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Thread: Portable 240 volt power converter?

  1. #1

    Default Portable 240 volt power converter?

    First a small tool gloat. At an auction last weekend I picked up an INCA 10 1/2 inch jointer/planer combo machine for $400. The machine is currently wired for 240 volts and I'm not. While I was surfing around for info on 240 volt power I came across the Quick 220 (www.quick220.com):

    q220.JPG


    From my lurking around here I know that there are some members with experience in electrical areas. I'd like to know if anyone uses one of these units and what you think of this system. How much of a drawback is the potential need to use an extension cord to find a suitable second 110v outlet? At $135 to $160 for a 15 or 20 amp unit how does this compare to installing a 220v breaker and running 50 feet of line? Are there any other pitfalls to be aware of (extension cord wire gauge, etc.)? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Voltage doubler

    I don't have any experience with this particulare type of thing but I can see one immediate problem.

    A 110V 15A circuit has about 1700 Watts in it, when you run it through any sort of converter you loose some of that power ( 3rd law of thermodynamics TANSTAAFL ). I have a huch that your jointer is wired for 220V because it needs to draw more than 1700 Watts ( 220V 7.5A). So you are out of luck on two counts.

    Personally, I'd run the cable and mayber even use 12 AVG so as to have 220V @ 20A. The main effort is in running the wire, the wire itself is relatively cheap so why penny pinch.

  3. #3
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    Default

    All that box is doing is taking L1 from one outlet and L2 from another outlet. You could do the same for about $20 with parts from the borg.

    The biggest issue is that when you have L1 and L2 combined to provide 220 volts in a box the breakers must be tied together at the breaker panel.

  4. #4
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    Bill

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave W in Calgary View Post
    All that box is doing is taking L1 from one outlet and L2 from another outlet. You could do the same for about $20 with parts from the borg.

    The biggest issue is that when you have L1 and L2 combined to provide 220 volts in a box the breakers must be tied together at the breaker panel.
    This device wouldn't be my preferred method to get 240V.
    They have some "smarts" built into it to avoid problems (they say).

    From their spec sheet:

    • Meets UL Standard 1363
    • Tested and Listed by Intertek, a laboratory approved by OSHA to test products for workplace safety.
    • Patented safety circuit checks and automatically locks out power circuits until connections and voltages are correct.
    • Interlock immediately and simultaneously electrically disconnects all input and output power lines if one of the 110 cords becomes disconnected or looses power.
    billh

  5. #5
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    Default Oh Oh

    I didn't realize that the unit had two plugs.

    In that case its a Bad Idea (tm).

    As previously posted, it requires the hot wires on the plugs be out of phase with each other. If they are both the same then you have 115. According to the parts of the code that I've read if you have a socket that is fed by two separate hots ( normally either a split duplex or a 220V socket) then you MUST have the breakers tied together. If its a fuse panel then the fuses must be tied together. In both cases they want it impossible for someone to go to the panel, trip one of the breakers ( pull one fuse) and go back to what they think is a dead circuit.

    The other thing that occurs to me is that with a true 220V circuit this is a common neutral and ground in use. I suspect there are some other nasty consequences when you use separate grounds and especially neutrals in this type of setup.

    Personally I use two testers, one that you plug into a socket to see if the three prong socket is OK and one that has two leads and a little light. I also test both sockets and all wire combinations. Even if I "know" the circuit is off I still check, I used up my good luck points finding out someone had wired a circuit, was switching the neutral and that the hot was still live.

    I lucked out and felt a "tingle" when I touched the box. I went to the distribution panel and pulled the fuse, used the tester, did the necessary work, put the fuse back in and then figured out why the socket had been live with the switch on the "off" position. Fixed the switch and then tested the rest of the house. There were other "challenges" that some creative person had done. I don't even know how they could have passed inspection.

    Like Holmes says "Do it right the first time".

  6. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fdaluet View Post
    I didn't realize that the unit had two plugs.

    In that case its a Bad Idea (tm).

    As previously posted, it requires the hot wires on the plugs be out of phase with each other. If they are both the same then you have 115. According to the parts of the code that I've read if you have a socket that is fed by two separate hots ( normally either a split duplex or a 220V socket) then you MUST have the breakers tied together. If its a fuse panel then the fuses must be tied together. In both cases they want it impossible for someone to go to the panel, trip one of the breakers ( pull one fuse) and go back to what they think is a dead circuit.

    The other thing that occurs to me is that with a true 220V circuit this is a common neutral and ground in use. I suspect there are some other nasty consequences when you use separate grounds and especially neutrals in this type of setup.

    ...
    I don't know why I'm bothering to "sort of defend" this device and I don't know if it is approved for use in Canada although it meets a UL standard among other things.

    The circuitry apparently turns off the power at the 240V receptacles if 240V is not available at the input, ie, the plugs are either on the same phase or one or both are not connected. So if one breaker trips, the device would shut off all power at the 240V receptacles.

    Neutrals are a non-issue since no current flows in the neutrals in a 240V circuit.

    Like, I said before, I wouldn't buy one of these things; I would put in a 240V circuit. However, buying one of these things is safer than making your own if all you are doing is connecting a couple of plugs to a 240V receptacle without the safety circuit.

    billh

  7. #7
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    Default

    Antoszgo,

    I think it's a great idea. For people who are renting or want to use a 220v tool away from the shop I can't see a problem if it meets code.

    It would be cheaper than having an electrician wire the circut for you, more expensive than doing it yourself if you have the ability to do it correctly; much much cheaper than if you don't have the ability to do it correctly.

    take care,

    Matt
    SPCHT


  8. #8

    Default Portable 240 volt power converter

    It was the portability of the unit that got my attention. I thought it would be handy to move tools outside when I needed to make a lot of woodchips. It looks to me like the unit does outside of the panel what a dedicated circuit would do inside the panel.

    Does anyone know if these people have any competition? I haven't been able to find a similar offering from anyone else.

    John

  9. #9

    Default

    I would only use this device if it is CSA approved. UL approval is not good enough. We have higher standards in this country and they have been developed through time from many accident investigations. CSA standards and the electrical code rules are there for a reason even if we don't understand why.

    Having said that, it is a neat device that has good potential.

  10. #10
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    Default

    Rather than rehash the previous posts but I will add that I personally would not use this device because if I could use this I also could wire a 240v plug.

    If you have no 240v because you only have one 120v circuit then it will not work. If you have more than one circuit then it may look at the wire bringing in the power. If it is 3 conductor than it should if the panel is wired right. The two ways are either use a volt meter or buy one and plug it in hoping for the best.
    Gary in Niagara (Fenwick, Ontario)

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