If you don't know anything about garage electrical wiring, then you might be surprised by how much you can do yourself. You don't have to be an electrician to do electrical work, but you have to know what you're doing. You need a basic understanding of electricity itself, as well as residential electrical wiring techniques and codes. This page presents several things to consider before you begin.
How many amps should your garage circuit breakers be?
Typically, 20 amps. However, all of your garage electrical wiring should be thought out. The amount of garage electrical wiring you'll need depends on what you intend to do in your garage. Typically, large heaters, appliances, and tools should have their own circuit, whereas several light fixtures and receptacles can share the same circuit.
You need to figure out where you want the receptacles, lights, and light switches. Think about the total amount of amps you plan on consuming. You can do this by looking at the manufacturer's labels on all of the tools and appliances you'll be using. Some tools or appliances may require a dedicated circuit with a particular amount of amps (and volts), so make sure you know what you need before you do any garage electrical wiring. Knowing what you need will help you avoid over-wiring your garage, yet keep you from under-wiring your garage.
Do you need 240 volts in your garage (US)?
In the US, electrical house wiring is fed by 120 volts. However, by picking up the second hot leg in your panel, your garage electrical wiring can deliver 240 volts. Why bother? Devices like saws and compressors work better, smoother and last longer running at 240 compared to 120. This is especially true for motors larger than ¾ HP. Also, heaters that run on 240 are much more efficient than heaters that run on 120. In fact, a 240 heater will give you thousands more BTU's for the money. For more on garage heat, check out this page.. Many types of clothes dryers, welders, grinders, routers, battery chargers, and other tools are designed specifically to run on 240. So, if you're planning on doing any automotive or project work in your garage, then definitely install a 240 circuit.
How much garage wiring can you do, and how much should you hire out?
Homeowners who don't know how to wire a garage can safely do a lot of the work, then hire out the dangerous stuff. Of course, all of the work has to be done to code, but with a little bit of code research, plenty of garage electrical wiring can be pre-run without landing anything to a breaker. Local and national codes will tell you what size wire you'll need as well as the requirements on how to run it.
In addition to the actual runs to and from, the receptacles and switches can safely be wired as well. Once these steps are complete, it's time to install the new breakers and land the new circuits to them. This is where the danger comes into play. You'll have to make a decision at this point to finish it yourself, or have an electrician come out and do it for you. Even if you have to hire it out, you've saved yourself a ton by doing most of the work yourself. Remember… Garage electrical wiring is dangerous even if you know what you're doing. You MUST follow all national and local electrical codes. So, if you're like me (not an electrician), then be sure to research the use of electricity and residential electrical wiring, before doing any electrical work in your garage. I can not stress safety enough, and I can not be held responsible for any result of using the information on this website (see the disclaimer page for this website).