You often see homeowners use extension cords in order to extend circuits to certain locations so that they may use their various power tools. Power tools often vary in the amount of power needed to properly function, so the power tool cords that you need to invest in may vary. In general, the amount of power that is needed for each device can usually be found on the device itself or on the original packaging. Although this information will usually list the amps needed in order to operate, the size of the extension cord that will be needed may not always be available for each tool.
An extension cord’s specific rating is based upon the level of amperage it can carry, the amount of wattage it can successfully handle, the gauge of the wire and the type of connectors it has. When it comes to determining the size of the extension cord for the amperage you need for a particular electrical device, keep in mind that the smaller the number of the wire gauge is, the more wattage and amperage it will be able to successfully handle. When buying extension cords, be sure to remember to determine the amount of wattage and current draw the specific power tool needs in order to operate properly. In general, power tool cords should have a rating that is at least equal to or greater than the requirements needed in order to run a tool effectively.
When determining what size gauge you will need to buy extension cords, a 14-gauge wire is ideal for detail sanders, drills and jig saws. A 12-gauge wire is best for slightly larger tools, such as belt sanders and reciprocating saws. For even larger power tools, such as circular saws, miter saws and routers, a 10-gauge will be sufficient. The largest power tools, including table saws and radial arm saws, also require 12-gauge wire.
Once you determine the wattage and current draw that your power tool needs to work properly, you will then need to figure out how long the extension cord needs to be. Heavy duty extension cords vary widely in length and can be as short as 25 feet or as long as 100 feet; however, if you need an extension cord that runs over 50 feet, it is highly recommended that you obtain a heavy duty extension cord. Due to the natural resistance of the wire, it is extremely important to use a heavy duty extension cord in order to accommodate voltage drop.