Whether you’re an avid DIYer, aspiring professional or simply a hobbyist, you need to create the best possible conditions for work before you start honing your skills. For people who rely so heavily on power tools, it is vital to have proper wiring, which can sustain their demand. Also, it’s crucial to have appropriate lighting in your workshop, since you’re bound to be spending hours and hours “trapped” there, and you don’t want to put too much strain on your eyes. Plus, some works require precision which can’t be achieved without enough light. Let’s look at some things you need to take into consideration when planning how to wire and illuminate your garage workshop.
The first step is to establish your requirements; i.e. how much power your tools need. If you take a look at the nameplate on the tool body or motor housing, you’ll see how many amps the tool draws under full load.
Next, you have to determine the amperage available from the power supply line. This is important because you’ll see the maximum amperage all circuits can draw at the same time. If your house is relatively new (built in the last three decades of the 20th century or newer), chances are that you have 100- or 200-amp service. This is enough to run your household and it usually gives you enough power to run your small workshop. Also, there may be unused circuits available in the service panel, which you could put to good use.
However, if you want to do it properly, the best thing to do is run a separate feeder to a subpanel in your garage workshop. This means you won’t have to share circuits with the house and you’ll be able to completely shut off workshop power when you’re not using it. Furthermore, you’ll need less wiring in the shop, meaning you’ll lose less power and generate less heat.
On the other hand, if your home was built in the first half of the previous century, you’re likely to have merely a 60-amp service. If so, that would not suffice. You should then introduce increased service and a new panel. Since not many people are skilled enough and certified to perform such works, if you’re not one of them, do hire an expert.
Depending on the type of work you’ll be doing, there are several options available out there. Most of the light should come from overhead sources. Regardless of the type of lights, make sure the fixtures are distributed as evenly as possible to provide consistent lighting, and in order to achieve this. To this end, using quality LED panel light might just be the solutions your looking for.
However, some tools require more than just overhead lighting and you should consider installing recessed flood- or spotlights over some of them, such as table- and miter-saws. However, make sure you position these lights so that you don’t create a shadow when you lean over your work.
Also, it helps to paint the walls and ceiling white. This color reflects light well and your room will be brighter. Naturally, if possible add natural light to the workshop. This can be achieved by opening up the big garage door or having a skylight. Again, this might be another aspect where you might want to consult a professional, who would advise you on the type and number of fixtures needed, depending on your needs.
It goes without saying that having proper wiring and lighting in your garage workshop is essential for safe and productive time you’re going to spend there. This is why you shouldn’t even consider cutting corners at any stage of the project and first check the applicable rules and regulations.