lights flicker while starting my tablesaw, Maybe a fix?

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Forum topic by Frankie Talarico Jr. posted 04-28-2010 01:00 PM 7219 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3350 days

04-28-2010 01:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw electricity brown out

I started enough trouble in the past few weeks so now I have a question related to my TS. I know this happens to a lot of people, As a matter a fact it’s mostly in home shops. When powering on my TS, my flouresent lights flicker for about 2-3 seconds, almost like a “Brown out”. I was thinking, is it possible to put an inline capacitor. I know a capasitor stores energy and “should” give the initial punch to get that thing turning. It’s really not a problem, as much as it is an annoyance.

This was the situation when I was learning, and I’ve seen it at multiple home based shops. I don’t think there is any hazards involving the flicker. To me it’s the ballast losing it’s current while the TS draws enough to get going, once spinning everything is fine.

Am I just being too anal? I’m sure this is very common and I should forget about it but I was wondering if anyone tried the capacitor thing.

I have a 50’s model craftsman TS. The one with an aluminium face, and cast iron guts and table. I love it. Also it runs on 110V. My guess is 220V don’t have this problem. It may also be a factor that i have only 100 Amp service into the house.

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

24 replies so far

View John Steffen's profile

John Steffen

218 posts in 3049 days

#1 posted 04-28-2010 01:40 PM

There are a lot of factors that could be causing it. It could be the 100A service, and if it is, then lights in the house should be affected by the problem also. It’s also possible that the wire carrying power to your shop is undersized. Do you have a dedicated breaker box in the garage?

I can tell you that 220 isn’t the answer. My dad and I just wired up my shop for my 220 saw and the lights still dim just a touch when I kick it on.

Also, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Note: this is based on my limited electrical experience, so take what I said with a grain of slat.

-- Big John's Woodshed - Farmington, IL

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3348 days

#2 posted 04-28-2010 02:00 PM

The problem is the capacitor on the motor draw all the amperage at start up…Or something like this…more power to get it started drains from the light circuit…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3350 days

#3 posted 04-28-2010 02:39 PM

My shop is in my basement. I just finally started gathering tools of my own now. I always had access to a shop just now I am doing my own. I currently own most of the tools needed, except a few( which I’m working on). I guess my question is regarding a PITA issue not so much a problem…. So what you’re saying is a capacitor won’t solve the problem, as it draws the amperage from the circut. I thought a capacitor was more like a battery that stores power so there is not an excess of draw from the light circut.

My power is direct from the electircal box, less than 20 ft away from my saw. Has anybody overcome this problem, well actually not a problem but an inconveinience.

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3879 days

#4 posted 04-28-2010 02:59 PM

A WORD TO THE WISE – Consult a professional electrican !

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

10476 posts in 3422 days

#5 posted 04-28-2010 03:05 PM

I don’t think a capacitor will helpr. You probably don’t want to hear this but, a dedicated circuit for your larger electric tools is the answer.
If you have room in the main, have an electrical contractor install a 20 amp breaker and run a line from it to new outlets in the shop for your machines. As long as only one machine is operating at a time, It’ll be OK.
I’ve been told that, continuing the way you are, your ballasts will fail sooner.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 3687 days

#6 posted 04-28-2010 03:06 PM

Well I think that people should be able to post what ever projects they want to post!

CHA HA kidding.

I don’t know if this is an issue for you but my shop is a garage with no windows. One day somehow I tripped a breaker that killed the lights but did NOT kill the saw. I was standing at a running table saw half way though a cut in the dark. OH MY GOSH SCARY! I stopped all work in the shop until I got the power issue worked out and also got a safety light that comes on right away in the event of a power outage. I know I am not helping with your question but I saw the words “lights flicker” and felt I had to give a heads up about the unrealized dangerous situation that I was working in. Don’t let that happen to you.

PS. I installed two dedicated breakers in my garage for running my machines. It seems to have fixed everything BUT what if you are working and your wife has a curling iron plugged in and then turns on the vacuum cleaner and LIGHTS OUT! I’m just saying…. EMERGENCY LIGHTING!!!!

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2955 days

#7 posted 04-28-2010 03:07 PM

I think part of the problem is how your house is wired. 100 amp service tells me that your house is an older construction when electrical appliances, computers, etc. were at a minimum. I had a house that had 90 amp service and was upgraded to 150 amp with splitting off several circuits to distribute the power load more evenly. I would get some prices from electricians to rework your electrical service. It could be a DIY project if you know what you are doing.
Let us know the outcome.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3474 days

#8 posted 04-28-2010 03:11 PM

Is your table saw on the same circuit that the lights are on? If so, you might want to put it on its own circuit. Switching to 220 V would help too since it would draw less current and would then have to be on its own circuit. I have floresent lights in my shop but they are on their own circuit and I dont get any flickering.
100 amp service should be enough as long as you dont have a lot of large current drawing items on in the house at the same time.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3642 days

#9 posted 04-28-2010 03:31 PM

you’ll need to put the saw on it’s own dedicated circuit, whether you want to go 220, or 110 this will make little difference (the only reason to go with 220 for these smaller saws – and I have one myself) is if you are bound to use older cables that cannot support higher amperage, in which case having 220 with low amp but high voltage is the answer.

regardless – you’ll need to fix your electrical circuits to separate your saw from the rest of the lights/outlets. as mentioned – consult an electrician would be the safest bet.

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

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3350 days

#10 posted 04-28-2010 03:34 PM

Thanks guys, I’ll be looking into a dedicated circut. It seems to be the best answer, and Probrably the safest route. That shouldn’t be too bad in price, and is simple enough as I have plenty of space in the breaker.

You’re right about the house being older…lol built in 1906. Big old farmhouse with actual log framing with mortise and tenon, for the floor joists. I’ll take some pictures of the old school carpenters wokmanship. I can finally post a shop, and actually start posting more projects.

Emergency lights…... awesome idea. I’ll be looking into that too.

Maybe I’ll start with pens… J/K. no really I want to get a lathe and try my hand at that.

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

View Alan S's profile

Alan S

181 posts in 3311 days

#11 posted 04-28-2010 03:34 PM

A capacitor would be appropriate if your problem was with a DC circuit, like the power system in your car. This is the case where the capacitor would enhance the car battery. In your house, where everything is AC, a capacitor won’t do you any good. Just FYI.

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3350 days

#12 posted 04-28-2010 04:10 PM

thanks alan. I better understand now. DC vs. AC. Looks like it’s going to be a few dedicated circuts around the shop

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3918 days

#13 posted 04-28-2010 04:15 PM

Yea I have a dedicated 220VAC breaker just for my saws, joiner and planner and just switch plugs when I use the one I need I have an S/O cord on a strain relief that hangs from the ceiling.

PS, Your motors more then likely have start capacitors already and are used to aid in starting the motor until it reaches a speed that is safe so that the current draw will not destroy the motors windings, basically

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3168 days

#14 posted 04-28-2010 04:25 PM

But … Alan ...

A simple series of bridge rectifiers, and he’d ….

Just kidding.

Dedicated circuits, and you, too, will see the light :-)

I’ve got three 20A 110V dedicated circuits for the major machinery. Then, the lighting is on ITS own circuit.

-- -- Neil

View technicallymark's profile


10 posts in 2970 days

#15 posted 04-28-2010 04:26 PM

My air compressor has a similar problem. When it starts, it draws a good amount of amps and sucks electricity away from everything else on that circuit. I’m not an electrician, but I slept at a holiday inn last night so… most plugs and circuits are 15 amps, which is fine for the vacuum cleaner and a light. But most washing machine outlets are 20 amps because the motor takes a little bit more. On my house, built in the 80s, the 20 amp circuit has the clothes washer, dish washer, refrigerator, and garbage disposal. What I end up doing is unplugging the washing machine and using that outlet since it has the extra juice to get things started and I won’t be running all those things at once. If you can find the amperage rating for the saw’s motor, that should tell you what amperage rating you need for the tool(circuit must have higher amperage than tool). You may be able just to run another 20 or even 30 amp 110 line, depending on what’s available on your box, what code is for your area, and what the electrician says. I recommend three quotes from 3 different electricians. I work with construction electricians who must run wiring for the equipment I install and service, and there seems to be a huge variation in knowledge and skill. Good luck!

-- Love the taste of sawdust in the morning!

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