Shop Compressor Possibly Fried LEDs in House. Related? Is this wired correctly?

Messages
394
Location
Oklahoma
*I'm not asking for professional electrical help, just asking if something seems obviously incorrect/correct. I will be seeking professional advice either way*

I recently had a professional electrical contractor install [among many things] a new 220 outlet (it's a 30A receptacle that looks similar to the image below and new wiring to an existing 30A breaker (which was used at some point, but they ripped the outlet out, capped it, and left the breaker empty. I just wanted to clarify the 30A breaker is not being shared).
ENL-67300BK_2.jpg
More recently, a friend came over and installed this compressor for me in my shop. He's not a licensed electrician to my knowledge, but he's a professional diesel mechanic who is required to diagnose and fix literally any [electrical] problem on first responders' vehicles. I consider that mostly qualified. I do understand that does not mean fully qualified, hence why I'm here asking about it. He installed the box (starter?) for the compressor and wired it up with a new cord and had it running fairly quickly. When the compressor runs, it seems to run perfectly fine. But while it's running, the lights in the shop aren't too happy. They surge the entire time it runs. The best description I can give is a very minor strobe effect, or as if someone is rapidly alternating a dimmer switch between 90% and 100% brightness over and over. I didn't really give it much thought, because I need to upgrade the shop breaker box anyway considering some of the breakers are double tapped and it's at capacity (it can only hold 6 single or 3 double breakers). I already purchased a new breaker box & breakers, and plan on dividing up some existing circuits and making new ones to prevent any possible overloading. It just hasn't been installed yet.

Well, the compressor has only run about 5 times since installation, and tonight while it was running (and the lights were surging as usual), apparently the lights in the house were surging also. I guess they always have and I just never noticed. Before anyone asks, I have no idea if they share a main breaker. I'd guess they'd have to if it affects the other. But when the compressor ran tonight, one of my recessed LEDs in my kitchen (also installed by a different licensed electrician 6 years ago) fried, and almost caught on fire. I didn't know it until about 20 minutes later when I went in and noticed the light was out. When I pulled it down to unclip the harness, I instantly smelled that horrible burning electrical smell and quickly unplugged it, unhinged it, ran it outside and set it on concrete, then grabbed the fire extinguisher as a precaution. The odor was strong enough to make my whole house stink. Pic below.
20201210_031119.jpg


Long story short, I think it was way too coincidental for these not to not be related. So my question is this: is my compressor on the proper receptacle & breaker amp rating? In other words, is this compressor designed to run on a 30A circuit? 40A? 50A? Here's every bit of info I could find on the compressor. Pic of the entire compressor:
20201210_021812.jpg


Pic of the model number:
20201210_005339.jpg



More info:
20201210_005307.jpg


This is located physically on the tank:
20201210_005329.jpg


This is located on the grey cylinder-shaped piece on the top, which I'm assuming is the electric motor...?:
20201210_005356.jpg


Last, here's the starter:
20201210_005917.jpg


What are your thoughts? Does this appear to be wired correctly? Do I have the correct breaker/circuit @30A? Thanks in advance for your help.
 
Messages
1,730
Location
Athens, GA
Its probably jamming enough ripple back through the system that the filter caps on the LED lights are having a tough time dealing with it. Just a theory on my part. But if the compressor runs and the lights flicker, something is not quite right. It could be wired properly but have a problem with a winding in the motor, or something wrong with that starter. Could also be improperly grounded.
 
Messages
1,965
Location
USA
Hard to say without physically looking at it but some general observations without looking up old stuff

That plate says its a 5 HP Dayton ( that old, most likely a CH pump). That 3-5 means it could have either motor/pulley depending on the selling size (its common on WWG and cheap stuff to take a single pump with a different motor/pulley and sling it at high RPM to claim a higher HP)

If its a 5 HP set up and motor- the starter is undersized ( looks like what you have is for a 3)

The wiring definitely needs to go up a size and get rid of that dryer cord jumper.

Here's the important part but can only guess since I cant put a meter on it or walk it down.

"Theoretically' the circuit you have will work but it "appears" the circuit itself is a branch from another circuit.

You really need compressor loads ( motor/starter loads) on a dedicated circuit from the line side with no daisy chaining.

Personally I think that's whats happening but that needs to be thr first thing your electrician checks.
 
Messages
1,965
Location
USA
That wiring is horrendous, and it doesn't appear to be grounded. Also, non of the wires entering the box are using the proper connector, hell the 2 on the bottom dont have any connector. Kill the breaker at the pannel and have it fixed properly
Missed that one completely but I was looking at the starter and motor.

Yeah OP, you need to get a QUALIFIED electrician to rewire this and i recommend locking it out until you do.
 
Messages
5,167
Location
South Carolina
I am not a licensed electrician (full disclosure) but I know electricity inside and out, I enjoy everything electronics and wiring/have been my entire life and self taught proper wiring and electrical codes.
After the old plaster walls were ripped out, I have literally ripped out all existing wiring in an old 2 story home 4 BR of a friend, rewired the entire home (kitchen/baths/everything) from a new upgraded 200 amp electrical panel to bring it up to standard and well into the future as well. This home also passed electrical inspection by county inspection, with a compliment from the inspector. This inspector got to see everything before the new drywall was put up.

Ok, with that said, I agree with the others, being I am into this stuff, *L* it disgusts me the way the compressor is wired, quite honestly, technically downright dangerous. Not that anything would happen but there is no reason for it.

Ok, the LED lighting. I find it an interesting subject and know (as best I can) it has nothing to do with the wiring job (even though its disgusting*L*)
LEDs are sensitive to voltage fluctuations and maybe certain ones (cheaper quality) even more sensitive but I cant say that is all cases.
When that 5HP motor kicks on the LEDs are flickering due to the voltage in your home. When I say that, I dont mean it is dropping to some low level but many LEDs can be sensitive to it. An LED is not a light bulb as we think of what a light bulb is, an LED really is an electronic circuit.

I am curious at what your main breaker panel electrical service is for the home. I find this interesting enough to look into it more and here is why.
Its actually quite common in offices/homes with Laser Jet printers. The thing is, for the printer issue, its normally limited to whatever is on the same circuit as the printer, in your case, your compressor is a separate line BUT, that 5HP motor is a hell of a lot more draw then a laser printer.
IN our home office of our new home, our laser printer makes an LED desk lamp flicker when it prints. From what I read this is due to the large power draw when printing.

Anyway, Im sure that is your issue, and other then try some different LEDs Im not so sure there is anything you can do.
I am almost sure if you replaced the LEDs with dimmable LEDs that would solve your problem. I would love to see you try a "DIMMABLE" LED light bulb in any lamp plugged into the shop. I would almost bet with 90+ percent certain that it will not flicker. Nor would a plain old light build or florescence bulb/ fixture.
 
Last edited:
Messages
3,858
Location
Chicagoland
IN our home office of our new home, our laser printer makes an LED desk lamp flicker when it prints. From what I read this is due to the large power draw when printing.
The electric igniters on the stove made our kitchen light strobe, the bulb failed after about 6 months. I replaced the cheaper LED with a GE HD+ led and it stopped doing it, so I think you’re onto something.
 
Messages
5,167
Location
South Carolina
Had that happen in my house as well. Ran a dedicated 15amp circuit just for the printer. Solved the problem.
Yes that’s correct. For me it’s just a desk lamp that’s plugged into the same outlet, it doesn’t affect the ceiling light fixture or anything else in the house.
In the OP case he has a dedicated circuit, but the drawer of the 5 hp motor is significant. After reading your comment as well as knowing better leds Preferably dimmable will solve the problem.
 

JC1

Messages
6,110
Location
Oshawa, Ontario Canada
Is the breaker a double pole 30amp breaker? Here is a pic of my breaker in my 200 amp panel. My plug to my compressor is a 4 prong (like a dryer outlet).

I would fix those ground wires as others have said and fix those loose connections into those boxes.
 

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JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
46,292
Location
New Jersey
What is the rating of the feeder breaker, and size/length of the conductors to your shop?

I’ll say this: I was refurbishing my new bank of garages, and was using a 1700W generator at the start. When running tools close to the allowable generator rating, I got some power saga that burned out CFL and LED bulbs. No melting, just fried.

So I’d initially suspect that you sagged the power locally enough to burn out those bulbs. Probably because of too much loss in the conductors to your shop, and locally in the shop.
 
Messages
10,963
Location
MA
Electrical engineer here but not an electrician. As others said, that wiring looks horrible. Those wires shouldn't be going through a bare hole, should be some kind of clamp for those wires. And then the bare BX cable just hanging down.

Anyway, the compressor sounds like it's drawing too much of a load and dragging the house voltage down. The service to the house or the panel might be too low.

And yes, those LEDs don't like it when the voltage goes too low, they fried out from the voltage drop, the electrician who installed them did nothing wrong.

You really need a real electrician to take a look at the whole setup. Normally when you design a service for a place you do a load factor calculation based on how many electrical devices you have. When you keep adding more eventually you're over what was the original spec and you need to upgrade.
 

OilMagnate

Thread starter
Messages
394
Location
Oklahoma
Lots of interesting replies. I'll try to respond to each.
It could be wired properly but have a problem with a winding in the motor, or something wrong with that starter. Could also be improperly grounded.
Noted points to address with the electrician. Based on later responses, it's clearly improperly grounded at the very least. Thanks.

Hard to say without physically looking at it but some general observations without looking up old stuff

That plate says its a 5 HP Dayton ( that old, most likely a CH pump). That 3-5 means it could have either motor/pulley depending on the selling size (its common on WWG and cheap stuff to take a single pump with a different motor/pulley and sling it at high RPM to claim a higher HP)

If its a 5 HP set up and motor- the starter is undersized ( looks like what you have is for a 3)

The wiring definitely needs to go up a size and get rid of that dryer cord jumper.

Here's the important part but can only guess since I cant put a meter on it or walk it down.

"Theoretically' the circuit you have will work but it "appears" the circuit itself is a branch from another circuit.

You really need compressor loads ( motor/starter loads) on a dedicated circuit from the line side with no daisy chaining.

Personally I think that's whats happening but that needs to be thr first thing your electrician checks.
Undersized starter, lower gauge wire, nix the dryer cord. Got it. Regarding the last bit, I'm not understanding what is meant by "branch from another circuit" and "daisy chaining." I reviewed the setup in more detail today. The compressor does have it's own 30A 2-pole breaker inside the shop's main lug box. That box (unknown amperage capacity) is fed by the main box out on the pole which I think ironically is another 125A lug (no true main breaker, instead there are multiple individual "mains" in the box). Within the "main" box is a 100A 2-pole that serves the entire house, a 60A 2-pole that serves the entire shop, and a 30A 2-pole that appears to do absolutely nothing. When shut off it doesn't kill anything anywhere, including the well pump. The house has a 100A lug that is in desperate need of replacement, but will have to wait until the shop is finished. Back to the shop breakers, the 60A "main" in the pole box seems horribly undersized, and I feel needs to be upgraded. Perhaps you could answer this question: If I'm installing a new true main 100A box in the shop, would that allow me to bypass the breakers within the box on the pole entirely? Or would I still need one of those breakers which would then create a redundant main? Sorry if that's an ignorant question, I'm not an electrician. I'm hoping the answer is that I can bypass that pole box. It seems to be over it's capacity already, and that would reduce the load.

Yeah OP, you need to get a QUALIFIED electrician to rewire this and i recommend locking it out until you do.
As stated in my OP, I am in the process of getting an electrician to fix it properly. Just getting points of interest to lead them to the problem(s). Also, if you look at the picture that shows the whole compressor, you can see I already "locked out" the outlet with painter's tape (the most eye-catching thing I had). I also taped over the breaker in the off position.

I am curious at what your main breaker panel electrical service is for the home. I find this interesting enough to look into it more and here is why.
Its actually quite common in offices/homes with Laser Jet printers. The thing is, for the printer issue, its normally limited to whatever is on the same circuit as the printer, in your case, your compressor is a separate line BUT, that 5HP motor is a hell of a lot more draw then a laser printer.
IN our home office of our new home, our laser printer makes an LED desk lamp flicker when it prints. From what I read this is due to the large power draw when printing.

Anyway, Im sure that is your issue, and other then try some different LEDs Im not so sure there is anything you can do.
I am almost sure if you replaced the LEDs with dimmable LEDs that would solve your problem. I would love to see you try a "DIMMABLE" LED light bulb in any lamp plugged into the shop. I would almost bet with 90+ percent certain that it will not flicker. Nor would a plain old light build or florescence bulb/ fixture.
The breaker box inside the home is a 100A main lug. I've reduced the load on it as much as possible over the last several years, including LEDs throughout the home (most are A19). I don't feel it is overloaded, but it needs replaced considering it is original to the house.

Regarding the fried LED, I seem to have disproven the theory, as it IS a dimmable light (it's been on a dimmer for 6 years). Picture of the label and switch below:
20201210_222228.jpg

20201210_222604.jpg 20201210_222616.jpg 20201210_222624.jpg

Is the breaker a double pole 30amp breaker?
Yes. Not shared with anything else.

I wonder if you have a loose neutral connection between your load center and the power company transformer.
Another noted question for the electrician. Thanks.

What is the rating of the feeder breaker, and size/length of the conductors to your shop?

I’ll say this: I was refurbishing my new bank of garages, and was using a 1700W generator at the start. When running tools close to the allowable generator rating, I got some power saga that burned out CFL and LED bulbs. No melting, just fried.

So I’d initially suspect that you sagged the power locally enough to burn out those bulbs. Probably because of too much loss in the conductors to your shop, and locally in the shop.
Rating of the feeder breaker? As in the main? See my reply to ABN_CBT_ENGR above, as it's complicated. Size and length of the conductors? I assume this means the gauge and length of cable? Gauge, I have no idea. Length of cable, well, the length between the pole and the shop panel is no more than 50 feet. They're pretty close. The run from the pole to the house is at least 2-3x that, buried. Hopefully that's what you were looking for. If not, ask me again and I'll do my best to answer.

As others said, that wiring looks horrible. Those wires shouldn't be going through a bare hole, should be some kind of clamp for those wires. And then the bare BX cable just hanging down.

Anyway, the compressor sounds like it's drawing too much of a load and dragging the house voltage down. The service to the house or the panel might be too low.
I understand the first part. Not sure about the second. The "service" is the power line on the pole. that feeds to the 125A "main" (lug) and then is divided between the house and shop as stated above in the reply to ABN_CBT_ENGR. I did my best to draw a diagram showing a dumbed-down version of how everything is set up. Sorry for the pink pen. I thought it was blue, but Allstate decided to play a joke and write on the pen "Misleading pens, now that's mayhem!" Not funny... Again, the shop breaker box and new breakers have already been purchased, just waiting for the install. The diagram shows the old one. The new one is in the clickable link in my OP.
20201211_002200.jpg


Poor design of those LEDs if they actually did fry out due to undervoltage. Probably not UL listed (they test that an appliance doesn't become a fire hazard due to undervoltage).
I have to assume the undervoltage killed it. Ironically there are four of them in a line together, and there was only one casualty. But they ARE UL listed. Or at least "UL Classified." Apparently this one slipped through while someone was asleep. See picture below.
20201211_003840.jpg
 
Messages
1,965
Location
USA
Regarding the last bit, I'm not understanding what is meant by "branch from another circuit" and "daisy chaining." I reviewed the setup in more detail today.
Here is what people have been saying let me break it down into more bite sized kibble and in more non technical English.

You have a motor with a starter- that's a big inrush load (say 125+% of run load) and of course motor load when running ( an induction device with a moving field with various harmonics depending on condition).

All of this starts at the service entrance ( where line power enters your property at the main with presumably a 200 amp main breaker) and single phase.

First there is line balance and power quality- to minimize this the conductor has to be sized and tightened all the way through- so if the branch circuits have smaller busses, lugs, dirty, different/smaller conductors then you have higher and different resistance values on both which affect the current.

Then there is line loading (branch circuit daisy chaining). Induction/motor loads have their own signatures as does everything else. on a single circuit from the service entrance ( the master breaker) should be 1 line-1 load. ( only one thing on the entire circuit. Most people put lights on a circuit, plugs on another and dedicated motors/inductions on their own)

If that's not the case then when the big loads hit, they distort and affect everything else on the circuit in ways from spikes, voltage drops, current drops, different waves, feedback and what not. Depending on whats there- that can be a big problem or insignificant. Add things like imbalance from corroded lugs and variances of conductors then things start allowing the built in smoke to exit abruptly or over time.

Then there is grounding and bonding ( going to earth throughout the circuit and bonding all parts of the circuit together which also directly affects EMF, safety, different potentials between bodies and harmonics.

From what I see based on the information you have provided- you have some concerns in all of these areas.
 
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