Why your miter saw keeps tripping the breaker
Your miter saw trips the breaker or dims the lights during a cut, because power saws draw high levels of power, quickly. Many homes cannot handle a sudden surge in demand, resulting in the breaker tripping. A soft start adapter can help this issue.
Miter saw trips GFCI or AFCI
This is most commonly a problem in older homes with less capable power outlets and circuits. However, newly built homes or poorly wired homes can also have this occur. If you’ve ever noticed your lights flicker or quickly dim when your washing machine changes cycles or someone turns on a hair dryer, it’s likely a miter saw will trip the breaker.
Whether you have GFCI or AFCI installed in your house, your miter saw can keep tripping the breaker. These types of safety features are more designed to protect your home from fire, and users from electrical shock.
In other words your miter saw will continue to trip the breaker even with these types of receptacles installed in your home.
Chop saw keeps tripping breaker, same problem
In the eyes of your home’s breaker, chop saws and miter saws are the same. They run at about the same RPM and draw a similar level of power in order to reach top speed.
You might be wondering at this point, “why aren’t power saw manufacturers doing something about this?”. In fact, some are! Some major brands like Bosch sell models of miters saws that have a “soft start” feature. This means that the saw slowly speeds up over the course of about 5 seconds. This is much easier on your breaker and these miter saws don’t trip the breaker at all.
The trouble is, is that adding a soft start feature to a saw is pricey. You’re looking at about an extra $80-$150 for a miter saw with a soft start vs one without. This is why soft start is not a standard feature. It isn’t necessary for most users, however, for the users who need it, it’s vital.
What is a soft start for a miter saw?
So what’s the easiest and cheapest solution for keeping your miter saw from tripping the breaker? Adding a soft start adapter is both the cheapest and easiest solution. These adapters plug into the outlet, and then have a plug for your miter saw. This way your power saw isn’t directly connected to the outlet, but has to pass through the adapter first. These are just as good as a soft start feature.
Here’s a great video explaining soft start adapters:
I want to mention a couple important things about using soft start features with your miter saw. First, is a safety precaution. Miter saws without a soft start feature reach full RPM very quickly and you don’t really have to allow the blade to speed up, because it happens usually in under a second. This speed is why it’s tripping the breaker in the first place.
With a soft start, you must allow the miter saw to reach its full speed before making the cut. If you don’t you can cause your miter saw to bind, this can damage the material, the miter saw blade and the internals of your saw. Give it at least 3-5 seconds to reach full speed.
The next point is that soft start adapters aren’t cheap. They start at $80 and can easily reach $200 for home use soft start adapters. Not cheap for an addon feature I know. However, if you’re having this problem with your miter saw, you’ll likely see the same problem in other applications in your home.