I have been working with wood as a hobby for over 15 years and worked in a custom cabinet shop for a few of those years. I am now in the process of opening a cabinet shop specializing in kitchens and baths. I have yet to find a shop to lease out, but I would like to know what voltage you are using in your shop. What would you recommend? The tools I have now all run on 110V, but I am going to upgrade my table saw and compressor.
From contributor J:
A lot depends on how much growing you will do, so I'll start with the assumption that as you succeed and grow your business, you'll outgrow your first shop. Having said that, the minimum you should look for is a 200 amp single phase service. This will be plenty for a one man shop and adequate for up to a 2 or maybe 3 person shop. After that, you'll probably need more.
If you want to be able to look for industrial machinery, you should consider finding a space with a 3 phase service. 220 volts is fine for now. Mostly any machines under about 10 hp will run on 220v. If you grow bigger and need bigger equipment, you'll start looking for a bigger shop, bigger power, and higher voltages.
Most industrial/commercial areas will have 3 phase, so it just depends on where you're looking. As an example, I have a 2000 sq. ft. shop with a 60 amp 1 phase service and a 100 amp 3 phase service. The 60 amp is too small, but all my machinery is hooked up to the 3 phase panel, so I just squeak by.
Also, most machines I see specify 220v or 440v three phase... "440v requires use of additional equipment." What exactly is that additional equipment?
Wikipedia has a good article on transformers and their function. Just Google "electric transformers" and you will find a wealth of info about how this works. It was interesting to find out that a transformer also isolates sensitive electronics like machine controllers from the actual line voltage. The input current actually generates the output voltage by induction. It has been a crash course in industrial electric trying to get our shop converted from hobby or contractor equipment to more substantial industrial equipment. We save a fair amount on our electric rate too because our service is considered residential and not industrial by REMC. Jay at American Rotary Phase Converters has helped us figure out a lot of this as well. You can find them through Google as well.