110v vs 220v

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Forum topic by RichCMD posted 02-12-2013 11:28 AM 5180 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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430 posts in 3277 days

02-12-2013 11:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question power power tools voltage 110v 220v

I am a fledgling at this, but I have already determined I need more space for my workshop. The wife has agreed to help me swap my current nook in the basement with the larger space we currently are using for storage. I decided it might be good to have some plan for laying out the new space, so I probably will be asking a few more questions in the near future. Please pardon my ignorance. My question for today is about power tools that are rated for both 110v and 220v. Does running these tools on the higher voltage actually result in an increase in power (amperage, HP, etc.) or do they just have a built in transformer that steps the 220v down to 110v?

-- Ride the bevel!

22 replies so far

View stevejoly's profile


3 posts in 3394 days

#1 posted 02-12-2013 12:35 PM

I’m not the best with electrical but when running tools in 220 it requires half the amperage vs 110. This accomplishes a couple things, although I’m not sure more power is one of them. It allows for the same power with smaller gauge wire, it allows you to not run your tools near the capacity of your circuits, and please correct me if I’m wrong but it is cheaper to run.

View toolie's profile


2213 posts in 3964 days

#2 posted 02-12-2013 12:50 PM

correct me if I’m wrong but it is cheaper to run.

sorry. i believe that is incorrect as the wattage consumed remains the same in neither configuration. amps X voltage = watts. there are some motors that develop more HP in 240v configuration, but their data plate would indicate that and motors like that are rarely found in the 3hp and under motors that are on most of the tools available to hobbyists.

but 240 will provide for more useful amperage out of a service panel, so i’d suggest looking for 240v, or dual voltage, motors where possible. set up your new shop with a 60A sub panel with two 240v home runs. one for the power tool and the other for the dust collector. a separate 110v circuit for lights and two circuits for 110v outlets. that’s a good starting point.

-- there's a solution to every just have to be willing to find it.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7357 posts in 3829 days

#3 posted 02-12-2013 01:10 PM

There’s not a transformer to step the voltage down, they are just made in a way to allow them to operate on either voltage (with some minor wiring changes normally). Most 2 HP+ motors will need to have 240V, so it would be a good idea to have it available.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3524 days

#4 posted 02-12-2013 06:44 PM

Unlesss you get into the nitty gritty, whether you run a dual voltage tool on 220V or 110V does not affect its power (to any real extent). It just draws 1/2 as many amps on 220V. But there is still an advantage to using it on 220V. The reduced amp draw means both it and your wiring will run cooler. Heat is never a good thing for wiring or an electric motor, so your tool should live longer.

I don’t quite agree with toolie’s statement that 240V will provide for more useful amperage out of a service panel, as your service panel has a certain amp capacity (say 200 amps) and how you use it best depends highly on what you are trying to accomplish. But I do agree that anything that can run on 220V and is a fair power hog should be running on 220V rather than maxing out a 110V circuit. Less heat and less likelihood of tripping a breaker because too many things are on at the same time.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View thebeav's profile


2 posts in 4630 days

#5 posted 02-12-2013 08:17 PM

Recently had a new shop built with 5 dedicated 240v circuits. I am currently in the process of converting my dual rated tools over to 240v. Couple of things to keep in mind. You do have to perform some minor rewiring to the motor. Your tools instruction manual should have instructions for the conversion (or you can usually find on internet). Be sure the switch is rated for 240. If not you will need to upgrade. Be sure the power cord is rated for 240. If not, well you know the drill. And you will need to upgrade the plug to 240.

As for the questions on power. Before I converted my tablesaw it would bog down a bit when ripping some of the more dense hardwoods. Post conversion I haven’t noticed any bogging down at all. I assumed it was due to an increase in power going to 240. At least that is what my feeble mind tells me.

-- thebeav

View ajosephg's profile


1901 posts in 4897 days

#6 posted 02-12-2013 08:26 PM

@thebeav – the reason your saw works better on 240 is that there is less power lost in the wires to the saw, resulting in more power available to the motor. As discussed earlier the current will be about half when using 240 compared to 120. Voltage drop is based on ohms law where Voltage drop (across the wiring) = Current (Amps) times Resistance of the wire.

-- Joe

View knotscott's profile


8437 posts in 4712 days

#7 posted 02-12-2013 09:22 PM

Does running these tools on the higher voltage actually result in an increase in power (amperage, HP, etc.)

No, but depending on the particular motor and particular circuit involved, it often results in less voltage loss through the lines during peak demand, which allows the motor to run as it should without being starved for amperage, and causes less overheating. 220v allows for smaller gauge wire to be run, which can save some money on installation, but there are no appreciable differences in the electric bill.

There is no step down transformer in most tools.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View pauldye's profile


68 posts in 3420 days

#8 posted 02-13-2013 01:02 AM

My TS comes wired for 115V and has listed full-load amps of 15amp. The wire from the motor to the starter switch is 14GA, just enough based on NEC specification. So, if I change the motor to run as 230V with full-load amps of 7.5amp, then the wiring from the motor to the starter switch would be running cooler.

I guess I should convert the motor. After the motor changes, could I simply make a extention cord with a 115v recepticle on one end, to a 230v plug on the other?

View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 3521 days

#9 posted 02-13-2013 02:43 AM

The only upside to running on 220 is the motor has more power to draw from so it isn’t starving for power while under load. My sawstop contractor saw would get hot ripping 12/4 oak but while on 220, it was totally fine. (it still bogged a bit but it didnt get hot). Some say it recovers from bogging better but I didn’t experience this.

Maybe the motor will last longer?

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 4011 days

#10 posted 02-13-2013 02:47 AM

NO! don’t use the 15 amp 110V for your 220V saw. The main thing that could happen is someone will come in one day and plug in your favorite router and start it up to do something. Please get the correct ends for your wiring. When we have long runs of wire we lose our power. You have probably seen this information on some of the better tools. You can use 16 gauge up to 25 feet then 14 gauge to 50 feet then 12 gauge to 100 feets or something like that. that is what they are talking about. If you use 12 gauge wire for 20 amp 110V circuits. If you switch to 220V you will only draw 10 amps with the same motor. This is the loss you will see. The 20 amps in the 12 ga. wire should not heat the wiring or there is a problem. If you use the same wiring for the 220V it really runs cooler I suppose but we azre never going to know the difference. If your motor does bog down then you were overloading something in the past. Do get the correct receptacles and plugs for you 220V system. I believe if things are all good then you should notice no difference between the 2 voltages. IF you use a 15 amp receptacle like many do, then you are overloading the receptacle and the motor would bog down. Opearte cheaper. No, becaue your using half the amps but you are drawing it on 2 legs now instead of one. Same cost, same amperage drawn but we usually get the good receptacles rated for the correct amperage and we don’t bog down and heat up the motor.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


23303 posts in 5012 days

#11 posted 02-13-2013 02:52 AM

Try this

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 4011 days

#12 posted 02-13-2013 04:06 PM

I went to the Link you wrote Topa. the only thing I don’t agree with is the statement, “anyone can wire switches and receptacles”. WRONG! LOL They are among us. That is a couple of good tutorials you have written. Very informative. Thanks!

Now when we get to the capacitors… do I determine the value. I have a static converter that I bought and I find no values for the caps. I guess the guy removed them so he could sell a new converter….or is there a way to determine with with the equipment on hand. I do have a Fluke meter. Will that help?

View PurpLev's profile


8653 posts in 4984 days

#13 posted 02-13-2013 04:13 PM

220 is preferable for cooler wires, but will not give you more power out of the saw, not be more/less expensive to operate on.

it does open the possibility for higher HP machines though which is always a nice option to have.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View toolie's profile


2213 posts in 3964 days

#14 posted 02-13-2013 04:53 PM

I don’t quite agree with toolie’s statement that 240V will provide for more useful amperage out of a service panel

i stand by my statement. my shop is powered by a 30A subpanel. my former unisaw had a 3 hp dual voltage baldor motor. it drew 32A at 110v and 16A at 240v. i also use a delta 50-850 DC that draws 12A at 110v and 6A at 240v. had i wired those two tools for 110v operation, they could not have been operated simultaneously in my shop (32A+16A=48A) under any significant load. however, wired for 240v, they could both be operated on a single 20A 240 circuit without incident. the 20A breaker on my single 240 home run is <2>d have been more attentive to the benefit of 240v tools. but, hindsight is always 20/20.

-- there's a solution to every just have to be willing to find it.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 3284 days

#15 posted 02-13-2013 04:55 PM

saying it uses 1/2 the amperage is not exactly right. if a motor draws 15 amps on 110, and 7.5 on 220 that’s 7.5 per leg witch = 15 total
I do however agree on 220 they will run cooler, start fasted, and just seem happier. the same motor takes longer to reach full speed on 110 than 220. I generally go with the demand of the machine. 2 HP on up I run on 220. planers, TS, DC, Compressors, Things with heavy start loads. but things like DP, BS, jointer, 6×48 belt sander I would leave alone unless you use them a lot(production style)
it may save on wire cost, but then you will have to change out your plugs and cord ends
like I said usually 2 HP on up I would go 220 other wise I would leave well enough alone
I never thought about 3 phase (3phz) when I wired my shop and now I have a 7.5 rotary converter and have to run drops for 3phz in my finished shop. after thoughts suck so try to lay it out before hand and allow extras for oops. a few more $’s now will save $ and anguish in the future.

good luck

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