Workshop Electrical Question

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Forum topic by Bill Szydlo posted 771 days ago 1370 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bill Szydlo

47 posts in 1285 days

771 days ago

I am planning a new shop and am wondering if it’s better to run the electrical wiring in the standard fashion (in the walls) or to run it through conduit along the interior walls? Recently I was looking at a few shops for ideas and noticed individuals that ran the electrical through the conduit primarily in order to gain some flexibility should the layout change in the future. Just curious if anyone has used this approach.
Thanks in advance,

18 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


2938 posts in 885 days

#1 posted 771 days ago

I kept mine rated for 20Amps and out where I can see the wire. I use external fixtures (4-plex) and write on each plug what the amp rating is. Be sure to get plugs and switches rated for the type wire you use, there are different fixtures for aluminum and copper, don’t mix them up. And remember all junction boxes need to be exposed, you can’t hide them under drywall. Huge fire hazard.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View SirFatty's profile


471 posts in 810 days

#2 posted 771 days ago

I would think that electrical code in your area should be the guide to follow. Here in the Chicago area, it’s all EMT. Personally, I think it is a superior way to go, but definitely is more work and expense.

-- Visit my blog at

View jmos's profile


681 posts in 968 days

#3 posted 771 days ago

More information would be helpful; Garage? Basement? Detached structure? Finished space? Unfinished?

In general I think it’s helpful to have access to the wiring for future changes. I certainly wouldn’t tear into existing drywall to run wiring in the walls. If it’s an unfinished space with studs it might be worth running it through the studs. If you have access to the ceiling you can run the wire in the rafters to keep it out of the way and then do drops with conduit just to protect the wires (that’s what I did in my basement shop.)

If your doing this yourself without permits you want something you can remove if you ever move. If your hiring a pro I’d let them recommend the method.l

-- John

View Bill Szydlo's profile

Bill Szydlo

47 posts in 1285 days

#4 posted 771 days ago

Thanks for writing back. Here is some additional information. The structure is a new addition to a detached garage so I am basically starting from scratch. The existing garage already has a separate 100 amp panel that will be used for the new shop space.

View RussellAP's profile


2938 posts in 885 days

#5 posted 771 days ago

It may be code to put everything in conduit, check with the city. If not, I’d leave all wiring exposed and keep the plugs up high. Since it’s only you in your shop, you won’t be running more than one thing at a time, so 100amps is kind of a waste. As the shop evolves, you’ll need access to install or move plugs around.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View jmos's profile


681 posts in 968 days

#6 posted 771 days ago

Looking at your other post, I assume your planning on insulating and sheet rocking the walls given your MN climate.

That’s a tough call; I think I would be generous, run a number 20amp circuits (since you have that nice 100amp panel), and run them in the studs before finishing the walls, and add a lot of outlets to give you flexibility. If your planning on running 220v for just a few tools, that might be worth doing in conduit in case you change your mind later and want to reorganize your shop.

These are fun problems to have!

-- John

View helluvawreck's profile


15404 posts in 1465 days

#7 posted 771 days ago

Most of mine is run through conduit on the outside of the walls. I just like it better for a workshop and is easily repaired or modified.


-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Bigjoemann's profile


26 posts in 1258 days

#8 posted 771 days ago

Outside the walls is OK, just make sure it is in conduit. Whatever you do, make sure to a pull a permit from your local building department. There will almost always be something that you or your electrician missed. What the inspector finds could make the difference between having a house or a large pile of ashes.

If you are going to do something, do it right. No half-assed work when it comes to electrical!

View SnowyRiver's profile


51451 posts in 2078 days

#9 posted 770 days ago

I ran mine through conduit on the outside of the wall. I only did it that way because I have a wood foundation on the house and shop and there are 2X12 trusses holding up the garage floor laying on 2X12 plates and I didnt want to drill into the plates for structural reasons. I would think running it in the wall would be fine and probably look better. Just plan it out so you have enough outlets including some 220 for larger equipment.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Bill Szydlo's profile

Bill Szydlo

47 posts in 1285 days

#10 posted 770 days ago

Thanks for all the replies. I am leaning toward running the electrical in the walls mainly for a cleaner look to the space. Since the panel is close it would not be difficult to add a line, through conduit, at a later date if the need arises. Now for the 220 lines – since both the TS and jointer will be located in the center of the room and the room is on a concrete slab my choices are limited to either running a conduit along the floor from the wall or dropping the line down from the ceiling. Any opinions would be appreciated.

View RussellAP's profile


2938 posts in 885 days

#11 posted 770 days ago

If the TS and Jointer are near a pole just run a 2x strapped to the pole and put an outlet on that from the ceiling.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View ITnerd's profile


261 posts in 1197 days

#12 posted 770 days ago

My 2 cents – go with the ceiling drop to the tools in the center of the space. The last thing you want to do have any irregularies in the floor as you feed a long piece through for a cross cut or joint a long edge. I would thing a center drop woule be safest. I would rather bang my head/shoulder than trip, but ideally a well placed center drop would eliminate both risks.

Even if you don’t have a pole there, you could drop in some sort of inverted T to protect the wiring and hold the safety equipment you’ll be using when bossing around the 220v monsters – like Phil B did in his batcave. God, I love that shop.

-- Chris @ Atlanta - JGM - Occam's razor tells us that when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras.

View Scot's profile


344 posts in 1994 days

#13 posted 770 days ago

Both electrical and dust collection drop from the overhead on my saw.

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

View AandCstyle's profile


1249 posts in 855 days

#14 posted 770 days ago

I had duplex boxes installed every 4 feet along all walls 50” off the floor should I ever want to lean a sheet of plywood against the wall. I haven’t yet experienced a “wish I had” moment yet. It is cheap and easy to do during construction, but not afterward. I put ceiling plugs in for tools in the center of the room. I also put in a ceiling outlet with a cord reel over my workbench for any hand tools I might want to use, e.g. sander, shop vac, etc. HTH

-- Art

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

3831 posts in 926 days

#15 posted 770 days ago

You’ll save a lot of $ & time putting Romex in the walls…. At least for you 20 amp 120 volt circuits and light circuits.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

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