Rewiring the Garage with Drop Cords & Power Strips

Before we went to the store yesterday and found out that we were looking at getting 16 inches of snow today, I was out in the garage actually getting some stuff done. My garage is set up kind of strange, it’s semi-finished with plasterboard or paneling on the walls.  It even has insulation in all the walls.  However, there are only 2 outlets in the whole garage, and they’re on the same wall about 5 feet from each other.  Oh wait, there’s one in the rafters for the garage door opener too.  There’s nothing by the garage door, so if you’re working in the driveway you have to run a drop cord all the way from the back wall of the garage.  I’ve got a workbench along one of the side walls, but there’s no outlet there for plugging in tools.  I had this same problem in my old garage, but my old garage was a tiny little thing and was completely unfinished.  It had one two receptacle outlet on the wall and the garage door opener plugged into one of those with an extension cord. So I’m kind of used to it and I know how to deal with it.  When it was my own garage, I planned to eventually put in some permanent wiring, but since I’m renting this will probably be as far as I get.

The obvious solution is drop cords and power strips.  The thing is I hate having a cords running all over the floor, running under things and draped over other things.  They’re always in the way.  I hate having power strips sitting on the floor because then you have to squat down every time you plug something in and I hate having them sitting on the bench because they’re always in the way.  Plus it takes two hands (or a hand and a foot) to quickly unplug things.  So what I started doing is attaching power strips to the wall.  I remove a light fixture and replace it with one that has an outlet.  I attach a power strip to the wall and then run a drop cord up the wall and through the rafters to the outlet, using wire clips to hold it in place so it’s never in the way.  I’m basically rewiring the garage with drop cords and power strips.  The thing that’s nice about this is it’s pretty darn easy to move the wiring around later if you decide to rearrange your garage. The only trick is, who keeps the screw template that comes with a power strip?

I know of two quick ways to make a new template.  The easiest most accurate way is to just put the power strip on a copier and make a copy of the bottom.  If you don’t have quick access to a copier though, the next best thing is to do a ‘rubbing.’  I think just about every kid did these in school.  You took a piece of paper, a pencil (or a crayon) and found something textured to make rubbings of: plaques, tombstones, raised symbols, etc.  Just do that with the bottom of the power strip.  Hold (or tape) a piece of paper and rub your pencil back and forth over the mounting holes until they show up on the paper.  Then all you have to do is tape it up where you want it and run some screws through it.

The wall above my workbench is plasterboard, which I hate for garages. Sure if you finish it, it looks nice… but nobody ever finishes it.  It MIGHT get plastered, but it almost never gets painted.  Then there’s the problem that it’s in the garage and it’s not very durable, so when you accidentally hit it with a 2×4 or a pipe falls against it, you end up with dents or holes.  Also, it’s terrible for hanging things on.  My last garage I had finally gotten around to putting up plywood walls.  They look better than unfinished plasterboard, are more durable, AND you can hang stuff wherever you want.  I wasn’t about to plywood the whole wall, but I did throw up a scrap strip of chipboard above the workbench.  Now I can hang up tools or supplies without the nails working their way out of the wall, and it gave me a good spot to screw up my power strip so the constant plugging and unplugging wouldn’t pull it out of the wall.

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About howandsometimeswhy

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