Got Power? Understanding Volts, Amps and Generators

Contractors take several factors into consideration when choosing equipment for any concrete grinding and polishing jobs, including extraction systems with vacuums, extractors, pre-separators or HEPA air scrubbers. In addition to weight, motor size, overall size, working dimensions and type of abrasives makes a difference. Whether the machine is push, propel or ride-on, belt/chain, gear or direct drive, contractors must consider each power source required for all the various types of equipment.

Equipment Power Sources

Most machines are designed to operate at specific voltages. Power sources must supply 1) constant, 2) consistent and 3) correct voltage / current in order for the equipment to do its job properly. Electrical power sources such as batteries, wall outlets, generators and other power supplies deliver electrical energy — the starting point for any circuit, critical to how a machine runs.

Equipment is Powered By:

  1. cord electric
    1. 110 volt single-phase
    2. 220 volt single-phase or three-phase
    3. 460 volt three-phase
  2. battery electric
  3.  propane
    1. battery start, uses no electricity
  4. hydraulics

Amperage Requirements

Amperage requirements for cord electric equipment, meaning the required strength of an electric current measured in amperes, or “amps” for short, can range from 20 amps to 60 amps. Typically, high motor voltage equals lower amperage requirements and a smaller gauge power cord. Check the voltage required for the equipment to run before plugging the machine into a power source. For instance, a 220 volt electrical panel may only be pushing 208 volts. Either the equipment needs to run on 208 volts, or you need to invest in a transformer — sometimes called a buck booster — to increase the voltage to the required level.

Type of Job Matters

Is the job you’re working on a residential, commercial or a combination of both? You’ll likely encounter different types of power sources at different types of jobs.

Residential

  • Rare to find three-phase power
  • Avoid renting a generator by choosing equipment that runs on 110 volt or 220 volt single-phase power

Commercial

  • Three-phase power usually only 220 volt, not 460 volt three-phase
  • Motors that run off of 220 volt three-phase power have high amperage requirements
  • Use four-gauge four-wire cable with long runs of power cord, which will add to cost

How Generators Work

Generators supply electrical power typically during a power outage but they are also used as a secondary or additional source of power in residential and industrial applications. An electric generator converts mechanical energy from an external source into electrical energy as the output. In other words, generators use an external electrical circuit, which supplies power to the generator, which then supplies a flow of electric charges to power whatever the generator is powering — otherwise known as electromagnetic induction.

Whether portable or stationary, all generators have customized housings for structural support and safety. The main components of an electric generator include:

  • Engine: runs on diesel, gasoline, propane or natural gas
  • Alternator: produces electrical output
  • Fuel System: keeps the generator operational for 6 to 8 hours
  • Voltage Regulator: converts AC (alternating current) voltage to DC (direct current)
  • Cooling & Exhaust Systems: water or hydrogen coolant and cast iron, wrought iron or steel exhaust pipes
  • Lubrication System: oil in a pump
  • Battery Charger: for battery start
  • Control Panel

It’s important for contractors to consider the power source for a generator in the same way as for other equipment used on the job.

If you are in the market for a generator, or professional grade vacuums, extractors, pre-separators or HEPA air scrubbers, Runyon Surface Prep has a full line of Ermator professional grade products — the perfect solution for cleaning and maintaining any jobsite or work environment.

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