PDA

View Full Version : Eliminate machine power cords?



justanengineer
07-30-2011, 09:33 PM
Ive had the thought on and off for quite a few years now that I would like to eliminate the various power cords to my machines. What I would do is simple mount the male power plug on the machine in a small enclosure or on a plate, then simply run an extension cord to it. Has anyone done this? Ive seen setups in the box stores for doing this with 110v, but never 220 so I may need to fabricate something. I realize in industry and many other shops that machines are hard wired in, but I would like to make my home shop a bit more versatile (read mobile), with the ability to move machines quickly and easily. It also seems to me that no matter what I do, machine cords quite often end up too short requiring an extension anyway. I had the thought while considering this that eventually I could also have a few retractable cord reels in the ceiling at various points, and thereby simply pull down the power, plug in, and play.

Thoughts anyone?

sasquatch
07-30-2011, 10:08 PM
Agreed extension cords are a nuisance, and if not carefull carry a voltage drop, separate outlets for each machine are the answer,, but often in a confined space one has to move a machine, (if it is moveable,) then one needs a longer power supply.

Scottike
07-30-2011, 10:09 PM
I know it's spendy, but check out shore power cords and connectors and your local marine store (in Indiana?) or try:
http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/TopCategories1_11151_10001_-1

Andrew_D
07-30-2011, 10:28 PM
Semi's have 110V 15A and 110V 20A male plugs like you describe to run block heaters, pan heaters, bunk power supply, etc. Check with your local truck dealer. Also RV dealers may have something like this as well I would think. Maybe try some on-line rv supply websites....

Andrew

P.S. Just went searching and found:
http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/rv-power-inlet-50-amp/28232

Bob Fisher
07-30-2011, 11:02 PM
I did a similar thing about 8 yrs ago to wire a wall mounted flat screen TV and power it from a surge protector. McMaster Carr carries the male plug you need.Of course it is 110 V, never looked for a 220V,but they probably have one. I can usually find anything I need there. Bob.

alanganes
07-30-2011, 11:05 PM
We have some equipment (not machine tools, but...) where I work that is set up as you describe.

You can get what you need from McMaster-Carr (and other places, no doubt) by searching for a "recessed flanged male receptacle" they have twist lock and standard styles in all sorts of voltage/current configurations, single and 3 phase.

Try here: CLICK ME! (http://www.mcmaster.com/#nema-style-connectors/=dept33)

See the receptacles on the far right. Not so spendy as the camper of dock-side units.

Bill736
07-30-2011, 11:15 PM
Isn't that essentially the same as just putting a very short power cord on your machines, as is sometimes found on tools like electric staplers ? You don't need any special connectors or plates . Each tool or machine could have a cord length just right for the application, without creating floor clutter. If you're using conventional plugs, you'll want some form of strain relief ( such as just long enough to hit the floor) so they don't come unplugged. Or, a hook or something to hang the cords from . Or, use twist lock plugs, although that locks you into having special extension cords different from ordinary cords, a situation that may become irritating.

justanengineer
07-30-2011, 11:32 PM
Thanks for the replies guys. I knew I could either buy or fabricate what was necessary, but wasnt sure where to find them for the first.

The reason I posted today wasnt really to ask about the hardware so much as it was to ask...Am I missing a reason I shouldnt do this?

Bill, to answer your question, it would possible to simply use a short cord. I just figured using one of these "box plugs" would clean up the appearance of the machine significantly and allow me to tie down any loose cords/cables tight to the machine. I also foresee the short cord placing two plugs against the base of a machine and eventually wearing the paint off. I know, rather picky, but thats the way I am about machines.

whitis
07-30-2011, 11:36 PM
Be careful what you plug into those ceiling mounted retractable cord reels. A soldering iron, for example, becomes a dangerous hot projectile when the cord suddenly retracts. Similar problems could be had with portable saws.

The practice of of using NEMA 5-15 style male chassis connectors on electrical and electronic equipment was abandoned some 30 years ago, having been replaced by IEC 60320 C13/CI4 universal connectors.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEC_60320
IEC 60309 connectors are used on heavy duty machinery.

Many extension cords do not actually fit in the recessed NEMA 5-15 chassis connectors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NEMA_connector

It is the use of extension cords for permanently installed machines, not the use of power cords, that OSHA seems to dislike.

JoeFin
07-30-2011, 11:58 PM
Just a thought

Originally I had all my machines wired with plug drops from the ceiling. If you have attic space above your shop like I do it is really easy to cut in Recs. I just used "Twist-Lock" plugs and receptacles

They never got in the way and damaged by things rolling around

Duffy
07-31-2011, 12:02 AM
I suspect that, if you check Hubbell, they make a 220V 20A twist-lock male connector to be box-mounted, and likely a 15A one also. Since most of us use our machines on an intermittent basis, a 20A circuit will handle three horsepower and a bit for coolant pumps. Home Depot or any electrical supplier will sell 12 ga extension cords and you just have to change the ends. If you want to be a BIG spender, buy some 12 Ga 600V cabtire and work from there.
In a perfect world, every damned power tool and kitchen appliance made would have a twist-lock male connector built into it at some convenient location! Cords would be available separately, in convenient, (and maybe curly,) lengths. That way we would only have a shelf full of power tools and not a waterfall of variously abused cords trailing on the floor.
For the kitchen, white ones and not very long!
I have five routers, three drills, a planer, sawsall, belt sander, two palm sanders, a skilsaw,a chainsaw and I am sure I forgot something. Do I need a cord, usually the WRONG length, on EACH of them? Not on your nelly!
End of rant!:D

flylo
07-31-2011, 12:18 AM
Check Ebay carefully for twist lock ends,220v switches,etc. I've gotten some super deals on this kind of stuff. Also I've changed all my ext cords to 10 ga or larger.
if fact I have a 5 gal pail of 220v 3 prong cord ends both male & female. let me know offline what you need.

Deus Machina
07-31-2011, 12:28 AM
The quick and simple way I hide wires is by mounting the power strip I run my machines off of (I have 110v machines; an extension cord or plug box would work as well) to the back of their bench, and run their power wire directly down the back of the machine and use those cable-holder things like you would use to run wires across your rafters, to hold the cables firmly in place until the point that they're behind the bench. Then plug them in, coil the slack, and tack that to the back of the bench.

Minimal effort, no cables in the way. My only complaint is that I have to brush chips out from against them now and then.

Maybe I'll mill a bit of conduit in half to form a 'hump' the cable can run through without capturing chips.

Mcgyver
07-31-2011, 12:48 AM
isn't the 'why not' on extension cords fairly obvious? they're a trip hazard and drop a piece of something sharp and heavy and you'll pierce them

I've 120 qp, 240 1p, 240 3p and 600 3p all in metal conduit, that's a lot of conduit! but everything is safe. Machines along the wall are powered from the from the wall...in the middle via the ceiling with twist locks and drop cords. The twist locks are so i can unplug to get the garage door open

the exception to my rule is welding where have a very heavy welding extension cord. I'm just not bending any more 1" conduit to move welding outlets when the shop configuration changes....but welding is infrequent so i put up with the extension cord for that occasional use

darryl
07-31-2011, 03:04 AM
I've often wished that my power woodworking tools had 'universal' sockets on them that you could just plug the mating female end of a cord into. I could quite easily get used to having the cord plugged in, then just reaching for the end which would be draped across somewhere handy- I definitely don't like having to coil up the cord each time to put the tool away, then unkink it when you go to use it. Then there's the problem of damaged tool cords. I'd rather have some kind of compact socket on the tool, even if I had to either make or modify an existing extension cord to carry the mating part. No reason the parts couldn't lock in place and be quick-release.

I would not want a short cord from the tool, then the male-female blob, then the rest of the cord. That would be worse.

On a more or less stationary machine- I think I'd want a mounted socket also, not a short cord with a mating end on it.

JRouche
07-31-2011, 04:01 AM
I don get the thread? If you dont like power cords why not just hard wire everything up?

All my "machines" are hard wired with proper conduits. Then for the portable equipment I have prolly 30 sockets in my small home shop. And yes, some of them are 220/50amp circuits. Prolly five outlets, maybe four, I have to go count. Its prolly six actually.

I think I am missing the original posters need? Maybe the "mobility" is an issue. My heavy stuff isnt mobile so its hard wired. But I dont use ANY mobile lines for any machine. If the machine is in place its hard wired with its own break box and disconnect.

But I do have six or seven plugs that are 220/50amp plugs for the mobile stuff. Just welders, thats the only mobile heavy current machines I have (plasma and welder). Every other high current machine is stationary and hard wired.... JR

John Stevenson
07-31-2011, 07:34 AM
Don't you have these type of plug and socket in the US ?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Mated-16A-Plug-And-Socket.jpg/150px-Mated-16A-Plug-And-Socket.jpg

You can get male and female sockets and male and female plugs so any setup is possible.
For us it's yellow for 110v site work, blue for 240v single phase and red for 440v.

Cost about 4 each here.

A.K. Boomer
07-31-2011, 09:52 AM
I don get the thread? If you dont like power cords why not just hard wire everything up?

All my "machines" are hard wired with proper conduits. Then for the portable equipment I have prolly 30 sockets in my small home shop. And yes, some of them are 220/50amp circuits. Prolly five outlets, maybe four, I have to go count. Its prolly six actually.

I think I am missing the original posters need? Maybe the "mobility" is an issue. My heavy stuff isnt mobile so its hard wired. But I dont use ANY mobile lines for any machine. If the machine is in place its hard wired with its own break box and disconnect.

But I do have six or seven plugs that are 220/50amp plugs for the mobile stuff. Just welders, thats the only mobile heavy current machines I have (plasma and welder). Every other high current machine is stationary and hard wired.... JR


I second this - I been trying to find meaning in this entire thread as to me it's all sounding like an electrical "non-no"

extension cords are for last resort situations and even with 110 and large drill motors you better have the right one or you can burn up the motor --- why would I want some kinda extension cord running my mills motor? sure better be a heavy one, I like keeping the designated circuit with the equipments own short cord (notice how they all are) and the power outlet running all the way up to it.:confused:

I can see one exception and I have often thought about this - lets say your machine is 110, AND you also have a 110 DRO and a 110 power feed and perhaps a 110 working light --- you know your plugging all this crap into one circuit anyways - so why not have a small junction box on the machine where all your tidy just long enough cords run too and then one thick properly rated SHORT cord that runs to the proper power outlet --------- talk about cleaning things up this would be a nice touch.

justanengineer
07-31-2011, 11:51 AM
I don get the thread? If you dont like power cords why not just hard wire everything up?


My need is simply to make moving machines around as easy as possible. I prefer to keep all of my machines as mobile as possible so I can easily move them with a pallet jack to clean around them or to work on/with them. The large machines usually sit tight against the wall, so accessing the electrical or other components on the back of them is rather clumsy. I also quite often like to rearrange the shop to work more efficiently depending upon what I am doing at a given period of time. Hard wiring may be an option in the future if the situation or I change, but not at the moment.

The idea behind using box mounted male receptacles for power probably started about the twentieth time I tripped over plugs sitting on the floor that connected the extension and power cords on the horizontal bandsaw, which often has to be moved into the middle of the floor to accomodate stock. I dont have issues with the cords as much as I do with the plugs which roll easily when stepped on. Thinking beyond that, if I used receptacle boxes on the larger machines as well, I could then significantly clean up the appearance of them by having every bit of wiring tied down or in conduit on the machine itself. Plus, I think it would be vastly simpler to plug in an "extension" of the appropriate size or use a retractable drop down with the mounted receptacle vs fighting with cords and sockets. I also find quite often on machines that get left unplugged that the plugs have a habit of being stepped on which mangles the connection prongs. As already pointed out, I could simply use very short cords that dont reach the floor on the machines and then plug in extensions. My issue with that is that to eliminate the plugs from the floor, they would then either have to be dangling in air or I would have to drape them over something, neither of which sounds very good to me. Needless to say, I always use wiring and cords that are overrated for the application as I am deathly afraid of fires in the shop, and on the Bport I also have an auxiliary "four way" box hard wired into the common power cord for powering lamps, DRO, feeds etc.

The entire purpose of this thread was simply to put my idea out there and see if anybody had done it, or if there was a reason why I shouldnt use these male receptacle boxes. I am quite far from an electrician and have never used these before despite seeing the 110v version, so the secondary objective was to see if a 220v variety existed that could be used. The first few responses answered the question of whether or not 220v versions existed, so the remaining question was, why not do it?

Needless to say, when it comes to some of these "improvements" that I havent seen done before I prefer to ask others just to make sure Im not off my rocker. In this case, it may be an unnecessary expense, but I think it would be well worth it to do for the reasons listed above.

Thanks for the responses, and Duffy, I completely agree about your "perfect world."

kendall
07-31-2011, 02:32 PM
Go for mobile home pigtails, often available cheap. They are very heavy gauge, surprisingly flexible and designed to run a whole house.

I had several of them wired in on my old shop. I had two lathes back to back in the center of the shop, both wired into a box that was fed by one so both lathes could be run at once. The box plugged into the cord and was used to power the welder when I needed to move it for welding outside of the shop.
It was actually far more convenient than hard wiring anything, I did have 'L' shaped cradles bolted to the ceiling so the cord was off the floor, those and a forked stick made it simple and quick to get power where I needed it.

Still have a couple of them in storage now, and pick them up whenever I find one cheap

Ohio Mike
07-31-2011, 11:30 PM
My need is simply to make moving machines around as easy as possible. I prefer to keep all of my machines as mobile as possible so I can easily move them with a pallet jack to clean around them or to work on/with them.

I'm in a similar situation right now. I have everything setup with a couple of standard plugs. My garage has two 6-50 outlets on 40 amp breakers in the garage sub panel, all other outlets are NEMA 5-15 wired to the same sub. This configuration is basically they way I found the garage when I moved in back in 2004, other than I replaced all the receptacles with new.

With the setup above I can easily and safely power anything it the garage right now from welders and mills to handheld grinders. I have a simple 5 foot NEMA 6-50 to L6-30 "jump" cable made from a free scrap of 10 gauge SO cable. This allows me to also power anything with a single phase twist lock. So for single phase its either 5-15, 6-50 or L6-30. I also have a 10HP American Rotary and all my 3ph devices are getting L15-20 plugs, from the massive Van Norman to the little Baldor Diamond Grinder all get the same L15-20 plug. I sourced most of the stuff from Ebay and I found a really great seller in Michigan that carries SO/SJ cables very reasonable, and he ships next day. I bought short reals of cable the correct gauges and made up lengths as needed. Long term I want to surface mount some conduit and run additional outlets but what I have above works great in a one man home shop.

EVguru
08-01-2011, 07:40 AM
Don't you have these type of plug and socket in the US ?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Mated-16A-Plug-And-Socket.jpg/150px-Mated-16A-Plug-And-Socket.jpg

You can get male and female sockets and male and female plugs so any setup is possible.
For us it's yellow for 110v site work, blue for 240v single phase and red for 440v.

Cost about 4 each here.

So you buy the expensive ones!

They do Purple for 24volt too.

I took some out to the US in the 90's for electric vehicle use and an electrician out there thought the 16A version must be rated for at least 50A and cost over $40 for each half. He was rather surprised when I just gave him a bunch.