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Thread: contactor question

  1. #1
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    contactor question

    hi electricians.
    my question isn't related to welding but hoping someone can help me out.
    i have a restaurant that runs its exterior lights on a timer. when it was installed during a remodel they only connected the new lights to the timer, the lights that were not replaced are still on a switch. since i cant seem to trust anyone to remember to turn these on every night i would like to tie it into the timer.
    the other lights are on a Square D 6p magnetic contactor, all 6 are being used so i need a new contactor. i have 5 circuits that would need to be turned on so i have 2 questions.
    i was thinking about getting another one of the contactors that they installed, come to find out they're like $900+.
    are there any other options?
    also, i'll be doing a amp draw but if the amperage is fairly low can i put multiple circuits on one pole?
    the coil voltage would be 120v and the time clock is a Intermatic Astronomical, 8000 series i believe.

    thank you

  2. #2
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    Re: contactor question

    If you don't want to spend the money on a big contactor (which would be my recommendation to you to install), you could do several smaller contactors that are 1 or 2 pole with 120 volt coils.

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  3. #3
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    Re: contactor question

    i've also thought about that. i'm just trying to figure out how 1 6p can be that expensive but 2 3p is ~$200.
    what is so special about the 6p Square D that makes it so much more expensive? donnt get me wrong, it seem like a badass bullet proof unit but 4x the cost?

  4. #4
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    Re: contactor question

    Honestly, I do not know why a 6 pole is so expensive. I would price out 6 pole lighting contactors from other suppliers. ABB makes them, so does GE.

    I've seen 23 pole contactors used in place of a 6 pole due to cost.

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  5. #5
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    Re: contactor question

    Quote Originally Posted by superwelder View Post
    hi electricians.
    my question isn't related to welding but hoping someone can help me out.
    i have a restaurant that runs its exterior lights on a timer. when it was installed during a remodel they only connected the new lights to the timer, the lights that were not replaced are still on a switch. since i cant seem to trust anyone to remember to turn these on every night i would like to tie it into the timer.
    the other lights are on a Square D 6p magnetic contactor, all 6 are being used so i need a new contactor. i have 5 circuits that would need to be turned on so i have 2 questions.
    i was thinking about getting another one of the contactors that they installed, come to find out they're like $900+.
    are there any other options?
    also, i'll be doing a amp draw but if the amperage is fairly low can i put multiple circuits on one pole?
    the coil voltage would be 120v and the time clock is a Intermatic Astronomical, 8000 series i believe.

    thank you
    A light switch low cost or electric eye. Both are low cost and simple to install.

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  6. #6
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    Re: contactor question

    I’m guessing you need contactors because you have a
    lot of lights running at 120 volts, and current is high?
    All our pole and wall pack lights at work (which is quite
    a few)are switched directly by two intermatic timers.( but
    they’re running at 277v.)
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  7. #7
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    Re: contactor question

    Like jpump5 said, we really need to know the loads. Contactors are used for heavier loads when ordinary switch contacts would not be able to handle the load, If you have switched to LED lighting, you might be able to use ordinary time switches directly to the lights with no contactors. The old metal halide/mercury vapor/HPS/Incandescent etc needed a contactor because of the high amp draw which would burn up ordinary contacts in a short time. When you say you need to switch five circuits is that actually five separate circuits each with a breaker and a set of lights or just five branches possibly originating from the same one or two circuits?
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  8. #8
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    Re: contactor question

    Hire an electrical contractor and be safe. Bob

  9. #9
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    Re: contactor question

    thanks for all the help guys.
    5 circuits i mean there are 5 breakers. i'll check loads and get back to you but all MH lights have been switched to LED and the highest draw would be for 2 monument signs that are still fluorescent each has about 25-30' of HO T12 lamps.

    Dave, wouldnt a photocel still require a contactor?

    jpump5, im not sure what the amp draw is but yes i'm running all 120v. i'll have to check the spec sheet for the timer to see how much load it can support but i'm guessing they installed the contactor because it would have been too much for the timer. hopefull it was that and not to spend my money lol.

    hobbywelder27, thank you, i'll look into that. so far i've only checked Grainger and Platt.

    thanking about it now after reading your opinions i'll go back and also test the load on the current contactor, if its low enough i may be able to tie off that and just get a 2 pole or so for the fixtures that have a higher draw.

    thanks again for all the help.

  10. #10
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    Re: contactor question

    ok so some more info.
    while testing i found that one circuit has no draw. i'm thinking it was capped off at some point but these guys were just in the habit of turning on all 5 switches. with that one out of the picture it have the following amp draws:
    2A
    5.8A
    7A
    2.8A

    all of these are on dedicated 20A circuits.
    i'm thinking i can get a 3 pole and jumper the 2- 2A loads and eliminate one breaker completely. is that correct? being that they are 20A circuits i should be able to run all 4 loads on 1 circuit right? not that i'm going to, just curious.
    also found out that they all lead to a VERY old time clock that is not working and stuck in the on position. explains why they're using the breakers to turn the power on and off to the lights. this is going to make my life much easier when it comes to wiring, especially since the timer i will be using to trigger the contactor is just above this panel and already has a pass through to pull wires. basically just have to pull the old timer out and pull 2 wires for the coil and make all the connections.
    Last edited by superwelder; 11-29-2019 at 11:59 PM.

  11. #11
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    Re: contactor question

    Quote Originally Posted by superwelder View Post
    ok so some more info.
    while testing i found that one circuit has no draw. i'm thinking it was capped off at some point but these guys were just in the habit of turning on all 5 switches. with that one out of the picture it have the following amp draws:
    2A
    5.8A
    7A
    2.8A

    all of these are on dedicated 20A circuits.
    i'm thinking i can get a 3 pole and jumper the 2- 2A loads and eliminate one breaker completely. is that correct? being that they are 20A circuits i should be able to run all 4 loads on 1 circuit right? not that i'm going to, just curious.
    also found out that they all lead to a VERY old time clock that is not working and stuck in the on position. explains why they're using the breakers to turn the power on and off to the lights. this is going to make my life much easier when it comes to wiring, especially since the timer i will be using to trigger the contactor is just above this panel and already has a pass through to pull wires. basically just have to pull the old timer out and pull 2 wires for the coil and make all the connections.
    If the lights stay on for 3 hours or more that is considered a continuous load and the 20 amp circuit would be limited to 80% or 16 amps.
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  12. #12
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    Re: contactor question

    Quote Originally Posted by superwelder View Post
    ok so some more info.
    while testing i found that one circuit has no draw. i'm thinking it was capped off at some point but these guys were just in the habit of turning on all 5 switches. with that one out of the picture it have the following amp draws:
    2A
    5.8A
    7A
    2.8A

    all of these are on dedicated 20A circuits.
    i'm thinking i can get a 3 pole and jumper the 2- 2A loads and eliminate one breaker completely. is that correct? being that they are 20A circuits i should be able to run all 4 loads on 1 circuit right? not that i'm going to, just curious.
    also found out that they all lead to a VERY old time clock that is not working and stuck in the on position. explains why they're using the breakers to turn the power on and off to the lights. this is going to make my life much easier when it comes to wiring, especially since the timer i will be using to trigger the contactor is just above this panel and already has a pass through to pull wires. basically just have to pull the old timer out and pull 2 wires for the coil and make all the connections.
    You should take the neutrals into consideration. Two loads sharing a neutral cancel each other out when they are on different phases. Just be sure you have ample neutral to carry extra load if you put any of them on the same phases that were previously on separate phases. It may be better to pair ones of similar phases versus using the load that is on them to decide so as to keep neutral load more balanced.

  13. #13
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    Re: contactor question

    thanks for that info Bigb. each one of those its its own 20A circuit so even at 16A thats not much. especially the 2 pulling only 2A.

    Daniel, thank you for that. i didnt even take that into consideration. i have 3 on one phase and 1 on the other so i'll get that figured out

    thanks again guys. have a 4 pole contactor that should be in tuesday.

  14. #14
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    Re: contactor question

    Quote Originally Posted by superwelder View Post
    thanks for that info Bigb. each one of those its its own 20A circuit so even at 16A thats not much. especially the 2 pulling only 2A.

    Daniel, thank you for that. i didnt even take that into consideration. i have 3 on one phase and 1 on the other so i'll get that figured out

    thanks again guys. have a 4 pole contactor that should be in tuesday.
    With the loads all relatively low and constant you should be fine almost no matter how you pair them up but if getting a 4 pole and the fifth one was nothing I guess your good one pole for every active breaker.

  15. #15
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    Re: contactor question

    forgot to update but i got the contactor installed and everything works great.
    on a side note, the SquareD contactor i got was so cheaply made. gets the job done but little things like the terminals for the coil being so flimsy that they could very easily break off and no plate under the screw to hold down the wire, just a screw which seemed a little undersized.

    other than that, all good. thank you all for the help.

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