DC car blower motor drawing too many amps, or what?!

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Old 02-04-10, 08:55 AM
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DC car blower motor drawing too many amps, or what?!

Before I begin, here is the kicker: I asked for and got for Christmas a seemingly nice digital test meter(DC) for cars, including amps testing capability, from micro to full amps. The kicker is, the range only goes to 10 amps!!!! $&%^#%[email protected]

Here is the deal. When I bought my used Dodge, it had a toggle switch to operate the blower fan on high (resistors bypassed and only have high now). All seemed well. Until it burned up. (no fire though) When it burned up, it left the toggle hanging there, swinging,(think John Anderson) with no more tension with the internal rocker/contacts.

So I went out and bought a large 50 amp one. The blower circuit is fused to 30 amp. That'll do it, for sure! Beep. Wrong. The same fate befell that one.

Now I better tell you how it is wired as that can definitely affect beyond just an amp-draw issue. The blower is wired to the switch with 16/2 lamp-type cord. It says it right on the brown cord. AND, when I wired up the new 50 amp toggle switch I made sure the stranded wire was wrapped around the large headed screws that are attached to nice and thick brass-like terminals, good. End of problem? Nope, fried that one the same way. The toggle switch began to feel hot at times.

So I go buy another one, identical to it(kinda dumb, eh?) except they had no screw on the spade terminals. So I had to crimp on spades. I did a real good job. Never felt heat on the metal toggle itself, like I did just before the other one failed. Yet, there we go. The other day, the blower cut off and I felt the toggle switch, and there she was, dangling there again!.

PITB, as I have to drop bottom of dash panel to get new toggle through hole.

So this time I said enough is enough and I filed the crimps off the toggle (made in China) and what do I discover? The actuator of the toggle is plastic that rides the metal contact rocker. The plastic actuator tip melts from heat enough to lose tension against the rocker! Low melt point plastic!

So yesterday morning after dropping the lower dash again and removing the toggle switch, I said I am not going to buy another one of these (bought at auto store) pieces of you know what again. This time I decided to try an elcheapo typical home center light switch. That'll do it because those light switches even work in houses where they may power a circuit that has space heaters and hair dryers, shop vacs(talking about a powerful blower!), etc. on it that draw lots of amps.

So I did not mount the switch this time. It is dangling there to where I can feel the wires(this time) and the switch. After about 20 minutes, that switch and wire near it become quite warm! Ahaaaaa. But why?

The wires once again are wrapped good at the screws. 12 volts X 30 amp fuse = only 360 watts, right? Or am I convoluted in my thinking some how? Yet that 16/2 gauge wire and the light switch can take MUCH higher draw, as stated, no problem, in AC.

Is there something about DC current where the rules change? Like because the current is constant?, instead of on-off-on -off 60 cycles, liek AC?

And why hasn't there been any problem at where the wire is connceted to the blower, nor an issue with the lesser 30 amp fuse ever blowing? Why is that wire getting so warm and supple?

???????

BTW, the blower runs smooth and no bearing noises. Remember once again to really consider why toggle switch heat/ failure and NOT at blower hook up itself, nor fuse! Is there something about stranded wire, that is the key here?
 
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Old 02-04-10, 09:15 AM
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As to the amp meter, 10 amps is useless these days! These may have worked for a model T, but these days it is common to see 15, 20, and 30 amp fuses on a vehicle. Alternators can be 100 or 150 amps!

I don't know why they still sell these?

Multimeters have fuses on the amp side inside the meter. That may have blown if you tried measuring too large of an amperage.

You can use a "shunt" resistor to measure higher amperage...
amp meter shunt resistor - Google Search

Or get a better amp meter (birthday? )...
[600 amps AC/DC clamp]
Amazon.com: Sheffield Research/GTC CM600 AC/DC Amp Clamp Digital Meter - 600 Amps: Automotive

As to vehicle wire sizes, here is a chart...
Wire Gauge Amps Ratings for 12 volt Automotive Systems

Then typically vehicles use a relay to switch the high amperage. And use a switch to turn on the relay.

How relays work...
How relays work - Google Search
 
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Old 02-04-10, 09:45 AM
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Say - Bill, I will come back later after work and read your sites, especially the wire gauge one!.

But do you know if there is an after market screw-onto-wires resistor, where I can cut the draw down(and blower speed) just before that switch? I have plenty of that 16-2 wire to work with.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 10:11 AM
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If it is fused at 30 amps and it is not tripping, that is most definitely cause the wire cant handle the amperage going through it, whats happening is the wire is producing excess heat from having too much current travelling through it. try upgrading it up to say 10/2 stranded and get a toggle switch that can handle 30amps wattage is useless when dealing with a switch cause you could have 360watts that the toggle can handle but maybe the manufacturer wanted 120v at 3 amps you know?

so to recap,
rerun the wire from your blower to your switch(or anywhere that the 16-2 is being used) with 10/2 and make sure the switch that you use can handle 30 amps
i believe 16-2 is rated for something like 10 amps or something i dont know exactly but its right around there, so your trying to push 30 amps or whatever the blowers current is through something that can only handle a fraction of that. thats why.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 10:50 AM
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Blower motor resistors are around...

.25 ohms
1 ohm
3 ohms

...for the various speeds.

HOWEVER Note... that blower motor resistors get to be quite hot! And they frequently use wire wound resistors and place these inside the air vents so air will blow over them to cool them.

If they were placed anywhere else, I would think they could start a fire!

Best to see if your vehicle has a place for a built in blower motor resistor pac, then use that.

P.S. Relays which are always on (continuous duty rated) also get to be quite hot. Best to mount on the firewall where it will get good air circulation.

Continuous duty relays...
(Just some of these.)
relays continuous duty 12 volt & 24 volt DC power relays,starter relays
 
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Old 02-04-10, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by chewylu103 View Post
If it is fused at 30 amps and it is not tripping, that is most definitely cause the wire cant handle the amperage going through it, whats happening is the wire is producing excess heat from having too much current travelling through it. try upgrading it up to say 10/2 stranded and get a toggle switch that can handle 30amps wattage is useless when dealing with a switch cause you could have 360watts that the toggle can handle but maybe the manufacturer wanted 120v at 3 amps you know?
But that is not the case since this was a 50 amp toggle switch sold at an auto store for 12-24 volt DC applications. It says right on the box it came in. I realize already that I could upgrade to the larger wire. Of course, I would have to dismantle more stuff to find the other end of the wire. But my point is actually - why should I have to do that on a 30 amp circuit X only 12 volts? I am going to read the wire gauge site Bill provided me, now.

BTW, for now, I decided to run the blower for 15 minutes, give it a rest, feel the wires at the switch, then turn it back on again, til this gets resolved.

so to recap,
rerun the wire from your blower to your switch(or anywhere that the 16-2 is being used) with 10/2 and make sure the switch that you use can handle 30 amps
i believe 16-2 is rated for something like 10 amps or something i dont know exactly but its right around there, so your trying to push 30 amps or whatever the blowers current is through something that can only handle a fraction of that. thats why.
If you are right about the 10 gauge, then I 'd like to know why it needs that size, when house current can, as I said, run shop vacs(powerful blowers) or space heaters on that gauge wire. (I believe 16 gauge wire says right on it that it is good to 1650 watts, I think.) How many watts is that blower??? I would have thought 12v x 30A tops. Maybe 12vX 23A, or close. Something close to 300 watts. The watt correlation don't work with DC voltage?, or what?
 
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Old 02-04-10, 03:51 PM
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Achhh. The computer froze up on me again while website (Bill's site) navigating. It has been doing that. I give up.

Okay, I bet it is 10 gauge. Now that we are talking about it, years ago - many years agao - I did rewire work on my car, and I remember buying a roll of stranded red 10 gauge wire. You are probably right. So is the reason the fact that DC is continous flow?, as opposed to AC that may have the ability to cool down the wire between the 60 cycles? Is that why?
 
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Old 02-04-10, 04:15 PM
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each gage wire has its own ampacity, like i said

16 gage wire is around 10a
14=15a
12=20a
10=30a
it doesnt matter ac or dc, when it comes to the current, current is current, still gets fused the same way.

the word ampacity(amperage Capacity) is the -The current in amperes, that a conductor can carry continuously under the conditions of use without exceeding its temperature rating.

so in otherwards 30 amps is well beyond the #16 wire's safe ampacity rating causing its acceptable temperature limit to go up to unsafe level.

you want to know why household appliances can run on 16-2 wire? because first most appliance connected to 16-2 wire are not being run continuously ex. hair dyers your not leaving them on all day you only use them for a short time, and two the insulation on the wire can better handle the load on the conductor. The insulation has a lot to do with the temperature rating of the wire.
if you want to know more on that look at the national electrical code article 310.13(A)
 
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Old 02-04-10, 04:56 PM
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Fuse size is meant to protect the wire. If you ran say ONE L.E.D. light on a 10 gauge wire, a 30 amp fuse would be required, yet never be needed to be called upon(for reasons of malfunction of the L.E.D.). Yet you do fuse it 30amp, if 10 gauge is used. We know that.

My question is why is that blower then drawing so much current? Isn't a shop vac's blower more powerful? 16 gauge on AC would probably handle that all day. Also, how can a 1500 watt space heater handle that? THAT can run all day on my 16 gauge, and feel COOL anywhere along the brown (lamp-type looking)cord and at the plug! You mean that blower in a car draws more current than a space heater on high setting that has the dual elements on, and the blower in the space heater running? These are the questions that are confounding me.

Like I said - 12v X 23 amps perhaps, current. (Naturally it will not be the full 30, because then the fuse would blow). So we are full circle to my question again, asking if DC current gets hotter than AC current, when trying to power similar things. IOW - if I had a blower that is of the same size and rpm as the car blower, you mean on AC my 16 gauge wire couldn't handle that without getting hot? I am thinking it COULD handle that - like the space heater can, or the cord on a hair dryer can.

BTW - you CAN continously run the hair dryer. There is no stipulation on how long you can run them for. They would outlaw them, or redesign them, if there could be a problem doing so. People use hair dryers for many minutes, or even hours! at a time, like a space heater( I run mine for hours with no hot wires!), when loosening floor tiles with them, under trailers and crawlspaces, for long periods of time, thawing out pipes, etc. Or heat guns that are used continously - what wire gauge size are those? Forget the house wire size. Consider the cord ON the high watt hair dryer is probably only 16 gauge -14 tops.

There has got to be something about the DC - the continous flow, as compared to alternating current. That is my thinking at this point.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 05:02 PM
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1600 watts on 120 volts is about 13 amps. 1600 watts on 12 volts is ONE HUNDRED THRITY THREE amps! Wire doesn't care so much ( within reason ) about the applied voltage...it is all about the AMPS.

The radiator fan on my Ford is fused at 60 amps.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 05:19 PM
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Right, it is the *voltage* which makes the difference.

Notice the higher up electrical lines on utility poles have small wires. These are high voltage and lower amperage.

Then they use a transformer to convert that down to a lower voltage for your house, then use bigger wires.

120 volts and 1000 watts = 8 amps
12 volts and 1000 watts = 83 amps

Also DC has more of a "voltage drop" problem, so need to use larger wire for longer distances as shown on that wire size chart above.

Play around with this volts/watts/amps calculator...
(single phase)
Power Calculators for quick conversions.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by 594tough View Post
1600 watts on 120 volts is about 13 amps. 1600 watts on 12 volts is ONE HUNDRED THRITY THREE amps! Wire doesn't care so much ( within reason ) about the applied voltage...it is all about the AMPS.

The radiator fan on my Ford is fused at 60 amps.
Since electric meters measure in watts, I thought that is the real issue. The combination of volts and watts. That THAT represents the total current draw.

But you are saying that whether AC or DC, what is making the wire hot is really ONLY the amps?
 
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Old 02-04-10, 05:41 PM
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Bill, I have to get off line soon. Not about to have the computer freeze up again. Will try your site tomorrow. Thanks.
 
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Old 02-04-10, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
Since electric meters measure in watts, I thought that is the real issue. The combination of volts and watts. That THAT represents the total current draw.

But you are saying that whether AC or DC, what is making the wire hot is really ONLY the amps?
YES! Wire is sized by the AMPERAGE that has to be carried. The applied voltage will dictate the insulation requirements.

Dave, your problem is that you have been buying cheap switches. They may state they are good for 50 amperes but your problems show that they obviously are NOT good for even the maybe 20 or 25 amperes that your are using for the blower motor. Getting a continuous-duty relay capable of handling up to 30 amperes for the blower motor will allow almost any switch to operate the relay as the relay coil will probably take less than 1/2 ampere.
 
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Old 02-05-10, 06:00 AM
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BTW - you CAN continously run the hair dryer. There is no stipulation on how long you can run them for. They would outlaw them, or redesign them, if there could be a problem doing so. People use hair dryers for many minutes, or even hours! at a time, like a space heater( I run mine for hours with no hot wires!), when loosening floor tiles with them, under trailers and crawlspaces, for long periods of time, thawing out pipes, etc. Or heat guns that are used continously - what wire gauge size are those? Forget the house wire size. Consider the cord ON the high watt hair dryer is probably only 16 gauge -14 tops.
yes i made a mistake although they are not run all day continuously, the 16 gauge wire could probably handle 10/12 amps safely. part of the reason i mistated that is because if 16 gauge was on our charts in the code it would probably be rated for 5-8 amps im guessing, like i will say below manufacturers go to the extremes and use the smallest wire they can get away with. like i said though the wires insulation plays a major role in what heat it can handle.

DC/AC is not different per say, so the voltage to current ratio stays the same, your blower is fused at 30 amps so that means it could be drawing 26-30 amps i would say(for the question im sticking with 30a). Theoretically if you hooked your blower motor up to 120v your current draw would be less by a ratio of 10:1
12v x 30a = 360 watts
360w/120= 3 amps
120v x 3a = 360watts

and your space heater at home runs at 12.5amps 1500w
120v x 12.5a = 1500watts
1500w / 12v = 125amps
theoretically if that same heater ran in your car, it would have to be on a #2 awg THHN wire as per NEC table 310.16

wattage stays the same you could change the voltage all you want and it would still stay the same.

fuses are meant to protect the wire so that it will pop before it reaches dangerous levels and the wire starts melting. thats why when you had tripping with old fuse panels and people used to pop 30a fuses in there it was way above the #14 wires limit and would sometimes lead to fires because the wire melted. then arcing occurred and so on.

manufacturers of appliances use the smallest wire they can get away with for costs obviously. 16 gauge wire may very well handle it, but in an electricians world the electrical code makes the rules. so an appliance that a manufacturer makes with a 16-2 cable draws say 12 amps, an electrician given that same appliance would wire it with #14 wire.

so with your blower your 30a that its drawing is way above the wires limit. im guessing when your wires melted they melted at the terminal of the switch where you connected the wire to it correct? if overloaded it will fail at its weakest link in the circuit, terminations, frays, skinned wire, are all the weakest link in any circuit.
 
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Old 02-05-10, 06:23 AM
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But you are saying that whether AC or DC, what is making the wire hot is really ONLY the amps?
Yes,
Amperage makes the wire hot, and Ambient Temperature makes the wire hot.

So for your space heater in my question it would need a #2 awg THHN
THHN is the characteristics of the insulation

THHN
Trade name: Heat-resistance thermoplastic
Max operating Temperature 194 degrees Farenheit\
Application Provisions: Dry and Damp locations
Insulation type: Flame-retardent, heat-resistant thermoplastic

its properties start to fail once it hits that 194 degree mark.
 
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Old 02-05-10, 04:48 PM
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I think your blower motor is bad and the windings are shorting out. Time for a new fan resistor and blower motor IMO. Then, the switch will work fine.
 
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Old 02-05-10, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by chewylu103 View Post
DC/AC is not different per say, so the voltage to current ratio stays the same,
What are you calling "current'?


...........................and your space heater at home runs at 12.5amps 1500w
120v x 12.5a = 1500watts
1500w / 12v = 125amps
theoretically if that same heater ran in your car, it would have to be on a #2 awg THHN wire as per NEC table 310.16
Interesting. 2 gauge. Wow. I bet the guy I bought my car from(the guy who put in the wire and toggle switch) was fooled by this too. He, like I, simply used math to figure that the blower should be perfectly fine on the 16 gauge based on the simple wattage formula (V X A = W). And that guy also is very handy. A refrigeration gas man and all around very resourceful person.

.....wattage stays the same you could change the voltage all you want and it would still stay the same.
I think you did not say something right. If the wattage is the same, and you change either voltage or amps, either the voltage or amps has to change, according to V X A = W. You were probably trying to make a point, and it didn't come out right. Try wording it another way.


......so with your blower your 30a that its drawing is way above the wires limit. im guessing when your wires melted they melted at the terminal of the switch where you connected the wire to it correct?
The wire has never melted(yet). It was the inside toggle (metal outside toggle that becomes plastic inside) that actually actuates the brass rocker part of the toggle switch's contacting system, that melted. Imagine a crayon being used to flip a brass rocker to the left(say, off) or to the right(say, on). Now imagine heating up that brass. You know what is going to happen to the tip fo the crayon. That is what happened. With 3 different toggle switches. Even the last two 50 amp rated ones. You'd think on 50 amp ones they'd be a little more generous and make that toggle out of something besides plastic that can melt at that temeprature.

Then again, it was the fact it melted that tipped me off to take a clsoer look at what exactly is going on here! The wire insulation gets very warm, and the cord gets more supple. But so far that has been the only symptom other than the inside of the toggle switch melting. But I sure would not like to have a fire start behind my blower or under the dash.

I do have a fire extinguisher right next to me, but would have to remember it's there, to use it, without being overtaken by panic, and going blank. Then again, if something starts on fire back up and under stuff, that is not the best situation.

Saw a tv show the other night where some woman (juvenile daughter was with also) car burned totally up, on the shoulder, when something went wrong I guess with her......transmission?, I think they said?. They were lucky, the cop said - who was real good at trying to calm them down - to have escaped with their lives.
 
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Old 02-05-10, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by bob22 View Post
I think your blower motor is bad and the windings are shorting out. Time for a new fan resistor and blower motor IMO. Then, the switch will work fine.
The blower runs fine, and smooth. According to "chewy", I'm considerably off on wire gauge size, based on AMPS drawn. That on AC, I'd get by. But not on DC, since more amps are being drawn. On AC, you can run the same motor on higher volts, but only a fraction of the AMPS.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 08:03 AM
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Ampacity of a wire -- the amperage capacity -- is based on a number of different factors. Fortunately you don't have to worry about any of them. There are charts all over the net that define ampacities of AWG depending on use.

"Automotive and Marine Primary Wire" is one of those uses. A 30-amp load requires a 10-gauge wire with a 105C temperature rating. The actual load placed on the system by the blower is probably below 30 amps, but the circuit must be wired with the proper wire for the fuse.

Could 16g wire handle the actual load? Possibly, but you don't know what the actual load is without beaing able to measure it. Plus, the former owner of the vehicle may not have realized that there are different temperature ratings for 16g wire. If the wire heats up, the weakest part of the circuit will fail.

In this case it seems to be the connections at the switch. Not because you've done a bad job of making the connection. Consider what happens when a friction connection is heated and cooled over many cycles: It loosens. A loose connection cannot carry anywhere near the current of a tight connection, so it heats to the point of melting the surrounding plastic in the switch.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 12:24 PM
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Thanks Rick. I believe the heat rating is on that brown wire. I will scrunch my body down under the left corner of the dash and see if I can see it. Does 105oC sound right? I thought I saw that, but will look.

Also the connections are not the issue, at least yet, as they were just made. And the same issue repeated on fairly new switches installed.

And the fact this has been an ongoing problem. An error in judgement based on being fooled by observation as to how much load an AC circuit can handle regarding fractional HP motors, and heating/resistance devices. I could blame this all on the previous (seemingly intelligent/handy) owner - but I too was obviously fooled the same way. Otherwise I would have caught on sooner why these switches were melting inside.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 04:56 PM
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The fix to this might be to eliminate the resistor block bypass and use the factory switch and wiring. This would give you back all fan speeds and easier control. Not sure what model Dodge you have but usually the block is found under passenger side dash and is a 15 minute replacement.
 
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Old 02-07-10, 05:50 PM
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To recap
Power is amps times volts
So to have about 1 hp we have 746 watts
Now we can get 746 watts by having:
746 volts at 1 amp and a very small gauge wire or
746 amps at 1 volt and a very large wire.
This is why hydro plants have 500,000 volts going out and quite small wires for the power they carry.

Now on with 12 volt. 12 volt systems need big wires compared to 120 volt systems. A 16 gauge wire will not do.
It will heat up and the heat will damage the switch and not the amperage it is carrying.

Dodge resistor pacs have a thermal fuse which will blow and leave only the high speed. Thats a safety measure so you can make it home on a winter day.
So why do they have a thermal fuse in there. For when the motor is drawing too much current. More current goes thru the resistors and that makes more heat and then the thermal fuse goes.
Its quite common for them to go when the motor goes bad.
That is the why they are made.
The fix is to replace to fan motor and the resistor pac and put the original size wire on again.

That will end the problem for another 10 years
 
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Old 02-08-10, 04:36 PM
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Agree, see post #17. I've been down this road before.
 
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Old 02-08-10, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by bob22 View Post
The fix to this might be to eliminate the resistor block bypass and use the factory switch and wiring. This would give you back all fan speeds and easier control. Not sure what model Dodge you have but usually the block is found under passenger side dash and is a 15 minute replacement.

I have actually considered this return back to stock.

But I have bigger fish to fry right now with that probable blowing (again) head gasket! I pulled up some site Sat. or Sun. on the web, and found consumer complaints where -well, this one guy said he had 4 back to back blown head gaskets. But I'm thinking that those (if not the same person) who did the replacements, did not go the whole mile to correct the root cause. Ands i also read wher some psoter said that if you know what yo are doing you can change out one of these gaskets in 1 hour. Ya, right! (Probably the lift up the head and slip under the new gasket technique.)
 
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Old 02-08-10, 05:24 PM
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Thanks frankiee. Your explantation was most easy to follow and understand.
 
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