Advice on dual voltage in house..

Thread Starter

Steve Wright

Joined Jun 28, 2019
15
Hi all,

My first post as a complete electronics novice. A very very brief overview:

My wife and I moved from the UK (220-240V) to Ecuador (110-120V as in US). We’ve brought some of our electronics with us (most importantly my work equipment), some of which works on both voltages, some of which is 220V only (having done a bit of research before, we determined from other people that had done the same that it was possible). All devices we brought with us are 50-60Hz, so the only hurdle is voltage.

As you probably gathered, I want to be able to get a 220-240V feed into the house alongside the 110-120V (obviously on dedicated sockets to be planned out in advance).

Loads of articles explain that the 220V is already available, but this is 220V between the two live lines, unlike the UK 220V which is only over the one live line and neutral.

I’ve read people from the UK making this happen in the US and Canada, but their chat is usually above my understanding. So, if possible, would people here be able to help explain how I would go about doing this? (And by ‘I’, I mean a qualified skilled electrician). And also how much of a job it is?

Thank you!
 

Thread Starter

Steve Wright

Joined Jun 28, 2019
15
Find out how much current your device takes, or VA power, i.e. volts x amps.

For example, if the device takes 1A @ 230VAC, that is 230VA.
A 300VA 1:2 step-up transformer will do.

https://www.hammfg.com/electronics/transformers/line/176.pdf
Thanks for your response - we’re staying in temporary accommodation right now before moving in to our new house. We are using a step up for the tv (tv is 150W and transformer is 300W). However, the other items that I want to use, such as my gear, will need more then that, and the step up transformers don’t feel safe enough to be running reasonably sensitive audio equipment.

I didn’t mention that some of the other electronic devices we brought were were a vacuum cleaner and coffee machine. The coffee machine runs at 1500W, so that would mean a 3000W transformer - not cheap here in Ecuador!!
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,728
Thanks for your response - we’re staying in temporary accommodation right now before moving in to our new house. We are using a step up for the tv (tv is 150W and transformer is 300W). However, the other items that I want to use, such as my gear, will need more then that, and the step up transformers don’t feel safe enough to be running reasonably sensitive audio equipment.

I didn’t mention that some of the other electronic devices we brought were were a vacuum cleaner and coffee machine. The coffee machine runs at 1500W, so that would mean a 3000W transformer - not cheap here in Ecuador!!
I would look at the total cost of retrofitting secondary power into the new house vs scrapping/selling the old gear and buying new gear (like vacuum cleaners and coffee machines) that's compatible with the local utility infrastructure. If you really have something you want to keep then a internal conversion (switching heater blocks in a coffee maker) might be better in the long term.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
6,642
When I move from 120VAC county to 240VAC country I left all of my 120AC-ony appliances behind except for my electric razor. It was only about a month until I accidentally plugged my razor in without the adapter. Everything else can run 240VAC and is fine.
 

Thread Starter

Steve Wright

Joined Jun 28, 2019
15
Well if it were just the vacuum cleaner I wouldn’t have even brought it with me trust me!!

However there is a bunch of audio gear which I wouldn’t want to get rid of (guitar amp, microphone preamps, keyboard, synths, speakers). Having read online multiple cases of people getting their 220v with apparently relative ease (aside from the fact of needing to rewire in some cases), it seemed like, and still seems like, a good option.

As for the coffee machine, it’s a very good one, got for a great deal on black Friday, and anything like that here in Ecuador is SUPER expensive, especially compared to labor costs of electricians etc. So given the intention of bringing the audio gear with a supposedly sensible solution, it made sense to bring anything else that was worthwhile.

And thus here we are. I only envisage needing maybe three points in the house - one in the studio for audio gear, one in kitchen for coffee machine/microwave (although admittedly a new microwave can be bought reasonably inexpensive you if needed), and another somewhere convenient in the house for anything else such as vacuum cleaner etc/anything else that may need 220V. So, we’re not talking about loads of rewiring.

The main thing is how do I go about getting the 220V down the single live wire?
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
6,642
They may already be bringing two phases into your house (as they did in the U.S.), in which case the 240 VAC is already there. You need to check with a local electrician or the power company to know for sure.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,728
Well if it were just the vacuum cleaner I wouldn’t have even brought it with me trust me!!

However there is a bunch of audio gear which I wouldn’t want to get rid of (guitar amp, microphone preamps, keyboard, synths, speakers). Having read online multiple cases of people getting their 220v with apparently relative ease (aside from the fact of needing to rewire in some cases), it seemed like, and still seems like, a good option.

As for the coffee machine, it’s a very good one, got for a great deal on black Friday, and anything like that here in Ecuador is SUPER expensive, especially compared to labor costs of electricians etc. So given the intention of bringing the audio gear with a supposedly sensible solution, it made sense to bring anything else that was worthwhile.

And thus here we are. I only envisage needing maybe three points in the house - one in the studio for audio gear, one in kitchen for coffee machine/microwave (although admittedly a new microwave can be bought reasonably inexpensive you if needed), and another somewhere convenient in the house for anything else such as vacuum cleaner etc/anything else that may need 220V. So, we’re not talking about loads of rewiring.

The main thing is how do I go about getting the 220V down the single live wire?
Do you have a 220V outlet for a stove or is that gas? There usually is a 220V electric death shower-head heater connection too.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
21,612
I couldn't find a source out there that definitively shows Equador using the same single phase/split phase system (120-0-120) as N.A. But if they do it should be simple to obtain 230v/240v outlets.
When I moved to Canada, I too brought many items with me from UK, and I installed a couple of 240v outlets in my workshop etc, in order to run the items, and 60Hz was no problem.

The main thing is how do I go about getting the 220V down the single live wire?
The two live conductor system is essentially the same as the UK live-neutral as far as the equipment goes.
Max.
 

Thread Starter

Steve Wright

Joined Jun 28, 2019
15
I couldn't find a source out there that definitively shows Equador using the same single phase/split phase system (120-0-120) as N.A. But if they do it should be simple to obtain 230v/240v outlets.
When I moved to Canada, I too brought many items with me from UK, and I installed a couple of 240v outlets in my workshop etc, in order to run the items, and 60Hz was no problem.


The two live conductor system is essentially the same as the UK live-neutral as far as the equipment goes.
Max.
Thanks for this - yes there is definitely the US-style 120-0-120, as a lot of the washing machines etc are US imports. The washroom in the house we are buying has one of these sockets specifically for the washing machine.

So what is the process to combine the two 120s to get a single 240V line? I read elsewhere that as long as you have the three wires running to the receptacle (ie the two 120s and the 0), you just need to use something like this:

https://www.leviton.com/en/products/16292-w

Is it really as easy as hooking up the two live and neutral to this guy, and there you have your UK-style 220-240?!

Thanks!
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
21,612
The supply is 120v -Neutral(ov) - 120v. for these outlets, if same as N.A. you can get 4 pin, 120 Neut. 120 and GND. Also 3 pin, 120v GND 120v.
For your sockets you would just need the latter 3 pin outlets, the two 120v pins gives you 240v and the earth ground pin.
There is no neutral used, for your UK equipment, it does not matter about which live conductor goes to which live plug pin, the UK equipment does not use a neutral in this arrangement.
So the Leviton outlet is the one. You can get them up to 30amps if needed.
BTW, I would get the single or dual 240v outlets, not the dual 240-120v as shown, the bottom outlet is for 120v.
Max.
 
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Thread Starter

Steve Wright

Joined Jun 28, 2019
15
The supply is 120v -Neutral(ov) - 120v. for these outlets, if same as N.A. you can get 4 pin, 120 Neut. 120 and GND. Also 3 pin, 120v GND 120v.
For your sockets you would just need the latter 3 pin outlets, the two 120v pins gives you 240v and the earth ground pin.
There is no neutral used, for your UK equipment, it does not matter about which live conductor goes to which live plug pin, the UK equipment does not use a neutral in this arrangement.
So the Leviton outlet is the one. You can get them up to 30amps if needed.
Max.
Ok so my understanding is probably what’s confusing me. I always thought that the UK plugs had 240 down one pin, neutral (what I guess is 0) down another, and ground for the third. But you’re saying I would still have the ground, but then 120 down one pin, and 120 down the other - have I understood right? This wouldn’t damage the equipment? Sorry for my ignorance, I’m learning as we talk!
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
21,612
Basically you have it right, UK is 240v and neutral, plus a ground (earth) conductor, 13a outlet.
N.A. system is two 120v conductors (x2=240v) and a neutral, if as in your case, you do not need the neutral, then you just use the two 120v's plus the earth GND.
In N.A. 240v is mainly required for high current appliances.
Max.
 

Thread Starter

Steve Wright

Joined Jun 28, 2019
15
Ok great! This is music to my ears as it suggests to me that apart from the addition of extra wires (which if chosen carefully may not be too difficult), it shouldn’t be too big a job to get a couple of 240V points for my stuff.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
21,612
You mentioned audio equipment, when I came to Canada the LP turntables were still in vogue, many who brought ones from UK etc, found that the vocals sounded like the chipmunks!:eek:
At that time you could get a different ratio drive pulley to compensate from 50hz to 60hz.
Max.
 

Thread Starter

Steve Wright

Joined Jun 28, 2019
15
You mentioned audio equipment, when I came to Canada the LP turntables were still in vogue, many who brought ones from UK etc, found that the vocals sounded like the chipmunks!:eek:
At that time you could get a different ratio drive pulley to compensate from 50hz to 60hz.
Max.
Haha! Yes fortunately none of my gear is frequency dependent, same goes for the non-audio stuff. Anything that was frequency sensitive we didn’t bring with us (washer machine, fridge, etc).

Thank you by the way for taking your time to help with my query, much appreciated.

I have another question. The receptacle I posted earlier would serve for the 240V items. However as you know, UK plugs won’t fit. What’s the best next step - rewiring the U.K. items with appropriate plugs? Or use converters? I’m assuming the proper plugs, whilst perhaps a neater way of doing things, don’t have fuses built in?
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
21,612
No they won't have fuses in them, but an appropriate breaker will be used in the panel.
The reason for the fuse in UK outlets is that all plugs are on a ring main with a final 30amp breaker which will handle quite a load (7Kw) until it trips, hence the individual fusing.
I would get the local type plugs.
Max..
 

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
1,544
Before putting too much horsepower to planning; make sure your UK TV will work on the broadcast system, soon to be digital ATSC region 2? there.

----> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_digital_television_deployments_by_country

A coffee machine does not deserve an outlet for itself because is is an inexpensive item, but if you have an electric range, an outlet/extension cord can be cheaply derived from its internals towards the countertop.

---->

A vacuum cleaner does not deserve several dedicated outlets at several rooms, plus installation and transformer costs. Get a 120V/60Hz one.
Better re-think your plans.
 

DNA Robotics

Joined Jun 13, 2014
588
However as you know, UK plugs won’t fit. What’s the best next step - rewiring the U.K. items with appropriate plugs?
I would order some UK style outlets for your 240V. so there can't be any mistakes plugging in appliances.
It is not likely that any one outlet will have both 120 legs to get your 240 volts.
As others said, you can find 230 volts in your kitchen at the range plug. Other places are the water heater, clothes dryer and a central air conditioner that may be in the attic or garage.
You can wire a UK style extension cord into any of those appliances where their wiring attaches.
With an extension cord you can use the vacuum anywhere.
 
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dendad

Joined Feb 20, 2016
3,611
Make sure you get an official electrician to do the wiring. Do not try it yourself!

As for a transformer...
and the step up transformers don’t feel safe enough to be running reasonably sensitive audio equipment.
There is nothing inherently unsafe about that. In fact, it could be argued it make it safer.

Have you checked to see if your audio gear has internal taps to change to 120V? A lot do have.
 
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