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I am just starting out on my first major project this weekend and I am looking at getting some new tools. I've had experience using plenty of 240v power tools, but now that I am looking at getting my own I don't know if to go for 110v or 240v.

The tools I am planning on getting to start with are

  • Mitre Saw
  • Plunge Router

Both of these 110 and 240v variations (I'll likely get Makita) are priced the same from Screwfix (UK hardware store), so price is irrelevant.

I've seen some articles and forums talk about the supposed positives (safer or more powerful) and negatives (less powerful, carrying around a transformer) of both power levels, but nowhere that offers any conclusive advice.

I am purely a DIY person at the moment (i.e. this isn't my job) but I might consider this as an option in the future. That said, if there are any legitimate reasons for a job to get one over the other I still think these apply (if it is to reduce risk on site I think that applies just as much to DIYers)

For me carrying round a transformer for 110v is a non-issue - it's just part of what you have to do (and the price for a single transformer is also not an issue).

So

  1. Does 240V offer better performance over 110V
  2. Is 110V considerably safer in worst case?
  3. If One is "no" and Two is "yes" then why would anyone get 240v?
  • What country are you in? Mains electricity by country: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country#Voltages – Wayfaring Stranger Dec 14 '15 at 23:47
  • UK - I can use either via transformer. The question is which (110 is normally more professional and 240 is normally more DIY) but why and is it important? – tim.baker Dec 14 '15 at 23:49
  • AIUI (not being from there, but observing things going by) 110-120VAC is commonly used for "construction site power" in the UK, and otherwise basically not. So, for a home or simply fixed shop user, 240V tooling makes sense - the only reason 120 would be "more professional" is that professionals are more likely to be working on a construction site that uses it as the only available power. Less resistive losses due to lower current for the same power make 240V a superior source of motor power, such that most "professional shop tools" in the USA that stay in shops run off it. – Ecnerwal Dec 14 '15 at 23:57
  • Interesting; I would have assumed that anywhere mains power was 240VAC there'd be an obvious superiority to 240VAC appliances. I guess not. – Daniel Griscom Dec 15 '15 at 0:14
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Does 240V offer better performance over 110V

240V means less losses in wiring which may lead to better performance at the end of long extension leads. Other than that I wouldn't expect much difference assuming the tools are otherwise equivilent (e.g. you aren't comparing "DIY grade" 240V gear to "professional grade" 110V gear).

Is 110V considerably safer in worst case?

Debatable. 110V, especially the centre tapped 110V system used on UK construction sites is less likely to give you a fatal shock if you come into contact with exposed wiring.

On the other hand the lower voltage combined with the use of small transformers significantly increases the risk of a fault drawing a current which is high enough to cause a fire risk but low enough not to blow a fuse/trip a breaker. The use of an isolation transformer also defeats RCD protection unless an additional RCD is installed after the transformer (which is not the case with typical portable "yellow bricks").

So it really depends on the environment. In an indoor workshop I would be more concerned about fire than electrocution (though I wouldn't be massively concerned about either) and would prefer the 240V tool.

If I was going to be frequently using the tools outdoors in the rain I might make a different judgement.

If One is "no" and Two is "yes" then why would anyone get 240v?

Transformers cost money, take up space, are a pain to lug around and waste power.

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