It’s Electric!

Time to finally and completely tackle the power situation in the shop – at least how it will be in the near future.

To paint the complete picture, I’ll regurgitate some facts about the shop. I have one 12ga extension cord and one 16ga. The 12ga is intended for the stationary tools and the 16ga for everything else. It doesn’t really function that way in reality. The tools and small electronics really are mixed across the two cords. The miter saw, CT (all the Festools) and the compressor run off the small cord while the TV and Sunday are on the main line. It’s time to get this sorted out, even if I have plans to replace the smaller cord with another 12ga.

The table saw, router table, lathe, bandsaw, miter saw, compressor, jointer, CT and drill press need to be on the main line. The air conditioner, vacuum, lights, chargers and small electrics need to run off the small line. I also need an easy hookup for outdoor work on the main line for the compressor or circular saw.

The issue is how to accomplish this. Both lines enter at the bandsaw, and cords are scattered around the shop. Half the things I need to hook up to either line are on the opposite side of the shop. Thankfully I don’t have anything on the back wall except the CT, which has a long enough cord to go either direction.

One solution would to put in actual outlets along both walls, but conduit and wiring could get expensive. It is my goal in the new shop, but run the wiring inside the walls. I would have to buy conduit and external boxes that I wouldn’t be able to use later. The other option is to keep daisy-chaining outlet strips, which isn’t a great solution either. Strips are probably needed both ways.

Both lines come into the shop on the right side of the door, and terminate in a 4-outlet reel. On either side of the door is a 10 or 12 outlet strip. The 12ga reel has the one on the right side plugged in, plus direct plugging of the table saw (because the cord is so short and on the left side of the saw). In the massive power strip I have the lathe, bandsaw, router table, TV, Zune and tablet charger. The drill press used to be plugged in here as well.

The 16ga cord is a longer story. The A/C is plugged into the reel, and a 6-outlet strip. That has the lights, chargers, and the other massive strip plugged into that. The massive strip has another battery charger, compressor, jointer (when needed), miter saw and CT.

I’ve already stated what I need to do, I just need to figure out how to do it. The bigger tools are easy: keep the big stuff in the right corner plugged into the power strip there, and pull a 15′ cord over to the other tools. Have to see if the cord will go that far. The stuff on the 16ga cord is more complicated, mainly due to how many plugs I need, and the fact that the A/C can’t go anywhere. The small electrics and lights can keep on keeping on, but the A/C is tough. I should mention that I want to get rid of the reels, because they take up space. A small tap should take care of that, but it would have been nice just to route the smaller, longer cord up and over the door to reduce clutter.

I had to sit down and write this out, because I was in Lowe’s today attempting to sort it out and I just couldn’t concentrate. I put back the timer I had in my hand because I just wasn’t sure what I needed to accomplish. I have some things scheduled for Saturday morning, but provided I get out to the shop with a little bit of time, working on better electrical management is going to be the priority. Once done, we can work on the LEGO project again.

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