:02 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m working with an electrician to get my new shop addition wired and he suggested that I might want to consider putting a few outlets in the ceiling. His thinking is that I won’t have any wires to trip over running across the floor.

I’m not sure that I would like this setup. When I built my addition i made sure that i would have a clear span so when I’m turning long boards nothing is in the way. It was an extra cost to build the structure so that the local building inspector would approve the ceiling with out support posts. I feel that I would be defeating this by having wires hanging down.

Has anyone put outlets in the ceiling and how do you like them?

Also I’m planning on putting 8 – 4 tube 8 foot T8 fixtures in a 24’ x36’ area with 9” ceilings. Does this sound about right for a bright work area?

-- "When the going gets tough, switch to power tools." - Red Green

24 replies so far

View auggy53's profile


159 posts in 2917 days

#1 posted 04-24-2011 05:29 AM

i have 4 outlets in my ceiling used to plug in light fixtures and 1 retractable cord reel i use alot so its not allways hanging in my face . i choose oulet vs hardwiring in case i decided to move the fixtures a bit . if you decide you do want the cords hanging down over each machine make short cords and plug then in. ive also have air line drops in different places from the ceiling down to within reach but above my head . i have 4 – 4 foot fixtures and 2 windows and still need more light .

-- rick

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3217 days

#2 posted 04-24-2011 05:38 AM

I have always liked short cords hanging just above head level. Just around the work bench area for easy access.

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3221 days

#3 posted 04-24-2011 06:04 AM

After having 2 other shops with no electrical other than a couple of light fixtures. I put outlets in the ceiling of my new shop. See my blog The Electrical Journey this was done in anticipation of possible needed task lighting, air filtration system and for the retractable overhead cord that will be above the work bench for short corded tools. Granted you may not need as many outlets as I have, but you may see a need for 2-3 later on down the road. Its easier now than later when you may find yourself scratching your head and saying I wish I would have put them in now.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

85 posts in 2863 days

#4 posted 04-24-2011 06:13 AM

In my old shop we didnt have ceiling outlets, we had boxes ith pig tails on them. This was very handy for plugging in sanders over the assembly table. They are also hany for plugging in machines that are not near a wall. Just make sure you use twist locks

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3279 days

#5 posted 04-24-2011 08:12 AM

I have two 4 plug outlets on my ceiling. One over my workbench and one in the middle of my work area.

View thiel's profile


394 posts in 3529 days

#6 posted 04-24-2011 08:28 AM

I have two outlets in the ceiling (one over each of my main benches). Love them.

When sanding, the cord moves gracefullly out of the way.

When using my circ saw to break down ply, I don’t get hung up on the cord.

When routing, I can flip the router around and use whichever side is convenient since the cord stays clear.

Oh.. and on those messy days? The ceiling outlets are NEVER blocked with something else I put down…

Highly recommend it.

-- --Thiel

View ellen35's profile


2739 posts in 3670 days

#7 posted 04-24-2011 01:03 PM

I use my garage as my shop. I have disconnected one of the garage door openers and use that ceiling plug for my dust collector. I also had a second plug put in for my air filter. That’s 2 and counting. I don’t want to plug my machinery into my 9 foot ceiling plugs as I am too short to reach the plugs ;-)
I think they are very useful for certain things… like what stays plugged in permanently. If you move your tools around as I do, wall plugs work better, in my humble opinion.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View ncdon's profile


220 posts in 3114 days

#8 posted 04-24-2011 01:27 PM

I have 3 ceiling out lets, use them a lot. I’m in the middle of a shop renovation as we speak. My plan will expand ceiling outlets to 5. I’ll have 10 4’ 2 tube lights in a 20 X 30 with 3 windows.

-- Don, North Carolina, Working full time at retired.

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 4159 days

#9 posted 04-24-2011 01:59 PM

I have 15 outlets in my shop ceiling. One for every light. I also have a 110 and a 220 outlet every 8 FT on the walls, in my 24×48 shop. I have never wished I had an outlet where there wasn’t one.

-- mike & judy western md. www.

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4325 days

#10 posted 04-24-2011 02:10 PM

I have outlets in my ceiling for my T8 fixtures.
But as all of the outlets are used for the lights I strung copper wire along two of the rafters, hooked shower curtain rings on the wires, extension cord tie wrapped to the shower rings. That way I can move the cord outlet to where I need it over the bench.
9 inch ceilings are just a little too low.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View SteveM's profile


108 posts in 4405 days

#11 posted 04-24-2011 02:39 PM

Larry, I’ve “retrofitted” several areas in prior houses and just completed my first stand alone shop building and wouldn’t be without ceiling outlets. I don’t often leave something plugged in but do hang retractable cord reels from the ceiling. I adjust the cord so it hangs above my head but within easy reach. They are VERY handy and eliminate the need to run drop cords which become trip hazards. I also have two retractable air hoses ceiling mounted. All very handy.

View biglarry's profile


76 posts in 2926 days

#12 posted 04-24-2011 02:47 PM


From the responses I’ve gotten I’m going to put outlets in my ceiling. This is great so many great ideas i never thought about. As Greg said it will be easier to install them now than to do it later.
My initial thought if I put any in it would be 2 or 3, now looking at my plans I can see a dozen or more and a couple of circuits.

Thanks to you all.

-- "When the going gets tough, switch to power tools." - Red Green

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4217 days

#13 posted 04-24-2011 04:40 PM

Hi Larry,

Yes to the ceiling outlets!

I have both 110, and 220 lines in the ceiling. The 220 go to machines which aren’t mobile, and are wired with about 15’ of 10/3.

Be sure to use strain relief on the cords, as shown in the photos.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Les 's profile


201 posts in 2928 days

#14 posted 04-25-2011 12:22 PM

I think ceiling outlets are a must!!! I have 2 rows and wish I had added one more. Make sure you have 110 and 220 in the mix. Also look at a few 30 amp stations as well. I have 2 pieces of equipment that require 30 amps.
I just put in a box and hard wire the 30’s.

I have a 30 by 36 shop with 3 rows of 2 tube 8’ fixtures. There are 4 fixtures in each row. It seems to be plenty of light. Always install 6500K bulbs for the best light. It also depends on how your shop is painted and what the floor looks like. If you have a plain concrete floor and unpainted walls or ceiling you will need a lot more.


-- Stay busy....Stay young

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4362 days

#15 posted 04-25-2011 06:01 PM

Lee, are those cords just wire-nut wired directly into the box above them? If so, do you always keep them zip-tied to a fairly fixed situation, or are they dynamic, and how often do you accidentally rip one out of the box?

My primary workstation is a Festool table with the dust collector underneath it, and I’ve been trying to decide between outlets in the floor (lots of dust contamination issues) or ceiling. I like your solution (maybe with springs/bungee to pull the cords a bit out of the way), but I’ve been worried about what code asks for in terms of wires hanging out of boxes.

(Come to think of it, I have that question for a thermostat controlled fan that I want to put in my living room too…)

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

showing 1 through 15 of 24 replies

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