Building the New Fit RV Shop – Part 4: Electrical


Not as quickly as I’d like, but I do keep making progress on the new Fit RV Shop.  This week, I get some of the rough electrical work done, and fill you in on the final layout of the shop.  Check it out:

 

Honestly, I had wanted to sub out all the electrical work.  So, I got a bid to:

  • Add a sub-panel
  • Add 2 30A 240v circuits
  • Add 2 120v circuits for outlets
  • Keeping the lighting on its own circuit

But the bid came to

$3,700 !!

I figured there’s a lot of work I can do myself for $3,700, so I did a little detective work.  It turns out, I already had two separate circuits of 50A 240v power in the shop.  I also had no less than 3 120v circuits powering outlets, and the lights were on a separate circuit from everything else.  Fantastic!  This meant that the hard parts, like running heavy gauge wiring through poured concrete walls, was already done.  All I had to do was to work inside the room to get the various outlets where I wanted them.  THAT, I can do – and for a lot less than $3,700.  The only thing I will lose by not having the sub panel in the shop is that I’ll have to walk upstairs to reset a breaker if I trip one.  (But my last shop was powered by a sub-panel with a single 30A feed, and I never tripped a breaker in 13 years… I think I’m good.)

So, I’ve got the rough wiring done for the 240v circuits now, and you’ll see the planned finished layout for the shop in the video as well.  There are a couple things I want to call your attention to though that made the work to-date easier.

Polaris Connectors – the existing wiring for the 50A circuits was in great shape, but it was as thick as a pencil.  That makes it unwieldy, expensive, and not exactly wire-nuttable.  I didn’t want to run that stuff all over the shop.  So I needed a good way to step that wiring down to a 30A size.  I used these Polaris connectors to do the job.  They’re a bit expensive, but they seemed the most foolproof way to do what I needed to.  I wish I had seen this Amazon price before I bought mine locally at an electrical supply place.  I bought 6 and I paid what Amazon is charging for 12.

30 Amp Circuit Breakers – It’s completely acceptable to replace a breaker with a smaller breaker, and that’s what I did here.  I specifically didn’t show it because I don’t want anyone messing around inside their service panel based on my video.  Anyway, this was necessary because I wanted to use only 30A wiring to handle the 240V circuits in my shop.  Since the breaker protects the wiring, I needed to size the breaker to match the wiring.  Replacing the breakers was uneventful, and they’re taped “off” for the time being.

A Conduit Bender! – I’ll be completely honest.  I don’t anticipate using this tool much in the future.  Heck, after this project, I don’t know if I’ll ever use it again.  But I priced out some of the offset connectors, unions, and 90 degree pre-bent elbows and I realized this thing would quickly pay for itself.  Having it around in the future is just a bonus, I guess.  Plus, if I ever decide to run wiring in the garden shed, I guess it might come in handy.

So that’s it.  Next time, I’ll have a closet framed and some wall material going up.

 

 

 



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    10 thoughts on “Building the New Fit RV Shop – Part 4: Electrical

    1. Trent Arnold

      Really enjoying the shop build-out video series. As always, I appreciate your level of detail and time to explain the reasoning behind your designs and thought process. I’m doing a smaller version of a shop build-out in my new garage, and just completed a similar lighting package as you did. What a difference! Good luck and can’t wait to see the final product.

      Reply
    2. Kim A Howarter

      I did my basement wood shop electrical when I covered the walls with insulation and a 2 x 2 wall. Ran into the 9 wires maximum rule on conduit runs and had to add some conduit to separate the wires. I ran 3 wires together (2 hot and a neutral for 2 circuits) and only had to count 2 toward the 9 if they are on opposite sides of the two 120 volt lines coming in, in other words 240 between them. I ran all of my conduit in the ceiling and then down to the walls so it is hidden and eliminates it getting in the way of any future mounting on the plywood walls. I also ran the green ground wire on everything as an added safety feature and bonded it to each conduit box. It is cheap insurance along with GFCI outlets on the first outlet of each 120 volt run. Just don’t do it on a sump pump, I found out the hard way that the motor will trip the GFCI and then a flood occurs!!! Then I set up the 3 phase for my 16″ Hammer jointer/planer, taking it in the house and down the stairs to the basement is another story. Looks like this will be a very nice shop James!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        My conduit runs are pretty simple for now, so I’m not worried about being overfilled there. It’s mostly the boxes I’ll have to worry about.
        I will have one run of conduit inside a wall. I just used EMT, and not rigid conduit, so I am wondering if that counts as protection from nails and screws (since the conduit will be close-ish to the surface). I may put nailing plates over the conduit in that area just to be safe.
        I don’t have any 2 phase power requirements (thank goodness), and the garage doors certainly make it easy to get things in and out. I wouldn’t want to try carrying some of this stuff down stairs. Yikes!

        Reply
        1. Kim Howarter

          I used EMT also. I would think that it would be hard to drive a nail through the EMT, but I suppose a nail gun might. It would be interesting to try it if it could be done safely!!! I bought a 12 volt wench from Harbor Freight to lower the 1,000 lb jointer/planer down the stairs, built a support framwork at the top of the stairs and put 2 2x10s on the steps to lower it. I used 2 furniture dollies under the machine. It will be interesting if I can wench it up when I move someday!
          Keep the video’s and details coming, we enjoy watching!

    3. Darryl Willett

      Be careful. Most 30A/240V tools require a neutral. Check yours before going further. Also, handy boxes are too small for what you are doing. They are against code (box fill). Use 1900 box (4x4x1 1/2″ minimum).

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        None of my 240v tools require a neutral (I knew this from my previous shop).
        But I think you’re on to something with the box fill. Since wires are #10, they size larger – and there will ultimately be 9 of them in some of those boxes.
        Not sure if the grounds count since they’re not “bare” (but they’re also not “conductors”). I suppose I technically don’t need them with the conduit, but I felt better running them.
        Thanks for the input!

        Reply
        1. Darryl Willett

          All grounds together count as one conductor. So, saying 7 #10 conductors, you should use a 4x4x2 1\2″ box. Also, big blue wire nuts are much cheaper 😉
          Keep up the great vids and happy holidays to you and yours.

    4. Bruce Lahmayer

      Where I am at it is just about impossible to get an electrician for a relatively small project. When they do agree to help it is less than 50/50 chance that they will ever show up to do the work. So I have had to train myself up to a level where I am comfortable putting in subpanels. Of course I don’t understand all the details about access to your existing wiring. But if possible I would have been very tempted to use those 50 amp circuits for small sub-panels. A 4th wire would be needed on those. More flexibility for if your shop evolves later. I’m betting that conduit bender gets used again sooner than you are anticipating. I do find a satisfaction in completing those kinds of projects.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I thought about it, but there was no neutral wire in either of the outlets. There didn’t seem to be much room in the existing conduit, and running wire through solid concrete didn’t seem too fun. But I did think about it.

        Reply

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