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I've recently received a compressor that has a NEMA 6-50P plug on it. I would like to plug it into my current dryer receptacle which is a NEMA 10-30R.

Voltage and amperage-wise, I think everything should be fine. The compressor seems to have a FLA of 15 amps - so the downgrade to 30amps should still leave more than enough.

It looks like the current plug was added or changed at some point, so I don't know if it was originally 6-50.

My concern is more around the grounding of everything. I went out and bought a replacement plug for the compressor that is a 10-30 but I don't feel comfortable enough testing this without someone (who knows more about this than me) sanity checking my setup.

The compressor itself does make mention of "when grounded supply is available..." with a diagram, so it seems it should be able to operate in either condition...? (see the last pic below)

Btw, I rent the house, so I would like to avoid changing the receptacle if at all possible.

My question(s) is/are:

  • Should I be able to simply change out the 6-50 plug with a 10-30 plug in this case, since the FLA is only 15AMP?
  • Are there any special concerns I need to worry about around the grounding of it?
  • Based on the diagram and note on the compressor, does it appear that I need to change something there for the grounding (I'm a little confused by it).

I've included several pics below which should illustrate exactly how it's currently wired up with the 6-50 plug. I would appreciate it very much if someone could chime in and help me get this switched over to 10-30. Thank you for your assistance!

The new plug:

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The old plug:

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The switch on the compressor (one cord is the power cord, one goes out to the motor):

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Wires going into the motor:

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Compressor information (including diagram related to grounded vs ungrounded supply):

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Update, per @threephaseeel's request, here is the receptacle:

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Update #2

Red, Black, and White wires for receptacle in question:

enter image description here (full res) enter image description here (full res) enter image description here (full res) enter image description here (full res)

This is a panoramic pic showing water pipes near the receptacle.

enter image description here

  • Is the 10-30R on a homerun to the main panel, or is it fed from a subpanel? What wiring method was used for the run feeding it? – ThreePhaseEel May 28 '18 at 11:06
  • @ThreePhaseEel I'm not exactly sure what all that means, but I do know (or at least I'm pretty sure) there's no sub-panel - just the main panel in my backyard with the breakers in it. What should I look for, or what can I test to give you a better answer? I have a multimeter if that helps :) I can take pics, too. – Adam Plocher May 28 '18 at 13:05
  • Can you turn the power off to the circuit, then open up the receptacle box and post a clear photo? – ThreePhaseEel May 28 '18 at 13:16
  • @ThreePhaseEel thank you for your comments. I've added a photo of the receptacle with the cover off. Please let me know if you need me to check anything else. – Adam Plocher May 28 '18 at 13:49
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    Do you have an electric dryer? Consider A) dryer socket location, and B) the nearest of the following: your service panel, anywhere along the bare wire running from the service panel to a water pipe or ground rod, any steel conduit that's continuous back to the service panel, or any 30A+ appliance that is grounded such as a water heater. How difficult would it be to run a single wire between A and B? – Harper May 28 '18 at 14:30
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First, a few things about this situation.

  • NEMA 30A and 50A receptacles are not built for frequent use. If you are swapping plugs in and out regularly, the receptacle or plugs are bound to fail.
  • Dryers and ranges hooked up via NEMA 10 have a very dangerous failure mode. If there's any problem with the neutral wire between the appliance and the panel, the chassis becomes energized at 120V. This is legal because these large appliances are rarely moved and rarely plugged/unplugged. As such these connections are not legal for new installations.
  • Despite much searching, we here have found nothing in Code which prohibits putting two receptacles on the same 30A circuit.
  • Retrofitting grounds is only legal at existing receptacle sites. You cannot install a receptacle in a new location and retrofit ground to it.
  • Because you are renting, you need actual permission from the landlord. Failure to obtain it is grounds for eviction.
  • Electrical work on a rental property usually must be done by a licensed electrician. That does not apply to power cords on appliances.
  • "Belt and suspenders" doesn't work with neutrals and grounds. You must not have 2 places neutral ties to ground.
  • Hokey-dokey patchwork is absolutely out of the question. It will create serious liability for both you and the landlord. Further, the rules of this forum require code-compliant solutions. Don't violate Code - seriously.

So here's what that adds up to.

I know you don't want to change the receptacle, but NEMA 10 is so dangerous, especially with frequent plug changes, that it's really time. So I'm going to ask you to make the big leap.

From discussion, it sounds like retrofitting a ground wire will be logistically easy to do, with nothing in the way. This can be a simple bare #10 wire, installed using normal wiring methods. The new NEMA 14-30 receptacle will replace the old 10-30 receptacle. The hots and neutral will transfer over to their same terminals, and the ground pin gets the retrofit ground.

The retrofit ground wire then goes to one of these places:

  • The service panel's ground bar
  • To a proper junction point on any grounded circuit whose ground wire is 10 AWG or larger back to the panel
  • To a ground screw in any steel junction box which has all-metal conduit all the way back to the panel (metal conduit is a legal grounding path). Junction boxes have a threaded #10-32 hole for a similar machine screw. You can also use a bolt and nut. Don't use sheetmetal screws or nails.
  • To any part of the grounding electrode system, which is the bare wire(s), stranded or solid, which come out of the service panel and go to ground rods, water pipes, etc. Do not cut these; clamp to them with a "split bolt". Do not clamp to a water pipe.

Then you'll need to get the manual for the dryer and follow its instructions to change the dryer cord to a NEMA 14-30. I was looking for a way to avoid this but I can't find one. A neutral-ground jumper needs to be removed from the dryer; failing to do so creates a fire hazard.

You'll also need to change the compressor socket to a 14-30 also; obviously. In its case you will not hook up the neutral wire.

Now if you really wanted to, you could install a second 14-30 receptacle right next to the dryer (or somewhere else), that would eliminate the frequent plug changes.

Now because you are in a rental unit, the landlord needs to approve it and most likely, because it is a rental unit, local code requires that an electrician needs to do the work. There is absolutely no downside for the landlord; switching to a 14-30 receptacle makes the unit safer.

Electricians only need to hook up wires. They are not required to clear paths for wires, place ground wires, design the circuit or do other preparatory work that is beneath an electrician. I am guessing this will be a quickie job.

  • Thank you, this is a great, well thought-out answer. I see your point here and agree. I may need to put getting the compressor setup off for a few weeks ($), but in the meantime I can get the landlord's retrofit ball rolling. Been trying to fly under the radar with him as much as possible, all rentals in the neighborhood have been getting sold off and we got a good price (I digress). Will get in touch with him tomorrow and see if he's willing to do that. If he adds a second one, he won't be able to retrofit the ground? What is the diff between retrofitted and non-retro ground? – Adam Plocher May 29 '18 at 10:52
  • The second receptacle is something I will push-for pretty heavily - even if it's at my own cost (but that would be ridiculous IMO). The one for the dryer is up by the house-door where our kitchen is. Compressor cord is pretty short. Wife would not be happy if that compressor is constantly going off by the kitchen. If they ran one by the big garage door that would be sah-weeet. Thanks again Harper, it seemed like our discussions earlier were heading in this direction, but you seem to know your stuff and I won't lie... I don't! I don't plug anything in if I'm not 100% confident in it lol – Adam Plocher May 29 '18 at 10:56
  • Harper thanks again for your answer. I hate to beat a dead horse, but I've spoken to the landlord and it doesn't seem like he's willing to do anything about the situation - even when I offered to pay he wasn't interested. What is your opinion about a device like this? bsaelectronics.com/collections/dryer-buddys/products/… Obviously it wouldn't be grounded. I would only use one device at a time. shrug :-/ – Adam Plocher Jun 19 '18 at 4:29
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There is one part of your question that really stands out to me.

I don't feel comfortable enough testing this without someone (who knows more about this than me) sanity checking my setup.

So what can be said that wouldn't just be throwing gas on an already burning fire?

First you haven't mentioned the most important part of any feeder question which is what is the breaker size of the dryer circuit? We can assume that most standard dryer circuits in the US are 30A, so I am going with that.

Your circuit is a 30A 120/240V circuit which was installed before the NEC made changes to the code to install a separate ground wire for these circuits. Instead they used the neutral as a ground.

Second, if your circuit is 30A you cannot install a receptacle unless it is rated 30A or greater because it becomes part of the installed circuit. So you would have to install a cord cap to match the proper receptacle.

Third, I am surprised that the compressor motor name plates does not have a HP rating instead it only states the FLA as 15A which doesn't match to any HP ratings. This means its a substandard motor no one bothered to rate.

Forth, even though the 30A breaker protects the circuit, it may not protect your compressor due to the fact it may fault and catch fire prior to the breaker tripping, and this is called a fire hazard.

Fifth, this is a rental property and you have a certain liability to the owner. So if you are planning to modify his wiring to suit your purpose, I would certainly get his permission before attempting anything. Also remember his circuitry is subpar from a newer standard.

In conclusion if you really feel uncomfortable doing this I would get the owner of the property and a professional electrician together and discuss how you are going to move forward on this project.

Hope this helps.

  • Actually, the compressor motor nameplate rates it as 4 HP -- the reason it's a 4 HP/15FLA motor is because it's compressor duty. Also, it's a thermally protected motor, so if it does overload, it will simply trip out on its internal thermal protector -- this means that plugging it into a 30A circuit is fine. – ThreePhaseEel May 28 '18 at 15:01
  • To each of your points: 1) as I've said its NEMA 10-30r which is 30 amps (it has a 30 amp breaker), 2) I've said in my post that I don't plan on changing the receptacle (if possible), 3) It does have an HP rating. 4hp, compressor duty (as ThreePhaseEel also mentioned), 4) Good point, deferring to ThreePhaseEel's response on this one, 5) As I've said, not planning on changing the wiring if I can help it. – Adam Plocher May 28 '18 at 22:39
  • Btw, while true, without a sanity check I don't feel comfortable plugging something in that I wired up on a whim, I feel that I'm definitely on the "more safe than needed" side of the fence. I'm not plugging anything in if I feel that it's going to blow up my house. I do have a mild fear of electricity, probably more than the average Joe, which isn't a bad thing necessarily. So me asking this question is me being cautious. I've had multiple people tell me to plug it in and try it. My main question is about how I wire up the green wire on the compressor. Any input is helpful, so thank you. – Adam Plocher May 28 '18 at 22:45

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