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Old 08-10-2010, 05:25 PM   #1
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


Hello everyone,

My wife and I recently moved into a new condo with a small garage. At our old condo we had a small garage with the electricity to which was on a 15A circuit breaker.

At the old unit my 3HP 120V @ 15A (has start/run capacitors) air compressor would start up fine and run until the tank was full. I would have to turn off everything in the garage to get it to run but it did so just fine.

To my dismay at the new unit the motor barely turns over for a few seconds and then trips the circuit breaker. It is a 15A breaker that appears to have more on the line but nothing currently operating as I've been doing my tests during the day when no one's around.

Can I build something that could get the motor to start up elevating some of the inrush current demands?

I'm really bummed, I had hoped in the future to upgrade to a better compressor not to downgrade...

~Deven

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Last edited by Deven; 08-10-2010 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:34 PM   #2
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


It should be on a 20 amp circuit.

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Old 08-10-2010, 05:43 PM   #3
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


If the distance from the panel to the recep is greater, you would have more voltage drop and that could be one cause the difference you are noticing.

Maybe this breaker is a bit weaker than your other one.

As heyewe said, this needs to be on a 20 amp circuit.
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Old 08-10-2010, 06:18 PM   #4
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


I figured that it needed to be on a 20A breaker with #12 wire but unfortunately some idiot wired the garages with #14 with a 15A breaker. Nap I believe you're correct about the distance also coming into play. I'm pretty sure I could run it on the 15A line but not starting it up with that voltage drop.

Would an UPS unit work? Added capacitance? Adding a smaller start motor?

I do not have the option of rewiring the garage for 20A.
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Old 08-10-2010, 07:21 PM   #5
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


how about putting one of those pull rope sheaves on the side of one of the pulleys and use a rope to start it?

yes, that was a joke.


If you haven't tried this, and your compressor doesn't have an unloader, try letting all of the air out of the tank and try it. In fact, you might try to run the thing with the drain petcock opened so it will not develop and pressure at all. If it still trips the breaker, I doubt you will find any means to overcome this problem without finding a higher rated circuit.
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Old 08-10-2010, 08:11 PM   #6
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


Hey Zap, thanks for the ideas. I did start it earlier today with the release valve open (I read somewhere else that this might help lessen the load on the motor) and it did spin up better but again it tripped the breaker.

I think I might have a solution...

The motor can be switched over to run at 230V @ 7.5A. My unit is not directly next to my garage but I think I could get say less than a 100 ft extension cord from my washing machine 230V outlet out to the compressor (that's on a 30A breaker).

The question is, what gauge extension cable can I get away with that's going to work and not put me in the poor house (I can DIY it to save $ btw)?
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:34 PM   #7
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


How close is the compressor to the breaker panel? Can you add a 20A circuit to the garage?

You may also just try replacing the breaker, as it may be old and tripping at a lower than rated current.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:41 PM   #8
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


It's too far from the box to do anything. Besides they did up the place with that romex crap and unless you plan on gutting the walls it's not going to happen.

I'm going to run out and grab a new breaker tomorrow. I'll be working on live wire but hey, you only live once?

If that does not work it's 10/3 or 12/3 SO cable made into an extension cord.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:47 PM   #9
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


Quote:
Originally Posted by Deven View Post
It's too far from the box to do anything. Besides they did up the place with that romex crap and unless you plan on gutting the walls it's not going to happen.

I'm going to run out and grab a new breaker tomorrow. I'll be working on live wire but hey, you only live once?

If that does not work it's 10/3 or 12/3 SO cable made into an extension cord.
It's ugly, but you could run the wires in "panduit" on the outside of the drywall.

Why work on a live wire? Shut off the main?
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:22 PM   #10
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Air Compressor Electrical Issues


You might just consider buying a small generator.
With only 7 amps you coud use a 14 gagae extension cord.
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moondawg View Post
It's ugly, but you could run the wires in "panduit" on the outside of the drywall.

Why work on a live wire? Shut off the main?
I can't, I have an HOA and I can't gut anything. I can do slight modifications that I can camouflage but that would be too much.

I also can't shut off the main. That would mean shutting off the power to the whole complex and that's just not going on. I have some thick rubber gloves and a steady hand. I think I can pull it off today without a hitch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hayewe farm View Post
You might just consider buying a small generator.
With only 7 amps you coud use a 14 gagae extension cord.
I was looking into a generator but you need something in a area of 2000W or more for a 3HP motor and they're a lot more money than snaking an extension cord down 75ft or so.

I'm thinking about going with a 12/3 SO cable. I could run something else on there if needed and who knows what I might use it for down the road?

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