220 Electrical Extension Reel

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Forum topic by scjetson posted 05-23-2016 01:25 PM 871 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 937 days

05-23-2016 01:25 PM

Recently moved and setting up my new shop in garage with a concrete floor. I am going to put in a 220 drop cord for my table saw. I thought instead I would make my drop out of a AWG 12-3 electrical reel but change the plug ends so a 110 tool could not be inserted. This way I could get the cord easily out of the way when not in use. Has anyone ever done this or thing it is a bad idea?

9 replies so far

View UpstateNYdude's profile


917 posts in 2185 days

#1 posted 05-23-2016 01:34 PM

I’ve made 220 extension cords, never a reel, although I suppose you could just retrofit a 110 reel but most of the time 12 AWG cord wire is thicker then the normal 12 AWG used for 110 extensions. Not sure how long you’re making it but can be a tad expensive on longer runs, usually HD or Lowes are right around $1-$1.50 /ft.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

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13 posts in 937 days

#2 posted 05-23-2016 02:07 PM

Thanks for your reply Upstate NY dude. I grew up in Upstate near Elmira NY. You are correct. I tired to retro fit an existing 110 reel but as you say the AWG 12-3 was too thick to make it work. Northern Tools have a 12-3 extension reel on sale. My plan is to buy it and cut off most of the length to just around 15 ft. I should be fine because my table saw running on 220 drops the amperage so low on each leg the 12 gauge that is on the reel from Northern should be fine. It will be handy to have it on a reel.

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5286 posts in 1923 days

#3 posted 05-23-2016 02:43 PM

Are you guys referring to the diameter of the insulating jacket containing all three wires? I only ask because 12 AWG is going to have the same cross sectional area regardless of the voltage it is designed to carry, if stranded (which cords are) the number of strands can make for more space between the individual conductors. Another thing that you would want to be careful about converting a 120V cord reel to 240V is the slip rings inside and the fact that they are very likely to be in accessible for modification (a possible fire could result in no coverage) to handle the additional power.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View WhyMe's profile


1073 posts in 1763 days

#4 posted 05-23-2016 03:08 PM

You need to see what the original amperage rating is on the cord reel. Converting from 120V to 240V should not be a problem, it’s the amps being pulled through the reels internal contacts. 12-3 reel is most likely rated at 15A.

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2636 posts in 1589 days

#5 posted 05-23-2016 03:38 PM

I am certainly no expert but I’ve read that you can technically change the plug and receptacle on a cord reel to convert it to 220v as long as the gauge is sufficient for the current you’ll draw. Whether that is a good idea for a table saw motor is another question. My understanding is that it is generally not a good idea to run a motor on a coiled cord because it puts additional strain on the motor and can cause the cord to overheat but perhaps as long as the cord is fully extracted during use that might not be a problem?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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10739 posts in 1688 days

#6 posted 05-23-2016 04:08 PM

Unless it’s special order it’ll only have 3 sets of rotating contacts. Enough for 120 or 240 but not 120/240 with ground. They can get real expensive really quick. I wouldn’t suggest putting anything above a fractional hp motor on one of those reels. Especially if it’s a cheap one.

Had to put a 30A 120v reel up because a 1HP hoist obliterated a 20A 120v reel. In the cheap units the contacts are cheap and it may hold for awhile but motor startup will put a hurting on them. Look up reelcraft reels.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View UpstateNYdude's profile


917 posts in 2185 days

#7 posted 05-23-2016 04:14 PM

Yes BBYeti I was referring to the jacket I know the wires carry the same load both can go to a limit of 20amps on 12AWG.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View scjetson's profile


13 posts in 937 days

#8 posted 05-23-2016 09:20 PM

Thank you all for the excellant input! I picked up a15 Amp 12 gauge reel at Northern Tool. I am actually going to cut off about half the length because I do not need it that long and I want to put on blade turn connector ends. I don’t want to forget and try to plug in a 110 drill to the reel. The saw pulls15 amps on 110 so each leg on 220 is only 7.5 amps so the reel slip rings will only be carrying 7.5 on each leg. I think should be fine.

View runswithscissors's profile


2892 posts in 2227 days

#9 posted 05-25-2016 03:54 AM

12-2 with ground is all you need. There is no neutral wire in a saw’s 220 input. But I suppose if you bought a cord reel with 12-2 (plus ground) wire on it, it’s a moot point. I have made up several 220 extension cords, including one I use outdoors. Works fine. And your fifteen footer will work perfectly fine, as the voltage drop in that distance is negligible.

Saw an interesting case of voltage drop one time. My friend had his compressor hooked up to a 110 outlet with a 100 foot cord, even though the outlet was only about 5 feet away. The juice, of course, had to travel the whole hundred feet to reach the compressor (and the wire was of light gauge). When the compressor tried to restart against existing tank pressure, it couldn’t. Just sat there and hummed. A shorter cord fixed the problem.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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