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Question DetailsAsked on 9/28/2016

I want to build a shed 100 ft from the I need the power company to our a meeter at the sight for saws ect

I'm sure I need 220 outlet to run equipment but don't want to run extension cords all that way you

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Not unless you want the utility charges for that operation in the shed to be on a separate utility bill - say if it is going to be used for a business operation.

Whether you will "need" 208/220/240V power depends on what you are going to run - 2HP and larger saws and planers and lathes certainly need it and convertible-voltage 2HP ones have more torque and stall less easily with it. Most shop-size (as opposed to hobby size) air compressors and welders and electric power washers need it also. For a normal light woodworking or hobby shop you can possibly get by on 110/120V power but it will limit how many things you can run at a time ande prohibit upsizing to larger capacity equipment - certainly no reason to not run 208/220/240V assuming you have it available at the house already - which almost all but the most remote or extremely old wired houses do.

And extension cords are WAY too long a run for the presumably 2HP range or larger motors you are probably talking about - plus use of extension cords for permanent power supply like that is dangerous and illegal, and the large wire size cords you would need are probably going to cost as much as the cable and conduit run from the house to shed anyway so I would bite the bullet and do it right. Plus adds value come resale time.

For normal personal use, no need to go to the expense of a separate meter and power feed installation. An Electrical contractor (your Search the List category to find well-rated and reviewed ones) can connect a new 220/240V lead from your meter base, disconnect, main breaker, or breaker panel to run to the shed - either by overhead line, or buried.

Where the new tap comes off depends on your current setup though best to pull it from a main breaker right by the meter (which if this is new "added" load will likely mean upsizing the lead from the meter to the main breaker. Or if you don't have one now, might require installing a new main breaker box next to the meter base with a main breaker for the house (which might already be there) and another one for the shop. NOT recommended to put in one large main breaker capable of handling both through one breaker, because when the shop is not showing high power usage, that would mean the house system is running off a breaker that is grossly oversized for it, which is not as safe. Also, running the shop off a separate breaker and feed will reduce the chance of tripping your main breaker by heavy shop tool use the same time as an electric clothees dryer or heavy range use or such. Far better to have separate main breaker and power lead from the meter base or disconnect/main breaker panel next to it, straight to the shop, without tapping off the house power lead.

Depending on your current power supply from the electric company, and whether this shop load is "additional" to existing demand or just relocating it from the garage to the shed say, you may or may not have to upgrade some of the service wiring - from meter base to where you tap off to run to the shed, and if this will be a significant added load or you do not have 208/220/240V (as applicable) service now, possibly an upgrade to your incoming service by the utility as well.

You can find a LOT of previous questions on issues and costs of upgrading breaker panel and/or upgrading your service drop capacity, in the Home > Electrical link in Browse Projects, at lower left. Probably a dozen or more such questions with answers in the last year or two. Also a few in there about supplying power to a shop or detached garage which would also be applicable.

Be sure to get at least a couple of and preferably several responsive bids - this sort of job tends to have a wide cost spread, because some electricians don't do much main feed and buried/overhead work (they are basically "indoor" electricians) so their bids can sometimes be out of whack - too high or way too low. Oh - and on the bids - be sure they stipulate whether they or you are digging the trench for the cable and how deep the trench will be. (Regardless of code requirements which might be more or less, should be not less than 18" deep to minimize risk of rocks cutting the cable or crushing the conduit if heavy equipment ever is used in the yard.

You will have to be prepared (in discussion) to specify exactly what type of power tools you intend to use (with peak and running amperage and voltage requirements), what type/amount of lighting you want installed or wiring put in for in the shop, and what equipment you will be running simultaneously. For instance, lighting and a shopdust collector and maybe electric heater might be running at the same time, along with one major power tool. But if you are a serious woodworker for instance, you might leave a planer or large fixed belt or drum sander running while using radial or table saw at the same time - electrician needs to know that sort of thing to size the wiring and breakers right. Ditto to lights (maybe both regular fixed overhead and a paired head halogen lightstand) and a large fan and arc welder, for instance, if into metalwork or auto rebuilding. Same sort of issue if the shop use is a family thing or for business, where two or more people may be using power tools at the same time.

My recommendation - if going with buried line to the shed (good idea if any risk of trees falling on the line, or any potential for current or future clearance problems parking RV or boat or such in back yard, or any chance of building a pool or putting in a trampoline or playset or such in the back yard) and also good idea appearance wise when you go to sell the property, I recommend spending the extra $3/LF or so to run buried conduit (with correct warning plastic tape in trench above it) for the wire to run in - that way if you have any problems with the wire it can just be pulled out and fixed or replaced. Also reduces any chance of damage to the wire from rock punctures from frost heaving or equipment/ pickup/ etc driving on it during yardwork or any future project.

I also recommend the extra $50-100 for upsizing the main breaker box and lead wiring to the shop by 1 or even 2 wire sizes over what the prescribed size for the anticipated load and run distance is - that way you experience less voltage drop, which is really hard on electric motors and also make stalling more of an issue. [Main breaker actually installed would be based on actual design load - cheaplyi replaceable with larger rating if needed for expansion in the future as long as the system is sized for it initially].

Ditto for the wiring within the shop - no big cost to upsize the circuits to the power tools (at least the high-amperage and hard-starting ones like air compressor, welder, table or radial saws, central dust collector, etc. If there is any chance of wanting to increase power demand in the shop (bigger tools like a more than 2HP saw or planer for instance, much more lighting, exterior yard lighting running off the shop, etc) you might want to upsize the main lead even more - and provide a larger breaker panel (more slots and higher rating) so you can easily add circuits in the future if desired.

Couple of other thoughts thinking back on my shop -

a) plan for adequate ceiling lighting - at least 4-5 flourescent 4' fixtures for normal garage size shop for instance (both for general lighting and over major power tool locations, especially saws), and provide several ceiling outlets to plug in hand power tools or halogen stand lights for flexibility. Flourescent troucher or strip fictures tend to give uneven lighting, so plan on 3-4 regular ceiling fixtures for regular CFL bulbs to, for general illumination - and if uyou are as good as me about watchjing where the end of boards or trim are going when ahndling them, caged bulbs would be an idea too. And provide, in addition to any dedicated outlets for high-demand tools, two utility outlets on each wall to provide flexibility for where you move smaller equipment and hand power tolls and soldering iron and such around as you organize and reorganize your shop.

b) don't forget heat and possibly cooling as applicable - that can add a LOT of power demand if electric, and if not electric powered but electric controlled normally you want those on separate circuit(s) for the controls and fan/pump power.

c) don't forget ingress/egress from the shop - for safety in case of fire should have door and a legal egress window at opposite ends at least - and you might want rollup door at one end to bring in large equipment or to bring in yard equiment or vehicles to work on, for instance. Also, if not an every day use facility, consider snow drifting (if applicable) in door location so you don't have a lot of shoveling just to get started on the day.

d) if going to work on vehicles in this shop or dirty metalworking where floor washdown will be needed, provide central floor drain to sewer.

e) consider if you want exterior lighting or security system power and drops

f) consider if you want an outdoor utility outlet to plug in hand power tools for yard use or for radio or lighting or whatever for barbecues or such.

g) if in cold area and going to be working on cars, consider if you want exterior plug-in for block heaters

h) regarding fault protection - I recommend against AFCI because they false trip out wayyy too often, and I don't like master breaker GFCI's - both because they tend to go bad pretty quickly and are also expensive in large amperage capacity, but also you are bound to find some power tool (especially 2-wire brush-type motors like hand drills and dremel tools) or surge protecting plug strips or something that trips it out - cutting power to the whole shop. Far better to use individual GFCI breakers in the breaker panel, in my opinion, and I have one non-GFCI plug-and-light receptacle outlet in the garage (coming off a ceiling light circuit that does not have to be GFCI grounded) that I can plug those drills and dremel tool and such into which intermittently trip GFCI's.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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