220v Plug End Replacement for Equipment

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I am curious as to what others have done for receptacles that are going to be used with different equipment that have different plug configurations. As an example, I am going to install a 30amp 220 receptacle that will be used by my finishing (sanding) machine, current air compressor, and the replacement larger air compressor which have different plug end configurations. Since I really like the ideal of the solid connection the twist lock style receptacles provide for the equipment, I will have to change the plug ends or complete power cords on all of my equipment.
To my knowledge IIRC, all of the woodworking equipment runs strictly on 250v (3-wire confirguration) as compared to appliances that can run on 125/250v (4-wire configuration) such as a range. Even so, I would figured that going with the 4 wire receptacles gives me the most flexibility in case a piece of equipment does use 125/250v that I am not thinking of now. Wiring from the panel to the receptacle box was done with 10/3 for the 20-30amp connections and 6/3 for my 40-50amp connection.
When I replace the plug ends to match the 4-wire receptacles, if the original plug end was three prong (2 live and a ground), I obviously will only be able to wire the 4 wire twist lock plug with the 3 existing wires from the equipment power cord. Will there be a problem with the Neutral connection not being wired on the plug side even though it is wired from the panel to the receptacle. It should be noted that I am running these connections from a subpanel where the ground and neutral wire bars are separated.
The goal if possible is to use the same type receptacles on all outlets around the shop to allow for maximum flexibility in re-arranging the shop based on future needs and uses.
Any recommendations / comments would be appreciated.
David
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Caveat #1: I am not a registered or licensed electrician, although I did consult one.
Caveat #2: I know it is stupid to respond to a wReck discussion of electricity, due of the risk of involvement in discussions in which others are or claim to be more expert.
Caveat #3: You asked an opinion, and I have one to offer.
Caveat #4: I have a hobby shop, not subject to local government or insurance regulatory safety inspection.
My well-supplied, and well-respected local hardware purveyor assisted me in selecting the appropriate, high quality parts to make up pigtails to match the wall box socket to an appropriate female end. I use this to do as the Safety Saint earlier described, to have a visible and controllable means of making CERTAIN that power is disconnected, before I put body parts into the innards of a machine which can damage said parts.
Such pigtails are disconnected when the shop is closed down, or I'm finished with the use of the machine for that session. Even with 110V, on the cutting tools.
Patriarch
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As long as those pigtails don't make it possible to do something like plugging a 30A tool into a 20A receptacle on a 20A circuit, that's fine.
If they *do* make that possible, you have a *serious* hazard.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Doug Miller wrote:

Why? Wouldn't the 20A circuit have a 20A breaker, which would trip due to the 30A load? You say "Doh!", reset the breaker, and plug it into the correct outlet and go on...
-j
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One *hopes* the 20A circuit has a 20A breaker, anyway... I should have stressed the importance of making sure that the ratings of the breaker, the wire, and the receptacle all match.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Joe User wrote:

If it's a breaker and not a fuse. If nobody has stuck a slug under a burnt-out fuse, if the breaker is in fact working properly. Lot of ifs there. Breakers and fuses are backup--they are there for when something goes wrong. Depending on them instead of proper procedures is dangerous.

--
--John
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Nor am I, and this is why I am asking for some opinions / guidance and will have the work I am doing inspected by the county inspector as well as a certified electrician that will be upgrading the main service entrance from 200amps to 400amps needed for the entire space being finished much beyone my workshop area.

Well, I like to see responses from all so that I can make my own decision as to what will work best for me. Ultimately, in my case, the final word comes from the county inspection office as to what they will approve.

Thanks for responding with your opinion.

Not sure where you live or the jurisdiction rules, but any place I have ever lived required inspections for wiring changes / additions for anything more that changing a switch/plug or adding a fixture to an existing box, hobby shop or not. I do agree that changing the plug ends is not something that would require inspection by a county inspector, but wiring the receptacle and the wires that run back to the subpanel do require approval from the county inspector where I live.

I guess I am confused with your reference to a pigtail. In my understanding, a pigtail is used inside the junction / receptacle box to connect multiple wires to a single terminal connection. Are you referring to the plug ends I spoke about? If not, did you make short "pigtail" connection that would change the plug configuration of your equipment plug to the configuration of the receptacle so that you didn't need to cut and rewire the plug ends of the equipment power cords?

I guess I am confused with your reference to a pigtail. In my understanding, a pigtail is used inside the junction / receptacle box to connect multiple wires to a single terminal connection. Are you referring to the plug ends I spoke about? If not, did you make short "pigtail" connection that would change the plug configuration of your equipment to the configuration of the receptacle so that you didn't need to cut and rewire the ends of the equipment plug ends?
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Ummmm.... maybe you ought to ask that certified electrician to do a load calculation first. What on earth do you want with 400A service? 200A should be plenty.
Just for reference, my shop contains the following: - table saw, dust collector, shaper, lathe, and air compressor (all 240V) - band saw, radial arm saw, belt/disc sander, spindle sander, drill press, mortiser, jointer, planer, air filter, and an assortment of portable tools (all 120V)
SWMBO and my kids also enjoy woodworking, and it's not uncommon to have two of us in the shop at once, with two different machines *plus* the dust collector and air filter in operation simultaneously.
And the whole thing (except lights) is fed from a subpanel on a 60A feed. That subpanel *also* feeds the washer, [gas] dryer, and electric stove (240V).
[snip]

He's talking about a short extension cord, with the plug end matching the receptacle in the wall, and the receptacl end matching the plug on the equipment. This is, of course, an even *greater* unnecessary expenditure of money and effort than the plug replacement that you propose, and carries exactly the same risks if the plug-and-receptacle configurations of the pigtails are not matched correctly to the tools and the circuits. As long as the configurations do not enable plugging a 30A tool into a 20A circuit, for example, it's OK, but you *must* make sure of that.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) writes:

Just FYI we got the "default" 200A service, even when the engineer from the power company recommended 300 or 400 amp (because of the woodshop).
200A service does NOT mean you can comfortably draw 200A!
Our "200 amp" service included a private transformer (long driveway) that was only rated at 40 amps continuous. Each time the central air kicked in, the 123 amp surge (30 amps after that) caused brownouts and eventually motor failure in the AC.
After replacing the AC unit and a number of tests and tweaks by the power company, they ended up replacing the 40A transformer with a 100A transformer - which is what they usually use for an entire neighborhood.
So, switching to 400A service means more than just needing 400A. It also means a bigger transformer, thicker wires, etc - all leading to cleaner power during surges, less brownouts, and less chance of burning out your motors.
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DJ Delorie wrote:

40A continuous at what voltage?

--
--John
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It doesn't matter if I use one branch (120v) or both (240v). It still causes the same heat and resistive losses in the transformer's coils. But the transformer was officially rated at 10 KVa, the new one is 25 KVa. They normally assume a balanced (i.e. 240v) load, since houses are supposed to be wired that way.
But given that I was drawing 123 amps at 240v, that's kinda an irrelevent issue for me ;-)
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DJ Delorie wrote:

But it does matter if it's rated at 40A at the voltage that is coming _out_ of it or 40A at the voltage that is going _into_ it. 40A at 5KV is a lot more power than 40A at 240V.

--
--John
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It was rated 10 KVa, I calculated 41A at 240v (output), or I suppose 1.4A at 7200v (input).
I don't plan on attaching anything to the input side, except for the occasional squirrel.
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wrote:

I have spoken with a certified electrician, the electric company, and the county inspector on upgrading my main service to 400amps from 200amps and all agree that it should be done. The service upgrade is for the entire 5000+ square foot home. The current 200amp service panel is completely maxed out. I am in the process of finishing a 1500 square foot basement of which around 500 square feet are dedicated to the workshop. I have a full bath and media and other rooms, connections to the garage that need power circuits which justify the additional service upgrade. Having lived in homes that are under wired, the cost difference to get what will meet my needs now and in the future is well worth the minimal increase in cost for the heavier wire, breakers, and panels.
For the workshop specifically I am installing a subpanel with a 100amp circuit from the main panel to cover my needs in the workshop. Given I have a rotary phase converter that requires a 70-80amp breaker alone, along with the other 30 and 50amp circuits I will be running, I don't think this is too outrageous. To me, it is a lot cheaper to go on the high side now than to have to redo wiring later once the walls are closed in.

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wrote:

beyone
of
have
with
too
So I guess that the electric co is going to upgrade the feed to supply the 400 amps?? and install you your very own 100kva transformer?? ( not likely:-) ( guess that they could install a 75kva can as it will put out 360 amps and they allow about 125% overload on their transformers for a short time) So unless you get them to install at least a 75 kva transformer, you as the other posters have pointed out you are NOT going to be able to draw 400 amps from the feed. They will also have to increase the wires size for your service drop from the transformer to your home.
William....

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referring
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wrote:

Well, I am mainly going by what the power company and certified electrician told me to do. Most of the homes in the area in the 5000+ square feet range are wired with 400amp service entrances as I am told. I will need a new meter head (which the electric company will supply and install) and the copper service entrance wires to the second 200amp main panel as well as the conduit to get it inside and grounding.
Our house was a spec house and the builder decided to cut back on certain things. They installed both boards for the 2 - 200amp service panels homes of this size generally install, but only installed one 200amp service panel, used all of the breakers except one in the main panel they installed. Not sufficient breaker connections for me to finish out basement to say the least. So to finish what the builder didn't do in the first place, I am taking the home to 400amps of service so that boxes are similar in size and will look proper when we go to sell the home in the future. Once installed, I will only pay for the electric I use whether or not it is a 200, 400, or for that matter a 1000amp (if there is such a thing) service.
Whether or not they already have or will install a separate 100kva system to ensure I can actually draw the full 400amps is yet to be seen. (Thanks for the heads up. I will be sure to ask the power company about it) I fully believe that I will never come close to drawing the full 400amps, but given the amount of electronics, appliances, and power tools, it's not worth the aggrivation and safety issues of circuits poping when I overload a 200amp service. Given that the first panel has over 800amps of breakers at this point, I don't think that it is unreasonable to the service upgraded. They are not going to take me to 250, my only option was to go to the 400amp service which I am more that fine with.
I guess what puzzles me with all the questions I have been getting about what I am planning to do will cost more or it is not necessary. I would understand it if I was going to do something that potentially dangerous, but to the contrary, I am installing what I believe (and people have agreed) is a safe (will have inspected to ensure it is) and flexible electrical system that will meet my needs now and in the future. Having all of my 240v connections wired with a minimum of 10 gauge wire might be more than is needed for a 15 or 20amp piece of equipment, but it will handle the load fine. If you only use a maximum of 100amps in your home, do you down grade the service entrance from 200amps to 100amps, I think not.
Having put additions on homes before, and gone through the sale process, I want to make sure that things are done right for safety first, but then I also want to take into account how it will affect the sale of the home. The cost difference between a 125amp load center and the upgrade to the second 200amp panel as well as the wiring, receptacles and plugs just don't add up to that much, especially from a safety factor.
David

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David, I think a lot of guys are just looking at the plan for 400A service and scratching their heads wondering "why". Because most of us try to things in a safe, yet cost-effective way, I think it's natural for people to question it.
5000 sq ft is a big house. But there are plenty of homes around me in the 3000-3500 sq ft range, being built with 200A service. And probably a bigger factor than the size: are there more people living in the 5000 sq. ft. house than a 3000? More concurrent use of electrical power?
The electrician who came out to inspect my last add-on circuit told me most of the newer houses with 200A panels will probably never even see 100A being drawn. They install a 200A service panel mainly to have more spaces for breakers. (and I'm assuming the cost for a 200A main breaker and the larger wire size in a new installation is relatively small).
But what's the cost of upgrading from 200A to 400A service? Compared to another solution like two 200A panels to make room for more circuits/breakers? Someone else's advice about a load calculation is right on the money. That's the starting point, and I'd be surprised if the electrician hasn't done it. If it were my money, I'd want to see the reasoning behind his recommendation.
Just my opinion.
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You make a good point, but cost effective can mean different things to different people. The $400 I was quoted a year ago to upgrade the service doesn't seem excessive to me. Even if it was around $1000 I would still do it most likely as it brings my home into spec with similar homes in my area.

It all goes to what people do in their homes. I know people that live in their homes and don't do anything with them, but I am not that type.

Most people won't, but some will and for a limited cost that I am personally willing to pay, I would rather have the extra capacity.

The real cost IMO is the cost of the electrician's time to upgrade the service to 400amps and his materials, $400. Also, I would pay around $200 for the electrician to bond a second 200amp service panel to the existing 200amp panel if I just wanted to add more capacity for breakers. The electric company supplies and installs the new meter head, the electrician just needs to connect the service to the panel I already installed.
The circuit analysis plans that circuits are not always under load, otherwise I wouldn't have close to 800amps of breakers in my existing 200amp panel. I will be adding some higher amp usage equipment in the workshop, garage, and moderate load equipment in my entertainment room that have a strong potential of being under load at the same time, that along with the other existing loads that can potentially come into play, I think the decision for me is a good one. Remember, I only have to need 201amps for the main to kick. Most people will never come close to that level.
As I stated before, they won't charge me for current I don't use. The power company has no real vested interest in doing this other than to sell me more electricity if I need it. Why would they go to the expense of adding a new 400amp meter head to my home if they were saw no potential whatsoever of selling me beyond 200amps of service at a given time? The electrician was contacted after speaking with the power company and the county so it is not a situation of an electrician trying to scam some unnecessary work.
Also, if I find out 6 months from not that I do require more capacity, it will be much more expensive than what I am doing now.Personal experience plays a role as well. Having lived in a home that was underpowered, I am not willing to take the chance.
I think it is fair that people that obviously know more than I do about electricity would question what I am doing, but it comes across as if I am going to spend others money which I am not. Same types of discussions go on for equipment all the time. It goes to what a person is comfortable with. For certain equipment I am fine with the Grizzly products, but for others I want a different level of quality. Its what I will be comfortable with.
I truly appreciate everyone's perspectives and insights which help me make a decision, but the bottom line decision is mine, and I have to be comfortable with it.
Thanks,
David

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about
would
dangerous,
service
people
do
area.
Dam that's cheep! $400 to upgrade the service is very cheep. I see that your planning on running a second panel instead of one 400 amp panel. Still that must be one cheep panel, breakers, wire, upgraded grounding conductor, service laterals, conduit, heck here they get $40 for one stick of 2" emt, etc... and the labor too wow I need to move to where ever you live!

the
sq.
personally
right
Some places they will "upgrade" you to a commercial account to go to 400 amp service. Then they do charge you more for the additional KVA capacity. Here they will hang any transformers I want to pay for on the pole but it bumps my base rate up rather fast if I need a larger bank of them. Also here I get a KVA charge for any thing over 75kva draw (for more than 15 min). Do that ONE time in the month and it's an automatic $750 charge for the month PLUS the KW charge for the amount used... YMMV

200amp
Well you can pull a lot more than 200 amps before the cheep home type main breakers pop off, but you can only do it for a short time. Like when you try to start your 7.5 hp phase converter up (if it's a HD 7.5 made from a 15hp 3 phase motor) and it pulls 120 amps for a few seconds through a 50amp breaker. When I start my 20 hp Air compressor it whops the line for 135amps @ 480volts 3 phase for the 3-4 seconds it takes to spin it up, but it's only for a short time and the $400 60 amp breaker handles it fine (The 30 didn't like it much though:-)

power
more
new
not
Well if they will do the upgrade for free ( the power co) and not charge you any more, you can't beat that deal with a stick!
William....

on
I
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comfortable
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Make it 150A and I'll agree. but hitting 100A is all too easy nowadays, when you start considering all the kitchen small appliances, personal computers and especially _printers_, and all the other 'consumer electronics' to be found in a home. individually, they don't draw a great lot, but there are so _many_ of them. Example, I've got *sixteen* 'counter-top' appliances in the kitchen. that's admittedly on the high side, because I am a bit of 'gadget happy' type, and, for example have two microwaves. Given that set-up it's not unreasonable that I might have 6-7 of them in simultaneous operation. at in excess of a kilowatt each. Plus maybe the dishwasher. Let the refrigerator and/or freezer decide to cycle, and I could hit 50A @ 240 just in the kitchen. Without considering a possible electric stove. :) Add the air-conditioning, and it doesn't take 'hardly anything' additional to go over 100A.

The incremental difference in the cost of the panel and main breaker is under $100 U.S. The cost of larger feed-wire from the transformer is maybe $1/ft. I doubt the total cost increment would exceed $1,000.

I find it _not_at_all_ difficult to believe -- i.e. that it *is* entirely reasonable -- that 200A would be insufficient for a property of that scale.
Postulate Central A/C, that's gonna be an easy 70A (at 240) right there. just for the compressor. (I grew up in a circa 1600 sq ft house, that had two-zone fully independent HVAC -- the AC for _each_ zone was a dedicated 40A circuit for the compressor; plus there was an additional 20A (120) A/C for a room that was exposed on 5 sides.)
Throw in a couple of electric "major appliances", say a stove at 50A, and a clothes dryer at 30A, and you've got an easy simultaneous load of 150A.
Now, lets add some other basic necessities: 1) The GFA furnace blowers, or circulating pumps for a hot-water radiator system -- for a house of that size, 15A (120v).
2) Washing Machine, to match the dryer :) 10A (120v) 3) Refrigerator 13A (120v) 4) separate freezer 13A (120v) 5) dishwasher 10A (120v) 6) garbage disposer 8A (120v) 7) trash compactor 8A (120v) 8) Microwave oven 10A (120v)
There is roughly 90A at 120, or 45A at 240 We've now got a total load of 195A at 240.
And it is _entirely_ within the realm of reason that *all* those devices could be running simultaneously.
Without exceeding a 200A utility feed, you've got whopping _10A_at_120_ left, to run _everything_else_ in the house. Twelve 100-watt light bulbs.
You get a little more breathing room if the stove and clothes dryer are gas-fired.
For a 'demonstrator' model where, for example, major appliances that are present will _not_ be being used, I can see a developer 'cheaping out' with only 200A service.
Start adding in power demands for a 'serious' shop, and there's no doubt that 200A service is inadequate.
Yeah, 400A looks like overkill, but if it's the "next step up" from 200, then that _is_ what you do.
If 250, or 300 service was available, it might have been sufficient, but 'why take the chance'. probably 75% of the cost of re-doing things is in the labor. if materials for 400A cost _twice_ what 250A materials do, it's only circa 10% of the total bill.
This is called "*CHEAP* insurance" :) Particularly if amortized over the expected lifetime of the work.
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