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Using european 220 volt equipment in the USA


Hi all…

I finally got moved from Norway to Asheville, NC. I have a studio
here w/ a 220 volt line, but some of my equipment is 220 volt/50 hz
and the line, to the best of my knowledge, is a standard 220 volt/60
hz line. Has anyone had experience using European 220 volt jewelry or
lapidary equipment here in the USA? I’m concerned I’ll burn out my
motors, especially on my cabbing machine. I spoke to one company
about a frequency converter, but they said that it would minimum run
$1300 for one strong enough to run a 1/4 hp motor like in my diamond
Pacific Genie. It’s beginning to look like my best option is to run
it carefully (watch for overheating) until it eventually drops and
then replace the motor (about $400) with a 100 unit. Any input


some of my equipment is 220 volt/50 hz

The 50 Hz should not be much of a problem. It will affect the speed
of the motor making it run just a bit faster on 60 hz. Many motors
are rated for both the European and the US voltages. The 220v is
within +/- 10% of the 208-230v which is pretty standard here, you
might have 240v, which should also be OK. Just watch it close and
don’t let it overheat as you have said and you will probably be OK I
think the principal problem is when a motor is taken from here (US)
and run at 50 hz there. The dual rated motors I’ve seen are de-rated
for the speed and Horsepower (KW) of the motors. The bearings and
cooling of the motor should not have problems at a slightly greater
speed. It is running a motor at slower frequencies that requires an
inverter rated motor (Variable Frequency Drive).

Dan Wellman



Running European equipment on American power systems is a big No No.
Switching out the motors is your safest way to do things. and 1/4 Hp
motors are not that expensive.




I did just the opposite of what you anticipate…I moved from Canada
to Spain, used a transformer for my 110v polishing motor and burned
it up within a month. Converting electricity isn’t much of a problem
when there is no motor involved. You might consult an electrician for
an opinion on what would happen.

Donna in VA


Hi Jeanne

My problem is usually the opposite, 60 Hz equipment running on 50
Hz. There should’nt be any big problem, all motors will go a little
faster but the difference is so small the bearings won’t even
notice. In Europe standard simple motors run at around 1400 rps or
2800 rps and in the US it is 1700 and 3400 rps. It is all the same
but for the 50/60 issue.

It basically depends on how the motors windings are configured, a
lower rpm-motor will have a different configuration, run at 1/2 or
1/4 rpm, be larger, heavier and probably more expensive. Therefore a
frequency controller is not a bad idea, it creates a frequency from
1 up to 400 Hz and can therefore fool your motor run at any speed
you desire. Be careful above 100 Hz as it now can become a heat
issue (the motor is running twice its intended speed). On the up
side the motor will keep most of its power when slowed down.

I have frequency controllers on several machines; rock saw, cabbing
and polishing machines and exhaust fan. I bought mine second hand,
older models not aimed at computer control, for approx. US $100-150.



I contacted Baldor directly. They make the motor used in the genie
cabber and they said pretty much what you did…it’s the opposite,
using a 60 hz motor on a 50 hz system gives a problem because the
energy is insufficiant to run the motor properly.