Portable arc welders and household current

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Recently, My father picked up a small, portable arc welder at a garage sale for me. He's been a welder for most of his life and is an invaluable resource as far as basics and more involved techniques are concerned. In truth, the man is really a wizard at the actual welding process, but the question that he seems to get a bit... "fuzzy" about is the subject of an extension cord (NOT the LEADS, but the power supply cord)for the machine and the amperage rating it will require. I can get more detailed info regarding the machine itself for you later, but here's what I know for sure: It's the type of small, portable machine that plugs into the same 220 power outlet that my clothes dryer plugs into. I'm trying to avoid burning up the machine OR burning down my house. Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi... You're my only hope.

-- Austin B. Conner (Jhagrastua@AOL.com), February 09, 2000


Unless someone has "modified" the machine by changing its line cord or its plug, you're relatively safe if you can plug it into your dryer outlet. The reason is that there are different types of plugs for different amperage ratings. The typical dryer rating in the US is 220V/30 amps. Your portable welder should be able to run on this. Check the rating on the UL tag or manufacturer's plate to ensure that it does not draw more than 30 amps at peak load. P.S. You could damage the machine if the supply is incorrect, but your house is protected from overcurrent by its circuit beeakers or fuses. Just make sure the machine is outside when you try it! Also, if you are using an extension cord, DON'T! The voltage drop in the cord could result in damage to the machine and/or a burnt-up cord. Good luck!

-- Bill Garry (Billsuegarry@aol.com), February 09, 2000.

I see what you're saying, but if you don't use an extension cord, how else is one supposed to hook up a welder in a non-shop environment?

Let's say I want repair a fence post located 30' from the nearest outlet inside my house and there are no outside outlets. I can't take the fence post into the shop. The only solution is to use an extension cord or a portable generator (which most folks don't have). The only solution then is to use a beefy extension cord. I would expect that a 10 gauge extension cord should be okay for a homeowner/hobby welder requiring only 20 Amps at 115 Volts.

-- borg (borg@juno.com), February 19, 2002.

I feel you should be able to make an extension cord, after all the power company gets you this power from their pole-mounted transformer many hundreds of feet away! Until i came across the statement it was 20 amps, it had me worried about voltage drop, but at this current it is easy to just "over design" it by using wire for more than you need, say 8 gauge, and you should be fine. You must use wire of the size that can withstand the current that the fuses in your service deliver. In other words, 12 g. wire may carry 20 amps, but will burn up before the 40 amp fuses blow, and this is dangerous.

-- David Bacon (dbacon@updatetechnology.com), April 20, 2002.

Hi, I've been running my Linclon 225/125 AC/DC welder on a 30 ft extension for over a year with no problems. If I remember correctly I used 8 gauge and I typically don't use the highest current settings. The cord plugs into the 220 clothes dryer outlet and has a plug for the welder at the other. The welder plug looks like an 110 three prong plug but bigger. Not just a heavy duty 110 but actually larger size.

The parts for the extension cost me $100 at the local hardware store.

-- Bill Morgan (steelwelder400@yahoo.com), November 16, 2002.

actually this is a question that is related to the problem you were discussing here. First, is it safe to use an 220V outlet designed for the GE/Highpoint range made in late 80's for a Whirlpool dryer (brand new) too. Both the range and the dryer plug fit fine in the 220V outlet? If it is safe to use the outlet this way, do you know if there is somewhere a place or a web-site where I can buy a splitter that would save me from unplugging the range and plugging in the dryer every time I want to use the dryer. I looked all over Saint Louis MO (I live in its metro area) and no store carries the splitter.

Thank you very much.

- Joseph Ramsey

-- Joseph Ramsey (josephramsey1955@yahoo.com), February 05, 2003.

If it's an 8-gauge cord then I take it the dryer outlet has a 30 Amp fuse/breaker (8 gauge max amperage is 40 but drops lower as it's extended further) I also just purchased a Lincoln AC/DC-225. I have rigged up an extension cord from the NEMA 14-30R (30 Amp dryer outlet) to a NEMA 6-50R (50 Amp 250V Outlet). I believe if I stick with the DC it can only use a max input of 36 Amp (At full power) also there is a wiring difference. I connected the 2 hot (red and black) and the ground (green) but left the white (Neutral) disconnected. I am too chicken to try and use it at the moment. Any advice?

See NEMA plugs at: http://www.quail.com/locator/nema.htm

-- Darrin Gross (darrin_gross@yahoo.com), February 12, 2003.

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