What power cords will make my US-version Elinchrom lights plug in here in Aus? HELP!

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Holly, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Holly

    Holly Member

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    Good grief I need some clear help here, I can't figure this out:
    I stupidly bought two Elinchrom Style RX 600 flash heads from the States, had them shippped over, then realised what an ignorant fool I was
    for not taking into account the power cord differences between US and Australia - can't plug 'em in of course. *whacks head*

    So now, I'm stuck with two flash heads which I desperately want to keep and use very soon, for long and complicated reasons, and
    I can't work out if it's possible to just use a local IEC C13 power cord to plug them into a wall outlet and not blow the heads up, or
    use some kind of US-AUS power adaptor and hope that doesn't blow them up either..

    I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ELECTRICITY, well, very basic understanding, and could really use some help from anyone who
    happens to have dealt with this same problem before!

    I know that my Style rx 600s are the US 120V version, but does anyone know if it is safe to use the Australian 240V IEC cord with it?
    Do these units have some kind of transformer in the head itself..??..? Not even sure I'm using the right word?

    If I've ended up with two beautiful flash heads which I can't safely plug in and use here, and can't return them because they have a
    return cut-off date at B&H I am seriously screwed. :cry:
     
  2. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Hi

    OK, had a quick look at the Elinchrome website and looked at the manual. DO NOT plug these 120V units into your 230V supply. You will fry them.

    The easiest way to run them will be to get a step-down transformer.

    Looking at the specs you will need a step-down transformer rated at least 500W

    Otherwise, you could try contacting Elinchrome and see how easy the modification is. It could just be an internal jumper and a change of bulb, after all manufacturers like to make things easy for themselves.

    EDIT. here you go - I've done the research for you. I think you will need one 500W transformer for each light, or one 1000W with 2 outputs. http://www.invertershop.com.au/240v-ac-120v-ac-step-down-transformer-500-watt.html
    http://www.invertershop.com.au/240v-ac-120v-ac-step-down-transformer-1000-watt.html

    BEFORE you order these check the rating plate on the unit. It should say what they are rated at in either Watts, Amps or VA. Watts = Amps x Voltage = VA. I THINK 500W will be enough for each light, but without the lights to hand I cannot be 100% sure.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2012
  3. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    I think that there is a lesson in this for all of us - when buying from O/S, always ensure that you can use it in where you live - this could have been quite a nasty and expensive exercise otherwise.
     
  4. SMBooth

    SMBooth Member

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    You need to get a 240 - 120 transformer. Take them to your local electrician and show him/her your problem, they should be able to work out the VA rating for the transformer. They just may have a voltage select switch on them somewhere too if your luckly.
     
  5. Holly

    Holly Member

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    Hi, thankyou so much for doing that research for me!! I took a look at the link, the transformer thingy looks too good to be true - I am scared of it!
    Is it really that simple, just plug in and you're all set? Wouldn't it overload something or die after an hour or be really tricky to use in certain
    locations? By the by, do you happen to be an electrician lol ?

    I'm not sure what or where the rating plate is? on the body of the unit itself there's nothing really to find except underneath the plug input there
    is written: 120V - 50/60Hz . Is that what you mean? Like I said, CLUELESS about electrics.

    What do you think would be the least traumatic: getting Elinchrom to tinker with the units and fix them to be Australian or this transformer idea?
    Considering I am a pretty broke visual arts graduate and have several exhibitions in nearing months which need to be shooting for now.
    I know that when the T.O. from my art school had to send Elinchrom flash heads back to Switzerland for special fixing it was weeks before
    they resurfaced again to be used. I don't have that luxury of time unfortunately!
     
  6. Holly

    Holly Member

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    I'm glad I could be of use to you all! But it is looking like it will be a bloody nasty and expensive exercise all the same for me. :sad:
     
  7. Holly

    Holly Member

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    Mm-hm, and what's a voltage select switch? What if I get some dodgy electrician who doesn't know what he's doing and he
    tells me the wrong thing? Is there only one right answer with this kind of thing, iykwim?

    Utterly frustrating. Damn adhd!
     
  8. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    The easiest thing to do would be to just get the step down transformer and plug them in. The transformer linked to even has the right sockets to plug in US style plugs.

    No reason why it should "overload something or die after an hour or be really tricky to use in certain
    locations"
    .

    Typically, the transformer inside the unit will have two primary windings each rated at 120 volts. For use in countries with 240 volt supplies, they are connected in series. In countries with 120 volt supplies they are connected in parallel. As long as the connection is appropriate for the voltage, each primary gets the correct 120 volts across it.

    Sometimes there is a switch to change between the two configurations, sometimes it is a little link connection (or two) known as a jumper lead and sometimes it will require re-wiring.

    (If they are both identical and have internal transformers, I would personally try to run them in series - but this is not really good advice so don't do that!!!)


    Steve.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2012
  9. Leigh Youdale

    Leigh Youdale Member

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    Basically you need one of these <http://www.tortech.com.au/category/595/?PHPSESSID=fe4a8fa1aa50ab10db6d1808805b12f5> or similar.
    There are other manufacturers as well, and you just need to Google "Transformer Australia" and you'll get a list.
    Choose a couple and phone them and ask to speak to someone in their technical department.

    I repeat the advice of others. Do NOT, under any circumstances connect either the units themselves or the USA supplied leads to our 240v power supply. You might fry yourself as well as the lights.
     
  10. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Step-down transformers can be had on line for 20-30usd. These are sold regularly as travel power adapters so we "Yanks" can use our toys when we travel across the pond.
     
  11. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    More likely to just blow the fuse. Not very likely to fry yourself. Even so, don't do it!



    Steve.
     
  12. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Hi Holly

    OK. here's the good news.

    A step down transformer is really a very simple solution. You plug one end into the wall socket and plug the light into the outlet on the transformer. The only thing that is important is that the transformer is big enough for the load.

    NOW The Bad News.

    I've done some more digging on the technical data that you will see at the back of your manual (it's online) and the connected load of the 600RX is **1500VA** This means that a 500W transformer *isn't big enough* - - it must be rated at least 1500W.

    THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION. **DO NOT** BUY "ANY OLD TRANSFORMER". YOU **MUST** MAKE SURE IT HAS A HIGH ENOUGH RATING FOR THE LOAD.

    You are going to need either two 1500W transformers or a single 3000W transformer with two outlets
    http://www.invertershop.com.au/240v-ac-120v-ac-step-down-transformer-1500-watt.html
    http://www.invertershop.com.au/240v-ac-120v-ac-step-down-transformer-3000-watt.html

    Unfortunately the cost goes up........ I see the 1500W is out of stock at this store. You COULD buy a 2000W unit instead. It doesn't matter if they are bigger than the load, they just mustn't be smaller.

    You may find step down transformers cheaper than the links I have found. Any 240-120 step down transformer will work *provided* it has a high enough wattage rating.

    I have had a look through the manuals, and there is no "voltage selector switch" unfortunately on the lights, and thinking about what these are doing - charging the flash etc, I suspect the power circuits are dedicated to the voltage. Please totally ignore Steve's advice to try running them in series. (Sorry Steve) this is NOT a safe suggestion.

    If you have any doubts, or are not sure, please take my post to your local electrician and get him to confirm what you need.
     
  13. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Yes, most AC powered flash units use voltage doubler or trippler circuits to charge the capacitor bank to a higher than'normal' voltage than what one gets when you 'just' rectify standard AC to DC. So in a nut shell they are designed for the voltage they are sold to be used at.

    Mr. Rusty's words are true, but I have some concerns that consumer grade portable voltage convertors may be stressed by the high inrush currents that the flash electronics suck in right after the flash has be triggered.
     
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  15. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    It wasn't advice, it was what I might try and I did say don't do it!


    Steve.
     
  16. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Hi Mike/Holly

    This is a perfectly reasonable concern, however I think the specification of the unit allows for it, so I would be quite happy with my recommendations.

    Holly - Consult a local electrician for confirmation, but apart from the cost :-( once you have the correct step-down everything will work fine.

    Mike - The tech data (for the CE 230V unit) shows it is fused/rated at 6.3A for 1500VA (6.3 x 230 = 1449). For some reason they don't quote the fuse rating for the 120V unit, but assuming the overall power consumption is similar (I think it might be a little lower as the bulb rating is slightly lower), the 1500W rating is actually the maximum connection load including any surge - if it wasn't the fuse would be underated! I expect that the actual draw is quite a bit below the specified rating. For this reason I would be quite happy with the 1500W step-down I provided a link for as it is rated continuous 1000W and up to 1 hour continuous at 1500W. I expect it has a current limiter/fuse set a bit beyond that.
     
  17. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Ha! It's what I might try too before I thought better of it!! I just wanted to make sure no-one who might be helping might see it and not thinking it through, try to do it.

    Experimental is what I try *after* something has broken, as I work on the basis that I can't make a dead unit any worse!
     
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I can!


    Steve.
     
  19. Holly

    Holly Member

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    Thankyou so much Mr Rusty and everyone for your very helpful replies! I am so glad I asked the APUG oracle because before then, I was probably
    about 24 hours away from trying to connect the units with a 240V IEC cord and that would have been bloody disastrous! So now I will not be touching
    any of the cords until I take my good advice to a local sparky, just to double check absolutely everything before I go for the stepdown transformer option.

    I may end up having to get two of the 1500W transformers so that I can move around the shooting area with more flexibility. I'm sure that
    one day I'll buy more lights as well, possibly with higher wattage again, so if it's okay to use any *higher* wattage transformer on a lower
    wattage light, I can maybe think about getting the right combo to allow for future added units to my kit. AND I would then be set up for
    shooting in the US any old time I felt like it, should I ever be working there! Which I hope I will. The price of buying extra stuff to make
    these lights work is just going to be a necessary evil, but hey, live and learn :smile:
     
  20. Benoît99

    Benoît99 Member

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    Elinchrom makes 2 versions of the 600RX (see page 12 of the manual). One is for 230v (215-240) and the other is for 120v (110-120). As others have said, often such units are identical, with an internal switch or jumper wire that can be used to change the voltage. You should contact Elichrom and ask about this.

    On their Website, they ask that you contact their local distributor. In Australia, that would be:

    Kayell Australia Pty Limited
    108 Johnston Street
    3066 Collingwood VIC

    Phone: 03 8412 2800
    Fax: 03 8412 2899

    They have an e-mail address and a Website but APUG won't let me post the links because I have not yet posted enough messages. Check Google for Kayell.

    If the units can not be adjusted for 240v, then you will need stepdown transformers. In any case you will need an adaptor for the wall plug.
     
  21. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

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    Hello Holly;
    The step down transformers rated @ 1500watts would be the way to go, or even cheaper would be one 3000watt unit. Even if the units could be changed over, by the time you buy new modeling lamps, new cords, and a service charge the transformer(s) will be the cheapest option. Just my 2cents, Steven.
     
  22. Holly

    Holly Member

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    Ok, so I spoke to lots of places today about all this, and Kayell in Sydney said that there's basically no point trying to rewire the US version unit
    because it's just built that way and wouldn't have the capacity to be changed. (?) Not sure what I think about that. They agreed that a transformer
    would work, but then directed me to somewhere like Tandy or Dick Smith's (which are commercial retail places for things more like Playstation
    and household electronics). So I got the feeling they weren't particularly expert in their represented brand of Elinchrom :/

    Then I spoke to some electric equipment wholesale guys, all agreed that there should be no problem using the 1500W transformer to
    power the units but that few places where I live stock that size one and I'd be best off looking on the net or interstate in Aus to buy one.
    But I am still hung up on the finer details of making sure I don't kill the flash head, so now I have looked at a few websites who
    specialise in stepdowns and all kinds of transformers, and they keep coming up with this list of questions (cut and pasted from one site here):

    1. What is the total watts used by appliances to be connected to the Transformer?

    Select from our Stepdowns range below based on how many watts your device uses*.

    E.g: Playstation 3 uses 380 Watts so you need 500 watt stepdown transformer.

    2. Does your appliance have a motor ?

    If a motor is included then you should select a stepdown rating at least 25% higher than your motor as a buffer. Motors have higher power use on the stepdowns and startup currents which need to be allowed for. Most motors have a rating plate on them with their Power and Amperage rating.

    3. Does your appliance have a mechanical timing device? If so, how critical is this timing device?

    If a timing device is included the speed of the device may change due to the frequency change, 60Hz to 50Hz (eg old clocks, motors / fans)
    4. Do you know the Amps of your device? - is so you can calculate the watts required:

    Calculated as Watts = Amps x 110 Volts (eg 5 A x 110 V = 500 watts)
    5. Do you wish to use multiple appliances from one stepdown?

    Check total watts of all devices this must be less than the VA rating of the stepdown & get a US Powerboard

    So does my type of flash head have a motor/timing device/heating element/pump/compressor ? I'll need to know this
    if I'm talking to anyone I'm purchasing from, so I can get the right one. I'm just not sure if what's inside the guts of the
    Style rx 600 could technically be called a motor, or if it would have any extra wattage needs that we haven't already
    thought of?

    Snederhiser, you're right, it would be a palaver trying to get new lamps/cords/electrician costs out the way before I could
    use the flash, and it just seems like the transformer can do all of that in less steps.
     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    If you connect it to a transformer with the correct voltage output there is no reason why you should damage it. It would be the same as taking it to America and plugging it into a wall socket.

    It can (fewer, not less - free pedantic English lesson!).


    Steve.
     
  24. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Like people say, get the transformer. I would suggest though that you buy them (the identical device!) from eBay though for pricing reasons. I have bought two separate 2000W units (one to run a US-model amplifier/receiver and one to run a KitchenAid) and they're about $65 each; see item 270767008656 (I have bought from this seller and recommend them).

    In terms of answers to your latest questions, they are:
    1) about 1000W* including the modeling lamp
    2) no, nor does it have a poor power-factor or high inrush-current, which is what they're really asking
    3) no
    4) irrelevant, since we know the approx total power
    5) presumably yes

    The power ratings on the transformers are largely thermally limited and aimed for continuous use, while the flashes draw power for only about 1.5s each time you fire them. Therefore you can comfortably run two of the flashes from a single 2000W transformer (it will hum a bit during recycling but will work fine). The transformer would be less-stressed if you bought the 3000W version** but I don't think that is necessary. The transformers have two sockets on the front so you won't need a powerboard; just plug the two flashes in using their original US cords.

    If connecting two flashes to the 2000W transformer causes its breaker to pop, you could buy a second 2000W transformer (one for each flash). This is highly unlikely with your higher-quality flashes though, so don't worry yet.


    While there is a 240V version of this flash, there will be big differences in how the recycling circuit is setup so it is generally not economic to modify the 110V to work with 240V. Using a transformer is the best option.


    * it's a 600J flash with 1.5s recharge (400W output power into the capacitors), but the charging circuit is often only about 70% efficient. Recycling the flash will therefore pull about 500-600W, plus the modelling light is 150W on the 110V version, though there looks to be a 250W option. The expected power consumption is therefore about 750W, so 1000W is a fairly safe/conservative estimate.

    ** eBay 140670722876 is clearly from the same chinese factory, just larger.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2012
  25. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I don't wish to be disagreeable but that's not quite true. Most stepdown transformers are autotransformers (single winding with a centre-tap). If you overload them to failure, one end of the winding will go open-circuit, which will result in either no output voltage, or delivery of the full input voltage to the output, which means the magic smoke gets let out. Using grossly under-rated stepdown transformers can be quite hazardous to the load equipment.

    It's not too bad for 240V->115V where the voltage ratio is about 2:1 and the current through each end of the winding is about equal (you have a 50:50 chance of catastrophic:harmless failure modes). For greater voltage ratios, the current ratio is no longer 1:1 and the catastrophic becomes the only likely failure mode. In those cases, isolated transformers are generally the only good option.
     
  26. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Whilst this is true, I would hope that the transformer has a fuse in place to maintain the integrity of the magic smoke containment devices. And with excessive load, the winding from the unit being powered to the live input will be the one most likely to fail so this will cut the power to the device. The winding in parallel with the output is less likely to fail under excessive load as the voltage across it will reduce as the load increases.

    I do agree with you that an isolated transformer is the best option and personally, I think that should be the only option available but as we know, these days things are built down to a price rather than up to a quality so the cost effectiveness of an auto-transformer wins.


    I think the OP was worried about the general idea of plugging into a transformer. With the transformer suggested, there should be no problem.


    Steve.