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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am moving into a new place and will be putting my 4 fish tanks in a room that was previously wired for 220V heating. There are 3 junction boxes with capped wires. My question is there a way I can utilize these for my tanks equipment? 2 are fully planted (125 & 75), other is 100 gallon cichlid tank and 40 gallon Q tank. I am running (2) fluval fx6, Eheim 2217 and HOT Magnum filters some LED and (8) 54W-T5 lighting. I am thinking about adding a UPS capable to run filters for 12 hours or so.
 

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I'm guessing that you want to turn the wiring in the boxes into a 110v line . It can be done , but it involves opening up the panel box . Unless you know what you're doing , get an electrician to do the job . There's a couple of places inside the panel box that are live ( even when the main breaker is off )all the time .
It's not worth it to fry yourself in order to save some bucks.
 

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No its cool, I am looking for any input I can get, never know could trigger new line of thinking. Like power consumption wise, 220v lighting is better then 120v, was thinking along same line, all my equipment running as 1 load instead of multiple loads running. I could be wrong.

I found a APC SYTF2 Symmetra 12 Outlet 4500VA 5000VA 30A 220V step down transformer. Would there be any benefit of running equipment on this? I was looking at UPS systems and they are pricey. The step down would cost me $150 and all I would have to do is install a 220v outlet in one of the junction boxes.
 

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Whoa....
Why are you looking at a step-down transformer? Also, that is technically a 208 V transformer, though it shouldn't matter.

There are 2 different 200ish Volt systems used. 208V and 220V. The difference is important.
-208V systems are 3 wire systems known as 208Y(not including neutral). The line-to-line voltage is 208V. Each phase is 120 degrees out of phase. The line-to-neutral voltage is 120V. This is common in industrial settings.
-220V systems are 2 wire systems(not including neutral). The line-to-line voltage is 240V. Each phase is 180 degrees out of phase. The line-to-neutral voltage is 120V.

It is important to note that you have 120V in either system. If this is a house, you probably have a 220V. This is how all houses are wired in the US. You receive 220 into your home breaker box. Each switch is either line A or line B. It alternates as you go down. The breakers that use two switches are 240V.

No transformer is necessary. The transformers you see are typically created for foreign power where the 220V is coming across a single wire.

Most large UPS are designed for either 220 or 208. It doesn't really matter, the electronics inside can be switched for either. If you are getting enough VA(volt-amps) to run all of your stuff for 12 hours you will probably benefit from using a 220V rated UPS. When a UPS is rated for 400 VA that means that it can run 400 VA for 15 minutes(however with added batteries you can increase this time). UPS are designed for constant load. You need to figure this out before doing anything else. Do not confuse VA with watts. Watts are true power, VA is apparent power. They are slightly different and way to confusing to explain in this post.

The long and short of it is that you can always use 240/208 power to run your 120V equipment. You don't even need to have a transformer. Either system is actually designed to provide 120V power. A 208/240 rated UPS will probably be easier to procure.

As far as lighting, that gets a bit more confusing because most lighting actually runs at higher voltage. The higher your input voltage, the smaller the transformer. This is only true for fluorescent lighting. LED lighting doesn't matter.
 

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Not to get the cart before the horse but I might question the potential value of doing this setup. To save rewiring to get 110 to the room, I might see it. But to get a power supply for 12 hours makes me doubt the value. If you are dealing with short power outage like 12 hours, you may not need anything. If you are dealing with storm outages like Sandy, 12 hours won't do much good will it?
For long term value, I might suggest something more versatile like a small quiet generator that might serve to keep the house warm or frig running as well as an occasional bump on the tanks.
 

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No its cool, I am looking for any input I can get, never know could trigger new line of thinking. Like power consumption wise, 220v lighting is better then 120v, was thinking along same line, all my equipment running as 1 load instead of multiple loads running. I could be wrong.
In most cases you aren't saving any money on 220 vs 120. Resistance loads are still that. If it draws 10 amps on 120 it will draw 5 amps on 220. Either way wattage is the same. 220 is good however for high amperage devices. You are splitting the load across 2 hots now instead of just one. Wire size can be nominal and not super heavy since it's carrying half the amperage.

It's a lot easier to find 110 volt stuff for tanks than 220.
 

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Just did some double-checking, since lighting isn't my specialty. Higher voltage ballasts are no more efficient

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Another note on a UPS. A UPS of the size you want will probably cost more than a generator with an automatic transfer switch. I can think of no reason to install such a UPS in an aquarium.

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As said above, to rewire the circuit an electrician should be able to do that very quickly. One of the hot legs has to be moved to the neutral bar. Then a new 110 receptical installed. Power is power, (volts x amps or VA). Your power bill will be the same assuming your load remains the same wether your supply is 110 or 220.
 

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Do you have 2 or 3 wires in those terminal boxes? If you have 3 then the 220 is split into two 110's. You can test which wire is which with a voltage meter. If that is the case then it is simple to wire in a couple of 110 receptacles.
If you only have 2 wires then either fix the problem at the panel or use a step down transformer. At the panel you would have to replace the circut breaker with probably a 15 amp one, connecting it to the 110 v terminals. If you have no experience working with a panel then best left to an electrician but it is a simple easy job. Step down transformers can be used but by the time you invest in them and the 220 receptacles it is likely more expense than fixing it at the panel.
 

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Do you have 2 or 3 wires in those terminal boxes? If you have 3 then the 220 is split into two 110's. You can test which wire is which with a voltage meter. If that is the case then it is simple to wire in a couple of 110 receptacles.


Maybe a small point that you missed mentioning?
The 220 will also likely have a really big breaker (60Amp? ) and for my use I would want to change it out as well if I were using it with 110 equipment at the end. Before somebody does this, the thinking is that the end equipment is probably designed to handle 15-20 amps of current. If the breaker is not changed, the equipment might totally melt down before tripping the 50-60 amp breaker.
 

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I am a electrician 220/240 is 2 hot wires 110 times 2 with a 3rd wire for ground , I would never advise someone how to change a panel as death could result, a electrician could come to your house for a minimal charge to change this over , the cost of 220/240 ups or equipment would be much greater than equipment for regular 110 circuit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks everyone for your valued input. I do have a generator I bought after Sandy so I would be prepared. I don't have an ATS just plugs into dryer plug and back feeds panel. I turn main breaker off so if power comes back won't overload. I was hoping to save some money on elec bill. I am thinking only way to do that is solar panels. Little hard living in the woods tho, lol. I will have 7 total tanks running in house, but 4 in the tank room for now.
 

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I am a electrician 220/240 is 2 hot wires 110 times 2 with a 3rd wire for ground , I would never advise someone how to change a panel as death could result, a electrician could come to your house for a minimal charge to change this over , the cost of 220/240 ups or equipment would be much greater than equipment for regular 110 circuit.
Not really. If you are looking at +5kva UPS there is not a cost difference. Most UPS battery systems run at a high enough voltage that rectifying 240 is actually cheaper than buck/boost on a DC link. I don't think he needs a UPS of the size her originally spec'ed, but if he were buying that size he would probably want a poly-phase single unit rather than multiple 110 units.

Thanks everyone for your valued input. I do have a generator I bought after Sandy so I would be prepared. I don't have an ATS just plugs into dryer plug and back feeds panel. I turn main breaker off so if power comes back won't overload. I was hoping to save some money on elec bill. I am thinking only way to do that is solar panels. Little hard living in the woods tho, lol. I will have 7 total tanks running in house, but 4 in the tank room for now.

As far as not having an ATS, this is illegal. However most states will allow a sliding lock which is pretty cheap and simple, but guarantees that you cannot backfeed commercial. These are known as "generator interlocks" and they are amazingly simple to use and install. My recommendation would be that you purchase one of these AT A MINIMUM.

I would definitely abandon the search for a large UPS. The generator will be fine. If your concern is that you don't want the pumps down when you are away, it is still cheaper to go drop $300 on an ATS.

I think everyone gave you decent advice on the 220. If the 220 plug is changed out, then the breaker probably needs to be changed out too. Quick note regarding amperage. Dryer plugs are typically 30A. Range cords can go up to 50A. You can get even higher types of plugs. You can install a single dual-receptacle plug that has two feeds(one to each plug). Do know that the max rating on 110 plugs is typically 20A(normal is a 15A).


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Quote:
As far as not having an ATS, this is illegal.

I think this may be a bit of overstating the case. I have never found it illegal, only a code vioation. There is a massive difference. The first there is a penalty if caught doing it. The second is a vioation that may/ may not need to be corrected if there is an inspection like when you sell the house. Many places you are not required to bring the house up to code to sell it. But that is a local code or regulation. Quite possibly written into the NEC. But the NEC is not a law. In many places it is totally ignored by local authorities.
I also advise following the NEC when possible but that does not make it illegal to not follow it.
 

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After reading this blog and being concerned about power outages my self ,running 5 tanks to much of a investment to loose , I wanted to buy a generator but did not have the budget for it so I settled for a inverter for the car , can let the car sit in the driveway and run to power the inverter if I need to.
 
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