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Old 07-07-10, 09:19 AM   #1
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Me needs help from you electrician type folks

so- it's hot out


we haz an air conditioner.


but we can't use it



why?



we live in a 1 BR apt.

The AC is installed in a LR window. Right near the window is a 220v outlet (The building super checked the voltage - it has two slanted slits at the top and one straight slit at the bottom center).

But our AC is 110v (15A), with a regular 3-prong plug (Type B?).

The closest three prong 110v outlet is about four feet beyond the AC's cord, so we have been using an extension cord. It is a bit long (12'), and the basic indoor cord for large appliances (not a lamp cord - it is the same as the AC's cord, 14 gauge, SPT3).

The problems:

1. Apparently, the living room's sockets and the kitchen are all on the same circuit.

We have about five circuits in our box; when the AC is used with the TV or even a small kitchen appliance (toaster, coffee machine), it trips the circuit breaker.


2. My wife noticed the AC's power cord and the extension cord get really hot when the AC has been on for no more than an hour (they feel warm very soon after starting it up...this doesn't seem to happen when it;s just the intake fan on, only when the cooling setting is used).

Recently the AC just shut off one night. no circuit break, the unit just stopped.

The next day it started up again, so I am guessing the cord just got too hot?

If we have to just live without AC in this apt. I'd prefer that to dying in an electrical fire. But I'm pissed - with five circuits, why are the LR and kitchen on the same 20A circuit?? What the hell are the other circuits for? One for the bathroom? One for the bedroom? There's hardly anything at all in those rooms, besides a lamp.

Some have suggested using our AC with a new 12 gauge or 10 gauge extension, and a shorter one (6'?).

Others say the extension cord is irrelevant and it is the apartment's wiring that is at fault. One person told me Code states the kitchen must by law be on its own circuit and we should call the landlord and have them rewire it for safety.

Another thought - I am guessing the 220 v socket might be on its own circuit? Is there any way to tell from the circuit breaker box?

If it is, I am tempted to just go out and buy another AC - 220 v and use that!

Or, can we use a converter and an adapter (for the three-prong to 220v outlet) to use our AC with the 220v outlet?
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Old 07-07-10, 09:25 AM   #2
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I will add that this is an older building (1930s) in an historic neighborhood, where they won't let you upgrade or change certain things, at least cosmetically speaking.

We do have mostly three-prong outlets but there are at least three or four two-prong outlets scattered around the apartment, and there is another odd plug on the opposite side of the window from the 220v one I described above.

I trust my super telling me he checked the 220 v one but he didn't seem too concerned about the kitchen being on the same circuit (he didn't know it was till I told him). he also checked the AC by plugging it into the 3-prong outlet with a cheap power strip we had laying around, which I thought was a big no-no?
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Old 07-07-10, 09:38 AM   #3
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I am not an electrician. I wonder if something like this would work?

http://www.starkelectronic.com/st500.htm
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Old 07-07-10, 09:43 AM   #4
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what's the total power usage on all those devices?

the step down adaptors will work.
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Old 07-07-10, 09:55 AM   #5
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Doh! I did not see you had linked to a step down converter already Pgoat.
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Old 07-07-10, 09:55 AM   #6
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I'm NOT an electrician but I think it might be possible to re-wire the 220 plug to 110 plug. Check with and use a qualified electrician to do the change,reduces the liability factor, rather than using a cobbled together system. My belief is that the landlord would be agreeable to this as the only changes should be in the plug box and maybe at the panel and everything would be reverseable if needed in the future.
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Old 07-07-10, 10:15 AM   #7
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Get a 220V AC unit, easiest for everybody, the apartment already is circuited for it.
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Old 07-07-10, 10:17 AM   #8
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I absolutely won't be doing any work myself, I just don't know anything about this stuff.

I do wanna bug the landlord but just want to get my facts straight first. I think the problem logically sounds like we shouldn't have that many things on one circuit even if there is no AC in the mix.

I should have added - the apartment without the Bed room is pretty big - about 800 sq. ft. and I do not think the AC is WAY under-powered but there might not be enough BTUs for the whole place...so maybe it's working too hard?
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Old 07-07-10, 10:19 AM   #9
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what's the total power usage on all those devices?
I'd have to go count. I'd be checking - the amps, for each appliance, yes?

And you'd want the total number of amps to not exceed the Amperage of the circuit they're on?
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Old 07-07-10, 10:21 AM   #10
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I suggest you explore two options.
1. Get a price on a 220V AC unit.
2. Get an estimate from an electrician to split the 220V into two 110V receptacles.
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Old 07-07-10, 10:22 AM   #11
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Get a 220V AC unit, easiest for everybody, the apartment already is circuited for it.
I'm sure this is more expensive than the converters, but if it;s easier and safer I'd gladly do that - I just want to know whether that 220v line has its own circuit. If it does, I'd be just as happy paying an electrician to rewire it to 110v, but yeah, might screw things up for the next tenant.

Is there some advantage to a 220v AC? would it be more powerful, or more safe in its current draw?
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Old 07-07-10, 10:23 AM   #12
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I suggest you explore two options.
1. Get a price on a 220V AC unit.
2. Get an estimate from an electrician to split the 220V into two 110V receptacles.
thanks, that's what I was trying to formulate; sound advice...
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Old 07-07-10, 10:35 AM   #13
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I'd have to go count. I'd be checking - the amps, for each appliance, yes?

And you'd want the total number of amps to not exceed the Amperage of the circuit they're on?
Typically it's anywhere from 12A to 18A per circuit.
and these numbers are just for peak load.
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Old 07-07-10, 10:54 AM   #14
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That's peak load, meaning, you;d want the total amps of all devices per circuit to be well under that circuits total?

I think I erred above - the AC we have is 10 amps (or 10.something). But that's still half of the 20 amp circuit it's on....I can't imagine the TV, stereo, fish tank, refrigerator and lights don't add up to less than 20 amps. And That;s not counting the toaster, microwave etc, which we never use now with the AC on, as that will instantly trip the breaker.


last night I got in after my ride home and the room was 95 F. Our poor cats were wilting. I turned on the TV (TdF), and the AC - that's it...no lights, even. Nothing else on aside form the fish tank filter and the fridge. 10 minutes later - poof! circuit breaks. I'm wondering if that is because the whole building was probably on AC overload in this heat wave??
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Old 07-07-10, 10:56 AM   #15
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I just did a BTU calculation - it looks like we should have a 25000-30000 BTU unit. Ours is about 15000 iirc...I'd have to check. Could that be the issue?
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Old 07-07-10, 10:56 AM   #16
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Just leave your fridge open.
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Old 07-07-10, 11:01 AM   #17
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fridge and microwave can be something like 5~8A each when they are on.
toasters and coffee makers can consume something around 6~8A.

peak load is only encountered when the appliance turns itself on to full power.
for fridges, that's when the compressor kicks in. microwave when you use it, AC when you start it up and when you use it on full power.
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Old 07-07-10, 11:02 AM   #18
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I think you could damage your AC unit by running it on the extension cord you are using. Get a stout one, the thicker the better (to a point). Short is better than longer too.

For the long term, I would leave the wiring alone and put a nice 220v unit in. It will be of higher capacity and run more efficiently. You could probably move the smaller one right into the bedroom.
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Old 07-07-10, 11:03 AM   #19
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Just leave your fridge open.
I was expecting you to tell Pgoat and WOPG to get more nekkid when it gets too hot...........
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Old 07-07-10, 11:06 AM   #20
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Just go live in the bath tub. It'll keep you cooler.
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Old 07-07-10, 11:08 AM   #21
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I was expecting you to tell Pgoat and WOPG to get more nekkid when it gets too hot...........
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Just go live in the bath tub. It'll keep you cooler.
See, this is why I come here for this type of advice
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Old 07-07-10, 11:09 AM   #22
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/\ btw- I am open to all these and other suggestions /\
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Old 07-07-10, 11:10 AM   #23
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I was expecting you to tell Pgoat and WOPG to get more nekkid when it gets too hot...........
I just assumed they already are.
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Old 07-07-10, 11:12 AM   #24
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if you wear a cycling jersey, or any other high tech sweat wicking layer and just pour water on yourself, it'll make you cooler than cotton.


In fact, I'm wearing a base layer right now, since it's 33c.

actually I'm going to go to the lake, much cooler over there.
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Old 07-07-10, 11:13 AM   #25
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I'm sure this is more expensive than the converters, but if it;s easier and safer I'd gladly do that - I just want to know whether that 220v line has its own circuit. If it does, I'd be just as happy paying an electrician to rewire it to 110v, but yeah, might screw things up for the next tenant.

Is there some advantage to a 220v AC? would it be more powerful, or more safe in its current draw?
yes
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