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I've got a collection of power tools in my garage, most of which are connected to a 15-amp circuit, that is also shared with all the exterior power outlets. So, if I'm using the mitre saw, tablesaw, bandsaw, dust collector, etc. etc. while my wife is pressure washing the deck out back, it trips the breaker, and leads to much cursing.

Fortunately, there is another outlet in the garage, which I guess is intended for a freezer? It has a single NEMA 5-20R(?) receptacle. And, at Lowes I was able to find a nice long 20-amp extension cord (very thick and yellow, with one of the flat pins vertical and the other one horizontal):

20-amp plug into wall

Using that, I've been hot swapping that between machines and that has essentially solved the original problem.

20-amp connection to my router

But the hot swapping is rather annoying. What I would love is to connect a power bar or splitter to the extension cord, so I can connect several machines to the same circuit. But so far I've not been able to find 20-amp power bars or splitters. Do such things even exist?

Assuming no, the next most obvious option would be to just use a standard 15-amp power strip. But is that safe?

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Is your breaker box near your garage or on the outside of your garage? If not could a circuit be ran on the outside of your house or underground? If the box is nearby or if you ran your own conduit it would be worth it to have an electrician put in a circuit. If conduit has to be run and you dig the trench then you would not have to pay for the labor for that part of the job. –  lqlarry Jun 29 '12 at 1:04
    
@lqlarry, indeed that's an option I've considered; the circuit panel is right in the garage not too far from the tools in fact. It's a good idea. Some day... –  Bryce Jun 29 '12 at 1:20
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The answer to your last question is "Yes", it is perfectly fine to use a 15 amp plug strip on a 20 amp circuit like you have. That is why the slots on the receptacle go both horizontal and vertical. I'd suggest a plug strip with it's own 15 amp resetable breaker built in. That will protect your lower amp tools.

The second issue would be to build your own multiple outlet strip with a two gang handy box and two 20 amp duplex receptacles and a length of 12 AWG or 10 AWG SO or SVT cable terminated with a 20 amp plug.

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I would say it's mandatory to have the 15A breaker on the power strip (or change the one in the service panel) because a 15A power strip on a 20A breaker can see up to 24A continuously. Even draws in the 24-30A range will still make it past the breaker for anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours (until the overload protection, which relies on a bimetal strip heating up, kicks in, and if that bimetal strip is reaching temps of several hundred degrees, I'd imagine your power strip will too.) The DIY 20A power strip is a cool idea too. –  Michael Jun 28 '12 at 16:46
    
+ vote @ Micheal. A 15 amp power strip is important on a 20 amp circuit. Great comments. –  shirlock homes Jun 29 '12 at 0:17
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