There are items to take into consideration when one is considering purchasing a central vacuum system. One of the deliberations is whether to purchase a system requiring 120 volt power or a system requiring 220 Vac. The actuality is we need to narrow the arena even further. For example there is a 220 Vac system and 240 Vac system . So it is meaningful to know what you are requiring of your local central vacuum contractor.
Motor Differences Between 110 and 220 Variations
The motors are not the same in the 220 and 110 variations of central vacuum systems. The power units are wound differently, the transformer is different, the mini-breakers are different, and the cord and wiring are different. As you can see it is important to specify with your contractor precisely which motor you want.
Differences Between 110/120 And 220/240 Vac
Now and then 120 volts is referred to as 110 volts or 115 volts. Also, 240 volts is referred to as 220 volts or 230 volts. Central vacuum manufacturers assemble motors in all those ranges. The superior choices are the 120 and 240 volt power units, not the 110 or 220 volt units.
The 120 and 240 motors will not be negatively affected if utilized with lower voltages. The 120 volt motor will be fine on 110 volts. And a 240 volt motor will be alright on 220 or 230 volts. The other way around will adversely affect the motors. A 220 volt motor would be "damaged" if utilized for extended amounts of time on a 240 volt circuit. And the same can be said for a 110 volt operating on 120 volts. The bulky voltage operate very well in any variation of 50-60Hz.
Which is Best?
The reply to that question depends on the manufacturer. As an example, MD Manufacturing reveals these facts about their production units. For the most part, their power units have very similar performance numbers between the voltages. Their 120 volt Silent Master S5, for instance has 139 water lift and 191 CFM with a high of 905 Air Watts. The 240 volt version has 136.4 water lift and 190 CFM with a high of 866 Air Watts. These stats are extremely close.
The cost to operate a 240 volt vacuum unit can conceivably be less than its 120 volt counterpart because legs of the electrical power are being used concurrently. However, the 120 volt version may not be wasting much power if the opposite circuit is being used by lights or other appliances simultaneously. In the worst case scenario, the 120 volt version may cost 12 cents per hour extra to operate. Yes, there is a divergence here, but one must add-up several other considerations.
Cost Of The Electrician
As you presumedly know electricians demand a set fee for each 110-120 dulex they install. Normally it is dictated by a flat fee of around to per outlet depending on the area in which one lives. Wiring in a 220-240 duplex requires tying both 110Vac electrical legs together and special NEPA® plugs. Apparently wiring your central vacuum system for 220-240 Vac will incur added expense. Far more 120 volt power units are sold considering they simply plug into any 20 amp electrical outlets and have lots of vacuuming power.
Power Unit Life Expectancy
They feel that the 120 volt versions of the vacuum power unit will last longer. They have a higher amount of copper and thus the heat has a greater ability to disperse. In addition, 120 volt motors are also much easier to find replacements for as they are popular motors in the industry. The 240 volt version motors are not used very often and vacuum shops aross America do not ordinarily stock them. They would almost always stock 120 volt power units.
Plugged Into The Incorrect Outlet?
What takes place when a 240 volt power unit is mistakenly plugged into 110 and 110 into 240? If you plug a 120 volt power unit into a 240 volt circuit and immediately turn the unit on it will run with a humongous amount of suction. The unit will be running very fast! If it is running very long the motor may disintegrate. The transformer will likely burn out before that occurs. When the transformer burns out the power unit will shut down. If one simply replaces the transformer the system will be restored back to normal operation.
If you departed the house without testing the vacuum and later found that the new vacuum did not work, then it is probable the electrical contractor powered it up with 240 volts. Just staying in the off position the power unit will burn out the transformer in 3-5 minutes or less.
Plugging a 240 Volt Power Unit Into 120 Circuit
If you plug a 240 volt power unit into a 120 volt outlet, it will not run properly. The great news is that neither the transformer nor the power unit will be demolished. It will only be running at half speed.
Plan of Action
I would like to offer my many years of experience as a Security / Low-Voltage Contractor and hand you a very acceptable plan of action. If you install the system yourself you will save lots of money. To install your own central vacuum you will first need to know exactly what components are required. What are the top two or three models to consider? Where is the best place to procure your pipe? What type of cabling needs to be pulled in the walls of your home? You are going to need a manual to lead you through the process.
Installing Multiple Systems
It's been my experience that when home owners are considering one system for their new or remodeled home, they are likely contemplating other systems as well.. It would be in your best interest to have installation manuals on each system you would like to include in your house. Read them all then buy your components, special tools, and cable so that they are all on the job site ahead of your proposed start date.