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IndustryArena Forum > CNC Electronics > General CNC Machine Related Electronics > Using USA 110V Equipment on Euro 220V Mains!
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  1. #1
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    Using USA 110V Equipment on Euro 220V Mains!

    Im intending to import a variety of tools from the USA to use here in Ireland when I start my fabrication business next year. Suppliers told me they cant get them in 220V as manufacturers are protecting their Euro distributors. So heres my plan!!!....I buy the tools in 110V and get them shipped to me from the USA...saving about 3000 euro total after postage and import duty! Then Im going to check the wattage on the tools and get my local electronics store to make me a couple of step down voltage transformers to reduce from 220V Irish mains to 110V for my tools. Does anyone see any problems with this? I was told that 110V tools are less powerful but I doubt that every person in the USA operating on 110V is using sub-standard tools because of this, so it cant be true....surely a cut-off saw doing 1800rpm on 110V will perform exactly the same as its 'brother' on sale in Europe operating on 220V at 1800rpm....advice please?

  2. #2
    Community Moderator Al_The_Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diarmaid
    I was told that 110V tools are less powerful .........
    That was probably an Irish Tool salesman...

    In general terms Wattage is wattage, which is an energy term for work, 10watts at 240v is the same as 10 watts at 120v.
    The current will be proportionately higher for the lower voltage. As long as the source has the capability to supply the necessary current then there should be no problem.
    Al.
    CNC, Mechatronics Integration and Custom Machine Design

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
    Albert E.

  3. #3
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    this is an interesting aside: at weber, where i work in the grill r&d department, they wont consider a US electric grill because the power issues. They are doing a EU\UK one...

    Stupid US.. With our 'we are the best' mentality, and our 110v power!

    who do we think we are?

  4. #4
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    I must add that a couple of years ago we went from 220 to 230, just a little to avoid explosions. More watts from the same wire.

    Carel

  5. #5
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    Diarmid,
    I lived in the US and brought my 110 v tools back to Blighty. All you need is a suitable transformer, and a re-check of your spindle speeds. US voltage is on 60 Hz, UK is 50 Hz. The motors will spin slower by 50/60. But they will be more torquey. At 50 Hz there is more "area under the curve" (each volt swing or cycle takes longer) so the motor shows more torque. I bought my transformers from Machine Mart - standard yellow site boxes.

  6. #6
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    I should have no major problems then. Ireland is on 220V & 50Hz, almost the same as the UK. Now for a really basic question, but electricity/electronics is not my forte! Im also only researching CNC systems now for about two weeks, so a long way to go yet before purchase, but if Im right basically the computer, the gantry motors, and my plasma cutter have to be on seperate power supplies (So they dont short each other I think), is this simply a question of plugging them into different wall sockets...I think they require different amps so maybe Im gonna need some form of converter put together for these aswell?....While Im at it...do any of you have any comments on Torchmate CNC Plasma systems, good bad or indifferent? Thanks.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by vacpress
    this is an interesting aside: at weber, where i work in the grill r&d department, they wont consider a US electric grill because the power issues. They are doing a EU\UK one...

    Stupid US.. With our 'we are the best' mentality, and our 110v power!

    who do we think we are?
    Hi, thats basically what I was wondering about, notwithstanding the other helpful replies. What exactly were these 'power issues'?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by diarmaid
    I should have no major problems then.
    Dear diarmaid,

    Quite by coincidence, I sent an email to Hitachi in the USA this afternoon to enquire whether or not their M12VC was OK to run on 110v AC at 50 Hz rather than 120v AC at 60 Hz, the rated supply in the manual. I have no worries about the voltage, but the frequency of the mains supply concerned me. If they reply, and that is a big if given every manufacturers 'concerns about "liability", litigation, "heath 'n' safety" etc......(specially in a country where the local Hitachi people don't sell them)... I'll let you know. I'm not holding my breath.

    Best wishes

    Martin

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinw
    Dear diarmaid,

    Quite by coincidence, I sent an email to Hitachi
    Martin
    Cheers Martin,

    We shall wait and see.

  10. #10
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    Diarmid,
    1 Most site equipment is now 110v in the UK and Europe as it is intrinsically safer outdoors.
    2 In your planning be careful to allow for an earth plane that is common to all the systems. I once installed a PC to a machine tool and couldn't get the RS232 to work until I put the PC on the same supply as the machine tool.

    Regards
    David

  11. #11

    110/220-240 50hz/60hz and AC motors

    For most things you can just use a transformer to convert the voltage to 110 but I would stay away from anything that uses AC motors designed for 60hz as these will never perform well on 50hz. On the other hand I imported both my TIG welder and my Plasma cutter from the US and I run them off 50hz (380v) without any problems even though the cooling fans are all powered by AC motors.
    Manufacturers will never OK equipment designed for 60hz to run off 50hz since it will run 15% hotter than it was designed for.
    Also be carefull when buying 3-phase equipment, even though the voltage is usually close enough to run them straight off the mains there is a problem with the transform since most of the US has Delta but EU has Wye and this will cause problems with 3-phase motors.
    EU voltage is now specified as 230V +-10% to the end device, so in theory you are getting anywhere from 207-253v, for 3-phase it is specified as 380v +-10% between phases so 342-418v.

    If you are looking to buy a quality angle grinder for 230v I can highly recomend any of these:

    Makita 9565CV 1400W 125mm
    Hitachi G15YC 1500W 150mm
    Hitachi G13YC 1500W 125mm

    Yours

    Jarl
    www.dallur.com

  12. #12
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    Arrow

    Im still investigating this and have talked to the people who will make my transformer (Transformer Guy!). Like people have said, the main problem is the frequency. It seems that you can buy something on 50Hz and run it on a 60Hz supply no problem, but it wont work the other way around as easily, and the higher the rpm of the motor you want to run the more significant the difference in performance (I know, obvious!), so while a cut-off saw on 1,800rpm will prob work fine, a router on 18,000rpm most definately wont.

    Transformer guy said that a frequency converter is a major piece of kit and quite expensive (Also said he can't build me one), can anyone shed any light on this please?

    As an aside, he also said that the transformer should have some sort of surge control put on it when they're building it (Can't remember what he called it) so that I dont get killed!!...but that he was going away for awhile and his employee will probably tell me I dont need it...but I have to insist!!!....should I be worried about this guy building my transformer......:-)

  13. #13
    Community Moderator Al_The_Man's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that most power tools run with Universal motor (AC or DC) so I would imagine that the performance difference will not be as great as an induction motor or synchronous motor, the only thing that limits the top speed on a Universal motor is friction (windage etc) and load, They are not very good at constant speed under load at the best of times.
    They are not so frequency dependant like an induction motor as they will operate down to DC.
    Al.
    CNC, Mechatronics Integration and Custom Machine Design

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
    Albert E.

  14. #14
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    060427-1319 EST USA

    diarmaid:

    Al gave you good information, but I want to slightly qualify it.

    A universial motor will work on DC (meaning 0 frequency), and above a frequency X that is related to the mechanical time constant of the motor mechanics. But not between 0 and X. For example if you were to apply a 1/2 Hz ac input to a typical universial motor you would see a large speed fluctuation at 1 Hz, especially with a high torque on a low inertia system.

    Induction motors are a very different animal. The speed is proportional to frequency, and the maximum speed in RPM is 2 * Freq * 60 / number of poles. This means at 60 Hz the maximum RPM is 3600. Minimum number of poles is 2. For the moment ignore voltage. If you run a nominal 1800 60 Hz motor on 50 Hz your nominal speed is 1800 * 50 / 60 = 1500 RPM. These nominal speeds are the synchronous speed. Most 1800 RPM induction motors run about 1725 RPM at full load because slip is necessary between the rotor and the magnetic synchronous speed in order to induce current in the rotor.

    Now you also have to consider voltage because the magnetic materials are driven near saturation to achieve small motor size. To keep the magnetizing current about the same as you change frequency you need to scale voltage in proportion to frequency. If you run a 120 V 60 Hz motor on 120 V 50 Hz it will run much hotter. However some motors are rated for for 50/60 Hz operation, but this does not change the fact that the motor will run hotter at 50 Hz. 50/60 of 120 V is 100 V. Therefore, ideally you would want to run a US 120 V 60 Hz motor at 100 V on 50 Hz. You will get lower speed, torque, and power form a motor run in this fashion for the same motor temperature rise.

    A 15,000 RPM motor is either a universal, or a high frequency motor. If it is a universal then 50 or 60 Hz should make no difference. If the motor is a high frequency, meaning about 250 Hz, then there has to be a high frequency generator for this. Therefore, other than the design of this generator, 50 or 60 Hz should make no difference. Today this generator would most likely be solid state and that would mean the input 50 or 60 Hz would be converted to DC, and then the solid-states circuits would generate the 250 Hz.

    .

  15. #15
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    Smile Need some specific item advice now...

    I've looked into the specs on some of the tools Im getting. Some of the smaller ones are rated for 50/60Hz which is good, but the larger more expensive ones (Which cost up to $1000 more in Ireland!) are not :-(. Could someone more knowledgeable than me please tell me if the following are likely to work ok on 120V 50Hz, instead of 120V 60Hz:

    Compound Mitre Saw 1600W 3600rpm 15A

    Thicknesser/Planer 1674W 10,000rpm 15A

    Metal Chop Saw 4100rpm (Couldn't find wattage or amperage, its the DeWalt DW871 14")

    Bench Grinder 384W 3450rpm 4A

    I don't know if its relevant, but the info said that if these experience a voltage drop of 10V or greater they will overheat and turn off. Also, the manuals for these all say '120V' instead of '110V'...am I confused or what!

    Thanks.

  16. #16
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    [QUOTE=diarmaid]...am I confused or what!

    QUOTE]

    Dear diarmaid,

    We were after a fixed base router to use in the UK at 110v AC 50Hz. The idea is that we could use a site transformer to reduce our mains voltage (230v AC) down to 110v AC. We would have to run the tool at 50 Hz however.

    I emailed Hitachi in the US and asked about their M12VC router. (see post #8 above.

    Hitachi did not feel the need to reply, which tells me something.

    I then emailed Porter Cable with this.....

    We are after a fixed base variable speed router for use in the UK.
    > Using a site transformer, we could run the tool at 110v AC, but the
    > frequency would be 50 Hz, NOT 60Hz. Could you possibly let us know which,
    > if any, of the following would operate OK on 110v AC, 50Hz....
    >
    > 690 LRVS
    > 891
    > 892
    >
    > Thank-you



    To their credit, they replied swiftly with this

    Dear Martin,
    >
    > Thank you for visiting the Porter-Cable website.
    > We regret that these tools will not operate on 50 HZ.


    Now, I noticed that on their website, the 690 LRVS is rated at 120v AC and 25-60 Hz, so their comment that it wouldn't work on 50 Hz had me puzzled. I have asked them to confirm that this particular router will not work on 110v AC at 50Hz. That was late on Friday, so I quite understand why I have not had a reply.

    I too am totally confused. What I have learned is that there are some manufacturers in the US who do not appear interested in people using tools designed for the N.American market outside N.America. Fair enough, it is probably more effort than it is worth to provide support to overseas customers. Now, just suppose you do go ahead and import such tools, and they do not function correctly, or you need spares? You will be absolutely on your own.

    A long time ago, I imported a Powermatic 66 table saw from the US. They had induction motors. I went through all this 220/230 volt ,50/60Hz business with both Powermatic and Baldor (the motor manufacturer) before I went ahead and bought it. They both assured me there would be no problem. Er... not quite true.. the motor pulled about 25% more current than it should have, and got extremely hot within seconds. I slung the Baldor motor in the trash bin, spent £180 on a UK one, and it has been running fine ever since.

    I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that unless you have cast-iron evidence that a particular tool for the US market will work OK over here, you are taking a big risk that could cost you consideraby more than any initial "saving" on the tool price. I'm giving up on the idea of a US fixed base router. Once the cost of the site transformer is factored in, it will be about the same price of a UK market plunge router which I can strip down to little more than the motor and collet (the bits I need). I will be able to get spares and technical support.

    Whatever you decide, I wish you luck.

    Best wishes

    Martin

  17. #17
    Community Moderator Al_The_Man's Avatar
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    The first 3 are going to be Universal motors, the first says 3600, but exactly that rpm is not possible on with a non-synchronous induction motor on 60hz, for a two pole motor the rpm is 60secx60hz = 3600rpm - slip frequency, for max of ~ 3740rpm.
    The fourth is most likely a two pole induction motor, this is common for bench grinders, as it is dangerous to exceed the wheel speed.
    In Canada now it is customary to still see 110v on appliances but here the supply is now 120/240, and could probably be the same through N.America.
    Al.
    CNC, Mechatronics Integration and Custom Machine Design

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
    Albert E.

  18. #18
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    Thanks.

    Thanks for all the replies,

    Al, I just want to check one thing in case Im reading these wrong. In post No. 13 you said that universal won't have such a big difference, and above you said that the first three are universal, so will the first three probably work ok? I know you can't be sure without actually trying them, but an educated guess is better than me banging around in the dark! Thanks.

    I think I'll import the cordless 18V tools first so if they dont work all I'll have to replace (I think/hope) is the 110V charger with a 220V one and a couple of batteries.

    Then I'll buy the corded tools one by one starting with the cheapest and working my way up if they're ok when I get them. (Its not much cheaper to ship them all together anyway)

    Martin said above:
    Quote Originally Posted by martinw
    A long time ago, I imported a Powermatic 66 table saw from the US... the motor pulled about 25% more current than it should have, and got extremely hot within seconds. I slung the Baldor motor in the trash bin, spent £180 on a UK one, and it has been running fine ever since.
    Im probably going to import a table saw aswell, and because of the high initial cost I'd say even if it didn't work at all, it'd still be cheaper to replace the motor after trying it than to buy it here. (Stupid expensive country! :boxing: )

    Im going to keep looking for frequency converters aswell, the only ones I've seen are above the €1800 mark. Does anyone have any ideas where or if they can be bought cheaper?

    Also, I've e-mailed the crowd Im going to buy them off looking for information, they dont reply very quick but we'll see if they're any use.

    (P.S: This site is great, don't know who set it up but I'd probably be importing thousands of euro worth of useless equipment if it wasn't for all the advice. Cheers)

  19. #19
    Community Moderator Al_The_Man's Avatar
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    In my opinion the Universal won't be affected as much as the Table saw mentioned by Martinw, which if it was a baldor, was most definately a induction motor.
    I was going to suggest that if you were going to provide transformer 240/120 then for the universal type equipment you could try buying a large current bridge rectifier to put on the output, they are relatively cheap, this would run the unit on DC which a Universal motor is slightly more efficient on DC. I haven't tried this though.
    The only other problem is it is OK if the tool runs flat out, but if it has a triac/scr speed control, it may not like this configuration.
    Al.
    CNC, Mechatronics Integration and Custom Machine Design

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
    Albert E.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by diarmaid



    Im probably going to import a table saw aswell, and because of the high initial cost I'd say even if it didn't work at all, it'd still be cheaper to replace the motor after trying it than to buy it here.
    Dear diarmid,

    I do not want to hose you down with icy water, but here goes!...

    I bought my Powermatic 66 about 17 years ago when there really were no reasonably priced alternatives in the UK. I think that the difference was about £1100 including all shipping,tax, duty etc. It made sense, and besides it was fun. Today there are plenty of good quality table saws available over here, and they are far more competitively priced than they used to be. You can get spares too.

    As I mentioned, Powermatic said that UK voltage and frequency would be no problem. That advice was a sack of poo. If you can't trust the manufacturer to give reliable information, who can you trust? Maybe things have changed, I wouldn't know.

    In my case, I solved the problem by buying a UK motor. But I also had to

    1)make a new motor face plate mount (UK motors didn't just bolt in)

    2)replace the motor and arbour pulleys and belts (motor shaft different dia. etc etc)

    No big deal, and at the time it was a challenge.

    OK, last blast with my hose...

    How fast can you get spares?
    How much tool down-time will you be happy with?
    When all the costs of importing are considered, does it make financial sense?

    I'll turn off the valve now!

    Best wishes

    Martin

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