Home wiring and plugging in a welder

I would like to plug a 220V welder into my dryer outlet, since that is the only 220V outlet I have. But the house I'm renting is old enough
that the dryer outlet is a hot-hot-neutral outlet with no separate ground. Would there be any problem (either in terms of the electrical code or in terms of risk to myself or the equipment or the house) with using the neutral wire as the grounding wire for the welder? Of course, I'll need a plug adaptor -- I thought I'd use a 3-wire dryer cord and connect the pigtails to an outlet matching the welder plug.
Thanks for any advice.
Bert
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Bert,
Don't do it lad. The dryer outlet is usually only rated for 20 amps. For a 220v welder you'll likely need 50 amps.
As far as the wiring part goes, yes it would work, but the risk of overload is much too great.
I had a similar problem in my house. I ended up getting a sub-panel installed, with the appropriate sized wiring and breakers. If your house panel and line in from the pole isn't rated for at least 100 amps, you would be taking quite a chance.
It may end up costing you a bit of money, but the cost is peanuts compared to having a fire.
Hope this helps,
Intrepid
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I guess you are talking about a bloody big industrial welder - here in Oz we are on 240v (though my supply is around 220v) and most home welders run off either a 10amp or 15amp outlet. My mig and my stick welder both run off a 15 amp outlet (not at the same time of course)
The big boy welders in factories tend to use 440v 3 phase
David - who doesn't know much about welding, but a little about electricity
Intrepid wrote

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On Mon, 10 Jan 2005 14:57:35 +1100, quietguy

Lincoln AC 225 stick welder is what I have. It's a pretty common model; 220v @ 50 amps.
Intrepid
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Check the breakers. Some are 20, some are 30 (mine) and some are 50 like I had. The value depends on how many baby diapers you have to dry at once !
Martin
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Bert...........It depends on the welder that you are planning on plugging into it. My HH175 is 220volt and came with a 6-50 plug on it. I wired up a 220volt 20amp circuit using #12 copper wire as per the owners manual. My Dynasty 200DX and Spectrum 375 plasma cutter plug into the same receptacle. They all work very nicely on this circuit ( one at a time of course ). Your requirements will be determined by the welder you are planning on using. You will have to read the owners manual to see what is required. DO NOT PUT A LARGER AMP BREAKER IN THE DRYER CIRCUIT. If you pull too many amps for the present circuit the breaker will trip. Remember that the breaker is there to protect the wiring not the device plugged into it. I would assume that the present breaker and wiring are properly sized but you should check to be sure. If you have any doubts check with a qualied electrician. Good luck.

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Two thoughts:
If you have an electric stove, check that too.
I use a 225A buzzbox on a 30A dryer circuit with no problems, with this caveat: I've never used more than 120A, so am only drawing about 30A or less from the input side. If yours is 30A and all you're welding is 1/8" or so angle iron and the like, you'll be fine. If you're laying down multiple passes of 3/16 rod to weld 1/2" plate, you will probably have issues.
If this is a wire welder, someone else will have to give you their take on whether this would work. We can give you better information if you mention the size of the breaker/fuse for this circuit and the make and model of the welder...
--Glenn Lyford
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You can use that 3-wire circuit, since there is no neutral load (120V devices) in any welders I've seen. The neutral wire is bonded to ground at the main panel, so for all practical purposes they're the same thing - but they don't want you connecting any load returns (like the dryer drum light or the oven light) to the safety ground.
All new installs are supposed to be 4-wire with separate neutral and ground. Old installs are grandfathered as-is, but you can change them over to 4-wire if you want, and can (if they're in conduit or you have 4-wire Romex in the walls).

Will work fine - but make sure the breaker is rated to protect the wires, don't change it out for a larger one. And if you crank the welder up all the way and start laying big beads, you might trip it out.
If the main panel is convenient to the garage and has some capacity left, you can add your own 50A welder receptacle - unless you have an oddball main panel like a Zinsco or ITE Pushmatic, it can be done for under $50 in parts. Just use a short piece of flex conduit and put a surface mount plug below the panel - or if the panel is on the outside of the garage wall, use a nipple out the back of the panel can, and surface mount a 4S box right behind it in the garage.
Buy the breaker seal and knockout plug now, and you can remove it all fast and plug the holes when you move. Or just remove the breaker and receptacle and blank off the new 4S box, leave the box so the next renter can use it.
--<< Bruce >>--
--
Bruce L. Bergman, Woodland Hills (Los Angeles) CA - Desktop
Electrician for Westend Electric - CA726700
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Thanks for the info, Bruce. I've got a couple more questions below if you don't mind.

That's what I thought; I just wanted to make sure I wasn't overlooking some nuance of the neutral line concept that would end up wreaking havoc on my welder (or me!).

The welder specs say that max output for TIG mode requires a 208V/32A or 230V/29A input circuit; for max stick output, the required input is 208V/40A or 230V/38A. My dryer circuit is 30A and I measured the voltage to be about 240V. So, I don't expect any problems for TIG; for stick, I'll have to stay below max to keep from tripping the breaker, but I expect I'll be using TIG mode 90 % of the time anyway.

Adding a welder receptacle in the garage is what I would like to do, but I'm not sure that's an (economical) option. The main panel has only one empty breaker slot, but I assume I would need two slots for a new 240V circuit, correct? That means I would have to add another panel (at a cost considerably higher than $50), right? Or are there other options? Could I for instance connect both the welder outlet and the range outlet to the same 50A breaker (and still meet code)?
Bert
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Depending on the specific brand and configuration of the breaker panel, you might be able to get a double 120volt breaker. These have two 120 volt breakers in one housing that is ONE slot wide. That should free up the slot you need to put the 240 breaker which takes two slots. Not all the brands have these available.
Bert wrote:

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Tell us what brand panel you have, the model breakers it takes (or can take) and what's in there now.
If you still have the label on the panel cover you're golden, it will tell you whether you can use "duplex" breakers that fill one 1" slot and give you two circuits, and which slots they will fit in.
Or the "quad" breakers that'll give you one 50A 2-pole for the welder and two single 15A or 20A poles for the branch circuits you unplugged to make room. (They also make 250-230 quads that will feed the welder and dryer or water heater from the same 2" space - but that's drawing too much power for the bus-bar stabs in most panels, especially if it's an Aluminum buss panel.)
If the label is missing, does it have the stabs that have a "notch" in the middle (Cutler Hammer/Challenger or Crouse Hinds/Murray/ Siemens) or the T fitting with the horizontal bar (GE)? That's what you need to plug in thin breakers.
If it's a Zinsco, does it have "bumps" on the busbars to reject the RC-38 double breakers? And on Federal Pacific, it needs to have the right slots punched out on the busbars where the breaker plugs in.

Strict interpretation, no way. If an inspector sees it, he's not going to pass it. You're not supposed to make splices inside the panel for openers. And when you add the second branch breaker he'll insist on a new load calculation, the numbers of which will probably call for a service panel upgrade from 100A/125A to 200A, or 200A to 300A/400A"...
But as long as you don't try to cook and weld at the same time, and you make a neat bolted connection in the panel, go for it. (And remember that "we never had this conversation"...) ;-P
You'll need to splice the welder leads and the stove leads to a short chunk of piece-out wire to go into the breaker (split-bolt puttied and taped, or Polaris insulated splice), and then tuck everything back in neatly so the cover goes back on.
--<< Bruce >>--
--
Bruce L. Bergman, Woodland Hills (Los Angeles) CA - Desktop
Electrician for Westend Electric - CA726700
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wrote:

| Strict interpretation, no way. If an inspector sees it, he's not | going to pass it. You're not supposed to make splices inside the | panel for openers. And when you add the second branch breaker he'll | insist on a new load calculation, the numbers of which will probably | call for a service panel upgrade from 100A/125A to 200A, or 200A to | 300A/400A"... | | But as long as you don't try to cook and weld at the same time, and | you make a neat bolted connection in the panel, go for it. (And | remember that "we never had this conversation"...) ;-P | | You'll need to splice the welder leads and the stove leads to a | short chunk of piece-out wire to go into the breaker (split-bolt | puttied and taped, or Polaris insulated splice), and then tuck | everything back in neatly so the cover goes back on. | | --<< Bruce >>-- | | -- | Bruce L. Bergman, Woodland Hills (Los Angeles) CA - Desktop | Electrician for Westend Electric - CA726700 | 5737 Kanan Rd. #359, Agoura CA 91301 (818) 889-9545 | Spamtrapped address: Remove the python and the invalid, and use a net.
Good thing we have electricians about like you who can baffle the rest of us. You might be overloading the poor fellow! Pun not intended.
Old rental house. Best it ain't more than 150A service, and bet that his landlord will not at all approve of any revisions to his wiring. If the landlord knows about it and something happens, hell will have to pay because for sure his insurance company won't!
An option that might just pass muster with everyone is having a properly capable electrician make up a heavy duty extension cable to reach from your range outlet to the welder you plan on using. This way you don't endanger the house or its wiring, and since it's temporary, your renters insurance will cover any issues. Yeah, it ain't cheap, but neither are any of the problems you're going to create by messing with wiring in an old house you don't own! I suppose when you don't need it anymore, you might find an electrician who'll buy it back from you for pennies on the dollar that you paid. Can you even get 8/3 or 6/3 SO/SJ cord?
While I got you here, Bruce, I wired up an additional 40A outlet for the welder to my 150amp service panel. I've got some baseboard heaters taken out of service, so I've gained some capacity there, so where can I go to find the load ratings and what the guidelines for capacity are?
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Yep, I'll need to do a little googling for some of the terminology in that paragraph.

I appreciate the concern expressed by yourself and others here. My plan is to get my landlords' blessing before I make any changes to the service panel, but I want to know what the options are so I'll have a better idea what I'm talking about when I approach them. Since they plan to use this as their retirement home, I'm hoping to convince them of the virtue of having 220V power in the garage, and maybe even get them to pay for (or at least split) the cost.

Using the range outlet would be considerably less convenient than using the dryer outlet and would add 20 feet to the extension length (though it would give me another 20A). Using the dryer outlet, I can get by with a standard 6' dryer cord wired to an appropriate welder-type outlet.
Bert
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The panel is a Bryant/Westinghouse Cat. No. 12-24 FN, SN Type 1 Enclosure, Max Mains Rating 125A. The diagram on the label indicates that all slots can use duplex breakers, though oddly the diagram doesn't exactly match the panel -- it shows 12 slots but there are actually 16. There is no indication of quad breakers on the diagram. The list of breaker types allowed is BR, BRH, BD, BQ, BJ, BJH, GFCB, GFCBH, BRWH, BRSN. (Is BQ a quad breaker?) The bus panel and bus bars are aluminum; wiring is copper.
The current configuration is 2 slots occupied by main breaker (Bryant type BR2100) 2 slots occupied by range breaker (Bryant type BR250) 2 slots occupied by dryer breaker (Bryant type BR230) 4 slots occupied by duplex 20A breakers (Bryant type BRD BD20-20) 5 slots occupied by duplex 15A breakers (Bryant type BRD BD15-15) 1 slot open.

What conversation? ;-)

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A Bryant type BR2100 is a 100amp main breaker. If you need some information on dwelling calculation trye this link. http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/homewiringusa/2002/definitions/demandcalc/index.htm
For articles on wiring use this link. http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/homewiringusa/2002/index.htm
wrote:

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Thanks for the links.
Bert
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If that's the style I think it is, they don't want you using the two breaker positions directly opposite the Main Breaker, and they'll have a "Do Not Remove This Knockout" sticker on those two breaker KOs. They are already pumping 100 Amps through those stabs which is about all they can handle, they don't want a load breaker there to keep from melting the stabs. Partly exposed, they'll get some cooling from air circulation inside the can.

I would pull the dryer breaker (save it for when you move) and use a Bryant BRD BQ-250-230 quad breaker. (Eaton Cutler-Hammer makes them now, find a local C-H supplier.) Put a small dab of Noalox on the bus before you plug it in as insurance, in case the tin plating is damaged it will seal out the corrosion and prevent arcing - you hope...
That gives you a 50A 220V pair on the inside for the welder, and a 30A 220V with the big hoop handle-tie for the water heater. Install your welder receptacle "temporarily" on the wall (so you can remove it quickly with a few screws and spackle the holes) and you're done.
And that's going to make that panel just about full load-wise - don't try running everything at once, or you'll be tripping the Main Breaker and dealing with an annoyed SWMBO who doesn't like the unscheduled blackouts.
--<< Bruce >>--
--
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Electrician for Westend Electric - CA726700
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If that's the case, whoever installed system wasn't aware of it, since one of the slots opposite the main is used for half of the range breaker. The one open slot is also opposite the main, but there's no "Do Not Remove" sticker.

Thanks. That sounds like a good option once I get motivated to do something more involved than using the existing dryer outlet.

At least that's one issue I don't have to worry about..
Bert.
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this is dangerous, but it's your life. I've seen the neutral line miswired as hot before, I've seen the neutral to ground bond fail as well. why not just install a ground - just a wire to a water pipe, or a long rod driven into wet ground, or even a connection to the metal conduit around the wiring (unless it's that horrible plastic stuff)
wrote:

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snip-------->

Oh, they're out there. My Lincoln 300/300 has a convenience outlet on the front panel-----120V, 8 amps. Could have a transformer inside, though. Dunno.
Harold
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