Monday, October 27, 2008

Power in the Garage

There's a good chance you never saw our garage before its recent renovation. Suffice it to say that its previous electrical infrastructure was crumbling, non-grounded cable from the 50's, whose feeder cable to the main power source was an extension cord run along the side of the driveway. I don't really know what the electrical code was 50 years ago, but I'm pretty sure that would have violated it somehow.
Ever since we moved into our house, we have been wanting electrical power in the garage (without resorting to an extension cord). It wasn't until we received a small chest freezer earlier this year that we actually had a goal to work towards, not to mention the goal of having light so we could play ping-pong in the middle of the night. And, just like my project of building a brick barbecue, I had no previous experience in my proposed project.
Besides a little direction my neighbor Chad gave me at the beginning, I did everything myself, learning the principles of household electricity from books & the internet. And whatever I could remember from high school physics. I started the work on the garage in mid August and finished earlier this month. It wasn't too much work (maybe 50 hours), but it takes significantly longer when you can't work on it full time. I was lucky if I got 8 hours of work in an entire week.
So, we have 60 amps running from the main panel in the house to the subpanel in the garage, which currently houses breakers for 5 circuits:
  • Indoor lights (15A; 120V)
    • 6 - 100W lights
  • Outdoor lights (15A; 120V)
    • 2 - 300W security lights
  • Receptacles - workshop (20A; 120V)
    • 7 receptacles
    • switched receptacle
    • outlet bar
  • Receptacles - storage (20A; 120V)
    • 7 receptacles
    • 2 outdoor receptacles
  • Heater (20A; 240V)
    • 4000 W electric heater
In case you're interested, here is a complete wiring plan:
A neat feature about the security lights is that one of them turns on at half brightness at dusk, for a specified amount of time (3 or 6 hours, or until dawn). It is also a motion light, which turns on full brightness when motion is detected. The other is simply another motion light.
Here's a (long) video tour, complete with color commentary:
I'll end by stating that working with electricity is not as scary as it may seem, as long as you adhere to safety precautions. "With great power comes great responsibility"... Remember to turn off the right circuit breaker, and you can never be too careful!



Blogger Kristi said...

Very impressive... and Alena is adorable. :)

7:21 PM  

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