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Use a contactor on light circuit to shut off the 220v tool lines? Brilliant or dumb?

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  • #16
    In my case, and that of my father-in-law, we just have lights on the powered circuits. Still see a light? Something is still "on". Easy, simple, you can even see it from the house if shop is in a detached building.
    CNC machines only go through the motions.

    Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
    Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
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    • #17
      I like this idea and I would like to do something like this eventually. Maybe a sub panel for the garage, with a lockout. Not so much worried about leaving stuff on in error, but more so I can possibly prevent an overconfident teenager who's watched and helped dad many times before from getting into a situation that he doesn't have the experience to deal with when I'm not around. My Dad just hid the safety key to the craftsman RAS (pretty much the only big dangerous powertool we had), But I learned you could cut down a popsicle stick and it would work just fine to turn it on. There's still a big hole in the wall from a kickback that shouldn't have happened..... My Son, while a little more safety conscious than I was, still fell from my branch, so A little extra caution wouldn't be a bad thing. Not having to get up at 2am to go shut the compressor off in my undies would be another good benefit.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Dan Dubeau View Post
        . Not having to get up at 2am to go shut the compressor off in my undies would be another good benefit.
        LOL, glad to hear I'm not the only one! My son made it out of the house without shop calamity but he had better judgment than I did at his age.

        Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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        • #19
          Crap, I'm in over my head already. Can anyone explain what the hell is going on in this contactor to me? The free uncapped leg off the transformer (going down) is marked 24v, the yellow 200v, and the white "COM". That black leg goes into the thermal fuse, out via the red wire to the solenoid, then red to a pilot leg of the contactor with nothing attached on the other side of the pole. Red Back and blue are capped. I was figuring the solenoid was 24v but now I realize I don't know anything!

          The other simpler contactor I have has a 220v coil, but the lighting leg is obviously 110, so I'd have to do some skunky stuff to make it work. Might be OK, the lighting is one leg of a 2 circuit line on a 2 pole breaker, so if I used the other leg to make 220 it would not be an obvious hazard. I think.

          Click image for larger version

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          Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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          • #20
            Originally posted by gellfex View Post
            ....

            Curious: has anyone ever had a city inspector in their shop who looked at all the AC cable everywhere and go "WTF???". It's kinda my nightmare. One reason I want to get rid of the homebuilt RPC that is probably unidentifiable even if they looked inside the boxes. ...
            Do you live in the United States?
            Inspectors can not come on to your property
            unless you give them permission or they have a court order.
            Do you fear authority? Do you know your rights?

            --Doozer
            DZER

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Doozer View Post

              Do you live in the United States?
              Inspectors can not come on to your property
              unless you give them permission or they have a court order.
              Do you fear authority? Do you know your rights?

              --Doozer
              I take a little different view. I may have the right to do whatever I want with the electrics in my shop. But I try to follow codes at least in spirit if not to the letter.

              Reason is I don't want someone to get hurt because of choices I made.

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              • #22
                Hi Gellfex,

                I'm going to try and help. The first thing is demo out the wiring that will not be used for now from the T1,T2,T3 terminals. The X2 and the one above X1? is the AUX contact that would only be used for control from the overload operation. You will not need to use it if you remove the overloads, which for your application I would agree with Jon Haron and do that next. The coil / contactor is the black cube at the top, and this is the part you will be using. The 3 black wires are the connection between the contactor and the overloads, this is where you will connect the output of the contactor. The other side is the power in from the circuits you will be controlling.

                The coil voltage is the next thing you need to figure out. The transformer is probably used to power the coil through the X1, X2 AUX contact. You say the yellow has a marking of 200v, it looks like the Brown is labeled 24v can you tell the voltage of the wire connected to X2, or any of the others? If the contactor is labeled with the coil voltage or even on the coil itself this will be very helpful. The transformer looks like it was powered by 220v being the yellow was connected and the white was to another leg if I'm understanding your post correctly. What you will need to do next is if the coil is 24v, then the light switch for the shop will need to power the transformer and you will need to determine which lead of the transformer the 120v can be connected to with the white wire as the neutral in a 120v circuit.

                Then you will need to figure out the common and 24v of the transformer and hook them to each side of the coil. When the lights are on 24v would go to the coil by the transformer being energized, which would close the contactor and energize the 220v that is connected across the contacts of the contactor.
                This contactor is rated for 30A at 220v so the air compressor should be fine (depending on size of motor) straight across the contacts. What I figure you will do is disconnect the wiring from the breaker and bring it into the contactor on the L1,L2,L3 terminals, then hook the wires to the compressor on the T1,T2, T3 of the contactor ( where you removed the black wires from when removing the overloads) this should complete the circuit and all should run when the shop lights are on and not run when the shop lights are off.

                I'm sure you understand to turn off all power and be careful at all times. My post is for you to read and you at your own risk, as to the final operation of the equipment I disclaim any knowledge of this posting should anything happen to you, the equipment or and other damage occurs. .

                you can PM me or post here with any questions.

                TX
                Mr fixit for the family
                Chris
                Last edited by Mr Fixit; 01-24-2020, 11:01 PM.

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                • #23
                  Starting to remind me of school shops with big RED buttons you mashed when somebody like the teacher in his blue shopcoat simulated a Briggs and Stratton starter with his necktie & the lathe. Good thing everybody carried knives back then. We had him back breathing before School Nurse Nightinggale got to the shop with her big bottle of Methiolate and pocket full of long swabs.

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                  • #24
                    We had our electrical shop wired with a big contactor tied to the lights. Three reasons, saving power because all lights were on multiple contactors. Switch by the door turned on one light and power, other pushbuttons turned on lights that would not come back on next time until you pushed a button. Lightning, can take out anything connected. Fire from a failure or heating tool left on.

                    Our old shop is now an electrical supply house. Guy behind the counter now saw my name and said “ Your dad was green WAY before being green was a thing!”

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Doozer View Post

                      Do you live in the United States?
                      Inspectors can not come on to your property
                      unless you give them permission or they have a court order.
                      Do you fear authority? Do you know your rights?

                      --Doozer
                      Been there done that. Am very familiar with Camara vs city of SF, 1968, establishing the right to require a warrant. I paid an attorney $2500 a while back to fight a completely bogus $5k fine from the local buildings dept for refusing to let them in without a warrant when they couldn't even say which apartment in the building they had gotten a tip was having un-permitted work done. Took me a while to find a lawyer who knew his stuff and agreed with me that it was 'bull****'. His word. He knew all the parties and made it go away, but the inspector perjured himself in court making up a bogus story of an open permit (didn't exist, work had been signed off) to explain why they were there.

                      What I know is that it isn't the 2nd amendment most threatened in this country, it's the 4th. I've had inspectors simply walk in the front door when contractors left it open and walk into an apartment. ( I finally discovered I had a hostile neighbor). They're used to intimidating people. And around here they get hauled off in handcuffs for corruption on a regular basis. There's a "profession" here called an "expediter", basically a bagman who knows who and how to pay off to get your permits. Businesses who don't play ball never get to open. It can go on for years. That's my America. And before you, knowing something of Jersey City, say it's because of the Democratic Machine, I grew up on Long Island in the GOP machine of Al D'Amato, and it was exactly the same.
                      Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Mr Fixit View Post
                        Hi Gellfex,

                        I'm going to try and help.
                        ..

                        OK, thanks, you talked me out of the tree. I knew what the thing was trying to do, but was having a hard time making sense of what was in vs out of the transformer. The blue wire is marked 115v, so then I can power the transformer with the blue and the white COM, and take off 24v to the coil with the 24v wire and the dark one now going to the overloads at the bottom.

                        Can you explain what's up with the derated pole on these things? I assume that's what's meant by "pilot duty contacts 10A max". Visually they appear the same contacts. The "6hp" compressor is rated 15A (I just checked it's draw with a clamp-on and it says 10.5A) and the biggest VFD is 1.5KW. . So neither would really be drawing over a nominal 10A sustained. Is it reasonable to use that pilot pole for my purpose?
                        Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by garyhlucas View Post
                          We had our electrical shop wired with a big contactor tied to the lights. Three reasons, saving power because all lights were on multiple contactors. Switch by the door turned on one light and power, other pushbuttons turned on lights that would not come back on next time until you pushed a button. Lightning, can take out anything connected. Fire from a failure or heating tool left on.

                          Our old shop is now an electrical supply house. Guy behind the counter now saw my name and said “ Your dad was green WAY before being green was a thing!”
                          Cool. I hadn't even though of the side effect of protecting the VFDs from surges when they're off. In my basement shop, I basically have 2 zones, one lit and powered by the switch at the head of the stairs for my office and my wife's stationary bike, and another for the shop off another light switch at the base of the stairs. I have a constant power outlet in the office for the electronics, modem, router, PC etc, all running off a UPS.
                          Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                          • #28
                            So, with the transformer hint from Mr Fixit I got the contactor wired to test it out on 110v. First I tested the transformer output voltage. 24v, check. but when I connected it to the coil, I got a hugely loud 60hz hum along with the correct operation! What's up with that? My other contactors, from the RPC, didn't scream like that. The transformer itself has a low hum, but I didn't think much of it.

                            If this unit has problems, is there anything wrong with getting a step up transformer to operate my 220v coil contactor (bottom photo OP) with the 110 from the light circuit?

                            Or just buy a new 110v contactor for $40?
                            https://electromarketplace.com/produ...en-40amp-120v/
                            Last edited by gellfex; 01-25-2020, 03:03 PM.
                            Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                            • #29
                              Hi Gellfex

                              I am glad your moving forward. Have you checked the input voltage from the source? You need to verify the coil labeling for the proper voltage? The reason I ask is, the noise you speak of could be because of the wrong voltage to the coil. Another is the position of the contactor in the can is not the design position of the contactor to operate and it could be that there is binding when pulling in the contactor which gives the coil physical resistance.
                              The pilot duty is just as it says, it's for smaller loads (control, lights, safety circuits etc.) than the contactor itself. The idea of using the other with a different transformer would be just the same as I lined out before.

                              Good luck and keep us posted.

                              TX
                              Mr fixit for the family
                              Chris

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Mr Fixit View Post
                                Hi Gellfex

                                I am glad your moving forward. Have you checked the input voltage from the source? You need to verify the coil labeling for the proper voltage? The reason I ask is, the noise you speak of could be because of the wrong voltage to the coil. Another is the position of the contactor in the can is not the design position of the contactor to operate and it could be that there is binding when pulling in the contactor which gives the coil physical resistance.
                                The pilot duty is just as it says, it's for smaller loads (control, lights, safety circuits etc.) than the contactor itself. The idea of using the other with a different transformer would be just the same as I lined out before.

                                Good luck and keep us posted.

                                TX
                                Mr fixit for the family
                                Chris
                                The legs to the coil tested out at 24v on an analog meter, so where's the room for error there? I positioned it so the contacts need to be pulled up, and gravity breaks its when depowered. That's how every one I've ever seen was installed.

                                What about the safety of using the other leg on the double pole breaker controlling the lights to make the 220v for the coil of the other contactor? Switching 220v on only one leg is frowned on as I recall. It looks like if I'm going to buy something, I might as well buy the right thing instead of kludging together ancient parts.

                                EDIT: Hmm. A little percussive therapy and cycling seems to have quieted it down somewhat. A little disappointing that the contactor alone consumes 9w, but that's still a gain over the 24/7 draw of the VFDs.
                                Last edited by gellfex; 01-25-2020, 03:50 PM.
                                Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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