Electrical question and advice

So I have a ranfom question for you smart electronic folks out there. I am moving soon and unfortunately I will be geo baching it, long story short I am active duty have to move but family is staying due to my daughter finishing her senior year. So was going to take the machine with me and possibly have it set up in a storage facility, climate controlled as we cannot afford 2 houses and I will be staying in a barracks room. If I use the storage unit and wanted to buy a portable generator what wattage should I go with. My understanding is amps x volts =watts so makita router would be roughly 750watts but what about computer/machine electronics, or am I just going to be without a machine unless I have a wall outlet and hooked to electrical grid? Sorry for the book just figured I would get some insight.

Also what is the difference between a generator and an inverter?

There are a couple of considerations here beyond the base electrical draw.

First, if you are powering the trim router the UPS needs to output a sine wave.

My recommendation for this would be to:

  • use a battery-powered Makita
  • use a laptop or tablet w/ a battery

that should allow you to simplify this down to just the machine (and the tablet, plug it in as well).

It might work better to directly drive the machine using 24V DC (though that’s not something which is supported).

For power calculations see:


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A standard generator has to maintain a narrow engine RPM to keep the power frequency reasonably close to 50/60Hz while the actual power load varies …this can create brownouts & voltage spikes in the power as the generator tries to keep up with the load demand. These power fluctuations, especially voltage spikes, can damage electronics & fry control boards.

An inverter generator can take power from the engine at basically any RPM because it then re-forms it into a clean 60Hz sinusoidal waveform with very little noise. This has two major benefits: much more stable power which won’t inadvertently destroy your equipment with voltage spikes, & the generator can run at RPM’s that are better matched for the power demand, so it’s more efficient.

To run a Shapeoko off an inverter generator, I would probably look at something capable of 2500W continuous. Dust collection can be tuned back to about 600-800W, the standard trim router peaks out around 1300-1500W, but you’d never want to try pushing that hard continuously. The Shapeoko itself might need up to 80W during use, & a laptop 150W - the power supplies for many laptops are lower than this I believe. And I would also provide it with an earth grounding to keep the voltage stable & locally referenced.


I would not use dust collection as that would require a larger generator.

I would use an inverter / generator as they are MUCH quieter and provide clean power.

BTW, you asked for the definition of an inverter - It takes DC electricity from a battery and converts it to AC. The ones we are used to have inputs of 12, 24, or 48 volts and outputs of 120 and / or 240 volts. There are two basic types, sine wave and modified sine wave. The modified sine wave puts out a stepped output to resemble a sine wave - electronic equipment doesn’t like that. Then there are true sine wave inverters. For your purpose you would need lots of batteries and a way to charge them.

The inverter generator generates electric at a much higher frequency ( related to engine speed) rectifies it to DC and then feeds it into a sine wave inverter.


Since you can’t afford a second house that lets out the F-150 Lightning as a power source as well :joy:

Have you checked into whether any of the storage units offer power? My un climate controlled storage unit doesn’t and costs way too much in my opinion but finding somewhere else for all that wood is tough.

Where are you headed? Maybe there is some shop space for rent nearby.


@CullenS headed up to Norfolk may stop by and grab dome walnut from you on the way lol!

Thank you all for the insight on inverters and generators and sine waves ect… I hope to find a shop or place to use it just wanted to explore options as I love the hobby way too much and will have withdraw symptoms without doing some woodworking and cnc’ing! Lol

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If you simply want to make something, there’s always spoon carving — doesn’t take much beyond a pocket knife (though there are some elaborate setups including “spoon mules” (miniature shaving horses)

Another option is decorative carving of CNC cut pieces — ages ago, I did a chip carving into a wooden box purchased from a craft shop.


Thanks for your service. Good Luck with your adventures.

Be safe

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Sure, just let me know when.

Last time I was up that way there were several shopping malls that were completely empty. Maybe you can rent an old Sears.

If you can’t find a place to set up we will certainly miss your contributions so look hard :joy:

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If you use any type of generator watch out for carbon monoxide buildup in the space you will be using you only have one opening and no flow thru vents in the space.



Thanks @Zman this one should be my final one then retirement!!! Already have my ultimate shop designed up just fot to get there lol!

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These are pricey but they are cheaper than a house… I haven’t personally used one but I have seen plenty of people online running power tools with them and I believe they can be charged via outlet instead of solar as well. Again, no personal experience but maybe worth a look.


The other concern besides power is whether the storage location will object to your running machinery on that location as they are certainly not likely to have that type of insurance.
I’ve seen ones that don’t want gas stored in them in any way (ie no motorcycles, generators with fuel).

Simple answer, you are correct volts x amps is wattage. The inverter is what makes it able for you to plug normal power plugs into the generator and should be a built in feature. Monitors, led lights and things of that nature draw very little power. Vacuums, motors, and heaters draw lots of power. Honda 2000 generators are very nice( but expensive) and in general can run 1-2 big things a several little things at the same time( just add your wattage up). They also produce very clean power and sine waves. We have several pieces of equipment at work we run on a Honda because it better/ cleaner power than the power grid in anchorage Alaska. A Yamaha is your next best bet Hope that helps

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Yeah I have asked a few in the area mosr response was concerns with power and dust ect… but no objections to lightwork? Still have to ensure just thinking ahead, if i dont have power then no reason to ask so working that issue if that makes sense.

Absolutely what i was looking for recommendations always welcome.

As a navy spouse we just left portsmouth. Yes there is a makers space who you could talk with about maybe renting space in downtown norfolk. Let me know happy to hook you up. I never could find a rental space that I could also work out of. I thought maybe if you have a light in the space, you could wire an outlet to it and “borrow” the electricity. Good luck. Also let us know where you will be stationed as one base isn’t close to the other.

Thanks for the tips, we will see what happens and go from there, I did my first 8 years in Norfolk so familiar with the area as well. May just have to set up in a buddy’s garage.

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In exchange for a few free
Projects of course.

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Probably the best solution. Ya the Makers Space in down town norfolk by the hospital like you were heading to the naval base from portsmouth. Might be worth a look. My biggest issue I had was my table saw and several other tools kept getting all rusty from the humidity as my stuff was in a warehouse I used a small corner of. Good luck