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  1. #1
    EricNelson's Avatar
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    Moving from 120V to 220V - Can My Gear Do That?

    I'm moving from Chicago To Bangkok where the electricity is 220V/50Hz as opposed to the 120V/60Hz here in the US. Devices of concern are my Jobo CPP2, my Kearsarge 201 digital timer, my Aristo cold light on my D5, and my DeVere 810 enlarger with the matched DeVere timers. Also my digital gear like external hard drives and AA battery chargers are a concern but at least the chargers are reasonable to replace.

    Has anyone had to make this switch? I'm aware of the electrical converters (in general but not a specific model) but the Hz will still be 50 instead of 60Hz. I don't really know much about electricity and what I was told in an expat forum is "There is no safe way to predict an individual piece of equipments tolerance to the frequency difference without actually trying it."
    I'd much rather try selling the gear here in the US instead of taking the chance of frying any given device or finding out they don't work well if there is no definitive answer out there. Thailand doesn't have a lot of analog gear available from what I've seen, let alone film.

    Eric

  2. #2
    segedi's Avatar
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    Eric,
    If you look on the back of the devices or on the block if it has one (by block I mean the part that has two cords coming out of it, one going to the wall socket and the other the device) you can usually find if it is autoswitching or not. Most laptops, chargers etc, will autoswitch from 50-60Hz and 110-240V. If you equipment doesn't autoswitch, you can get convertors. I did that for a scanner and printer that were on different frequencies/cycles and were North America only when I moved to NZ. I found a convertor sold through Amazon pretty cheaply, but it was pretty heavy - I'd guess 5 - 10 lbs. But it was great and had a fuse that would blwo before the equipment did. Never had to replace the fuse on mine though.
    So the good news is that I think your equipment problem will be OK. The bad news is the lack of analog stuff in your new home...
    ~Kevin
    -----------------------

    Segedi.com

  3. #3
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    The frequency won't make much difference. One thing which might be an issue is the power supply for the cold light source.

    You might need to get a transformer for some of it. Probably easier than selling and trying to buy equivalents.


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  4. #4
    polyglot's Avatar
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    The Jobos are designed to run only at a single voltage - they use the mains supply to directly drive the pump motor and heating element. You will need to buy stepdown a transformer or three, but they're pretty cheap ($70 for 2kVA) on eBay.

    50Hz will mean the pump runs a teensy bit slower but other than that, probably no effect on the Jobo. The cold-light might have issues depending on how its power supply works but it will almost certainly be fine since most of them are switching supplies that rectify first (DC to DC conversion, supply frequency mostly irrelevant). An incandescent lamp will have no issues at all once the voltage is right.

  5. #5
    cmacd123's Avatar
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    first, you have ot be sure to use the step down transformer on any gear that does not auto switch. Putting 220 on something that is expcting 110 is likely to let out the magic smoke.

    Close examination of gear originally made in places that use 220 volts may find that a technician can re-wire it to work on 220. Likewise, many units have in internal jumper for 50-60 Hz. Many european devices have a 110-220 switch, which is sometimes hidden in North America to avoid customers not aware of the issue fiddling with it.

    Worry 1 is that a motor will often run hotter on 50Hz than on 60hz. If the motor was designed for 50-60Hz this will be taken care of, again you have mostly European designs in your list, so the designer may have actually built the unit for 110v 50Hz


    Worry 2 is that timers often key off the power line. ie you would have to set the timer for 50 seconds to get a minute of timing.

    Possibility for units gear is that there may be an interchangeable gear to deal with the frequency.

    Final tip is to try and find a good electronic tech at your destination. some folks in less affluent countries will buy used gear and re-make it to work on the local supply. Transformers inside the unit can be remade for 220 rather than 110 for example.

    Gear made in the last 5 years or so, is often equiped with a powersupply that does not care about the nature of the power, the ratings plate will say 100-240V.
    Charles MacDonald
    aa508@ncf.ca
    I still live just beyond the fringe in Stittsville

  6. #6
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    Yes, you need step down transformers.
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  7. #7

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    I live in a 240volt area and my whole darkroom is 110volt because when I started, some gear, for example Zone VI, was only available in the US voltage. I use a good quality high capacity transformer. My new gear is 110volt as well, just to keep everything simple. Theoretically it could be considered safer in the event of a damaged wire etc, I suppose.

    One thing to watch is the capacity of the transformer. Once, I had a spare 240v to 110v transformer that came with a Beseler enlarger. I lent it to a friend who had just come back to Australia from the US and she had some 110v Christmas tree lights. I didn't consider the current draw of the lights, and the transformer lasted only a couple of seconds.

  8. #8
    EricNelson's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone who has posted!

    John, when you say high capacity, are you talking about a 3000 watt model? If my DeVere goes with me it will definitely need something powerful as it pulls 10 amps according to the back of the OEM timer that came with it. There's no mention of wattage.

    Assuming the wattage of the converter isn't exceeded how many devices can you plug into your converters? I know they only have one outlet but I'm wondering if you've had success running more than one device via a power strip or surge protector or if that is not recommended.

    Thanks

    Eric

    Quote Originally Posted by john_s View Post
    I live in a 240volt area and my whole darkroom is 110volt because when I started, some gear, for example Zone VI, was only available in the US voltage. I use a good quality high capacity transformer. My new gear is 110volt as well, just to keep everything simple. Theoretically it could be considered safer in the event of a damaged wire etc, I suppose.

    One thing to watch is the capacity of the transformer. Once, I had a spare 240v to 110v transformer that came with a Beseler enlarger. I lent it to a friend who had just come back to Australia from the US and she had some 110v Christmas tree lights. I didn't consider the current draw of the lights, and the transformer lasted only a couple of seconds.

  9. #9
    EricNelson's Avatar
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    I had that happen some years back in BKK and it nearly smoked the digital camera attached to it.

    My concern is like yours that the flavor of the current being 50Hz will do as you mention and cause the motor on the Jobo CPP2, (which does say 120V/60Hz 400W), to run hot or worse. If there's a 120 to 220 switch inside I don't know of it but would love it if it did! I'll open the thing and see if there's any info on the motor itself. This machine has a limited life as it is, and if running it on 220V with a converter is going to dramatically shorten it's life, then it should be sold off... and you know what kind of crazy payday I'll be having on ebay when I sell it, and the 8x10 and 4x5 drums.

    At the same time I'm being concerned, segedi was fairly reassuring that things will work OK. Color me cautious then.

    RE: the timers. So using an LED "digital" timer that may be 10 or so more years old (I have no idea) would one expect a slowdown in the timer because of the Hz? I might predict the DeVere timer to do that with it's analog looking dials and such.

    Eric

    Quote Originally Posted by cmacd123 View Post
    first, you have ot be sure to use the step down transformer on any gear that does not auto switch. Putting 220 on something that is expcting 110 is likely to let out the magic smoke.

    Close examination of gear originally made in places that use 220 volts may find that a technician can re-wire it to work on 220. Likewise, many units have in internal jumper for 50-60 Hz. Many european devices have a 110-220 switch, which is sometimes hidden in North America to avoid customers not aware of the issue fiddling with it.

    Worry 1 is that a motor will often run hotter on 50Hz than on 60hz. If the motor was designed for 50-60Hz this will be taken care of, again you have mostly European designs in your list, so the designer may have actually built the unit for 110v 50Hz


    Worry 2 is that timers often key off the power line. ie you would have to set the timer for 50 seconds to get a minute of timing.

    Possibility for units gear is that there may be an interchangeable gear to deal with the frequency.

    Final tip is to try and find a good electronic tech at your destination. some folks in less affluent countries will buy used gear and re-make it to work on the local supply. Transformers inside the unit can be remade for 220 rather than 110 for example.

    Gear made in the last 5 years or so, is often equiped with a powersupply that does not care about the nature of the power, the ratings plate will say 100-240V.

  10. #10
    polyglot's Avatar
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    The Jobo (agitation) motors are DC and run at about 20V depending on the speed setting. The speed is controlled from the front panel of the Jobo, which is responsible for regulating the DC supply to the motor, almost certainly by PWM. So your Jobo motor is not going to care what frequency your mains is at all and it won't overheat any more than usual, other than the fact that you're going to be in the Philippines.

    The pump motor runs directly from the mains. It might slow down but likely there will be no difference at all.

    About 75% of the 400W rating is the heating element, which really won't care about frequency.

    Your timer says 10A on it because that's a standard relay rating (it's how much the timer can switch); it doesn't mean the enlarger pulls that much current at all. 10A at 110V is 1100W, which is a pretty big light bulb! Check the power rating on the bulb and use that as a guide.

    Things like enlargers with transformers pull a huge inrush current (the "bong" the transformer makes when powered up), which will pull the line voltage right down. If you have a computer or something attached to the same transformer, it will possibly reboot when you turn the enlarger on. Otherwise, go ahead and connect as much as you want. Isolation transformers are rated in VA (volt-amps) not watts, though the vendors will generally just say watts when they mean the other. VA = W ONLY when the power-factor is 1, i.e. a purely resistive load, which most of the darkroom gear isn't. To be safe, you want a transformer with approx 2x the VA rating as the actual real watts you intend to draw from it.

    For example:
    - 500W enlarger
    - 400W Jobo
    - 10W safelights
    - 5W timer
    total = 915W. You therefore want a 2kVA ("2000W") stepdown transformer.

    If you have a drymount press (probably 2kW), you'll want to have a separate transformer for that. It's a resistive load though, so you don't need a 2x larger transformer.

    Make sure you buy an isolated transformer and not an autotransformer; the latter can be very dangerous to your equipment because their default (and common) failure mode is to let 240V straight through when the winding burns out. An isolating transformer will just stop working and transmit no power if it burns out.

    While it is possible in principle for timers to time from the mains, it is much cheaper and simpler to use a crystal or RC timing circuit (e.g. 555) so I, as an electrical engineer, would be very surprised if an electronic (i.e. with LED digital displays and stuff) enlarger timer was mains-synced. Mains timing is generally only used for clocks where long-term to-the-second stability is desired. It's quite possible however that a semi-mechanical timer (one with a rotating knob that rattles its way around the dial) will change speed with the mains frequency since some of those run off a geared synchronous motor, for which the speed is locked to the mains frequency.
    Last edited by polyglot; 11-29-2011 at 12:05 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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