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220 AC electrical advice needed

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Post Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:24 am
Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5843
Location: Ohio USA

I am not an electrician by no means. House hold wiring is fairly simple and I can do much of it myself but I have run into a bit of a delema with one situation. I found a three, independently braided around each other, wire lead in my garage. All the wires are the same color, black. All three are real heavy gauge also. Assuming they were 220 volt because of the number of leads of wire I figured one wire must be common and the other two hot. Using a continuity meter, I tested all three wires crossing two at a time until all combinations [9] were checked. I got a positive reading with all. This puzzles me because I thought I should get positive readings on only hots with the common and I should not get a positive reading if I crossed the two hots only. This thinking would have told me which one was the common and which two were the hots. These leads go nowhere now and I want to utilize them in the garage if I can. I was hoping to wire them to a breaker box and separate them into both 220 and 110. Why do they go nowhere you may wonder? Because I cut them clean off of where they used to go which was outside the building, down into the ground, under ground for a few hundred feet or so, back up out of the ground, and into my neigbors machine shed. These wires were robbing juice from my meter and wallet !! That issue I will deal with later. For now I just need to utilize the leads for myself. Hope one of you Bro's can help. Thanks... Pa

Post Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:52 am

Posts: 903
Location: Hill City, Ks. USA

If you take a close look at the wires you should see a stripe (usually yellow) on one of them. If there isn't a stripe then there is a rib sticking up a bit. This would be the neutral. I'm unclear about whether the bulk of this line you are testing is still buried. If it is, you could have a corrupted line and a low level short that would give you continuity. I've had gophers eat into my line a couple times. Really makes the meter spin until it burns through.

Post Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:07 am

Posts: 180
Location: Nashville, TN USA

What you have is a 120/240 volt (nominal), single phase feeder, consisting of two hots and a common (neutral). You should read 240 volts between the two phase conductors (hots) and 120 volts between each of the phase conductors and the neutral. The actual reading should be slightly higher.
When you read 240 volts between any two of the conductors, mark one "A" and the other "B". Wrap white tape around the third conductor to identify it as the neutral.
The conductors must be fed from (protected by) a circuit breaker in your house panel. You can add another single phase panel or load center in your garage and utilize both 120 volt and 240 volt (single phase) power.
The conductors should be marked with the size, ie. "6 AWG". If you let me know the size, I can tell you the ampacity of them.

Post Tue Apr 11, 2006 6:15 pm

Posts: 646
Location: Detroit
Pa, if you have any reservations you should hire a licensed electrician so you don't burn your house/garage/barn down.
New Knuckleheads? Thank, you, Jesus!!

Post Tue Apr 11, 2006 6:37 pm

Posts: 377
Location: madison wisconsin usa

i might be able to help. i have been a lineman at a midwest utility for 19 years.

the wires going to your neighbor's shed are of no use.

the wires from your house can be used.

first, you have to find the other end of them and describe what you have. is it a fuse panel? a breaker box?

the size of whatever is feeding them will dictate what you can do with them.

can you give a rough estimate of the size of the conductors? sometimes it is printed on the side. it should say something like #4 a.w.g or 1/0 or 4/0.

if there is no printed info a guess with a ruler will do (don't include the width of the insulation just the wire)


Post Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:39 am
Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5843
Location: Ohio USA

Thanks Fella's !! Here is what I found so far. I traced the leads back to my breaker box and inside of the box the original colors of the leads show through the aging of the insulation on them. I tried to clean them up at the severed ends with no success for coloration. I see an off white, a dull red, and a black at the breaker box. The off white is the common and the red and black are attacted to a 30 amp breaker. The wire, copper only, measures .079" thick on all three wires. I haven't done the voltage test yet at the severed ends, but I will do that today. I can at least kill the power on it now. Once I identify the leads on the severed ends, I want to install another small breaker box for the 220 and a couple of 110 lines. I will use the 220 lead for a welder. The main breaker box is a 100 amp service I think. It's largest breaker, the one that cuts power to everything, is a 100 amp. Can I still use another 100 amp on the new box for the welder ? A compressor too ? Plus all of the 110 leads I will use on lighting etc.. ?? Other questions concern hooking the new box up. White to the common bar ? Red to one of the hot bars ? Black to the other hot bar ? Am I correct ?? Thanks, Pa

Post Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:59 am

Posts: 180
Location: Nashville, TN USA

What you have is #12 gauge wire which is only rated for 25 amps, and by code cannot be fed from (protected by) any larger than a 20 amp circuit breaker or fuse.
If you want to add a sub-panel in your garage, you'll need to figure what your loads will be, then work upstream back to the panel with the correct size wire protected by the correct size 2-pole circuit breaker. Depending on how old your house panel is, you should be able to install up to a 100 amp breaker in it, then route the proper size wire to the new sub-panel.
In addition to the 2 phase conductors (hots) and the neutral, you will need to run a green grounding conductor to the sub panel.
Your welder will probably be the largest load. Example, a Millermatic 250 draws 44 amps at 230 volts. If you can get nameplate data off your machines, or even model numbers, and quantity and type of lights you'll be using, we can get it figured out. I might can help out with the materials also.

Post Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:12 pm

Posts: 646
Location: Detroit

My working area is wired single phase 120v with an additional separate line for single phase 240v. Maybe 8 - 9 years ago I acquired some Delta machinery and bought a Ronk rotary phase converter to run 220v three phase so I could power those machines, one of which is a 7 1/2 hp 220v three phase radial saw. A standard 120v single phase line powers the Ronk and the other side of the Ronk makes 240v three phase juice---all day long without fail. The box and wiring cost maybe $120 or so, the Ronk cost on the order of $1100, and the electrician cost another $450 at that time. Everything has worked flawlessly ever since and I am glad I went to the trouble and expense of having it done right. Now and then when I run equipment for the first time in the spring, I might blow out one of the two 35 amp fuses which are easily replaced. The Ronk has been bulletproof and will run everything up to and under it's rated capacity just fine. You can get one in whatever size and power rating you need.
New Knuckleheads? Thank, you, Jesus!!

Post Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:42 pm

Posts: 54
Location: Dallas, Texas USA

I just checked in my Palmers and Harley evidently never made a 220 AC.

Post a picture and we may be able to help identify it! :lol:

Post Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:52 pm

Posts: 30
Location: NORCAL
Go with what Johny is telling you, Its good advise, do as he says and you should be safe. Keep im mind about voltage drop.

Post Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:15 am
Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5843
Location: Ohio USA

Thanks Johnny !! The house is presently equiped with a main 100 amp. You say for me to determine load value. Do you mean for me to count up all electrical devices, including lighting, as if all were in use at the same time, for a total sum of amps drawn on ?? This sum will allow a correct calculation of wire gauge to use and box to install ? Could I route the green grounding wire from the sub box directly to a ground rod driven into the earth outside instead of back to the original main box ?? I will gather up all the data on the equipment and lighting and email you direct. I sure appreciate your help.

I had the same setup in my old shop Krazy Loop. It worked well with only a couple of failures here and there when I was running to many machines at the same time and decided to do some heavy welding also. Once in a while the welder would trip the main breaker while all the other machines were running.

Old Harley...Are you sure Man ?? :lol: I've seen some beefy runnin Harley BT chainsaws up in Washington state, Why not some HD 220 ? :wink: Pa

Thanks Papa Wheelie... I will. Pa

Post Sat Apr 15, 2006 12:54 pm

Posts: 104
PA,your situation reminds me of when the 1st ex and I were living in a duplex,the 2 car garage behind it had the wiring run off the other side of the duplex. Used to run everthing (lathe,drill press,refrigerator,etc.) off the neighbors meter. Loved it!!! STROKER

Post Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:09 pm

Posts: 151
Location: westwood nj usa
Hey stroker there is a name for that. Its called grand larceny.I know a guy who got caught stealing power in an underground service Y type tap in .He got a fifty thousand dollar fine. The dummy took pictures of the trench and the homeowner got caught and ratted him out.When I asked him what he did about the fine he said "I took out a home equity loan"Kinda not worth the savings in his case.

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