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Nema 6-15 plug with a Nema L6-50 outlet

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Forum topic by moriartii posted 11-29-2012 07:09 PM 2910 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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moriartii

22 posts in 888 days


11-29-2012 07:09 PM

I have a Grizzly G0661 that is pre-wired for 220 and has a Nema 6-15 plug on the end. The specs say the minimum circuit for 220 is 15A at 220v.

When I had my house built I had a 220 dedicated circuit installed in the garage. I believe it is a Nema L6-50 receptacle. I know that it has a double pole 50 amp breaker on it, so I assume it is a 240v 50 amp circuit.

My question is, I know I need to change the receptacle out to a Nema 6-20. Do I also need to replace the breaker, downsizing from 50 am to either 20 or 30?

Thank you
K


37 replies so far

View Lifesaver2000's profile

Lifesaver2000

524 posts in 1835 days


#1 posted 11-30-2012 12:18 AM

Considering how things usually go on electrical threads around here, I am surprised you haven’t gotten an answer yet on this. I guess I’ll take a chance and throw something out there. If nothing else it will bump the thread and maybe a real electrician will take notice.

First off, I don’t really know a certain answer to your question. What I do know is that the breaker does not have to be sized to the load. If it did, we would have to have much smaller breakers feeding the circuit to a lamp or other small load in our homes. But, since the 6-20 receptacle itself is only rated at 20 amps, and it would be a permanently wired part of the circuit, then I suspect that you would need to size the breaker to protect this “weak link” part of the permanent wiring in order to meet code.

What I do see though are some other options. One is to create a short “pigtail” of a 6-50 male and 6-20 or 6-15 female, with appropriate size power cord. Since this is not a part of the permanent wiring, it would not be necessary to size the breaker to protect it.

Another option that you might consider is mounting a small breaker box near your 50 amp circuit, and feeding this box with a plug and cable from the 50 amp receptacle. Then you could wire multiple 220v circuits so you would have options for future 220v tools or higher power 120 circuits. These small boxes are cheap and easy to set up, and then you could have a lot of options for the future, as well as a “local” appropriately sized breaker for your current needs.

Those are my ideas. I’m sure someone will be along soon to give their ideas/opinions.

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Grandpa

3193 posts in 1398 days


#2 posted 11-30-2012 02:25 AM

You are right Lifesaver2000. No one wants to bite on this one. hhhhhmmmmm!!!!

Moriartii, the answer is not you don’t need to downsize the breaker if you change the receptacle. The receptacle is mounted in a rated enclosure and we do it all the time. Homes have a 20A breaker with 12 ga wiring and a 15 amp rated receptacle at the end. This is similiar to what you are wanting to do isn’t it? The breaker protects the wiring in the wall cavity. In most place there is no conduit to contain a wiring fire so the breaker must protect the wire. If you were able to mount a receptacle (never do this) without a box then it would also have to be protected by the breaker. I probably wouldn’t make the p[igtails because of expense. Those would not be cheap to build. Buy the needed receptacle since this is the only thing you will use.

BTW, I am not a licensed electrician. I have taken a NEC class and have done some of this work for myself. I inspect electric panels for a living and have seen it all…...or you think you have when more of it shows up.

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dhazelton

1243 posts in 1019 days


#3 posted 11-30-2012 02:47 AM

I’m not an electrician nor do I play one on TV. My guess is that the 50 amp circuit is there for an AC/DC welder. I would think you could just get or make up a plug adapter/pigtail and leave the breakers alone – you will certainly never overload the circuit, and the breakers are there to protect the wire in the wall. A real electrician is welcome to speak up and shoot this down.

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moriartii

22 posts in 888 days


#4 posted 11-30-2012 04:03 AM

Thank you all for this information!!!

It appears the wall receptacle is a Nema 14-50r. Would there be an issue switching this to the needed Nema 6-20r? I assume the three wires should hook directly up to it?

Thank you
K

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Grandpa

3193 posts in 1398 days


#5 posted 11-30-2012 04:06 AM

exactly as you stated moriartii

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moriartii

22 posts in 888 days


#6 posted 11-30-2012 04:07 AM

Thank you!

Cheers
K

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Lifesaver2000

524 posts in 1835 days


#7 posted 11-30-2012 04:24 AM

Grandpa, just an FYI. When I install a 120v outlet with a 20 amp breaker and 12 ga wire, I use a 5-20, not a 5-15. May not be necessary, but I feel better about it. I also have on occasion run across an appliance with the 5-20 plug, so it just seems to make sense to use those receptacles when I can. They don’t cost much if anything more when buying good ones anyway.

Also, just looked up the price of the 14-50 plug, and for what they want for those I would change it to something else too instead of buying a plug. I thought at first we were talking about something like an electric range plug. I can pick those up with a five foot cable ready to wire up for $15, but they want nearly $50 for that 14-50 plug!

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Fred Hargis

1984 posts in 1216 days


#8 posted 11-30-2012 12:59 PM

You know, with a 50 amp outlet, you could actually install a sub panel on that line and have several circuits you could use in your garage. That said, I think if I was going to hook my TS to it, I would make a pigtail as dhazelton suggested. One thing you may run into trying to put a 6-20 receptacle on it is the size of the wire would make it a pretty snug fit on the receptacle. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but might be a PITA.

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

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dhazelton

1243 posts in 1019 days


#9 posted 11-30-2012 01:52 PM

Wait, if you built the house moriartii what did you run that much juice to the garage for? It seems like the suggestion above to split it with a subpanel makes more sense and may be what the electrician intended. You could run dust collection at the same time you run the saw, or whatever.

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moriartii

22 posts in 888 days


#10 posted 11-30-2012 02:05 PM

I am a bit confused about the sub panel suggestion. Is this like an RV hook up? I am imagining removing the Nema 14-50 plug and then hooking the sub panel up to the wire.

As far as when the house was built, I told them I wanted a dedicated 220 outlet in the garage. I “assumed” they would put in what I needed. My TS is my first 220 tool so I was clueless when we had the house built.

K

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Fred Hargis

1984 posts in 1216 days


#11 posted 11-30-2012 02:41 PM

Don’t know whether it would be like an RV hookup. What I’m suggesting is to buy a subpanel, I think the one you wind up with might be rated at 60 amps (never saw a 50 amp one, doesn’t matter) and wire it to the feed. Then you would have the ability to add the circuits you need. A lot of shops have more than adequate power with such a setup. The shop I have now had 50 amps when we bought the house, though he was using a 200 amp surplus power center for the subpanel. That’s not a problem, because the amperage is protected by the breaker at the source. If by RV hookup you mean the subpanel would plug into the existing outlet, that is not what I’m suggesting.

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

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moriartii

22 posts in 888 days


#12 posted 11-30-2012 02:51 PM

Thank you Fred.
I called and spoke to the company that installed my wiring. The guy may be able to swing by and take a look for me. He isn’t sure if they used copper or al for my wiring.

Regarding the sub panel, I am envisioning removing the current receptacle and hooking the wiring up to the panel (breaker box). Then come off of that with the proper wire and conduit for my needed plugs?
K

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JesseTutt

811 posts in 833 days


#13 posted 11-30-2012 03:03 PM

Sub panels are used in larger buildings all the time. Usually a 200v high amperage line is ran from the main panel to a different location (garage, different floor, or separate building) and connected to a sub panel. A sub panel is different from the main panel as it does not have a main breaker and sub panels do not have the grounding screw installed that connects the neutral wire to the ground wire.

My first thought when I read your post was to put a sub panel in the workshop. You can go to the local big box hardware store, find a competent electrician working in the electrical department, tell him you have the 50A 220V line coming in and you want a sub panel to subdivide the circuit. He should get you the correct panel.

As far as the use of lower amperage wire and receptacles with a 50A breaker. I would not suggest this. Consider the following possibility:

You have 15A wire and receptacles connected to the 50A breaker. Right now you are drawing less than 15A so everything works. Later you add another 15A receptacle to the circuit and connect another tool. As long as you only run a single tool and it draws less than 15A everything is fine. Now you turn on both tools at the same time (Dust Collector and saw, or have a helper on the second tool) if each tool is drawing close to the 15A (let’s say each draws 15A for simplicity) then you are drawing 30A total. But, the wire and receptacles are only rated at 15A. 30A over a 15A wire will cause it to overheat. You could end up with a fire in the wall.

Hope this helps.

Disclaimer: 30 years ago I worked as an industrial electrician. I am neither a licensed or union electrician and therefore cannot give you professional answers.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

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Grandpa

3193 posts in 1398 days


#14 posted 11-30-2012 03:03 PM

When I install a 120v outlet with a 20 amp breaker and 12 ga wire, I use a 5-20, not a 5-15
I do the same thing but the average home I go into has 15 amp receptacles. These probably save the contractor 10 cents each. I use the biggest and best I can afford or find. Most GFCI receptacles are 15 amp but I found some 20 amp and bought a carton of them. All the 110V receptacles in my shop are GFCI protected.

Moriartii, I am also envisioning removing the receptacle and installing a CB panel. I think that is what was suggested and it should be fine. There are different procedures for wiring a sub panel. There is also the argument that sub panel is not in the NEC and that is also correct. It is still a sub panel. Follow those procedures. It would probably be best to have the new panel installed then you could wire your new receptacles from there. Shouldn’t be too expensive. I saw a small house with a bad panel this week. They installed a 100 amp paneland tied in all the circuits for about $650. I thought that was very reasonable. New panel and breakers installed.

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moriartii

22 posts in 888 days


#15 posted 11-30-2012 03:17 PM

I appreciate all the feedback.
After, also talking to a coworker who wired his shop, the sub panel is the way to go.
I am going to look for a 60 amp panel with a couple of breakers. Feed the panel with the wire going to the removed receptacle. Then come out of the panel with the grey conduit to the receptacle for my TS and then maybe one other for something.
K

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