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power supply questions

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  • power supply questions

    I have two circuits in my garage/shop that I use. One is a 20a single outlet circuit that I have all my benchtop/stationary tools run off, and the other is the 15a circuit that does the lights, my workbench, the garage doors, etc. I also run my shop vac off the 15a circuit to keep the big tools on their own.

    My question is this- which is the better way to run the stationary tools- right now I have a 15ft 12g extension cord with a couple of the orange 3 way splitters on the end giving me 5 usable outlets (I can only run one tool at a time off it) but between all my tools I have to rotate plugs constantly. And we all know that there are more tools out there to be bought. I found a "heavy duty" 8 outlet power strip- 12g 8' cord, 15a circuits, that would be attractive. even has dust covers for unused outlets. But all my manuals say "never" use a power strip- to me this one seems like it can handle it. What do you guys think?

  • #2
    If it's possible to extend that 20A circuit so that you have outlets in the places where you need them - that would probably be the best solution. Otherwise you might want to post your question at the electrician's forum - either here or at Good luck


    • #3
      i agree that would be ideal. the original purpose of that outlet is for the pump, I don't know if there's a code req that the pump has to be on a single outlet circuit. It probably wouldn't matter but we will most likely be moving in a year and night now adding a strip is just more convienent and we can still market the house as being set up for a bathroom downstairs.

      It's a concrete brick wall but otherwise unfinished so adding another outlet would not be a huge deal.

      Either way, I used the strip yesterday and it worked fine for my bigger tools (amperage/power wise) so I'm happy.

      Thanks for the replies. Now I can get back to saving up for my future 3650...


      • #4
        For what it's worth, I have noticed that my tools run better on a 20amp circuit then they do on a 15amp circuit. I suspect that if I campared the 15amp with extension cord to 15amp w/o extension cord the tools would probably run better w/o the extension cord. I have read that the manufacturers recomend against using extension cords - I think becasue they produce a drop in voltage - which is supposedly harmful to the tools. Good luck.


        • #5
          you just have to be sure you have a big enough cord and it's not too long. a 12g cord is basically the same as the wiring at the outlet.

          just basic physics. longer cords need bigger gages to carry the same current.


          • #6
            Power Block

            Why don't you build yourself a power block instead of using a power strip. I bought some 10-2 with ground at Menards for mine. Get some metal boxes, mount them on a board and use 20-amp receptacles for your block. If you want, you can check out the Electrical Isle at your local home center and pick up a handy box with a fuse. Use the old fashioned screw-in types. That way, you can pick the amperage you want to fuse the block for, 15-amp, 20-amp, 20-amp slow burn for large motors, etc. Make sure you pick up a BIG plug for it, one that will handle that 10-2 neoprene cord you bought. If you can't find one you like at a home center, hit a good electrical supply house, they'll be able to set you up. I'm assuming your garage already has GFCI, if not, make sure the first outlet in your power block is GFCI and then wire all the downstream outlets for GFCI protection off the 1st one. The neoprene will give you great flexibility down to about -20 degrees, so your cord will remain flexible during cold weather usage. This way your power block will handle all the power you can pull off the original 20-amp outlet and then some. The fusing at the block will protect your motors from burnout (depending upon which amp fuse you plug in) and the GFCI's will protect YOU from damp environment, water on the floor, a ground fault in your double insulated tools, etc. Both you and your tools will be happy with that!
            If your in business, DONT take that block onto a job site. OSHA won't approve. Power centers at job sites aren't supposed to have any metal boxes with knockout ability -- something about the fact that an errant piece of rebar could slide into box through knockout and fault the entire system, etc. etc. etc. Anyway, there are some expensive power boxes out there you can use on a job without getting cited by OSHA, but in your own garage, this setup should be more than adequate and give you lots of needed protection.
            Jim Don