no secret that today's workshops are heavily dependent on a constant
supply of safe electrical power. Interrupt that electrical power
and the majority of critical woodworking operations come to a screeching
halt. That's why it's so important that you plan your shop carefully,
so it will continue to supply the power you need...when and where
you need it. Here are some basic electrical considerations to keep
in mind when setting-up a home workshop.
One of the most important points for consideration in setting-up
your home shop is that of adequate wiring. A shop that's equipped
with common, 120-volt, single phase power tools should have 15-AMP
outlets wired with 12-gauge, 3-conductor, grounded circuits. Wire
of this gauge is designed to handle up to 20 AMPS of continuous
current, even though it should not be fused for more than 15 AMPS.
If your shop contains heavy-duty machinery of 2 HP or more -- or
machinery that uses 220 Volt power, the above requirements will
probably be inadequate. In this case, you should be working with
a licensed electrician to be certain you have the power you need
and that your shop meets your local electrical codes.
wiring the shop, keep in mind that it's a workshop...filled with
heavy machinery and large objects that could kink, pinch or even
sever exposed electrical wiring. For that reason, NEVER wire your
shop with exposed wires that run from outlet-to-outlet or fixture-to-fixture.
All permanent wiring should be run behind the shop walls or protected
by BX (armored electrical cable), metal conduit or wiremold.
It's also important that you have an adequate number of 15-AMP,
GROUNDED outlets in the shop to accommodate your stationary and
portable electric tools...no matter where you may be using them.
The lighting for your shop should be on a different circuit than
that used to power your tools. Why? Because if you happen to overload
a circuit while using a tool, the last thing you want is a lights-out
situation that leaves you in the dark.
for stationary power tool circuits should be of the slow-blow
type to accommodate the considerable power surges produced during
tool start-up without blowing every time you turn on the tool switch.
As an example, the Shopsmith MARK V momentarily draws over 70 AMPS
for the first few micro-seconds during start-up, then quickly drops
to 13 AMPS or less during operation (depending upon the load
it's under). As you can see, a normal, instant-blow
fuse will not be able to handle this start-up surge.
There's a lot more to using extension cords properly than merely
plugging them in. First of all, it's important that you know how
many AMPS each of your portable electric or stationary power tools
draws during operation. This information can be found on the motor
or tool I.D. plate.
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