220V air compressor ~ converting to 110V - please help!


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Old 10-14-10, 06:15 PM
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220V air compressor ~ converting to 110V - please help!

Hi there, this is my first post and i'm so glad to find this website. I'm an artist and not an electrician so please bear with me

I just bought a mini air compressor for airbrushing. It's 220V/50w, however i have 110v/50w power (i'm in Canada). What i would like to know is:

-Can i just use a step-up/step-down converter type of thing?
-Or do i need a voltage transformer?
-What wattage rating do you recommend for the converter?

Here are the relevant specs from the manual:

Specification: 220V
Voltage: 220v 1PH
Power: 0.065 HP (50W)
Input 180W
Electric Current: 1.3A

I found an inexpensive Step Up/Down Voltage Converter 220V-110V (100 watt max)-- should that do the trick? Is the wattage high enough? Or am i looking at a more complex solution?

The compressor is toted as "low energy consumption" so i'm hoping the simple converter will work. I've been trying to educate myself on the topic, but i'd really like a second opinion from someone knowledgeable so i don't ruin my new tool.

Any help/advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

-Daniel in Gibsons BC Canada
 
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Old 10-14-10, 07:39 PM
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Before the nitpickers lay into you, it's 120v or 240v, not 110 and 220.

That transformer will not work. You'll burn it out. You need to use the Input watts to size your transformer, so I would recommend you find one rated for at least 300w to give you some buffer for the startup surge. Another option you have is if somewhere in the house is a 240v receptacle for like an air conditioner, you would be able to use that.

If you have the means of running cable yourself, and there are two available slots in your breaker panel, it is not that difficult to install a new circuit for it. Or, depending on how much you paid for the compressor and if you can return it, you may want to just get one designed to run on 120v.
 
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Old 10-14-10, 07:56 PM
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Are you sure it was made for Canada not Europe? Usually you wouldn't see a compressor that small made for North America working on 220v.

Is the frequency 60Hz or 50Hz.

Power: 0.065 HP (50W)
Input 180W
Electric Current: 1.3A
The "50W" isn't the watts if it draws 1.3 amps. 288 would be the watts.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 10-14-10 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 10-15-10, 12:03 AM
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lesson learned...

Thank you for the replies.

*ray2047 - Yes, unfortunately it's made for the UK (50hz). I got it online for a good price. They only carried the 220-240V/50hz model, and i didn't stop to think of the challenges this might cause.

*JerseyMatt - Thanks for clarifications and suggestions I may explore one of those options. I'm renting in a house, but the house owner might be open to installing a new circuit. The cost of shipping it back it wouldn't be worth it, so either i find a makeshift solution or i resell it to someone in the UK!

Next time i'll research these things beforehand. I should have known better. Thanks for your time, both of you.
 
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Old 10-15-10, 03:52 AM
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Yes, unfortunately it's made for the UK (50hz). I got it online for a good price. They only carried the 220-240V/50hz model, and i didn't stop to think of the challenges this might cause
There is no easy way to run a 50hz motor on a 60hz source. The motor will run faster then designed and that may cause extra stress on the motor. It may shorten its life. Motors: Changing between a 50 and 60Hz supply. - Electric motors, generators & controls engineering FAQ - Eng-Tips
 
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Old 10-15-10, 12:14 PM
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Thanks for the link Ray, i read through it. Starting to understand a bit more about this.

In theory, is there a chance my air compressor could function OK if i use a 350 watt transformer/converter without converting the frequency? I understand the motor will run faster as a result, but maybe the 20% difference would be okay?

This air compressor is 1/4 hp, membrane motor (not piston). I'm using the compressor for airbrushing small things- not wall murals or anything- which should only require the motor to run for short periods. The pressure i need for my airbrush is below the max PSI of the compressor, which is fairly low to begin with. It's 50 psi max; i only need 30-40psi, and the pressure is adjustable.

I'm NOT about to plug it into a converter and hope for the best, but, considering these things, do you think there is a decent chance it could work without converting 50 to 60hz?

Here's more specs from the manual, don't know if this helps:

Power: 0.0655 HP
Input 180w
Cuuernt: 1.3a
Rotational speed: 1400 rpm
Pressure: 3.2 bar 45 psi
68 L/min
 
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Old 10-15-10, 12:39 PM
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At this point, unless you want to throw it on ebay and recoup your money (just make sure you specify it's a UK model so you don't tick off a buyer ), could be worth a try. You're stuck with it, so might as well try and get some use out of it. As Ray said, it'll work, but it'll run 20% faster than it was designed to. This will create extra wear and tear on moving parts and bearings and create extra heat. Given that it's a diaphragm pump, there are less moving parts, thus less to wear out.

FWIW though, you might be better off spending the money on a proper pump rather than a buying a transformer to try and make the wrong one work.
 
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Old 10-15-10, 02:26 PM
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Specs for 110V model

Interesting...

I just found the specs for the North American (110-120V/50hz) model; it runs at 1700 RPM. My 220-240V model runs @ 1400 RPM, which is right around 20% less.

This may be a dumb question, but would the motor not be the same in both models, just with different wiring?

If i run the 220V compressor @ 110V and its speed increases to 1700 rpm, that's the RPM spec'd for the North American model, so in theory shouldn't that be okay?
 
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Old 10-15-10, 03:29 PM
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Depending on what it cost I would give it a smoke test using a transformer. First though contact the manufacturer. There may be a way to wire it for 120.
 
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Old 10-15-10, 03:55 PM
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The air compressor was only $100 ($150 incl shipping etc). I'd lose the shipping cost and would have to pay return shipping. I'm on a meager budget so i'd like to try getting it to work. My other likely option is reselling it on ebay.

I've emailed the manufacturer asking if re-wiring the compressor is a good idea, they'll probably reply within a day or so. If that's a good solution, maybe i can find someone locally to re-wire it for a relatively low cost.

I've spec'd out a 500-watt transformer for $30, so if i feel brave enough for a smoke test, that option is looking appealing.
 
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Old 10-15-10, 04:45 PM
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Wiring would probably not be complicated. If it is convertible they probably have two motor coils. In series it is 220. In parallel it is 110. If there is no connection box on the motor then your probably out of luck.
 
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Old 10-15-10, 05:44 PM
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I would be pretty darn happy if i could just get it rewired. The manual has a list & diagram of the spare parts, here's a pic:



There's a "connection rod", no mention of a connection box though. What do you think?

Am i better off trying my luck with a transformer? The speed increase doesn't seem like it would be a problem, but according to the 50/60hz FAQ, the load's horsepower requirement will increase. Being only 0.065 HP though, should be worried about that?

Let's say i do try a transformer- would the fuses protect the air compressor from being toasted? If that happens, then i know it won't work, but i could still resell it.
 
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Old 10-15-10, 05:57 PM
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I think we are to the point where you need pro input. I'll try IMing one of the pros who are good with motors.
 
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Old 10-15-10, 10:59 PM
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Ok I got Ray's message.

Now let get down to the bussiness here.,

I know that type of motour can run on 60 HZ it will be little more faster however the issue will this type motour is the connection is your cord is two blade or three blade plug type if two blade it may be not too bad but three blade it may get little tricky due most of European system is 240 volts line to netural.

Techally wise I know it will be no issue to run on North American 240 volts system but for safety point that kinda iffy depending on how it wired.

One way you can do is get a transfomer to boost up the voltage { get a real transfomer not one of the cheap voltage converter they will burn out with motor loads }

Before you do that double check the manufacter to see if they have no issue to run on North American system.

Of course it will run faster about 20% or so.

And yeah it may draw little more current as well but not much for that size of motour.

Also I did look at the drawing and I don't see thermal protection unless it not show in the drawing.

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 10-16-10, 10:26 AM
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Bonjour Marc,

The cord has two blade/prongs, so hopefully i am in luck!

The air compressor is about 288watt, so i was thinking of getting a 500 watt transformer, to be on the safe side. This is the specific one i

was thinking of buying. Do you think this one is suitable? :

VoltageConverters.com - 500W Step Up / Down Voltage Transformer

Ideally i'd like to run this 240V compressor on 120V power with this transformer.

The manufacturer did say i should convert the Voltage and Frequency. But i think the motor should run okay on North American power,

as they make the same compressor in both 240V and 120V model. So wouldn't the motor for the 120V be the same anyway, just wired

differently?

Thanks for your reply. And thank you Ray for passing on the message.
 
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Old 10-16-10, 11:36 AM
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I think that transformer would be ideal. The pump may not last as long but it should still provide service for almost as long as it would have in Great Britain.

Face it, as of now you are $150 in the hole, another $30 and you will be good to go for at least a year and quite possibly several years depending on the inherent quality of the pump itself.
 
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Old 10-16-10, 12:24 PM
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Yeah Furd, that's pretty much what i'm thinking at this point.

Besides, the 110-120V model is spec'd to run at 1700rpm vs 1400rpm, so if i had bought that model, it may last as long as the 220-240v one with a transformer. And apparently this membrane type of compressor lasts a lot longer than a piston type, so hopefully i get some years out of it. What i need it for will not push its limits either.

I'm still open to suggestions/precautions, but thanks everyone for the input. You people rock.
 
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Old 10-16-10, 12:36 PM
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Membrane (diaphragm) pumps don't have the reciprocating assembly that a piston pump does. Instead of having the metal-on-metal of a minimally lubricated piston moving up and down in a cylinder (which generates a ton of heat and moisture during operation), the diaphragm pump uses the up/down motion of the connecting rod to flex a rubber/composite diaphragm in and out of a chamber to move the air/fluid. This keeps the heat at bay to begin with, and since only the rubber is flexing faster, there is very little extra heat when the pump is run at higher speed. You get drier air out of it as well.
 
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Old 10-16-10, 01:46 PM
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My thoughts on this are not as optimistic as others.

Because it is going to run faster the pump will be moving more air than it was designed for.
The act of compression not moving pistons generate the majority of heat in a compressor.
A 25% increase in capacity will generate 25% more heat at the head and a 25% increase in motor amperage giving you a questionable lifespan.
Not to mention an electrical device which will have no electrical approvals in the US likely along with the transformer you are thinking about buying.

I suggest selling it before you dump more money into this thing and trying to recover what you can.
Get half what you paid for the unit you have and what you save not buying the transformer will give you a hundred bucks.

For under a hundred bucks you can buy the compressor below from Harbor Freight or other store, fully approved with a warranty.
Plus, Harbor Freight had eight compressor units, all around a hundred dollars if you wanted something different.

Click image:

Image courtesy of harborfreight.com
 
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Old 10-17-10, 10:15 AM
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Thanks for your thoughts Greg.

That's one of the models i looked at before i bought the other one. The price is great, but not quite enough "working pressure" for my airbrush. Plus it's piston, VS mine which is diaphragm. Mine is more powerful for the size and i'm guessing more quiet too. If only i had noticed "220v" in the description i could have found the 110v model for $10 more! Yes, i'm kicking myself.

I'll only be using it in like half hour sessions, and at maybe 75% of its capacity. I'm hoping that even with a diminished lifespan i can get a couple years out of it. If it kicks the bucket in a year or two, i can justify spending another $100 for one with the correct voltage. And i would have a handy transformer/paperweight to boot

Anyway, i ordered the transformer. For interest sake i'll post again after my transformer arrives, probably in about a week. Wish me luck!

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to help. Y'all have a good weekend.

Cheers,

Daniel
 
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Old 10-26-10, 02:45 PM
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So far so good!

So i tested the air compressor plugged into the voltage transformer. It purrs like a kitten! No smoke, no overheating, no bad noises or smells. I think i'm in luck.

For archival sake, here's the 1/4 hp, 220V air compressor ($130 incl shipping):
Mini Air Compressor (Oil-Less) AS06

And here's the 500W transformer i used to convert 220 to 110V ($30):
500W Step Up / Down Voltage Transformer - VoltageTransformers.com

I'm a pretty happy camper... now i can finally get down to some airbrushing. Thanks to everyone who offered their advice and knowledge.

Daniel
 
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Old 10-26-10, 08:04 PM
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Thank you for advising us of the outcome. May you have many happy hours with your airbrush and please don't inhale the solvent vapors.
 
 

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