If you’re shopping for an electric floor grinder, electric floor scraper or other piece of surface preparation equipment, you need something powerful to do the job right. Similarly, if you are already using these machines, you depend on them to improve productivity, get great results, and allow you to move on to the next step of the project more quickly. However, the motor can only be as strong as the power source allows, which is why you need to be aware of the cord you are using. In fact, one question we are asked frequently is, “Can cord length affect machine power and performance?” and the short answer is yes.

Let’s take a closer look at how your cord can improve or hinder performance and what you can do to avoid problems.

Why Does Cord Length Matter?

The issue with how the power cord is what’s called “power drop,” or the amount of power lost as it travels through a cable or cord. The length and size, as well as the current running through the cable all affect how much power is lost. If you are using a small extension cord to plug in a lamp across a room, the power drop will be minimal because the amount of power is small. Similarly, a short cord will lose less power because it’s not travelling very far.

Power cords have resistance per foot, and if you’re dealing with a longer cable, the more resistance there is. Resistance is measured in ohms, and larger cables, such as an AWG 10 gauge, offer minimal resistance compared to an AWG 14 gauge cord. In fact, an AWG 14 gauge has a resistance of .25 ohms per 100 feet of cable, while an AWG 10 only has .1 ohm per 100 feet. That’s a significantly lower amount.

However, we also have to factor in the voltage drop to determine how much current will be running through the cable to determine the extent of the power drop. For example, if you’re using a floor scraper on a 15-amp outlet, you’ll experience a voltage drop of 1.5 volts on the AWG 10 cable, and a 3.75 volts on the AWG 14 cable (drop = ohm x amps). These numbers don’t sound like much, but converting this into watts, we’ll find that a 100 foot cable moving 15 amps will have a drop of 22.5 watts if it’s an AWG 10 gauge cable while the AWG 14 gauge will lose 56.25 watts.

To put it simply, no wonder you’re not getting the performance you need!

Minimizing Power Loss in Your Surface Prep Equipment

If you want to avoid doing complicated math to figure out your power drop, you have two solutions:

  1. Read the manufacturer’s guidelines. They will specify the maximum distance a machine can travel from the power supply and the cable you need to do so.
  2. If you have to cover large spaces and you don’t have reliably spaced power outlets or a strong generator, consider a propane floor grinder or propane floor scraper.

Find the Surface Prep Equipment You Need

If you’re in the market for surface preparation equipment, we can help you make the right choice. Whether you’re not sure about propane or electric, or you want to know more about the power capabilities of the electric machines, our experienced customer service team is here to help. Reach out to us today at  (815) 324-8071 or by filling out our contact form to get started!