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  • 110

    It causes me pain to say the words 110. Nowhere in this country is 110 Volt power available. Nor is 220 Volt power.

    Utilities provide standardized power values so we, as consumers, can go to Walmart and buy devices and plug them in anywhere we happen to be. For longer than most of us have lived the standard has been 120/240 nationwide.

    I read in these forums the obsession beginners have with owning a 110 welder. Every one of these people believe they can plug a 110 welder into any outlet and weld. This is a very dangerous presumption.

    Check the instructions included with any welder, they all caution these machines are to be connected only to a dedicated outlet installed for the purpose, by a competent expert.

    The math is pretty simple, to weld you need heat. Producing heat requires power. A 15 amp circuit at 120 volts can provide 1800 watts. My wife's hair dryer is over 1800 watts! It is very likely the outlet in your house that accepts a 15 amp plug will burn your house down if you connect a 15 amp load to it.

    When homes are wired, cost is a big factor. If your home's wiring involved a bid, the electrician had no choice but to install a code minimum installation or less. If he prices a better than minimum system, your builder will choose someone else who will do it cheaper. This means the only outlet in your home connected as a dedicated circuit is likely to be the washing machine. All others will be multi outlet circuits.
    These circuits will include splices, or connections between the circuit breaker, and the receptacle, Some of these may not be up to the task of supplying a welder. Working in homes I often find connections inadequate for full circuit rated load. Wire nuts are often wrong sized, not tight enough, screw terminations are commonly not well done, and notorious back wired terminals are NEVER adequate.

    A welder is a high wattage load. In every case you need a circuit installed specifically for this load. Half the voltage means you need twice the amperage. A dedicated 20 amp circuit can potentially give you 2400 watts of power. A 20 amp circuit at 240 Volts can give 4800 watts of safe power. Both circuits use the same wire. Use 240 whenever you can, a 120 volt welder isn't very useful, and if you plug it into a typical home outlet it's a fire hazard.
    Dynasty 280DX
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    MM252
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    Twentieth Century 295
    Twentieth Century 295 AC
    Marquette spot welder
    Smith torches

  • #2
    When I plug my 15 amp skil saw and bury it in a beam to the point it trips the breaker, why didn't the house burn down? How bout the thousand times before, in 500 different homes? I think your generalizing a bit as I see only code quality work on a daily basis. When I have seen below code electrical work it has always been homeowner done.

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    • #3
      These circuits will include splices, or connections between the circuit breaker, and the receptacle, Some of these may not be up to the task of supplying a welder. Working in homes I often find connections inadequate for full circuit rated load. Wire nuts are often wrong sized, not tight enough, screw terminations are commonly not well done, and notorious back wired terminals are NEVER adequate.
      I get the impression that you make assumptions by your post. You assume that a licensed electrician is following code and not trying to save a buck on a bid project. You assume that all wiring work is done by an electrician. Whereas I've lost count how many times a home/ business owner did the work themselves or a friend (that supposedly is an electrician) to save a buck. And the result is personal injury, property damage and /or death.

      Its my understanding that wiring codes and standards are there to protect. I believe that indeed they do. If you chose to go outside those standards- bad things happen. People seem to be always in pursuit of cutting corners. It will catch up with them.
      Last edited by kize; 02-27-2015, 09:09 PM.

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      • #4
        Willie,
        I think you have touched on a valid point. It seems much of the appeal of 120v and 120/240v machines is the notion that you can plug it in anywhere. While you can, that doesn't mean you should but I expect many operators are doing just that. If one is going to go to the trouble of installing a dedicated 20amp 120v line to weld with I would question the budgetary economy of doing so versus a 240v line, given the wider range of 240v machines.
        Like welding, wiring is often made to look easy by professionals and it is easy to watch it done a few times and think "Oh there is nothing difficult to that". It is interesting to note how many times, on another forum that we both frequent, that members will be appalled that anyone short of a long experienced professional would weld a crack on a homeowners trailer but will recommend the same neophyte wire his own welder outlets which could surprise him with a fire in the middle of the night.---Meltedmetal
        ---Meltedmetal

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Cgotto6 View Post
          When I plug my 15 amp skil saw and bury it in a beam to the point it trips the breaker, why didn't the house burn down? How bout the thousand times before, in 500 different homes? I think your generalizing a bit as I see only code quality work on a daily basis. When I have seen below code electrical work it has always been homeowner done.
          A code compliant circuit could burn a house down when loaded to near the capacity of the circuit breaker. Ampacity is calculated under optimum conditions. A #14 wire under ideal conditions will not overheat at even 40 amp load in the ten seconds it takes a saw to cut off a piece of plywood. An air compressor however, starting often, running a lot, has on numerous occasions burned off a bad connection. On one mobile home recently a handyman / plumber / electrician renovating a few rooms plugged his pancake compressor in one outlet, his saw in another. After a couple days work, half the home wouldn't work. Upon checking, all the failed outlets had the hot leg, none had neutral, a few had equipment ground. In the past I've found often the daisy chain system of passing through one backwired outlet before passing on to the next creates a number of high resistance points in the circuit. Typically, one of these fails , and can be found to be charred with burned, crumbles of plastic in the box if one exists.

          This one was found to have a long piece of 14/2 wg running down the wall from the breaker panel to beneath the floor where it was pinched between two pieces of 2x, thence running to the opposite corner of the trailer 75' away where a junction box joined several cables equipped with an outlet for heat tapes. from here it split several directions branching into a series of daisy chains. To an inspector's eye this was a code compliant circuit. Being pinched in framing he wouldn't have seen, The junction box was legal, the series of outlets daisy chained from there was not violating any code rule except balancing load, which is vague. Spring loaded backwire feed through terminals are legal with #14 despite an appalling safety record. The only code violation was a wire nut connection where the 6 neutral conductors were not at even length in the wire nut, and the wire nut was not adequately tight.

          The violation is the use of the compressor not complying with safety instructions provided with it. It should have been plugged into a dedicated circuit with a single piece of cable running from the breaker panel to the receptacle.

          I see terrible hazards put in place by do it yourselfers, brothers in law who think they are smarter than they are, inadequately trained electricians who work for beer, professionals under pressure to work cheap, and skilled, caring professionals who screw up.

          Yes you can burn down assuming a 15 or 20 amp receptacle is fit to supply its rated load. Nationwide it happens every day.
          Dynasty 280DX
          Bobcat 250
          MM252
          Spool gun
          Twentieth Century 295
          Twentieth Century 295 AC
          Marquette spot welder
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          • #6
            Originally posted by kize View Post
            I get the impression that you make assumptions by your post. You assume that a licensed electrician is following code and not trying to save a buck on a bid project. You assume that all wiring work is done by an electrician. Whereas I've lost count how many times a home/ business owner did the work themselves or a friend (that supposedly is an electrician) to save a buck. And the result is personal injury, property damage and /or death.

            Its my understanding that wiring codes and standards are there to protect. I believe that indeed they do. If you chose to go outside those standards- bad things happen. People seem to be always in pursuit of cutting corners. It will catch up with them.
            I seldom use the term licensed. There are plenty of people with licenses who aren't competent. Some knowledgeable people don't do good work. My best example is a contract job at the battered women's shelter. A three story house was in the 1940s left to the Catholic Church, 60 years later the Church donated it to the shelter. They renovated the second floor. The renovation included four very large bedrooms, a hallway, and a bathroom. I was called when nothing worked. I found a point where the crew working for a very experienced electrical contractor had tapped a very old knob & tube 15 amp circuit, powering 4 bed rooms, hall and bath room. Load already on this circuit included a clothes washer, cellar lights, part of a third floor apartment, and a detached garage, totaling 42 outlets! I complained to the State Electrical Inspector, he informed me he didn't like it either, but it wasn't in violation of code. Code does not prohibit tapping an overloaded circuit adding more load. A contractor bidding a good job isn't likely to be chosen when someone else bids a minimum job.
            Dynasty 280DX
            Bobcat 250
            MM252
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            Twentieth Century 295
            Twentieth Century 295 AC
            Marquette spot welder
            Smith torches

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            • #7
              Willie like I said before, if the sky was falling as you paint it to be, there would be a fire in every 10th house in the nation as **** near everybody has high wattage compressors, saws, hair dryers, heaters, etc. fact is I've been building houses for a long time and I personally have never encountered a electrical fire situation. Not that it doesn't happen, but to say you shouldn't run a welder off an outlet cause you "don't know" it's condition is rubbish. I have plugged in my plasma to hundreds of 120 outlets and am yet to have an issue larger than a popped breaker. I will also point out your example is in a mobile home, this would be receiving the worst products and craftsmanship a home could die to the value of the project.

              I totally get where you are coming from though, you have an electrician background so this is your forte. I get the same irk feeling when I see see a home owner build a patio cover and build a single pitch , flat roof with 2x4's spanning 16'.

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              • #8
                I drive down the road every day, I've been many years since I've come upon a fatal accident. I don't therefore conclude that fatal accidents don't happen. Electrical fires are something I've seen a hundred times in my life. I thank God I've never been accused of causing one. Each of them has involved human failure to follow printed instruction. When a hazard is identified, choosing to make no change is akin to Russian Roulette. The odds are against fire. Sometimes it does happen.
                Dynasty 280DX
                Bobcat 250
                MM252
                Spool gun
                Twentieth Century 295
                Twentieth Century 295 AC
                Marquette spot welder
                Smith torches

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                • #9
                  Willie, I can understand your rant and there are certainly some valid problems stated; however, I don't believe that it is quite as bad as you seem to think.

                  For longer than most of us have lived the standard has been 120/240 nationwide.
                  For the majority of my life the standard was 115/230. I do remember when it was 110/220. I guess that I am a little older than you. There are several reasons why the voltage "standard" keeps rising, but the main reason is that because as demands for more power increases, the power providers keep increasing the voltage in order to reduce current demands which improves efficiency (and profits).

                  It is very likely the outlet in your house that accepts a 15 amp plug will burn your house down if you connect a 15 amp load to it.
                  This one is simply not true if the house is properly wired according to the NEC.

                  a 120 volt welder isn't very useful, and if you plug it into a typical home outlet it's a fire hazard.
                  I understand where this one is coming from because a lot of "hobby" welders try to run the 120V welders on 15 amp circuits when the manufacturer's instructions clearly indicate a 20 amp dedicated circuit; however an awful lot of very useful sheet metal has been very successfully welded using the 120 V machines. When used properly and within their application specs, they are fine.

                  I understand where you are coming from as a professional, but I have to say that some of your comments are a little overboard.

                  I do enjoy reading your posts. Most are great. Keep up the good work.

                  Thanks.

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                  • #10
                    Willie, I can understand your rant and there are certainly some valid problems stated; however, I don't believe that it is quite as bad as you seem to think.

                    For longer than most of us have lived the standard has been 120/240 nationwide.
                    For the majority of my life the standard was 115/230. I do remember when it was 110/220. I guess that I am a little older than you. There are several reasons why the voltage "standard" keeps rising, but the main reason is that because as demands for more power increases, the power providers keep increasing the voltage in order to reduce current demands which improves efficiency (and profits).

                    It is very likely the outlet in your house that accepts a 15 amp plug will burn your house down if you connect a 15 amp load to it.
                    This one is simply not true if the house is properly wired according to the NEC.

                    a 120 volt welder isn't very useful, and if you plug it into a typical home outlet it's a fire hazard.
                    I understand where this one is coming from because a lot of "hobby" welders try to run the 120V welders on 15 amp circuits when the manufacturer's instructions clearly indicate a 20 amp dedicated circuit; however an awful lot of very useful sheet metal has been very successfully welded using the 120 V machines. When used properly and within their application specs, they are fine.

                    I understand where you are coming from as a professional, but I have to say that some of your comments are a little overboard.

                    I do enjoy reading your posts. Most are great. Keep up the good work.

                    Thanks.

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                    • #11
                      Since at least 1969, utilities have produced by mutual agreement 120/240 at the transformer, or as close as possible. Those I'm familiar with allow themselves 5% plus or minus. There will be loss in conductors, so most nameplate voltage is valued at 115 or 230. Motor manufacturers by agreement must tolerate variations of +- 10% a 230 volt motor should run at 207 volts which is a common voltage when supplied from Wye 3 phase. In 45 years in the trade I have seen only one motor nameplated as 220. It was Chinese, and I suspect it had more to do with translation than voltage.
                      I do hope it isn't your house where I get the opportunity to say I told you so. It is basic physics that the points in any circuit with high resistance will heat. If those high resistance points involve springs as do wire nuts, or backwired terminals on devices, that heat creates deterioration. As deterioration advances, enough heat can be produced to initiate combustion. Then the question falls to combustible material in close proximity. 99 out of 100 times damage is minor. Occasionally it is catastrophic.
                      Dynasty 280DX
                      Bobcat 250
                      MM252
                      Spool gun
                      Twentieth Century 295
                      Twentieth Century 295 AC
                      Marquette spot welder
                      Smith torches

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                      • #12
                        You are correct, I should not have said 115 volt welders aren't very useful. Truth is they aren't very versatile. Stick welders have the widest range, followed by flux core, then MIG, then TIG. My 115 volt TIG wouldn't do much at all with aluminum. The monster I replaced it with would weld soda cans, to 1/2".
                        Dynasty 280DX
                        Bobcat 250
                        MM252
                        Spool gun
                        Twentieth Century 295
                        Twentieth Century 295 AC
                        Marquette spot welder
                        Smith torches

                        Comment

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