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Forum topic by Sawdust2012 posted 07-21-2018 05:04 PM 669 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sawdust2012

140 posts in 1797 days


07-21-2018 05:04 PM

I recently moved to a house with a 4 prong 220 vac outlet in the garage. I’d like to use this for either my Laguna Fusion TS or Delta 50-850 dust collector. I learned a long time ago that things are never as straight forward as they ought to be, so I am wondering if there is a problem with using a 4 prong appliance cord to connect the outlet to the tool? Any insight y’all have would be great.


18 replies so far

View WhyMe's profile

WhyMe

1035 posts in 1645 days


#1 posted 07-21-2018 06:18 PM

What is the amp size of the circuit? You can use a 4 prong plug for the dust collector and not use the neutral connection in the plug. If the dust collector motor does not have its own overload protection I highly suggest not plugging it into a circuit larger than the dust collector came wired for. Example, factory wired for 20A circuit max and hacking the plug for plugging it into a 50A circuit.

View Sawdust2012's profile

Sawdust2012

140 posts in 1797 days


#2 posted 07-21-2018 06:29 PM



What is the amp size of the circuit? You can use a 4 prong plug for the dust collector and not use the neutral connection in the plug. If the dust collector motor does not have its own overload protection I highly suggest not plugging it into a circuit larger than the dust collector came wired for. Example, factory wired for 20A circuit max and hacking the plug for plugging it into a 50A circuit.

- WhyMe

It’s got a 30 amp plug, but the breakers in the box read 15 amps each. I’m assuming it is a 15 amp circuit. Neither tool is currently wired for 220, but both can be.

View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

1009 posts in 901 days


#3 posted 07-21-2018 09:22 PM

Actually, there is an almost zero chance that a 20A breaker will protect a machine when a 30A breaker won’t. Normal breakers will sustain twice the rated current for over a minute and 10 times the rated current for several seconds. That is long enough to burn up the windings in an electric motor. Breakers are only designed to protect the wiring. They will do almost nothing to protect an electric motor that is stalled, for example.That is why nearly all modern electric motors have a thermal shutdown feature.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

394 posts in 1579 days


#4 posted 07-21-2018 10:37 PM



You can use a 4 prong plug for the dust collector and not use the neutral connection in the plug.
- WhyMe

+1


I learned a long time ago that things are never as straight forward as they ought to be?
- Sawdust2012

You may 100% right based on below comment:


It’s got a 30 amp plug, but the breakers in the box read 15 amps each.
- Sawdust2012

I may be confused, so just to avoid problems:
Are there TWO 15a breakers for one 220V circuit, or two 220V 15A breakers in panel?
Per electrical codes: each 220VAC circuit should have ONE 2 pole breaker. Using 2 separate 15amp 1 pole breakers (without a bridge) is unsafe, as if one circuit trips the 2nd leg is still hot.
Safety out of way…

IMHO You have three options to solve this:

1- change plugs on end of all tools to match existing 4 wire outlet(s).
[If existing 4 wire receptacle is proper Nema type 14 or 15 rated for 15A, then just ignore the extra neutral connection in plug. If existing 4 wire receptacle is rated for higher current, then I would change it to match the breaker/wire rating.]

2- change the 4 wire wall outlet to 3 wire wall outlet used by your tools.
[4 wire plugs/sockets are more expensive than 3 wire, and I see no reason to use 4 wire unless tool needs it. Note you must put a wire cap, and electrical tape on top of cap as insurance of neutral wire if present in wall box and you do not use neutral wire. Some local codes may allow only wire cap.]

3- Make an adapter cable

Use 4 wire plug on one end, and 3 wire receptacle that matches your tool plug on other end. Only need couple feet of 12 gauge SO/SOOJ rated wire and can adapt connectors without touching building wire.

If it were me and I had 15A 220V breaker in panel (and likely 14 gauge wire in walls), I would replace the wall sockets with standard 3 wire 220V plug (NEMA 6-15), or locking version (NEMA 5-15); depending on what tools already use.

If existing receptacle has higher rating than installed infrastructure, then I would replace it.
As ARTMANN properly noted: Breaker protects wire, not device using power.

Side note: If you get lucky to find 12 gauge wire on breaker box plus wall outlet (and wire length is less ~240 feet) and since I am spending money on new connections, I might install 20A 3 wire connection NEMA 5-20R (or 6-20R locking) wall outlet as the breaker could be replaced with 20A amp version if tools needed it. The 20A receptacle accepts 15A plug, so will not need to change tool plugs. They key is matching the outlet capacity to breaker and wiring, so next person who owns property will have properly matched/balanced installation.

If you find any of this intimidating, please consult a local electrician for help.
Best luck!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View jonah's profile

jonah

1820 posts in 3383 days


#5 posted 07-21-2018 11:28 PM

Are you absolutely sure the breakers connected to that outlet are two individual single pole 15A breakers? If so, you need to replace them with a 15A double pole breaker.

It’s possible something might be labeled “dryer” in the panel but not actually be connected to that outlet. I’ve seen some very shoddy home electrical work in my day, but that’s a pretty clearly horrendous decision that I’ve not seen.

Test it with a multi-meter, measuring the voltage between two of the prongs of the outlet, then turn the breaker off and see if it goes to 0V when you test the same two. Figure out what exactly that outlet is connected to, then snap us a picture of the breaker in the panel and the outlet.

View Sawdust2012's profile

Sawdust2012

140 posts in 1797 days


#6 posted 07-22-2018 12:23 AM



Are you absolutely sure the breakers connected to that outlet are two individual single pole 15A breakers? If so, you need to replace them with a 15A double pole breaker.

It s possible something might be labeled “dryer” in the panel but not actually be connected to that outlet. I ve seen some very shoddy home electrical work in my day, but that s a pretty clearly horrendous decision that I ve not seen.

Test it with a multi-meter, measuring the voltage between two of the prongs of the outlet, then turn the breaker off and see if it goes to 0V when you test the same two. Figure out what exactly that outlet is connected to, then snap us a picture of the breaker in the panel and the outlet.

- jonah

The two 15 ampmbreakers at the top right are the ones tied to the 220 circuit. It is dedicated to the 30 amp 4 plug outlet. CaptainKlutz is correct about the need for them to be tied together for safety. He is probably right about the need for an electrician.

View Sawdust2012's profile

Sawdust2012

140 posts in 1797 days


#7 posted 07-22-2018 12:25 AM


You can use a 4 prong plug for the dust collector and not use the neutral connection in the plug.
- WhyMe

+1

I learned a long time ago that things are never as straight forward as they ought to be?
- Sawdust2012

You may 100% right based on below comment:

It’s got a 30 amp plug, but the breakers in the box read 15 amps each.
- Sawdust2012

I may be confused, so just to avoid problems:
Are there TWO 15a breakers for one 220V circuit, or two 220V 15A breakers in panel?
Per electrical codes: each 220VAC circuit should have ONE 2 pole breaker. Using 2 separate 15amp 1 pole breakers (without a bridge) is unsafe, as if one circuit trips the 2nd leg is still hot.
Safety out of way…

IMHO You have three options to solve this:

1- change plugs on end of all tools to match existing 4 wire outlet(s).
[If existing 4 wire receptacle is proper Nema type 14 or 15 rated for 15A, then just ignore the extra neutral connection in plug. If existing 4 wire receptacle is rated for higher current, then I would change it to match the breaker/wire rating.]

2- change the 4 wire wall outlet to 3 wire wall outlet used by your tools.
[4 wire plugs/sockets are more expensive than 3 wire, and I see no reason to use 4 wire unless tool needs it. Note you must put a wire cap, and electrical tape on top of cap as insurance of neutral wire if present in wall box and you do not use neutral wire. Some local codes may allow only wire cap.]

3- Make an adapter cable

Use 4 wire plug on one end, and 3 wire receptacle that matches your tool plug on other end. Only need couple feet of 12 gauge SO/SOOJ rated wire and can adapt connectors without touching building wire.

If it were me and I had 15A 220V breaker in panel (and likely 14 gauge wire in walls), I would replace the wall sockets with standard 3 wire 220V plug (NEMA 6-15), or locking version (NEMA 5-15); depending on what tools already use.

If existing receptacle has higher rating than installed infrastructure, then I would replace it.
As ARTMANN properly noted: Breaker protects wire, not device using power.

Side note: If you get lucky to find 12 gauge wire on breaker box plus wall outlet (and wire length is less ~240 feet) and since I am spending money on new connections, I might install 20A 3 wire connection NEMA 5-20R (or 6-20R locking) wall outlet as the breaker could be replaced with 20A amp version if tools needed it. The 20A receptacle accepts 15A plug, so will not need to change tool plugs. They key is matching the outlet capacity to breaker and wiring, so next person who owns property will have properly matched/balanced installation.

If you find any of this intimidating, please consult a local electrician for help.
Best luck!

- CaptainKlutz

Great information. Thanks!

View jonah's profile

jonah

1820 posts in 3383 days


#8 posted 07-22-2018 02:35 AM

Wow, you see something horrifying every day. There are about twelve different ways that is an insanely dangerous situation.

I’m assuming from your questions that you haven’t done any work in a breaker box before. If not, I’d definitely get an electrician to do it. While he’s at it, he can replace the outlet with a 6-15 or 5-15, which is much more common for 15A uses. Most 240V tools will have a 6-15 or 5-15 plug, rather than the 11-15 or 14-15 you describe.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

394 posts in 1579 days


#9 posted 07-22-2018 06:50 AM

The two 15 amp breakers at the top right are the ones tied to the 220 circuit. It is dedicated to the 30 amp 4 plug outlet. CaptainKlutz is correct about the need for them to be tied together for safety. He is probably right about the need for an electrician.

- Sawdust2012

Wow…. Sorry to be correct this time…

Dual 1 PH breakers on 220V line without a mechanical tie bar? Shut breakers off immediately. This is completely unacceptable per any building code I have ever used.

For reference, the installation of the 220V 30A outlet statement is flawed in another way. Two 15 breakers in a 2 pole circuit do not create a 30A circuit. You only get a single 220V 15A (2 pole) circuit. Many building codes will allow a 30A receptacle on 15A 220V circuit, but it is not good design practice; and wall plate usually must be labeled for 15A breaker rating to avoid confusion. If your 220V circuit installation had been done by electrician to building code, this should already have been done?

Highly suggest: Call an electrician.

Have him do an full inspection on breaker panel for any other code violations the previous owner may have installed after the initial inspection. Never know what may be lurking after finding this safety issue.

Hate to switch to CYA mode, but:
Note that if you paid for home inspection when you bought this home, call them up and request a re-inspection. Little known fact – Professional inspectors carry insurance that will pay for repairs to a home that passed inspection, but actually needed to be fixed to meet building codes before sale. They missed something major here, and even the dreaded lawyers would say this is worthy of lawsuit if not brought up to code, or until inspection fees are 100% returned.
Done.

FWIW – Fixing this safety hazard is really easy. Only need to change panel breaker to 15A 2 pole breaker of proper type specified by mfg of panel installed. Cost for new breaker is ~$10.

You could instead buy a mechanical tie bar that fits brand of breakers installed.

If you find this repair slightest bit intimidating, have electrician do it.
In my neighborhood, would cost <$100 for panel inspection and breaker change; and that would be money well spent. Changing the breaker, and outlet, coupled with some inspection time; should not cost more than ~$160 for ~2 hours work. If you get quoted higher prices, find an electrician that is not as busy and needs the work.

Best Luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View jonah's profile

jonah

1820 posts in 3383 days


#10 posted 07-22-2018 10:27 AM

Another option is to find a journeyman electrician who does work on the side on weekends for extra money. He might work for someone else during the week but do small side jobs on saturdays for extra cash.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5035 posts in 2578 days


#11 posted 07-22-2018 10:30 AM

It’s hard to understand why someone would do that, given that the correct breaker is so cheap. Most definitely needs to be corrected, but using that outlet shouldn’t be a problem for either of those tools.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Fresch's profile

Fresch

279 posts in 2005 days


#12 posted 07-22-2018 12:52 PM

How old is it? Long ago this sp/dp wasn’t code. Your house isn’t going to burn down. The code book has been revised every 3 years some for good reasons, some to protect people who don’t know what they are doing.

View Sawdust2012's profile

Sawdust2012

140 posts in 1797 days


#13 posted 07-22-2018 01:49 PM



Wow, you see something horrifying every day. There are about twelve different ways that is an insanely dangerous situation.

I m assuming from your questions that you haven t done any work in a breaker box before. If not, I d definitely get an electrician to do it. While he s at it, he can replace the outlet with a 6-15 or 5-15, which is much more common for 15A uses. Most 240V tools will have a 6-15 or 5-15 plug, rather than the 11-15 or 14-15 you describe.

- jonah

I have messed around changing out some switches and outlets, but I have also gotten myself bitten by an irrationally wired circuit! (2 plugs wired to DIFFERENT CIRCUITS in the same box!) you get to a point in life when you recognize why professionals charge what they charge and you don’t mind paying it!

View Sawdust2012's profile

Sawdust2012

140 posts in 1797 days


#14 posted 07-22-2018 01:51 PM



It s hard to understand why someone would do that, given that the correct breaker is so cheap. Most definitely needs to be corrected, but using that outlet shouldn t be a problem for either of those tools.

- Fred Hargis

How old is it? Long ago this sp/dp wasn t code. Your house isn t going to burn down. The code book has been revised every 3 years some for good reasons, some to protect people who don t know what they are doing.

- Fresch

Thanks both of you. I always appreciate a practical response. It’s good to know that this isn’t a fire hazard, but it looks like an electrician is in my future.

View Sawdust2012's profile

Sawdust2012

140 posts in 1797 days


#15 posted 07-22-2018 01:56 PM



Another option is to find a journeyman electrician who does work on the side on weekends for extra money. He might work for someone else during the week but do small side jobs on saturdays for extra cash.

- jonah

Good call. I don’t think this is a complicated job, but it doesn’t take long to get yourself in trouble with the free flow of electrons. I also have a pretty significant voltage drop on a 120 vac circuit, ergo the desire to utilize the 220 dedicated circuit. This is a little like untangling the mess you get when you incorrectly cast with a level wind fishing reel. I could probably eventually figure it out, but my uncle has so much more experience! If only I had an uncle who was a journeyman electrician.

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