My Natures Treasures

Which Is Best An 120Vac Or Central Vacuum for New and Remodeled Houses?

There are items to take into consideration when one is procuring a central vacuum system. One of the key considerations is whether to buy a vacuuming system requiring 120 volt power or a system requiring 220 volts. The truth is we should narrow the field even farther. For example there is a 220 Vac vacuuming system and 240 Vac central vacuum system . So it is essencial to comprehend what you are asking of your local central vacuum installer.

Motor Differences Between 110 and 220 Models

The motors are not alike in the 220 and 110 variations of central vacuum systems. The power units are wound differently, the transformer is different, the mini-breakers are different, and the cord and wiring are different. As you can see it is meaningful to specify with your contractor expressly which motor you want.

Differences Between 110/120 And 220/240 Volts A/C

Occationally 120 volts is referred to as 110 volts or 115 volts. Moreover, 240 volts is referred to as 220 volts or 230 volts. Central vacuum manufacturers create motors in all those ranges. The selections are the 120 and 240 volt power units, not the 110 or 220 volt motors.

The 120 and 240 power units will not be harmfully affected if used with lower voltages. The 120 volt motor will be alright on 110 volts. And a 240 volt power unit will be fine on 220 or 230 volts. The other way around will adversely affect the motors. A 220 volt unit would be "damaged" if utilized for extended periods of time on a 240 volt circuit. And the same can be said for a 110 volt power unit running on 120 volts. The bulky voltage motors run very well in any variation of 50-60Hz.

Which is Better?

The reply to that question depends on the manufacturer. For example, MD Manufacturing reveals these facts about their production units. For the most part, their power units have very comparable performance stats between the voltages. Their 120 volt Silent Master S5, for instance has 139 water lift and 191 CFM with a high of 905 Air Watts. The 240 volt version has 136.4 water lift and 190 CFM with a peak of 866 Air Watts. These stats are especially close.

Operating Cost

The operational cost of a 240 volt vacuum unit can undoubtedly be less than its 120 volt counterpart because legs of the power are being used simultaneously. However, the 120 volt unit may not be wasting much power if the opposite circuit is being utilized by lights or other appliances simultaneously. In the worst case scenario, the 120 volt version might cost 12 cents per hour extra to operate. Yes, there is a divergence here, but one must add-up several other factors.

Cost Of The Electrician

As you presumably know electricians charge a set fee for each 110-120 dulex they install. Typically it is based on a flat fee of around $40 to $60 per outlet depending on the area in which one lives. Wiring in a 220-240 outlet requires tying both 110Vac electrical legs together and special NEPA® plugs. Obviously wiring your central vacuum system for 220-240 Vac will incur additional expense. Far more 120 volt units are sold inasmuch as they largely plug into any 20 amp electrical outlets and have lots of vacuuming power.

Power Unit Life Expectancy

They report that the 120 volt versions of the vacuum power unit will last longer. They contain a higher amount of copper and thus the heat has a greater ability to dissipate. In addition, 120 volt motors are also much easier to find replacements for as they are popular motors in the industry. The 240 volt version power units are not used very often and vacuum shops aross America do not typically stock them. They would almost always stock 120 volt motors.

Plugged Into The Incorrect Outlet?

What takes place when a 240 volt power unit is mistakenly plugged into 110 and 110 into 240? If you connect a 120 volt unit into a 240 volt circuit and immediately turn the unit on it will run with a humongous amount of suction. The motor will be running very fast! If it is operating very long the power unit may fly apart. The transformer will potentially burn out before that happens. When the transformer burns out the motor will shut off. If one basically replaces the transformer the system will be restored back to regular operation.

If you departed the jobsite without testing the vacuuming system and later found that the new vacuum did not work, then it is likely the electrician powered it up with 240 volts. Just sitting in the off position the power unit will burn out the transformer in 3-5 minutes or less.

Plugging a 240 Volt Motor Into 120 Circuit

If you plug a 240 volt unit into a 120 volt duplex, it will not run properly. The great news is that neither the transformer nor the motor will be demolished. It will only be running at less than full speed.

Plan of Action

I would like to offer my many years of experience as a Security / Low-Voltage Contractor and hand you a very plausible plan of action. If you install the system yourself you will save thousands of dollars. To install your own central vacuum you will first need to grasp exactly what components are necessary. What are the top two or three brands to consider? Where is the best location to procure your pipe? What type of wiring needs to be installed in the walls of your home? You are going to need a guide to lead you through the installation process.

Installing Multiple Systems

It has been my experience that when consumers are considering one system for their new or remodeled home, they are likely considering other technologies as well.. It would be in your best interest to have installation eBooks on each system you would like to include in your house. Read them all then procure your components, special tools, and cable so that they are all on the job ahead of your proposed start date.


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