Can I convert my shop to 220v? My shop has 110v ran to it with no sub panel. I would like to add a sub panel to my shop and run 220v from it for my air compressor and 110v for my lighting. Or what is your take on buying a 5000 watt converter?
- Pull four appropriately sized conductors from the main panel, to the new shop panel.
- Install a properly sized double pole breaker in the main panel, and connect the four conductors properly in the main panel.
- Connect the four conductors properly in the shop panel, making sure the neutral bar is isolated from ground.
- Install a grounding electrode system (if the shop is detached from the main building).
- Bond the shop panel to the grounding electrode system.
What you actually want is useful power, which is measured in Watts (W), itself defined as Volts x Amps. Common USA outlets can't deliver much power.
That step-up/down transformer is no help. It can change voltage, but it can't change the amount of power the outlet can serve.
A sub-panel is a straightforward affair as Tester101 describes. My only addition is to "think big" - get a much larger panel than you need. Homeowners get stuck all the time when they run out of spaces in their panel. More spaces in the panel are cheap - in some cases it comes with free breakers.
And if the routing is complex, consider conduit - this lets you pull any wires you might want in the future.
You can re-designate your circuit 240V without running any new wire.
Get a 240V 2-pole breaker instead of the 120V.
Put black tape on both ends of all the white wires, to redesignate it as a "hot".
Change every outlet to NEMA 6 type.
Change every hard-wired load to a 240V load. Note that many lighting products made today are multi-voltage 100-277V.
At this point you will have nowhere to plug in 110/120V loads. You can power them off that step-up/down transformer you mentioned, although 2000W is big enough.