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  • Welder Wiring Safety

    I reacted rather strongly to some advice given on the "8VS Suitcase and Aluminum" thread.... and thought that the subject was important enough to warrant further discussion .. thus a new thread..

    Generalities are just that, general.. they cover a lot of stuff but not all.. if you are the lucky exception that does not fit.. that advice could cost you your shop.. or worse... the fellow who gave the advice is not hurt... you are.. or one of your loved ones...
    Most of us understand that the longer the wiring run is the greater the voltage drop.. and thus the need to go to a larger wire... Most do not understand that there are two major classes of electrical loads
    Resistive...and... Inductive.... the major difference is that a Kitchen Range that draws 40amps(resistive load) is a totally different animal than a Welder or Electric Motor that draw 40amps(inductive loads) the inductive load has what is called inrush current or on motors sometimes called starting current.. that in some cases can be 2.5 times the normal..amperage. so guess what... your welder may momentarily draw 100amps...(while the Range will still draw 40amps) puts a different face on it doesnt it???
    I used this just to illustrate.. and have given you yet another generality... that is why my advice to you is to consult the manual for your particular machine and to follow the guidelines that they specify... if you have lost your manual.. Miller has them posted on the Millerwelds site in pdf format... and BTW the manuals are pretty well written with a lot of basic welding information included that could be pretty helpful...
    Thanks
    Heiti
    .

    *******************************************
    The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

    “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

    Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

    My Blue Stuff:
    Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
    Dynasty 200DX
    Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
    Millermatic 200

    TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

  • #2
    safety

    Heti,

    I'm sure your post will generate plenty of responses from the folks who frequent this site and are equally knowledgeable about the phenomenon we call electricity. I won't take up a lot of time on the point.

    But I will relate one incident that always comes to my mind when I read anything about electrical safety. In my 27 years as a volunteer firefighter, I came accross many incidents where a disatrous fire was started by an electrical fault. Far too many occur due to faulty wirng by do-it-yourself'ers whith enough knwoledge to be dangerous. On one such occasion, our department responded to a fully involved garage. After the smoke cleared, we determined the cause - the homeowner had wired his 230V, 2500 watt clothes dryer with an extension cord constructed from 8 pairs of 22 ga. bell wire!!!

    Your point is well taken.

    Hankj
    Ex-firefighter and electrical contractor.
    ...from the Gadget Garage
    Millermatic 210 w/3035, BWE
    Handler 210 w/DP3035
    TA185TSW
    Victor O/A "J" series, SuperRange

    Comment


    • #3
      hankj
      good illustration... a lot of the people that seek advice on the forum may have little or no electrical knowledge.. and ask questions in the hope that someone knowledgeable will give them the right answer... quick rules of thumb and generalities may sound impressive but.. do not fit all cases... I tend to be negatively impressed by the ones that may be dangerous... and for those listening to that advice... bear in mind.. that the self styled "expert" who gave you that advice ... is not sharing your risk.. Know I will hear from a few that will say that "I got by with this or that setup for years".... and yep you did "get by"...Yep that cobble may work perfect for the first 394 times..but on number 395 it might fry you deader than a mackerel or burn down your shop...... and sure there are a bunch of ways to make do... but why not do it right the first time for the same amount of effort?... the engineers at Miller took the time to measure, calculate and write down the proper parameters for wiring up their product... that is part of what we paid for when we bought the machine... why not take advantage of it??
      Thanks
      Heiti

      PS part of why I like this forum is that it for the most part is devoted to the exchange of knowledge and experience....NOT a chat room where people post just to see their words on the screen... or to tell... er.. fish stories hoping to impress... I hope that never happens......
      .

      *******************************************
      The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

      “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

      Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

      My Blue Stuff:
      Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
      Dynasty 200DX
      Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
      Millermatic 200

      TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks guys I must agree, father-in-law is an electrician and inspector he quotes chapter and verse but won't hesitate to explain just like you have.

        That is where I got my monster size extension cords from. He takes good care of me, his "only favorite son-in-law" his words not mine but its fine, it shows he cares.

        Comment


        • #5
          Bootleg Wiring

          Heiti,

          First place I apologize if anything I said has offended you or anyone else here..

          That being said long experience in commercial building maintenance has given me a whole new appreciation of what people will sometimes do..

          I have seen it happen where people add all kinds of electrical equipment to their shop with out considering the factors involved..that is why we have licensed electricians..

          Recently one of my neighbors lost his shop..home and business..electric generated fire..this was caused by an OVERLOADED PANEL..

          All of the breakers wire sizes and such were of the correct size for the individual pieces..what no one looked at apparently was the total panel load..

          IT WAS COLD..MOTHER WAS COOKING..FURNACE IS RUNNING..COMPRESSOR CUTS IN..WELDING IS GOING ON..VARIOUS OTHER APPLIANCES ARE BEING USED AND THE SERVICE PANEL OVERHEATS SETTING THE BUILDING ON FIRE..FORTUNATELY ALL GOT OUT SAFELY BUT THE HOME, BUSINESS AND BELONGINGS ARE TOAST..!!!

          JUST BECAUSE THERE IS ROOM IN THE PANEL OR IT LOOKS GOOD DOES NOT MEAN GO DO IT..CHECK IT OUT..PAY SPARKY TO COME LOOK..!!!

          ELECTRIC SERVICES TO YOUR HOME OR SHOP ARE DESIGNED TO MEET A PROJECTED LOAD..WHEN WELDERS..PLASMA CUTTERS AND VARIOUS OTHER HEAVY ELECTRIC CONSUMING ITEMS ARE TO BE INSTALLED CALL SPARKY THE ELECTRICIAN AND HAVE HIM DO A LOAD CHECK ON THE SERVICE..

          SAYING ALL OF THIS OUR COMPANY DID A LOT OF UPGRADES TO ELECTRIC SERVICE PANELS BECAUSE THE TENANT OR LESSEE WAS BRINGING IN MACHINERY THAT REQUIRED LOTS OF POWER TO OPERATE..

          I would certainly hope that anyone who is looking for advice has the sense to check it out and make the proper decisions to meet their needs.

          Glad this came out..

          Grampa
          Grampa has done so much with so little now I do everything with nothing..;>)

          Comment


          • #6
            Grampa
            it was not a matter of offending.. it was a matter of safety!!!
            although I will admit that DANGEROUS advice does offend me...
            Other points that need to be covered... are the use of Dryer or Kitchen Range recepacles or plugs... The advice of buying and using them because.. they are conveniently bought at a hardware, home center or "box store" and are inexpensive...rather than finding or ordering the proper one is just plain stupid and dangerous... these items, Dryer-Nema 10-30 .. and Range-Nema 10-50 are rated at 30amps and 50amps respectively if your Welder draws more current or specifies a different connector... spend a few extra bucks and follow the guidlines.. they are there for a reason... other advice that I have seen that compounds that problem... is the false economy of putting in a bigger breaker just in case you buy a larger machine someday... WRONG!!!... under the right circumstances.. a substandard connector coupled with an oversize breaker.... could light your shop up hotter than a cannister of WilliPete.... the breaker is a safety device... and a pretty cheap one at that...
            We spend pretty significant amounts of money to buy the best equipment that we can get... why cut dangerous corners on the wiring??
            Those of us who know better (or should) owe it to the rest to give the most careful considered advice that we can... sure there are shortcuts and cobbles and we have all been forced to use them when we had to temporarily... but.. we knew that they were substandard.. AND WE ASSUMED THE RISK!!!!! ....not so when you tell some hapless soul to do the same thing on the other side of the country... and coincidentally forgetting to tell him that it is a cobble...
            proper wiring is pretty easy.. and if it is beyond your personal capabilities.. then by all means hire an electrician and have it done right.. it will be a few bucks well spent...
            Thanks
            Heiti
            .

            *******************************************
            The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

            “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

            Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

            My Blue Stuff:
            Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
            Dynasty 200DX
            Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
            Millermatic 200

            TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

            Comment


            • #7
              Proper Parts

              Heiti,

              Good thing this comes up!

              What really happens out here in the ends of the earth..!! We order up a shiny new piece of equipment which has some sort of special cord end and requires some sort of special wall receptacle to accomodate that particular equipment..

              So the individual goes back to his welding equipment supplier and asks "Hey guy I need one of these".. The guy at the counter says "Oh we do not carry that, go see the guy at the hardware store" Off the customer goes to find this particular receptacle piece Miller wants us to use..The hardware guy has no idea..Our guy here then goes to the local electrical shop and they have no idea or its a special order takes 2 weeks to get..

              So our buddy the budding race care builder gets frustrated with all this cuts the cord off of his new Miller piece gets what he can find locally wires it up and carries on..

              Now I feel some of this could be resolved if the Miller dealers would carry the correct wall receptacles for their equipment. That would solve some of the problem..Then the guys would not have to resort to "cobbles" to get the proper receptacles..

              Still will not solve the problem of panel capacity..A service panel is rated to carry so much juice through it...When our budding race car builder is putting in his equipment he can be oh so careful..contact Miller..they tell him his thing needs such and such breaker and wire size..so now he buys this stuff and installs it in his panel..this carries on and he adds some circuits for other pieces of equipment, lighting utility circuits etc..

              Then winter comes it is cold and dark..he is in the shop working..Mom is in cooking..the laundry is going..furnace is working..he has some heaters plugged in...all the lites are on and the kids are watching TV and there is a huge load being pulled through the panel..Breakers start popping due to the heat in the panel..Or a breaker freezes and locks the panel overheats and the house is burned down..

              So just how do we get people to change their behavior and and do the right thing here..??


              Man if I could figure that one out..??

              Thanks
              Grampa
              Grampa has done so much with so little now I do everything with nothing..;>)

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't want to sound like a buzz kill here but we (MILLER) does all this work for us and it is outlined in the manuals which we provided links for. I think even you Heiti find the manuals to be of great info and I'm happy you forward this info to our other members. I also agree with securing the proper rated plug/receptacle. I can't tell you how many times I see Syncrowave 250s on a little 50A plug that you can't touch cause it's about to melt!

                I guess my point is, we don't all need to be NEC experts. Our manuals are some of the best in the industry and maybe we, or I should try to push that resource to our members who are looking to prewire their shop before the machine comes. I know sometimes it's easier to type a question and let someone else do the digging but in this case, forcing the new guy to read the manual is a good thing don't you think??? He actually might learn something else about his new toy.
                Here is the link again for manuals.
                http://www.millerwelds.com/service/ownersmanuals.php

                Thanks all.

                Andy

                http://www.millerwelds.com/service/ownersmanuals.php

                Comment


                • #9
                  Grampa
                  you are a crafty one... you can get caught at something ... and somehow twist it around so that it sounds like you agreed with the right answer all along... the fellows that know better just roll back their eyes and grit their teeth... the sad part is that the ones that really need the advice may believe you....
                  how somebody who came to the forum a few short weeks ago asking the most rudimentary questions... has somehow been transformed in this short period of time into the worlds welding expert.... is beyond my feeble comprehension....
                  this is not the place to be posting stuff that sounds "close enough" to be believable.. and thus impress the troops with your vast knowledge and experience.... awful lot of which sounds imaginary to me....
                  sorry if this sounds harsh but believe it needed to be said...
                  Thanks
                  Heiti
                  .

                  *******************************************
                  The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

                  “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

                  Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

                  My Blue Stuff:
                  Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
                  Dynasty 200DX
                  Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
                  Millermatic 200

                  TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Manuals

                    Andy
                    thank you!!!
                    I refer to the manuals all of the time and often supply links to them to the users in my reply... they are very well written.. and maybe underused because people were not aware of how to access them...
                    Thanks Again
                    Heiti
                    .

                    *******************************************
                    The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

                    “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

                    Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

                    My Blue Stuff:
                    Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
                    Dynasty 200DX
                    Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
                    Millermatic 200

                    TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yup

                      Andy,

                      I am buying Miller because of the support..You guys are the best!!!

                      What I am reflecting on is that the individual who is running the Syncro 250 off of a 50 amp receptacle might not have been able to find the correct one available in his local area..

                      So he winds up cobbling something together to make it work..

                      My point is that if these special wall receptacles are required perhaps they should be available from the local Miller dealer..

                      Hopefully the guys will read the manual and if it is required call Sparky the electrician and have him wire it up correctly..According to code with the proper service disconnects for servicing..

                      I think we are all on the same page here..

                      Thanks
                      Grampa
                      Grampa has done so much with so little now I do everything with nothing..;>)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Grampa,

                        I agree with you that our distributors should be more mindful of what it actually takes to finish the sale or to actually fire that bad boy up. In my area, most of my distributors I work with (3 of 4) do carry the necessary hook ups. I find that if it's a servicing dealer, they usually have the right stuff. The small distributors with a counter guy that used to roll bottles in the whse might not be a good resource. Unfortunately unless you are near a major city, (like me) most of the distributors are the smaller ones without service.

                        Thanks for the comment about our factory service. That is an area MILLER takes a lot of pride in.


                        Be safe

                        Andy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My 2 cents worth.

                          I think a very good point has been made here in that you have to be mindful of what advice you're giving people, especially someone who has little or no experience, whether it be wiring the machine up or in it's use. While I'm not a licensed electrician I have been doing wiring for a good many years and I know how to safely wire my home and shop. I'm pushing the limits of my service now but am doing so with care, when I'm in the shop I kill breakers in the house to the "high draw" items such as the clothes dryer so as not to overload my service panel in the house, I also have a panel in the shop but it branches from the main panel. Right now I'm trying to see if I can get 3 phase brought in for the garage/shop, there are some really good deals on some used 3 phase equipment because most homes don't have 3 phase available so that limits the number of buyers for such equipment. However I do have a plan "b" in case I can not get the 3 phase service I want actually there's a plan "c" as well. The first alternate plan is to upgrade the service panel in the house to a higher amperage panel, the second is to have a separate service and meter going into the garage/shop area.

                          When in doubt I'm sure everyone has heard RTM (read the manual) and you should do just that. If you feel you're capable of wiring your garage/shop but aren't sure of the codes you can still RTM. The NEC code book is available at any electical supplier. No not Home Depot or Lowes but the suppliers that supply the electricians, I think they're about 15 bucks. Pretty cheap insurance to find out the proper way it's supposed to be wired.

                          A topic I haven't seen addressed here is GROUNDS, proper grounding is another key to a safely wired shop. If you have a axuillary service panel in your garage like I do make sure it's properly grounded. Don't rely on the neutral leg for your ground!!! Ground electrodes are cheap and the clamp and wire does not cost much either. Oh yeah and if you're putting in an auxillary panel remember to ground it as well, that's what the funny little thing in the little plastic bag is for. It goes into the neutral/ground bus and screws to your panel with a standard ground screw. In my situation I actually have 4 ground electrdes, 2 for the house and 2 for the garage. Now some will say that's overkill but it isn't! A factor in determining proper grounding is the resistance of the soil around your house or garage/shop. Yeah you have to check it! In my case I have high resistance but I still could have made it through inspection with one electode per, but since it was borderline I put 2 in. The inspector was pleased to see the extra ground electrodes. All of this information is available in books all you have to do is research it.

                          So when in doubt RTM!!!

                          So let's all play safe!

                          Blondie_486
                          Blondie (Owner C & S Automotive)

                          Colt the original point & click interface!

                          Millermatic 35 with spot panel
                          Miller 340A/BP
                          Victor O/A torches
                          Lincoln SP125
                          Too many other tools to list

                          03 Ram 1500
                          78 GS1000
                          82 GL1100 Interstate

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Inspections

                            Main thing is to have the electrical install inspected..even the most competent experienced licensed electricians will forget something and get knocked over at times..Things like loose ground clamps..something not tight..little things but very important things..

                            If a person lives and works in a Jurisdiction that allows the owner to do his own electrical then go for it.Read the manual..To me it is not a lot different than having a copy of the race rules on hand when building a car.....Local rules and conventions also apply to each individual situation..However get someone competent to come over and look at the work..

                            Really doing electrical work and having it inspected is a lot like taking a car to the track and the tech crew checking for those little things that might have got someone hurt if not corrected..


                            Take Care
                            Grampa
                            Grampa has done so much with so little now I do everything with nothing..;>)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ASKANDY
                              Grampa,

                              I agree with you that our distributors should be more mindful of what it actually takes to finish the sale or to actually fire that bad boy up. In my area, most of my distributors I work with (3 of 4) do carry the necessary hook ups. I find that if it's a servicing dealer, they usually have the right stuff. The small distributors with a counter guy that used to roll bottles in the whse might not be a good resource. Unfortunately unless you are near a major city, (like me) most of the distributors are the smaller ones without service.

                              Thanks for the comment about our factory service. That is an area MILLER takes a lot of pride in.


                              Be safe

                              Andy
                              Andy, the older Thunderbolts did come with the correct recepticle but that stopped a few years ago wityh the new design. I haven't looked at the manuals but if there was a reference to the NEMA type for each welder there would be no confusion.

                              Comment

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