Posted by John on September 2nd, 2013
We hope all of our American friends had a safe and enjoyable Labor Day! Our weekend was filled with family visits and some much needed down time. Today we’re going to show you how we finished up our new garage outlet and how we added a workbench charging station.
Let’s start with the garage outlet.
Last week we had our rough-in inspection from the township electrical inspector. It went well. He passed us so we can “device out” the work, which means add the new outlet.
To power the new outlet, we tapped into the power from an existing GFCI outlet in our basement. I had to remove this basement outlet as part of the rough-in work and show the inspector I ran the cable properly to the box and tied it in appropriately.
After inspecting this box, he recommended I increase its size to accommodate the additional cable. The box already had three cables going to it and this new circuit added a fourth. Thus, he wanted to see a slightly bigger box. So, I had to untwist all my cables, pull them out of the box, take the box off the lumber and then add a bigger box.
The new box is considered “new work” whereas our garage outlet is “old work.” The difference is the basement outlet box is being directly attached to a wall stud. The garage outlet was placed into a finished drywalled space. The new box is also plastic and has a couple 1/2″ tabs that help me position the box onto the studs. The box shouldn’t be installed flush with the studs, but 1/2″ further out for future drywall.
This new box wasn’t that much bigger than the first, only by a couple cubic inches. Here’s a side by side comparison of the old grey box next to the new blue one. I believe the grey box is 18 cu. inches and the blue one is 20 or 21 cu. inches.
The box was then rewired as before and since I had the go ahead to device out the project, I reinstalled the GFCI outlet.
With the basement outlet wired, I installed my garage outlet, turned the power back on at the breaker and checked to make sure the circuit worked okay. That’s it for the electrical portion. In a few weeks, I’ll call the inspector back for the final inspection.
Now let’s take a look at the workbench charging station.
The only other outlet we have in our garage is on the far wall so any battery chargers for cordless tools had to sit on the floor, which wasn’t terribly convenient. Getting them off the floor and onto the workbench was the goal.
I started by picking a spot on the workbench where my chargers would be located then drilling a hole in the workbench top with a hole saw.
I ran the charger power cables through the hole so the top will be less cluttered.
Next, I mounted a $5 power strip I bought at Lowes to one of the legs of the workbench. Then I just zip tied all the cables together and plugged them in.
So now all I have to do is flip the red switch on the power strip whenever I want to charge my tools. I also looked into buying one of those 10-12 outlet benchtop power strips instead. That’s a great option too, but it was $30 and I thought this option would be more a little more practical. $25 cheaper isn’t a bad thing either.
We are fast approaching the end of our summer long garage improvement series. We only have a couple projects left: adding another application of epoxy to the garage floor and painting the interior door and steps. There are a few yard projects I also want to knock out before we get into October, but we’ll go more into those in another post.
How are you wrapping up your summer? Are you looking forward to Fall or are you desperately hanging on to every last summer day like me? Bought any pumpkins yet?
Posted in Electrical,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,Garage and Tools, workbench
Posted by John on August 25th, 2013
When we built our home back in 2010, we had the option of adding as many additional electrical outlets as we wanted among some other bells and whistles. Code requires a minimum number per so many feet, but any more than that bare requirement came out of our pocket. In retrospect we probably should’ve added a few more. We did spend some effort trying to figure out where the TVs would be located, so we could put the cable jacks in the right place, but we never thought twice about the outlets (priorities, priorities). So, I’m going to install an electrical outlet in the garage for my workbench and it’ll be the third outlet I’ve added since we moved in. The first was for our buffet lights and the most recent was for our sitting room TV.
As with all of my electrical posts, I’m not going to show you how I actually wire the outlet. That part is pretty straight forward and there are tons and tons of videos and websites that show that info. The world doesn’t need another post on how to wire a receptacle. However, I will show you the whole process I follow from start to finish.
Let’s start with the location where I’m adding this outlet: under the workbench.
My goal here is to have an outlet right under the workbench where I can plug in a power strip. Then I’ll be able to keep my battery chargers right on top and not on the floor. You may notice the hole that’s been spackled next to my compressed air pipe. That hole was my first attempt at getting the air pipe through the wall. That plugged hole on the garage side doesn’t do me any good for this new outlet, but the hole on the basement side does help. I’ll be able to use it to run the cable into the garage.
So, I know where the outlet is going to be located, that’s my first step. Now to determine where to get the power from and how to run the cable from the power source over to the hole.
I have one GFCI outlet on the other side of my basement. It’s got one cable coming in with the power and two others going out to other receptacles. I can tap into the power here.
Since I’m installing this outlet in a garage, the outlet will need to be ground fault protected. There are essentially two ways to get that protection. I can tap into the power going TO this GFCI outlet and install a full-blown GFCI outlet just like it in the garage. OR I can tap into the power on the load side of this GFCI outlet. GFCI outlets, the new ones anyway, have a line side and a load side. The line side is where the power from the breaker box goes. The load side is where additional outlets can tap into. Those outlets that tap into the load side are then ground fault protected automatically and a regular non-GFCI receptacle can be used instead. Our kitchen backsplash has a similar setup. We have one GFCI outlet in the corner and the next two or three outlets are the regular kind, but they all have ground fault protection from the first GFCI outlet. I’ll probably opt to tap into the load side and use a regular style outlet for the garage.
Right above the outlet is a cable stacker. Code requires the cable to be secured every so many feet either with staples or with these stackers. These stackers have open spaces in them so I can just run the new cable through it.
Since all the cables going into and out of the GFCI outlet are white 14 gauge cables, I’ll use one as well. You can buy spools of Romex NM cable from your local hardware store. It’s not terribly expensive.
So I’ll start the cable run by turning off the power to the GFCI circuit, leaving a couple feet of slack near that outlet and running the cable through existing cable stackers until I get to the basement ceiling and then across the basement towards the hole. At one point I encounter an area without any cable stackers and I need to use electrical staples instead to hold the wire up.
I’ll staple the cable to every other stud along the way. Once I get near the hole, I’ll stop and let the slack hang out for a while.
Now for some garage work. I’m using a “old work” style receptacle box, which is designed for remodeling type work like we’re going here. If the garage didn’t have drywall yet, I’d be using a “new work” box instead. I hold the box against the drywall and with a pen I trace out the outline of the area I need to cut for the hole. Be careful here. This old work box has tabs on the front that stick out from the top and the bottom. Those tabs need to extend past the hole otherwise the whole outlet box will slip into the hole.
With the outline of the opening traced, I use a hand held drywall knife and a box cutter to cut an opening.
Time for a test fit. I make sure the box fits snuggly into the opening.
Okay. The box fits nicely. I remove the box from the hole and return to the basement.
This part can be tricky. From the basement, I need to push the wire through the hole and try to get it to move up the wall so I can pull it through from the garage by hand. Since this was a relatively short run, I was able to jam it into the hole and pull it out from the garage without much effort. Luckily, my hand barely fits into the outlet opening. Although, for a minute there I was considering making this a double outlet just so I could fit my arm down a bigger opening.
I pulled all of the slack out of the cable into the garage.
Clearly could’ve used a shorter cable for this. That’s a lot of slack! No problem though, I cut off the extra cable leaving around 10″-12″ from the hole.
Now let’s prep the old work box. This box has bendable tabs where the cable gets inserted. One of the tabs will need to be bent out of the way for the cable to push through. These tabs don’t come off in old work boxes since they are designed to hold the cable and prevent it from slipping out of the box.
I push the cable through the tabs and insert the box into the opening. Old work boxes have screws that when tightened will grab the drywall from the back keeping it firmly in place.
Later this week I’ll strip back the shielding and add some wire nuts for my rough-in inspection. After I pass the rough-in inspection, I can install the outlet. Then I’ll have to call the inspector back for a final inspection.
One last thing. Those holes in the basement lumber need some fire blocking. Fire blocking is essentially insulation that prevents air from going through those holes to feed a fire. Very important to add it.
Instead of fiberglass insulation, I’ll use some fire block spray foam.
The foam just gets squeezed into the space around the wire as it goes through the wood. I’ll also add some to my compressed air piping.
So this whole process seems a bit long, but all together, it only took me about an hour to finish. Actually, even with the permit fee, this costs about half of what the builder wanted to install one.
Posted in DIY Projects,Electrical. Tagged in ,electrical, outlets
Posted by John on February 5th, 2013
So it’s been around a month or so since we started setting up our sitting room. We added a couch and finished hiding the HDMI cable now we’ve just finished up the work on the power cables for our flat screen TV. We really enjoy the space so far. It’s nice to have a place to hang out upstairs without being in bed.
Last time we left off on this project, I had run a power cable to the new outlet location.
Since then, I’ve had my work inspected and was cleared to device out the box. Instead of installing a typical outlet, I added a receptacle designed to accommodate the TV plug.
The recessed outlet permits the plug end to avoid hitting the back of the TV. Here’s what the wall looks like now..
Once the TV was back on the mount, I used a simple zip tie to keep the long TV power cord up and out of the way.
Before I started this little cable hiding project, I thought I could pull it off for around $30 as compared to the Powerbridge install we did at a neighbor’s house for $90.
Here are the rough material costs. I didn’t keep receipts.
-HDMI Cable boxes (the orange ones in the wall) $8
-HDMI Cover plate $14
-Outlet box $4
-Recessed outlet $13
That’s a total of about $39. Close. Now I didn’t include any tools or cable since I already owned them nor did I include the permit cost. The permit for the dining room outlet was only about $20. For some reason, the township charged me $60 for this one. I was expecting to pay $20. So, all told, I spent about as much as the Powerbridge. Oh well. In any case, this dual box approach is a little more flexible for smaller TVs compared to the one larger Powerbridge box.
So now we have to add some furniture. More on that next time
Posted in Electrical,Home Decor. Tagged in ,electrical, flatscreen, TV
Posted by John on January 21st, 2013
Hey everybody! Hope you all had a great weekend. Lisa and I had a fairly busy couple days. We picked a paint for our daughter’s bedroom and I started cutting it in. We love the color. I’m not sold on how it looks with the carpet quite yet, but we’ll see how it looks once the room is all setup and staged.
In other news, our permit to add an additional outlet behind our sitting room’s flat screen TV has been approved and I’m ready for our rough-in inspection. In case you were wondering what the general process is for pulling an electrical permit..
1. Plan work and come up with a rough estimate for the cost of the material.
2. Apply for electrical permit at local township office.
3. Receive go-ahead from local township or a call back for more info.
4. Do the rough-in work without adding any devices (switches, receptacles, etc)
5. Have rough-in inspected.
6. Device out (add outlet, switches)
7. Have finish work inspected.
We’re at step 4. Here’s how it went…
Hide a flat screen TV power cable:
Last time we posted, we cut the hole for the outlet behind the TV.
To my delight, this interior wall happens to have studs that are 24″ on center (oc).
I was able to find the stud locations by tapping on the wall and using a stud finder. I also popped off the phone jack and peaked into the wall space with a flashlight and a small mirror. So, since there are no studs between the lower power outlet and the new outlet, I won’t have to remove any additional drywall. I can simply “snake” the new cables from the lower box to the upper hole.
***ALWAYS DO ELECTRICAL WORK WITH THE POWER OFF AT THE BREAKER OR FUSE PANEL***
I remove the bottom outlet and snake the push the wire through the bottom box and up the wall. The wire I’m using is stiff enough to get pushed fairly easily.
The top hole will receive an electrical box specifically designed for renovation type work or walls that you don’t want to open up.
The box pushes into the wall and two screws are tightened, which flip tabs up that grab and squeeze the drywall. Before the box is inserted however, the wire is run through the box.
With the box firmly in the wall and the wire pulled through, the excess slack is cut off, leaving about 6″-7″ of wire hanging out of the box.
The new wire is then spliced into the bottom box’s wiring. I’m not going to show that part. You can find a how-to on that part on YouTube.
So now we’re all set for the rough-in inspection! Can’t wait to knock this out so I can get on with the sitting room furniture.
Posted in DIY Projects,Electrical. Tagged in ,electrical, flat screen tv, hiding wires, wiring
Posted by John on October 21st, 2012
Hey guys! Hope you’re all doing well. We had another not so productive weekend, only got a couple small things done. Small steps though, right? This week, I’m hoping to get to fix some cancerous rust on my Jeep and maybe get some more work on the garage shoe rack. Yesterday I installed a light switch timer for our outside garage lights. We discussed these very lights a few months ago when we replaced the regular filament bulbs with LEDs.
I bought this outdoor light timer switch from one of the home improvement stores MONTHS ago… maybe even a year ago. As part of the effort to clean this garage mess up, I finally installed it. It took about 30 minutes. If you’ve never done electrical work before, I don’t recommend you start with this one. It’s not overly difficult, it’s just a little different than most single pole switches or outlets that you may already have in your home.
It’s also a little more difficult to work on boxes that have two switches in it. The wires can get kinda crowded. It went in okay though. No major problems. The switch cost around $20-$30 and can probably be installed by a licensed electrician for maybe $150 more.
If you haven’t noticed, these switches are programmable. Once the power was back on at the breaker, I set the time and then entered the schedule for the lights to turn on and off automatically. No more leaving it on all the time and no more having to go out into the garage and turn it on and off. The best part about these switches is its added security. Even if you’re not home, the lights will activate, making it look like you’re home. Plus, this particular model has a “random” mode that will turn the lights on and off occasionally. That’s perfect if you’re going to be away for a few days or weeks. Even though they’re programmed, you can still tap its pad and control it manually.
It’s a small project, but I’m happy to have finally wrapped it up.
Any small projects hanging over your head at the moment?