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Old 09-26-2012, 12:45 AM   #1
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difference in 110v 60 hz calrod & 220v 50hz


I had a "Big Chief" smoker and used it in China. The heating element was 110V 60hz @ 450hz. I tried to used in via a xformer and it would only get warm, not enough to smoke the pan of wood chips, so I tried a much bigger xformer (much higher wattage) with the same results. Fix was to have a local elect. supplier to make me a new calrod unit for China and plug-into a supply line - lo and behold worked great, if not jerry rigging the plug connection. Now I reside in Thailand and they have the same electrial supply system (as does most of the world). Most if not all electrical appliances (tools, heaters, mixers and toaster etc.) of any quality are imported and therefore 3/5 times the U.S. price. My question is what do the manufactures do to make an appliance 220v 50hz and how can I make my U.S. stuff work (electrically) over here? I know the difference between 50hz & 60hz and 110v vs 220v, but when I look at 220v items they look exactly (physically anyway) like our US and Canadian cousins - so what do they do to make 2 different operating specs for 2 different markets.

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Old 09-26-2012, 03:00 AM   #2
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difference in 110v 60 hz calrod & 220v 50hz


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Originally Posted by Richard William View Post
...The heating element was 110V 60hz @ 450hz.
Umm, what? Did you mean "450 W" ? 450 Hz doesn't exist anywhere, except maybe on a ship or airplane with the alternators running 50 Hz too fast.


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Originally Posted by Richard William View Post
...what do the manufactures do to make an appliance 220v 50hz... ...I know the difference between 50hz & 60hz and 110v vs 220v, but when I look at 220v items they look exactly (physically anyway) like our US and Canadian cousins - so what do they do to make 2 different operating specs for 2 different markets.
Usually the 120 V versions of an appliance will use a different transformer in their power supply from the 220 V versions. Sometimes to save cost, manufacturers will use a single transformer with a centre-tapped coil, and the North/South American versions of the appliance will be wired to use one end-terminal and the centre-tap, while the European / Asian / African / Australian versions will be wired to use the two end-terminals. (Or vice-versa if the C.T. is on the secondary coil instead of the primary.)

Some DC power supplies use a "capacitor ladder" voltage doubler in the rectifier stage for the 120 V version, omitted on the 220 V version. (Many computer power supplies use this method, with the voltage select switch on the back merely enabling or disabling the capacitor ladder.)

For AC electric motors, the coils are wound differently depending on the voltage, or sometimes the motor will have two coils which are wired in parallel for 120 V and series for 220 V.

Heaters and incandescent light bulbs are manufactured with specific heating elements / filaments for their intended voltage. The 120 V versions have a thicker conductor that has less resistance than the 220 V versions. Sometimes the length also differs between the two voltage versions.

Neon glow bulbs and LEDs driven directly off the AC power line might have a different value of series resistor, depending on the design voltage.

Fluorescent lamp and HID lamp ballasts have their coils wound differently depending on the design voltage.

50 Hz and 60 Hz are close enough that for most appliances, there is nothing different about the design to optimize it for one or the other frequency. The exception is for some electric motors, which use a capacitor to phase-shift a second coil to create the rotating magnetic field; the 50 Hz versions will use a slightly different capacitor value than the 60 Hz versions. Also, synchronous AC motors rotate at differing speeds (3600 RPM for 60 Hz, 3000 RPM for 50 Hz), so mechanical clocks which rely on accurate line frequency to maintain correct time will have differing gearsets for 50 Hz and 60 Hz regions, each with the appropriate ratio of number of teeth on the gears to reduce the motor speed to 1 RPM.


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Originally Posted by Richard William View Post
...and how can I make my U.S. stuff work (electrically) over here?
Your best bet to make a 120 V appliance work in a 220 V region is to plug it into a step-down transformer. Be careful for appliances with motors; make sure they'll handle 50 Hz without problems.
Alternatively, if you know how the appliance is designed, then depending on its design you might be able to modify it (eg. disconnect a transformer centre-tap and connect a previously unused end-terminal instead, or rewire a motor's multiple coil configuration, swap out its phase-shift capacitor, etc.). But given that you were asking how the two voltage versions of an appliance differ, I wouldn't recommend you go monkeying around with modifying high-voltage stuff.

There is one other trick you can do: For simple convection heaters (without fans!) and incandescent light bulbs, if you have two identical 120 V units, you can wire them in series and run them together on a 220 V supply. (In the case of heaters, make sure they are set to the same power level, or else you'll likely burn out the lower-power unit and possibly start a fire.)

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Old 09-26-2012, 07:11 AM   #3
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difference in 110v 60 hz calrod & 220v 50hz


Your appliance has been jerry rigged so you must treat it as an appliance with its new voltage and current and AC frequency (60 Hz, etc.) rating. For a plain heater or stove or hibachi, with no blower or motor and no electronics in the heat level control, the AC frequency does not matter.
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