Watts that you say? What is a watt? And how many of them do I need to run my reciprocating saw, you ask? And what (or watt) is a Sawzall, and is it different from a reciprocating saw?
Well, a watt is a unit of power and is used to measure the rate of energy transfer to the power tool’s motor. That energy travels either through the power cord or from the battery to run your power tools. Plug it in for the corded tool, or attach the battery pack for the cordless, and if the wattage of the current is sufficient, your reciprocating saw will operate well and make those cuts.
An amp is the measure of electrical energy through an electrical line. It is distinguished from a watt in that the watt is the power of that energy traveling through the line, the overall working capacity.
The formula for determining wattage is the amps times the volts. Voltage is the electrical force that moves electrons from one atom to another. Put another way, just as water needs pressure to force it through the pipes in your house, so does electricity need a force to move it along. A volt is the measure of that electrical pressure that forces the electrical current.
Putting that all together in simple terms, we have the electrical energy (amp) forced by the electrical pressure (volt) that produces the power (watt) that drives the motor in your power tool. There’s more to it than that, but those are the basics.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s get to the question. The answer is it depends. It depends on the size of the motor driving the tool.
A reciprocating saw, so named because of the short, back and forth cutting stroke of the blade, is a beast that will cut through just about anything, including nails. Cutting speeds range from between 2600 and 3000 strokes per minute. It’s not a fine cutting and crafting work tool, for sure. As such, it requires a fair amount of power to do its job well.
For example, a DEWALT reciprocating saw carries an 1100 watt motor and is a heavy-duty power tool for just about any task, from steel pipe cutting to job site construction work. It is suitable for demolition and remodeling and will run you around $125 for the corded version at the big DIY stores.
Milwaukee brand introduced the Sawzall in the early 1950s, trademarking the name, which is now used generally to refer to any reciprocating saw. A 12 amp Sawzall at 120 volts will need 1440 watts of power: 120v x 12amps – 1440 watts.
Most homes have an electrical service of between 100 and 200 amps. Since 12 amps has an 1800 watt capacity, your household electricity supply and 15 amp circuit breakers will be able to give the Sawzall what it needs to do the job.
Is a 6 Amp Reciprocating Saw Powerful Enough?
Generally speaking, no. Most reciprocating saws vary from between 9 and 15 amps of power. A 6 amp saw will likely get bogged down in anything other than light cutting here and there, and the cuts will take a very long time to make.
Something mid-point in that range, 12 amps, should be sufficient for the amateur DIYer for around-the-house work, as well as a contractor for demolition and renovation work. Remember that 12 amps has an 1800 watt capacity. Depending on the brand, a 12 amp saw will run you between $175 and $300.
For those who have never used a reciprocating saw, or Sawzall, here’s a basic video on how to choose and use one.
Reciprocating saw, Sawzall…the name is used interchangeably. They will use between 1100 and 1440 watts, generally speaking, at 12 amps. And 12 amps has an 1800 watt capacity, so the average home electrical service will be, if you’ll pardon the pun, ample for their needs.