Planning and designing a garage are exciting and frustrating at the same time. It’s exciting because you can customize the space to fit the style you have in mind. But it’s also frustrating because there are many things to consider, like setting up the garage outlets.
Garage outlets don’t seem to be much of a deal in your garage design. That is unless you start using your newly renovated garage, plug in your tools or your phone, and realize that it lacks available outlets. Perhaps, the outlet is far out of your reach, and you need a stepping stool each time you plug in something. Now, that’s what you call frustrating.
Garage outlets have varying needs and considerations, depending on their design and how you utilize the space. Here’s a rundown of all you need to know when planning and setting up garage outlets.
What Kind of Outlets Do You Need for a Garage?
Different types of electrical outlets are great for varying use cases. But besides functionality and convenience, choosing what kind of outlets to put in your garage also keeps the space safe from electrical hazards.
Here are a few outlet types you might want to consider for the garage.
1. Single Outlets
Best for: power tools and AC units
Single garage outlets feature one receptacle, which can either be a 120V for power tools and small appliances or 220V for an AC unit and other larger devices. It’s a more convenient option for equipment or machinery that requires a dedicated circuit. Single outlets also minimize the risk of overloading and the possibility of plugging in another item that can take away the power from a primary tool.
2. Duplex/Double Outlets
Best for: most outlet needs
Duplex outlets are a lot alike to single outlets in a way that they can handle different voltages. But this type of outlet provides extra space for plugging in two devices at once. Duplex outlets are a suitable choice for most appliances and items in the garage.
3. Switched Outlets
Best for: additional lighting and extension cords
Switched outlets are convenient to have if you want to keep some lights or other appliances in your garage plugged in at all times, even when they are not in use. Switched outlets are often a combination of a single outlet where you plug in the item and a light switch that you can use to turn the power supply on and off.
When you turn off the power using the switch, it will automatically cut the power off. It’s also often used to plug in extension cords in garages and workshops to help control the power output.
4. USB Outlets
Best for: multiple mobile devices
Nowadays, USB plugs are everywhere, so it would make sense to add a few USB outlets to the garage. It’s convenient for charging multiple mobile devices while in the garage.
Some options include a combination of USB ports and standard AC receptacles or a receptacle with USB outlets only. But keep in mind that most USB outlets are a bit larger than typical garage outlets.
5. Smart Outlets
Best for: automation and smart appliances
Besides USB outlets, another excellent addition you might want in your garage are smart outlets. They are highly convenient, especially if you have a lot of smart and high-tech products.
Smart outlets look a lot like typical electrical outlets, but the difference is in their functionality. You can control this kind of outlet using a smart device like your phone. If you want to upgrade your garage into a smart hub, adding a few smart outlets will be worth it.
Smart outlets are also great if you want to make your garage more energy-efficient or implement automation.
Once you choose the ideal outlets for your needs, don’t forget to get the appropriate garage outlet cover.
Do Garage Outlets Need to be GCFI?
GCFIs prevent ground faults that may result in electric shocks. It immediately shuts down the power supply once it detects a short circuit or ground fault, often caused by dust, moisture, worn insulation, and old electrical appliances.
But why do you need to use GCFI outlets in the garage?
- It limits the danger of electrocution.
Accidents happen, but GCFI outlets in the garage limit the risk involved with touching a live wire. That alone makes installing GCFI in the garage worth it. After all, getting electrocuted has severe consequences like burns, nervous system damage, and even death.
- It provides crucial protection when using power tools around water.
In areas of your garage where water can compromise a circuit or use power tools around water surfaces, GFCI adds a lot more assurance against possible electrical shocks.
- Overall extra safety precaution.
If everyone likes hanging out in the garage, including the kids and pets, GCFI could end up saving everyone’s life.
Ultimately, choosing outlets for the garage isn’t only about convenience. Safety should also be a top priority, especially for garages. You’ll have to select the kind of outlets that can handle the conditions garages are exposed to, and that’s where GCFI outlets come in.
Where to Put Outlets in a Garage?
Placing garage outlets in proper locations isn’t simply a local electrical code thing. The location of outlets in your garage also determines where you can do most activities. After all, most activities nowadays need electricity.
Do you want your garage to serve as a storage room or an extension where you can entertain visitors? Perhaps, you want to make a garage/workshop area where you can freely work on your hobbies.
It would be wise to start with deciding your garage’s primary function and distribute accordingly to avoid any possible inconvenience. Once you identify the electrical needs of your garage, it’s time to plan a proper setup of the outlets.
How Close Can an Outlet Be to a Garage Door?
Electrical codes recommend placing an electrical outlet no further than 6-feet from any door. But there’s no specification as to how close you can install an outlet from the garage door. While you can set up an outlet next to the door if you want, applying a safe distance is necessary.
- An electrical cord plugged in an outlet close to the garage door can get entangled and yanked from the outlet when opening or closing the door. There’s also the risk of the cord getting pinched and jammed between the door and the frame.
- Lengthy electrical cords near the garage door may also present a tripping hazard.
Installing a garage outlet is about convenience as much as it is about safety. If close to the door is a suitable location for your garage outlet, then you can place it there. But remember that it may involve potential hazards.
How High Should an Outlet Be in a Garage?
The standard floor-level outlets for a garage are 12 to 16 inches above floor level. At least that is the minimum height where you can safely place an outlet in the garage. This placement works in most cases, like plugging in your car vacuum.
But if the garage also serves as a workshop, you might want to consider installing workbench level outlets for convenience’s sake. Ultimately, you want to set up your outlets at a height dependent on what you need to plug in. After all, different machines and appliances have specific requirements as to the height placement of the outlet.
Let’s look at some items you may have now in your garage and their outlet height requirements.
- 12-16 inches – This outlet height works well for vacuums, dust control or collector systems for a garage workshop, and most other appliances. When using the garage as a secondary kitchen, plugging in an extra refrigerator in this outlet is okay.
- Above Workbench – Most woodworking equipment and hand tools will require a handy outlet installation height slightly above the worktable. That includes a drill press, planer, miter saw, band saw, and jointer. It also works for plugging in your phone, laptop, and other devices.
- 3-feet above floor level – For big machines, the outlet height is safest at least at 3-feet above floor level. This outlet height works well for items like water heaters, washers, dryers, and sprinkler control.
- Ceiling height – For instance, you want to install a garage door opener, the ideal outlet height for the system is the ceiling height. Ideally, the garage outlet should be at the center of your ceiling. However, it is only the exception as garage outlets need to be placed not more than 5.5 feet above floor level.
Ultimately, the key consideration is adding outlets to the garage in convenient locations, considering any plans of how you want to use the space.
The Bottom Line
There are only a couple of things to consider when planning how to set up your garage outlet: convenience and safety. That includes choosing the ideal outlet types and setting them up in the garage to be convenient and safe for the activities you want to do there.
Adding outlets to the garage is easy enough once you define how you want to use the space. After all, the tools and equipment you plan to put in the garage play a critical role in how to set up your garage outlets.