No matter how well your shop is wired, it always seems like there are times you need an extension cord. Or, if it’s not in the shop, it’s on the job site. But those cords are always a pain and a time suck to roll out and roll up neatly, and available mechanical cord reels are a less than perfect solution. Now comes the RoboReel, a spherical cord reel that looks and works like no other cord reel you’ve seen.

In the round 

Right away you’ll notice the most obvious thing about the RoboReel, its shape and color. About the size of a basketball and bright orange, the spherical cord reel is enclosed in a multipurpose frame with rubber grips for carrying and gripping the floor. The frame is also designed so you can hang it in an optional wall hanger.

More than just a cute gimmick, the spherical reel housing is designed to rotate 360 degrees, and its fully enclosed construction helps to keep dust and dirt off the cord. The cord itself is 50 feet long with heavy-duty 12-gauge wire, a triplex outlet and a rubber stop collar.

Operation and electronics 

To use the RoboReel, first plug in its power cord, which has a 15-amp circuit breaker on the plug. Then pull out the cord from the reel as long as you need it. There’s no spring tension to fight; just pull it to the exact length you need. Finally, push and hold the center button on the outlet end and see the LEDs illuminate to tell you the cord is operational and ready to be used.

When it comes time to roll the cord up, just press the center button to turn the power off, then press again, and the cord quickly rolls itself back into the sphere. But rather than the dangerously fast whipping action you might experience with spring operated reels, this power reel can be programmed to slow down at a prescribed distance just before it reaches the end of the line. If you are closer to the reel than the end of the cord, you can also roll it up by pushing a button on the top of the sphere.

Inside the sphere there are also smart electronics that offer thermostatic detection if the cord is being overloaded or getting too hot, and the system will shut down the power even if the normal circuit breaker has not been tripped. Likewise, if you accidentally cut the power cord with a saw or some other tool, the system shuts down immediately.

Of course, all of this doesn’t come cheap. The portable RoboReel we tested lists for $279. A ceiling-mounted unit with a clever self-leveling ball joint goes for $299. RoboReel is covered by a 4-year, 4,000-wind guarantee. And the company is also developing similar units for air lines and water hoses. To learn more, go to www.roboreel.com.

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