I just finished wiring a garage for a Customer that recently moved from the UK. He mentioned that he brought with him many new power tools and that he wanted to know if they could be operated on US power system. I checked with Bosch Tools, they assured me that all of their tools are rated 50/60hz. The European voltage as I understand it is 240VAC and more specifically 240VAC between the "hot" current carrying conductor and the "neutral" grounded conductor. My question...since both systems (US and UK) have a 240VAC potential between conductors will the power tools operate? If not - please set me straight. Thanks, Mike
First off, British jobsites often have 12ov systems ... with both legs 'hot'. These tools ought to work reasonable well on our usual circuits.
There ought to be service shops that will rewind the motors, if necessary. Such shops certainly exist "over there." The rpm difference can be a major factor in the performance of some tools.
Generally, I would suggest just replacing the tools with appropriate US models. This can't always be done; Bisch, in particular, has a number of tools for which no similar type is available in the USA.
While the British job site tools are 110V gronded centertap (ie 55V to ground), residential tools are all typically 240V. Tools with induction motors will run at a faster speed, which may or may not be a problem. They usually work fine and will cool a little better, due to the highter internal fan speed. Brush universal motors; they are not usually too picky about frequency, many will even run on DC. There could be a problem with the variable speed controls though. Additionally, many of the european tools are designed to treat both leads as hot. Remember Schuko plugs(continental Europe) are not polarized. (I know that BS1363 plugs are, but because most EU tools are marketed to the entire EU usually the manufacturers will simply market the exact same tool with different plugs.) Therefore they are usually made for nonpolarized applications. So while US 240V is hot to hot vs Hot to neutral it still should not make much difference.
Last edited by IanR; 11/06/0801:06 PM. Reason: bad shpellin
I have several resistive appliances in my kitchen that were purchased overseas with the intent of using them here. For one my kettle is 3600 Watts and boils water lickety-split, another (the toaster) brought over due to the desire for higher wattage appliances not avail. here. I have a specific 240v outlet wired in the kitchen, looks like this:
I suppose you could do this with an European power strip: http://www.geocities.com/wa2ise/radios/eupwr.jpg So he dosn't have to change all the plugs on the tools. The plugs this strip accepts looks to not prevent neutral and hot from being plugged in backwards. So both current carrying wires being hot with 120V should not be an issue, as mentioned in a post above.
When living in the USA, all of my South African/British power tools worked just fine on US 240V circuits - in fact the grinder ran much smoother. I used to fit double pole switches to pillar drill outlets etc. so I could isolate them before changing belts/bits etc. rather than constant unplugging.
In fact, connecting a European power tool to US 240V would be hardly different from connecting it to a 133/230V system still used in some countries (supposedly Belgium, certainly parts of Germany in the Berlin area) where single phase appliances are connected across 2 phases of a 3 phase wye system (supposedly Germany even had corner grounded 220V delta systems in some areas). So indeed, the voltage wouldn't matter at all, these tools have to be useable on 230V phase to ground as well as 230V phase to phase. In fact even electric ranges come with a variety of possible jumper settings allowing them to be used on 230V single phase, 3 phases of a 133/230V system (always tempted to write 127/220V as per the pre-harmonization standard) and 230/400V 3 phases + Neutral (all elements connected phase to neutral), sometimes even 230V single phase 2 hots 2 neutrals (effectively feeding the range with two individual single phase circuits).