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This article describes the difference between wiring an electrical motor, such as a well pump, to operate at 120 volts compared with 240 Volts and answers the common question of whether or not wiring an electrical device to operate at higher 240 Voltage level will save on the electrical bill by using less energy. The short answer is no, and details are provided below. Sketch courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates. Photographs and sketches illustrate voltage, electrical resistance, and other electrical wiring concepts.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Electrical Energy Usage Measured in Watts
The watts consumed (and therefore the size of your electric bill) for running a water pump or other electric motors will be almost exactly the same regardless of whether you are running the pump wired at 120 Volts or 240Volts.
Using an imperfect "water pressure" analogy, sending water through a pipe to move a water wheel, if we double the pressure (volts) at which we are supplying water energy to push the wheel, the number of gallons per minute (amps) we need to do the same work is cut in half.
10.8 Amps = ?Watts / 120 or doing the algebra, 120 x 10.8 = 1296 Watts when our pump motor is running at full load and wired on a 120 Volt electrical circuit.
05.4 Amps = ? Watts / 240 or doing the algebra: 240 x 5.4 = 1296 Watts when our pump motor is running at full load wired on a (nominal) 240 Volt electrical circuit.
The electric meter at a building measures electricity usage in kilowatt hours (KWH). If you run a 1000W electric heater for one hour, you've just used 1 KWH of electricity. So the pump is costing essentially exactly the same to run at either voltage level.
So what advantages do we get from running an electric motor at 240V rather than 120V?
Don't Rush to Re-Wire your Well Pump from 120V to Change it to 240V
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) comparing 120-volt to 240-volt electrical circuits
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