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Thread: Coils in contactors

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by gar View Post
    180917-2141 EDT

    On the subject of switching the coil in a contactor and using rectified AC to power the coil;

    My experiment on an AB #2 starter. 709 #2, 709COD 120 V coil.


    On AC this solidly pulls in at 70.9 V 0.11 A steady state after pull in.

    At 120.7 V current is 0.24 A. DC resistance is 40.5 ohms. Approx power dissipation at 120 is 2.3 W.

    Dropout between 65 and 70 V and very noisy.


    Powering the same coil with a bridge rectifier.

    Pull in at 48.3 V and 1.08 A. Calculated R = 44.7 for a check. Power dissipation 48.3*1.08 = 52 W. With greater voltage, which is necessary for a good operating point, this won't go down.

    Dropout is about 6.5 V. and power dissipation at this point about 6.5^2/40.5 = 1.04 W.


    With AC you get high current when the armature is open. This provides the force to close the armature, and after closure the impedance goes way up and current drops a great deal. Once the armature is closed it requires much less current to keep it closed.

    My above results seem almost unbelievable. But I don't think I made a mistake. Smaller AC relays with a much smaller initial air gap I don't believe show as much disparity between AC and DC. I haven't checked one recently. My recollection was that I could run a 120 V P&B AC relay on 24 V DC.

    Possibly someone else will run some experiments.

    .
    Tks GAR for taking the time to do the leg work and explain the difference between the 2 systems.
    Based on your results, looks like those Westinghouse engineers back then knew what they were talking about!
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  2. #22
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    One way to handle the high pull-in power requirement on DC is to use a large series resistor (calculated to deliver the hold-in current only) to charge a capacitor and then connect the capacitor to the relay coil to energize it. Of course it may take a pretty large capacitor, probably determined experimentally rather than calculated with the minimal data you have on the relay armature movement.

    Not good for all applications, as the cap needs to be given time to recharge before the next activation.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by GotShocked View Post
    Very good discussion going on with this post, I would also suggest that you check your neutral conductor and connections. When I worked at the utility, we would see massive voltage swings depending upon the loading on each 120V leg. With a poor neutral connection, the voltage on each 120V leg will fluctuate between 0 - 240V. Essentially the circuit becomes a voltage divider.
    voltage swing of 5-10% is understandable and maybe a result of simple voltage drop, overloading conductors, poor balancing etc. but is very extreme condition and more likely to be a failed neutral conductor if you are dropping to near zero and/or seeing near 240 volts.
    I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jraef View Post
    As a general rule however, good quality coils are designed with a “hysteresis” of flux that will either pull in OR drop out a coil, it is very very difficult for it to flutter in a zone in which it does both.
    Apologies for truncating your post.
    The pulled in VA is far less than VA before the contactor pulls in. If there is insufficient voltage to pull the contactor into the closed condition it will sit at a current much above the design steady state rating and will burn out. That's what I imagine happened here.
    Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldDigger View Post
    One way to handle the high pull-in power requirement on DC is to use a large series resistor (calculated to deliver the hold-in current only) to charge a capacitor and then connect the capacitor to the relay coil to energize it. Of course it may take a pretty large capacitor, probably determined experimentally rather than calculated with the minimal data you have on the relay armature movement.

    Not good for all applications, as the cap needs to be given time to recharge before the next activation.
    A long time since we used DC contactors. Last time was on variable speed drives on a Russian submarine bought by the Indian navy. A convoluted tale I won't go into here. The power supply was a battery bank.
    The resistors for the contactors were called economy resistors.
    Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.

  6. #26
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    180917-1217 EDT

    I suggest that some of you run some actual experiments to actually see what happens. You will need a Variac, some different AC and DC relays, a bridge rectifier, and a smoothed adjustable DC supply. Then you will be able to speak from experience.

    You can use the bridge rectifier, and a large filter capacitor, with Variac as a smooth variable DC supply.

    .

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by gar View Post
    180917-1217 EDT

    I suggest that some of you run some actual experiments to actually see what happens. You will need a Variac, some different AC and DC relays, a bridge rectifier, and a smoothed adjustable DC supply. Then you will be able to speak from experience.

    You can use the bridge rectifier, and a large filter capacitor, with Variac as a smooth variable DC supply.

    .
    With much respect Mr gar, I am speaking from decades of experience.
    Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.

  8. #28
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    Melted Coils after Power Interruption.

    We often see this with fire pump controllers, which are normally fed directly by the local utility.

    The problem is when the power comes back, but at a reduced voltage.

    Recall that the pull-in (inrush) current for a contactor coil is 10x or more times the hold in current.

    If the power comes back at 50%, for example, the coil current will be 5x the hold-in current. However, and this is a big however, the contactor will not normally be able to complete its travel to close the magnetic path. Hence, the coil will not, repeat, not drop down to the hold-in value.

    At 500% of rated hold-in current, the power disapation in the coil will be 25 times the normal hold-in power disapation. Hence he coil will melt in very few minutes.

    Moreover, most modern coil forms (bobbins) are made of thermoplastic material. Hence these will melt into the partially open gap in the iron core. This prevents full actuation of the contactor (solenoid) and will result in pull-in current continuously, even when full voltage is applied to the coil. The result is a burned up coil if it wasn't already destroyed under the partial voltage condition.

    Hope this helps some.

  9. #29
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    In my area most larger buildings will have a POCO provided 13,800 X 480 wye three phase transformer for their service. All 120 volt loads are powered from the building’s 480 X 120/208 transformers.

    When the POCO single phases the building two out of your three 120 legs are going to drop down to around 70 volts. This is a troublesome voltage for solenoids.

    High voltage transients and too rapid of cycling are other causes for early and/or repeated solenid failures. A TVS can help with the first if it is suspected.

    A phase monitor is a good idea. Just found most building owners reluctant to kill all power when being single phased. But they really should!

  10. #30
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    ICM 491 / 492

    Quote Originally Posted by Russs57 View Post
    In my area most larger buildings will have a POCO provided 13,800 X 480 wye three phase transformer for their service. All 120 volt loads are powered from the building’s 480 X 120/208 transformers.

    When the POCO single phases the building two out of your three 120 legs are going to drop down to around 70 volts. This is a troublesome voltage for solenoids.

    High voltage transients and too rapid of cycling are other causes for early and/or repeated solenid failures. A TVS can help with the first if it is suspected.

    A phase monitor is a good idea. Just found most building owners reluctant to kill all power when being single phased. But they really should!

    http://www.icmcontrols.com/LINE-VOLT...-Prodlist.html
    I have 2 of the 491 models in service currently. They have stopped the fomer problems " COLD " involving low voltage resulting from line voltage power problems.They are CHEAP.
    Microwave Radiation Dangers should be openly discussed

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