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Electrical energy has many advantages over other forms of energy. Probably the greatest of these is the ease with which it may be transformed into heat energy. An electric arc from a welding power source may be considered a transformer of electrical energy to heat energy because the electrical energy is converted into heat during arc welding. Arc welding involves low-voltage, high current arcs between the electrode and the work piece. An electric arc is a very bright, luminous glow that assumes a nearly conical shape when it is not constricted or compressed. This arc is the result of the successful effort of an electric current to jump across or bridge an air or other gas (argon in GTAW etc.) gap that is introduced in its circuit. This electric arc may be formed when two conductors of an electrical circuit are brought together forming an electrical contact or a short circuit. When they are separated, and if sufficient voltage is available to maintain the current flow, the arc is established and maintained. There is considerable heat created by the resistance introduced into the flow of current by this air/gas gap (which is a poor conductor of electricity). These heated and ionized gases (gas atoms in the presence of an electrical current), are called arc plasma or sometimes called the arc flame. Heat distribution in an arc depends upon the density of current (the amperes per square-inch of the cross-sectional area of an electrode) in the electrode. Seventy percent of the total amount of electrical power converted into heat is concentrated at the positive electrode at the densities used in welding. This is at the point where the electric current passes from the solid medium of the electrode to the gaseous medium of the arc plasma (arc flame). The balance of the heat is produced in the arc plasma (arc flame) and on the negative work connection. It is this power massed or concentrated at the point of the arc that brings the arc to such a high temperature that makes it useful for welding. This dynamic arc phenomenon may vary widely as the voltage between the electrode and work piece changes as the arc length is increased or decreased.

SMAW Welding Arc In electric arc welding the arc is struck or established between a carbon or a metal electrode connected to one of the two secondary output terminals of an electric arc welding power source. The other connection is the metal to be welded, which is connected to the other terminal. When there is a continuous direct current arc the conductor, from which the current flows, is called the negative electrode or cathode. The conductor, to which Page 1

the current flows, is called the positive electrode or anode. The size of the arc (the height and width) can be varied by increasing or decreasing the arc length (distance across the gap), by increasing or decreasing the amount of current (amperage) or by placing a varying resistance in the circuit. In arc welding, the amount of heat produced in the welding arc will depend upon the current (amperage) flowing in the welding circuit. If more heat is needed in the weld (increased penetration), the amount of current must be increased. If the weld is too hot (too much penetration), the current must be decreased. The amount of electrical energy present in the arc, is calculated by multiplying the voltage (across the arc) times the current (in amperes) flowing in the circuit (VOLTS x AMPERES = WATTS). This product is measured in watts. The total amount of heat in a weld is also dependent upon the travel speed of the arc.

Electrical Fundamentals
VOLTAGE or VOLTS is the electrical pressure that causes the current to flow in an electrical conductor. The electromotive force (EMF) or voltage coming from a welding power source or primary utility power company sets up or creates a pressure that causes electrons to flow through a conductor. Voltage does not flow. Voltage is also called the potential difference. This is the difference in potential energy between the two ends of an electrical circuit (terminals). It is this difference of potential between the terminals of a welding power source or a dry cell battery that causes electrons to flow in a completed circuit. AMPERAGE is another name for electrical current flow. Amperage and current are synonymous and means, electricity in motion, or the flow of electrons through a conductor. Voltage has the most effect on the height and width of the weld. The strength of the current is known as its amperage and is measured by the electrical unit called the ampere. It is measured by an ammeter on the machine or a tong meter that is placed around a current carrying conductor. Polarity has very little effect on the amperage chosen for a welding procedure. Amperage has the most effect on the depth of penetration into the base metal. RESISTANCE is the opposition to electrical current flow. It is measured in OHMS with an ohm meter or volt-ohm meter (VOM). ALWAYS turn the electrical power off before checking continuity or the resistance of fuses, cables, rheostats or switches. Substances or materials vary in their ability to conduct electricity. Those that allow the flow of electrons are called conductors. Those that resist the flow of electrons are called insulators. The amount of resistance in a conductor depends upon (1) length of the conductor (the longer the conductor, the greater is the resistance), (2) cross-sectional area (the greater the diameter or size of the conductor, the resistance is less), (3) conductor material (certain metals have greater resistance than others, for example; carbon steel and stainless steel have greater resistance than aluminum which has 65% of the electrical conductivity of copper), (4) temperature (heat increases the resistance of metals). If resistance losses are excessive in a welding circuit, the results can be weld defects such as; lack of penetration, lack of fusion and cold lapping.

The illustrations shown on the following pages are intended to demonstrate the functions of voltage, amperage, and resistance in an electrical circuit. They use the example of water flowing through a pipe as a method of understanding the electrical terms covered here.

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The illustration shown below is intended to be a pipe filled with water. It could also be thought of as a piece of copper wire with the electrons being shown.

Water/Electrons The force needed to add another drop of water to the already full pipe is similar to the function of voltage which is force that causes electrons to move in a copper wire.


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The pressure created by adding one more drop of water to the pipe causes a drop of water to leave the pipe. In a similar manner the pressure caused by voltage in an electrical circuit causes current to flow in a copper wire.

Water Flow/Amperage If a narrow spot were added to the pipe resistance to water flow would be created. In an electrical circuit, a damaged wire or loose connection creates resistance which causes heat to be generated at the point of resistance.

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Electrical Principles For Welding Equipment

PRIMARY VOLTAGE is the voltage input to the machine that is supplied by the power company or auxiliary electrical power generator unit. This voltage has a constant voltage or potential at every receptacle. This could be 120 (110/115), 208 (200), 230 (220/240), 460 (440/480) or 575-(600) etc. VAC (volts of alternating current) with a frequency of 50 or 60 Hz. Welding Power Source transformers are designed to work with these voltages. These voltages may be single or three-phase. A three-phase circuit is merely a combination of three, singlephase circuits. The three-phase primary, utility transformer is connected in either the delta or wye configuration. The wye configuration is used to provide 600 and 200 volts primary power. Primary Voltage is measured with an Alternating Current voltmeter at the fuse disconnect box, receptacle, or the terminal strip inside the welding machine.

Single Phase Signwave

Single Phase Primary Power

Three Phase Signwave

Three Phase Primary Power Page 5

Measuring Primary Voltage

To measure single phase primary voltage a lead from the volt meter is placed at the bottom of each fuse. The reading on the meter will be the actual voltage available.

Measuring Single Phase Primary Power To measure three phase voltage, three different voltage readings will need to be taken. As illustrated below the meter leads will be placed at the bottom of the fuses for each of the readings. The voltage reading in each case will be the actual voltage for each phase of the system.

Measuring Three Phase Primary Voltage Page 6

If the primary voltage fluctuates higher or lower the open circuit voltage (OCV) may be affected accordingly. That is, Input affects output! if the welding machine does not have a solid state, electronically controlled welding output (primary or utility line voltage compensation).

Linking The Power Source

Most welding power sources are made to operate on more than one primary voltage value. In the United States a common configuration would be a power source that can operate on either 208 volt primary, 230 volt primary, or 460 volt primary. When this type of power source is purchased it must be manually set or linked for the primary voltage that is available. This insures that the power source will operate properly. Caution must be taken to insure that the power source is properly linked. An improperly linked power source may not perform properly or may be subject to severe damage. The pictures shown in the following illustrations how to manually link both a single phase and a three phase power source for the proper voltage.
200 VOLT S 230 VOLT S 460 VOLT S




Linking A Single Phase Power Source

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200 VOL TS

230 VOL TS

460 VOL TS

Linking A Three Phase Power Source

Selecting The Proper Fuse/Circuit Breaker

The fuse or circuit breaker is an overcurrent protective device. These devices limit the amount of current that may flow in a circuit. They also protect the circuit from a current overload or a short circuit to earth ground. All power source owners manuals have a chart similar to the one shown below. This chart can be used to select the right size of fuse or breaker needed for the voltage being used. Additionally, this chart can also be used to select the right size of input conductor to use with the power source.
60 Hertz Models Input Voltage Input Amperes At Rated Output Max Recommended Standard Fuse Or Circuit Breaker Rating In Amperes Min Input Conductor Size In AWG/ Kcmil Max Recommended Input Conductor Length In Feet (Meters) Min Grounding Conductor Size In AWG/Kcmil 200 71 300 Amp Model 230 61 460 31 575 25 200 102 450 Amp Model 230 89 460 45 575 36 650 Amp Model 230 124 460 62 575 50












6 129 (39) 6

8 114 (35) 8

10 308 (94) 10

12 296 (90) 12

4 118 (36) 6

4 156 (47) 6

8 276 (84) 8

10 290 (88) 10

3 125 (38) 6

8 182 (55) 8

8 284 (86) 8

Reference: 1996 National Electrical Code (NEC)

Fuse/Breaker Chart

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Secondary Voltage Measurements

OPEN CIRCUIT VOLTAGE is measured with a volt meter across the output lugs or weld terminal connections with the welding machine turned on, but under no load. Open circuit voltage is one factor that influences the performance of all welding power sources. The open circuit voltage, of a constant current output arc welding power source, is considerably higher than its load voltage. The open circuit voltage of constant current power sources may vary from 50 to 100 volts. Most machines usually have 70 to 80 open circuit volts. Open circuit voltage drops to the load voltages (which are between 10 and 40 volts) when the arc is struck and the welding load is created. A high open circuit voltage may be desirable when arc initiation and stability are important. When SMAW (stick welding) using low open circuit voltage machines it is necessary to use electrodes that incorporate or include ingredients in the electrode flux coatings that help maintain the arc. This produces the arc ionization that provides a stable and favorable metal transfer characteristics. This is especially true for the low-hydrogen SMAW electrodes.

Measuring Open Circuit Voltage LOAD VOLTAGE is measured with a voltmeter at the output terminals on the machine while welding or under a load. The load voltage, at a given load or welding current, is responsive to the rate at which a consumable electrode is fed into the arc. The arc length, the type and diameter of electrodes used, will determine the load voltage. It is the total voltage load, including arc voltage and the voltage drop through the welding cables and the material being welded, that the power source senses. When a nonconsumable electrode (tungsten in GTAW) is used, the load voltage is responsive to the electrode-to-work distance.

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Measuring Load Voltage ARC VOLTAGE is measured with a voltmeter across the arc between the electrode tip and the base metal surface while welding. Arc voltage has a direct relationship to the arc length. Arc Length is the distance through the center of the arc from the end of the electrode to the point where the arc contacts the surface of the work. If the welding circuit remains constant, the arc voltage increases as the arc is lengthened and decreases as the arc is shortened. This may vary due to many conditions which include, the temperature and gaseous content (ionization potential) of the arc. The arc voltage of a given arc length may also vary with current changes. Arc length for a flux-coated SMAW electrode is usually greater than what is apparent to the eye. This is because the end of the electrode core wire burns away more rapidly than the flux-coating. And this allows the flux-coating to come closer to the molten pool than the actual end of the core of the electrode. A short arc length may result in: (1) porosity in the weld, or (2) poor fusion. A long arc length presents the likelihood of: (1) poor penetration, (2) excessive exposure of the deposited metal to oxidation, (3) difficulties in concentration of welding heat, (4) wild and erratic arc action and (5) undercut. Voltage has the most effect on the height and width of the weld deposit.

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Measuring Arc Voltage

Welding Current Types

There are two types of Electrical Current. They are DIRECT CURRENT (DC) or ALTERNATING CURRENT (AC). DIRECT CURRENT is an electrical current that flows in one direction only and has either a negative or a positive polarity. A battery, either a flashlight (dry cells) or an automobile (wet cells ), is a source of Direct Current, and has a positive and a negative terminal (pole). A Direct Current output welding machine also has a positive and a negative terminal. Polarity of the electrical current or the direction of current flow is made by connecting the electrode cable and holder with an electrode to either the positive or negative terminal. The work cable, and its clamp, is connected to the opposite terminal. The current flows from the negative () terminal to the positive (+) terminal in both systems in a single direction. This is the electron theory that is credited to Thomas Edison and is used in arc welding theory. The conventional theory of electrical current flow from the positive (+) terminal to the negative () terminal is credited to Benjamin Franklin.

Aleternating Current That Has Been Rectified To Create Direct current

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DC Weld Circuit THE POLARITY of the direct current welding arc or the direction of electrical current flow is very important. The Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) process was first used with bare or lightly flux-coated metallic electrodes with the electrode cable, and electrode holder, connected to the negative (-) terminal (pole). The work connection was then made to the positive (+) terminal (pole) of the welding power source. This is Electrode Negative and is called "Straight Polarity." When the electrode cable and electrode holder were connected to the positive (+) terminal (Electrode Positive) and the work cable connection was made at the negative (-) terminal. It was then said to be "Reversed Polarity", this is also known as "Reverse Polarity." It is important to make the connections so the current flow is in the right direction for the specific welding process and procedure being used.

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Direct Current Electrode Positive (DCEP) or Reverse Polarity

Direct Current Electrode Negative (DCEN) or Straight Polarity

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In a DC arc approximately 70% of the heat will be concentrated at the positive side of the arc. Electrode Positive produces deeper penetration into the base metal when welding with the consumable electrode processes. Electrode Negative produces a higher electrode melting rate (deposition rates) with the consumable electrode processes. Conversely, Electrode Negative produces deeper penetration into the base metal with a nonconsumable electrode such as the tungsten used in the GTAW process. Because the polarity of DC is not always changing like Alternating Current the arc is more stable with less fluctuation. When alternating current is used there is no difference in the heat developed or produced at either pole and polarity ceases to be important.

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Alternating Current
ALTERNATING CURRENT (AC) is an electrical current that has both a positive and a negative half-cycle value (polarities) alternately. Current flows in a specific direction for one half-cycle, stops at the "zero" line, then reverses direction of flow the next half-cycle at regular intervals. The AC sine wave represents the current flow as it builds in amount and time in the positive direction and then decreases in value and finally reaches zero. The current then reverses direction and polarity reaching a maximum negative value before rising to the zero value. This alternating repeats as long as the current is flowing. The number of cycles of alternating current that is completed in one second of time is called the frequency of the alternating current. The unit of frequency is the hertz (Hz). One hertz equals one cycle per second. The phrase "60 cycles per second or hertz" means that the particular alternating current completes 60 cycles in one second. One half of a cycle is called an alternation. There are two alternations in a cycle: one in a positive direction, the other in a negative direction. There are 120 alternations per second in a current of 60 cycles or hertz.

Alternating Current Cycle

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AC Welding Circuit

AC Frequency

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Resistance In A Welding Circuit

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Selecting Welding Cable

WELDING CABLES are used to connect the electrode holder and the work (ground) clamp to the welding power source. The cable is constructed for maximum flexibility to permit easy manipulation, particularly of the SMAW electrode holder. It also must be wear and abrasion resistant. Welding cable is produced in a range of sizes (from about American wire gage size 6 to 4/0 or MCM (thousand circular mils; e.g. 500 MCM is 500,000 circular mils (mil = one one thousandth of an inch)). The size of the cable for a particular application depends on the maximum amperage to be used for welding, the length of the welding circuit (welding (electrode) and work cables and the material being welded combined) and the duty cycle of the welding machine. If long cables are necessary, shorter sections can be joined by suitable cable connectors (quick connect/ disconnect). Also if a more flexible cable for the SMAW electrode holder is necessary, a "whip" or short length of a smaller, more flexible cable may be connected at the end of a larger diameter cable. Care must be taken to avoid damage to the insulating jacket of the cable, particularly for the electrode cable. Contact with hot metal or sharp edges may penetrate the jacket and ground or short circuit the cable, further damaging it.
Total Cable (Copper) Length in Weld Circuit Not Exceeding* 50 ft Or Less (15m) Welding Amperes 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1250 1500 1750 2000 4 3 2 1 1/0 2/0 2/0 4/0 4/0 4/0 2-2/0 2-3/0 2-3/0 2-4/0 500 750 750 4 3 2 1 1/0 2/0 2/0 4/0 4/0 2-2/0 2-2/0 2-3/0 2-3/0 2-4/0 750 1000 1000 4 2 1 1/0 2/0 3/0 3/0 4/0 2-2/0 2-3/0 2-3/0 2-4/0 2-4/0 750 1000 2-750 2-750 100 ft (30m) 150 ft (45 m) 200 ft (60 m) 250 ft (70 m) 300 ft (90 m) 350 ft (105 m) 400 ft (120 m)

10 Thru 100% Duty Cycle 3 1 1/0 2/0 3/0 4/0 4/0 2-2/0 2-3/0 2-4/0 2-4/0 1000 1000 2-750 2-750 2-1000 2-1000 2 1/0 2/0 3/0 4/0 2-2/0 2-2/0 2-3/0 2-4/0 1000 1000 1000 2-7500 2-750 2-1000 2-1000 1 2/0 3/0 4/0 2-2/0 2-3/0 2-3/0 2-4/0 1000 1000 2-750 2-750 2-750 2-1000 2-1000 1/0 3/0 4/0 2-2/0 2-3/0 2-3/0 2-4/0 1000 1000 2-750 2-750 2-1000 2-1000 2-1000 1/0 3/0 4/0 2-2/0 2-3/0 2-4/0 2-4/0 1000 2-750 2-750 2-1000 2-1000 2-1000

*Weld cable size (AWG and MCM) is based on either a 4 volt or less drop, or a current density of at least 300 circular mils per ampere

Welding Cable Chart

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Selecting Extension Cords

Use the tables below to select extension cords. Use shortest cords possible because long cords may reduce output or cause unit overload.
Cord Lengths For 120 Volt Loads
Current In Amperes
5 7 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

Load In Watts 4
600 840 1200 1800 2400 3000 3600 4200 4800 5400 6000 400 (122) 300 (91) 225 (68) 175 (53) 150 (46) 125 (38) 112 (34) 100 (30) 87 (26)

Maximum Allowable Cord Length In Feet (Meters) For Conductor Size (AWG)* 6 8
350 (106) 400 (122) 275 (84) 175 (53) 137 (42) 112 (34) 87 (26) 75 (23) 62 (19) 62 (19) 50 (15) 250 (76) 175 (53) 112 (34) 87 (26) 62 (19) 50 (15) 50 (15) 37 (11)

225 (68) 150 (46) 112 (34) 75 (23) 50 (15) 37 (11) 37 (11)

137 (42) 100 (30) 62 (19) 37 (11) 30 (9)

100 (30) 62 (19) 50 (15) 30 (9)

*Conductor size is based on maximum 2% voltage drop

Cord Lengths For 240 Volt Loads

Current In Amperes
5 7 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

Load In Watts 4
1200 1680 2400 3600 4800 6000 7000 8400 9600 10,800 12,000 800 (244) 600 (183) 450 (137) 350 (107) 300 (91) 250 (76) 225 (69) 200 (61) 175 (53)

Maximum Allowable Cord Length In Feet (Meters) For Conductor Size (AWG)* 6 8
700 (213) 800 (244) 550 (168) 350 (107) 275 (84) 225 (69) 175 (53) 150 (46) 125 (38) 125 (38) 100 (31) 500 (152) 350 (107) 225 (69) 175 (53) 125 (38) 100 (31) 100 (31) 75 (23)

450 (137) 300 (91) 225 (69) 150 (46) 100 (31) 75 (23) 75 (23)

225 (84) 200 (61) 125 (38) 75 (23) 60 (18)

200 (61) 125 (38) 100 (31) 60 (18)

*Conductor size is based on maximum 2% voltage drop

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Duty Cycle
The DUTY CYCLE of a welding power source expresses, as a percentage, the actual operation time that it may be used at its rated load without exceeding the temperature limits of the insulation of the component parts. The rated load is the rated amperage at the rated load voltage. This is calculated by multiplying the rated amperage times the rated load voltage, the product is measured in watts. In the United States, duty cycles are based on a ten minute period of time. In some other areas, notably Europe, the duty cycles are based on a five minute period of time. This may be shown as a 100% duty cycle at a reduced rated load. Factors which contribute to lower performance include high ambient temperatures, insufficient cooling, air quantity, and low line voltage.
Chart Definition 0 10 Duty Cycle is percentage of 10 minutes that unit can weld at rated load without overheating.


SMAW: 20% Duty Cycle At 150 A DC, Or 225 A AC

2 Minutes Welding

8 Minutes Resting
sb1.2 8/93 ST-086 727-A

Sample Duty Cycle Chart

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Power Source Types

CONSTANT CURRENT (CC) AND CONSTANT VOLTAGE (CV) Arc Welding Power Sources have distinct volt-ampere curves, which are simply mathematical graphs. The graphs show the weld output characteristics of a power source. These are plotted under static-load conditions using a known resistive load. It is not possible to plot volt-ampere curves while welding because of the dynamic conditions of the welding arc.


Volt/Ampere curve shows the output characteristics of a welding power source.






300 AMPS



Volt/Amp Curve Welding Amperage or Load Current is adjusted or set on Constant Current (CC) type welding machines. They are also referred to as variable voltage (V.V.) or Drooper type welding machines. They are called droopers because of the significant downward slope of the V/A curve. These machines are normally used for manual Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW or Stick), Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW, TIG or Heliarc), or Air Carbon Arc Cutting & Gouging. They may also be used for Submerged Arc Welding (SAW), and Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) with gas shielded or self shielded wires. Also Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) Spray Transfer Mode may be possible if welding with Eighty (80) Per Cent or greater Argon in the shielding gas mix. These wire feed processes require an arc voltage driven (arc voltage sensing) type of wire feeder to maintain a constant stable arc length when welding with a constant current machine.

Constant Current (CC) type welding power sources set amperage. They are also referred to as variable voltage (VV) or drooper type power sources.

Constant Current Volt/Amp Curve

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Constant Voltage (CV) type power sources set voltage. They are also referred to as constant potential (CP). They provide a relatively flat volt-amp output characteristic

Constant Current Volt/Amp Curve Load Voltage is set on Constant Voltage (CV) welding machines. They are also referred to as Constant Potential (CP) or Variable Amperage. They provide a relatively flat volt-ampere weld output characteristic. The load current at a set load voltage is responsive to the rate at which the consumable electrode wire is fed into the arc. The current at the arc will be approximately proportional to the wire feed speed for all wire diameters. With a constant speed wire feeder, a continuous fed consumable electrode wire, and a constant voltage power source this is essentially a self-regulating system. The constant voltage welding power sources are used for the continuous electrode wire processes such as Gas Metal Arc Welding with any of the metal transfer modes, Flux Cored Arc Welding, Submerged Arc Welding and Air Carbon Arc Cutting and Gouging. It is also used as the power source for a multiple operator grid system for Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Air Carbon Arc Cutting and Gouging, and FCAW or GMAW Spray Transfer with arc voltage sensing wire feeders.

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Power Source Components

A TRANSFORMER is a device that changes high voltage alternating current to a low voltage (potential) (which is a step-down transformer) or from a low voltage to a high voltage (potential) (which is a step-up transformer). Its purpose is to change voltage and amperage without changing its frequency. The welding power source transformer is designed to take the relatively high primary voltage and low primary amperage and "transform" or change it to a relatively low secondary voltage and high secondary amperage or a useable welding output. The transformers also serve to isolate the welding circuits from the utility or primary power. It may also be an isolation transformer only, normally used for a control circuit where both the primary and secondary voltages and their amperages remain the same. A static AC transformer or the AC/DC transformer - rectifier power source usually operates from single-phase primary power. This may be supplied as single-phase primary power or it may be one phase of a three-phase electrical system. Transformer-rectifiers that supply DC welding power only usually are three phase transformers. A transformer is made of, a primary coil (winding), a secondary coil (winding) which are the electric fields and an iron or a ferrous core (T1) which is the magnetic field. The terms "winding" and "coil" are synonymous. It has two coils of wire wound around a ferrous (iron) core that are placed near each other. When alternating current flows through the first or primary winding coil, alternating current is induced into the second or secondary winding coil. There is no electrical connection between the coils. The movement of the magnetic field around the first coil is caused by the changing strength of the alternating current, which induces current into the second coil. When the current in the first coil increases, the magnetic field of this coil spreads out to (and beyond) the second coil. The lines of magnetic force penetrate (cut) the wires of the second coil, producing a current in it. When the current in the first coil stops increasing, the spreading of the magnetic field also stops, and the current in the second coil stops. When the current in the first coil begins to decrease, its magnetic field also decreases. As the lines of magnetic force reduce, they again penetrate (cut) the wires of the second coil and produce a current in a direction opposite to that of the current that was produced by the magnetic field when it was spreading outward. On 60-cycle-current this occurs 60 times in one second in each of the two coils. The induced energy will be apparent as open circuit voltage at the output terminals of the welding power source. When the arc is struck or initiated, both welding current and load voltage are available for the welding arc.

T1 Pri. Sec. E


AC Welding Transformer With One Output

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T1 Pri. Sec. E


AC Transformer Circuit Coil

T1 Pri. Sec. Z E


AC Transformer With Coil, Core, And Stabilizer

T1 Pri. Sec. E


Tapped Reactor (Stabilizer) Current Control The voltage that the secondary side of a transformer will deliver depends upon the number of turns of wire in the primary and secondary coils and the amount of voltage received by the primary. The voltage that will be delivered by the secondary side of the transformer has a direct relationship to the electric current in the secondary side. If the voltage has been stepped down (decreased), the current is stepped up (increased); if the voltage is stepped up (increased) the current is stepped down (decreased). In the primary side of a step-down transformer that is used for welding both the voltage and the number of turns are high but the current is low and the wire size is small. The primary coil is wound with many turns of small diameter wire. In the secondary side, both the voltage and the number of turns are low but the current is high and the wire size is large. The secondary is wound with fewer turns of larger diameter wire. Therefore, large secondary welding currents can be obtained from relatively low primary line currents. In a step-up transformer, such as is used in the high frequency arc starter circuits these conditions are reversed. The primary coil is wound with a few turns of large diameter wire and the secondary with many turns of smaller wire. The secondary voltage is very high and the current is very low.

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Rectifiers are devices that change alternating current into direct current. They permit or allow the passage of current in one direction only through the circuit. Rectifiers may be selenium, silicon diode, silicon controlled (SCR) or a bridge rectifier. Most rectifiers are made of silicon because of economy, current-carrying capacity, reliability, and efficiency. A single rectifying element is called a diode, which is a one-way electrical valve. The SCR is a diode variation with a trigger called a gate. SCRs can be used to directly control welding power by altering the welding current or voltage waveform. Because the output characteristics are controlled electronically, automatic line voltage compensation is easily accomplished. This allows welding power to be precisely set and held at that value even if the input line voltage varies. The SCR can also serve as a secondary contactor allowing the welding current to flow only when commanded. The AC/DC and DC static welding power sources usually incorporate both a transformer and a rectifier. The transformer - rectifier type arc welding power source has a "stabilizer" or "inductor" added to the DC portion of the power source circuitry. (The term "stabilizer" and "inductor" are synonymous in electrical terms). A stabilizer is an iron core with a current carrying coil wrapped around it. It is placed in the DC portion of the power source output. The function of the stabilizer is to provide inductance or choke in the dc welding circuit to improve arc stability. This slows down the rate of response of the power source to changing arc conditions.






Full Wave Bridge Rectifier (Positive Half Cycle)

AC ()



Full Wave Bridge Rectifier (Positive Half Cycle)

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Full Wave Bridge Rectifier (Full Output)

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Power Source Output Controls

Mechanical Control
The Welding Amperage and Voltage OUTPUT CONTROLS may be a mechanical, electrical or solid state type control. The Mechanically controlled machines have tapped transformers, moveable shunts, or sliding brushes to control the weld output. The tapped secondary transformers adjust the open circuit voltage on the machines like the MILLERMATIC 210 and the REGENCY 250. The moveable shunt machines use a laminated iron core that is moved between the primary and secondary coils. Minimum current output is obtained when the shunt is fully in place. Conversely when the shunt is separated the output current is at its maximum. It is how the amperage is controlled with the constant current THUNDERBOLT XL AC and AC/DC. The voltage control for the constant voltage output of the CP-302 and CP-252TS uses sliding carbon brushes that slide along the secondary coil conductors. Mechanically controlled machines are less expensive to purchase and are easy to troubleshoot. They do not permit remote welding output control. They are subject to atmospheric corrosion, which may be minimized if the machine controls are adjusted to minimum and maximum to wipe the corrosion from the contact surfaces. There is no primary (Utility) line voltage compensation therefore the output fluctuate with the input.

Mechanical Control Block Diagram

Electrical Control
Electrically controlled machines like the constant current DIALARC 250 AC/DC and the Gold Star SRH series use a low voltage and low amperage dc circuit to change the effective magnetic characteristics of reactor cores. They are referred to as a magnetic amplifier because a relatively small control power change will produce a sizeable output power change. They use a rheostat to control the welding amperage output. They permit remote welding output control and normally have fewer moving parts than the mechanically controlled machines. Like the mechanically controlled machines the electrical controls are subject to atmospheric corrosion and there is no primary line voltage compensation.

Electrical Control Block Diagram Page 28

Solid State Control

Electronically Solid State controlled machines, use printed circuit boards and SCRs (Silicon Controlled Rectifiers) to control the weld output. Examples of such machines are the GOLD STAR Series, SHOPMASTER 300 AC/DC, DELTAWELD Series, DIMENSION Series, and the SYNCROWAVE Series. The inverters; MAXSTAR Series, XMT Series, INVISION Series, use, in addition to the printed circuit boards, transistor switching devices like the IGBTS (Integrated Gated Bipolar Transistor) and MOSFETS (Metal Oxide Surface Field Effect Transistor). The Solid State controls offer the same advantages as the electrical controls but are less prone to atmospheric corrosion. The controls are smaller which allows them to be mounted on hand held GTAW torches, GMAW guns or SMAW electrode holders. There is line voltage compensation, normally plus or minus 10 per cent line voltage changes or fluctuations can be compensated for which results in very little or no change in the welding arc. Therefore as an example a primary line voltage of 230 volts could drop to 207 volts or rise to 253 volts and the welding arc would not be noticeably changed.

Solid State Block Diagram Inverter Power Sources

INVERTER TECHNOLOGY welding power supplies are different from a transformer rectifier type. They use rectified 60 Hz ac line current and use solid-state devices (SCRs or the switching transistors like the IGBTs and MOSFETs to produce a high frequency square wave ac (1 kHz to 100 kHz). Conventional welding power sources use transformers, which uses line frequency of 50 or 60 Hz. Since transformer size is inversely proportional to line frequency, a reduction in the power sources physical size and weight is possible. Also there are reduced transformer losses, which means an increase in electrical efficiency and power factor.

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Inverter Block Diagram

Line Voltage Compensation

The sense and control circuits along with the components in the rectifier, give solid state and inverter power sources a feature called Line Voltage Compensation. Power sources equipped with line voltage compensation will keep the welding output consistent even if the primary input fluctuates +/- 10%.

Line Voltage Compensation-Solid State

Line Voltage Compensation-Inverter Page 30

Power and Power Factor Correction

ELECTRICAL POWER is measured in kVA or kW. KVA (kilovolt-amperes) is the total alternating current power demanded from a utility company. It is calculated by multiplying volts times amperes and dividing by 1,000. This includes the power losses in the electrical system. Primary Kilowatts is the actual electrical power that is used by the welding power source when it is producing its rated load or rated output. This does not include the power losses in the electrical system. For example, a power source may be rated at 200 amperes, 28 load volts and 60% duty cycle. The specifications show the primary kW is 8.3. This is measured with a watt meter. The kVA would be 17.0. Secondary Kilowatts is the actual power output of the welding power source. In the example cited above, calculating secondary kW would be 200 amperes times 28 load volts, divided by 1,000. The result is 5.6 secondary kW with 8.3 primary kW and 17.0 kVA.
Rated Output 200 A, 28 VAC, 60% Duty Cycle, NEMA Class I (40) 250 A, 30 VAC, 40% Duty Cycle, NEMA Class II (40) Power Factor Correction Without With Without With 60 Hz Amps Input at AC Balance, Rated Load, 1-phase 200V 230V 460V 575V KVA KW 88 3.3* 60 55.3* 110 3.3* 82 55.3* 77 2.8* 52 49.5* 96 2.8* 71 49.5* 38 1.5* 26 24.5* 48 1.5* 35 24.5* 31 1.1* 21 19.6* 38 1.1* 28 19.6* 17.6 .59* 12.06 11.2* 21.98 .59* 16.32 11.2* 8.6 .29* 8.11 .39* 11.76 .29* 11.81 1.93* Welding Amp Range 5 310 A 5 310 A 5 310 A 5 310 A Max OCV 80 V 80 V 80 V 80 V Dimensions H: 36-1/4 in (921 mm) W:22-1/2 in (572 mm) D: 25 in (635 mm) Weight 389 lb (176 kg)

*While idling.

Sample Power Source Specification Chart POWER FACTOR CORRECTION applies to AC single-phase primary power. Power factor is the amount of electrical power used with reference to the total amount of power supplied. It is the ratio of the actual or usable power in watts to the volt-amperes provided in an ac circuit. Power Factor = Watts Volts x Amps

It is the measure of time phase difference between the voltage and amperage in an alternating current circuit. When the amperage and voltage are in phase, the power factor is unity.

Good vs Poor Unity Power factor takes place on the primary side. It has no affect on output. It is not related to rise or drop in the primary line voltage. Page 31

Customer's reason for buying power factor corrected power source: 1. Reduced primary amperage draw, this means: a. Smaller primary wire size required* b. Smaller primary fuses * To verify, check Owner's Manual or input conductor fuse size card for specific model designation comparison. 2. Less kilovolt amps (kVA) required per power source, this means: a. Can place more power factor corrected power sources on existing plant wire size** b. Can place more power factor corrected power sources on existing plant transformers**
** To verify, check catalog specifications or Owner's Manual on specific model desiring comparison.

3. Can cost less for primary power because: a. If customer has good power factor rating, he can get a better rate per kWH from power company than if the power factor were poor.*** b. Power company may charge penalty fees added to normal electrical bill for poor power factor.***
***The local power company the customer is using must be checked to see how they handle their poor power factor billings. Some power companies may not even allow a poor power factor device to be connected to their systems.

The following data is based on a Syncrowave 250 AC/DC with 200 amp 28 volt rated output secondary load:
Power Factor Correction Without With Without With 60 Hz Amps Input at AC Balance, Rated Load, 1-phase 200V 230V 460V 575V KVA KW 88 3.3* 60 55.3* 110 3.3* 82 55.3* 77 2.8* 52 49.5* 96 2.8* 71 49.5* 38 1.5* 26 24.5* 48 1.5* 35 24.5* 31 1.1* 21 19.6* 38 1.1* 28 19.6* 17.6 .59* 12.06 11.2* 21.98 .59* 16.32 11.2* 8.6 .29* 8.11 .39* 11.76 .29* 11.81 1.93* Welding Amp Range 5 310 A 5 310 A 5 310 A 5 310 A

Rated Output 200 A, 28 VAC, 60% Duty Cycle, NEMA Class I (40) 250 A, 30 VAC, 40% Duty Cycle, NEMA Class II (40)

Max OCV 80 V 80 V 80 V 80 V

Dimensions H: 36-1/4 in (921 mm) W:22-1/2 in (572 mm) D: 25 in (635 mm)

Weight 389 lb (176 kg)

*While idling.

Proof of 1. Standard power source 74 amps at 230 volt primary Power Factor Corrected power source 48 amps at 230 volt primary Proof of 2. Standard power source 17.0 kVA Power Factor Corrected power source 11.0 kVA This means if the customer had a 150 kVA transformer supplying power to weld stations, only 8 standard power sources could be run, whereas 13 power factor corrected units could be used at rated output. 8.82 17 150 13.63 11 150

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Proof of 3. Most power companies base their charges on kWH and PF. The power factor is expressed in hundredths, such as .51 or in percent such as 51%. The power company would then like to have power factors of 1.00 or 100%. Since this is virtually impossible, they normally settle on a livable amount, let's say approximately .70 or 70%. To calculate power factor, use the following formula: % Power Factor (PF) = Example: Standard Power Source % PF = PF Corrected Power Source % PF = 8.3 kW x 100 = 48% PF 17 8.3 kW x 100 = 75.4% PF 11 Pri kW x 100 kVA

Again, the local power company must be checked on what they consider poor power factor and what they do about it. Customer's reason for not buying power factor corrected power source: 1. Costs more money. (The points above must be pointed out.) 2. The power factor corrected power source uses the same amount of wattage so is not more electrically efficient. 3. It is not primary line voltage compensating. The power source will have this as standard if it is a solid state controlled power source 4. Has virtually no effect on arc characteristics. Proof of 1. Power factor correction can add an additional 2-20% to the cost of a power source. The specific power sources being considered should be compared and the above information used to encourage or discourage it based on the facts. Proof of 2. Consult the Owner's Manual or catalog specification of kW. The kW shown will be primary kW at the rated secondary load shown. Do not multiply primary amperage draw times the primary voltage. This will yield volt amps not watts. You must use the wattage specified or measured wattage with a watt meter. To calculate electrical efficiency, use the following formula: % Efficiency = Sec. kW Pri. kW x 100

Since the secondary wattage is not given in the Owner's Manual or catalog specifications, it must be calculated by using the following formula: Sec. kW = Amps x Volts 1000

This example has been based on a 200 amp arc at 28 volts = 5.6 kW for both the standard power source as well as the power factor corrected model: Sec. kw = 200 amps x 28 volts = 5.6 kW for both 1000

Volts X amps in this case equals watts because a welding arc is a resistive load.

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The primary kW draw is also the same for both power sources: 8.2 kW. % Efficiency = 5.6 kW 8.3 kW x 100 = 67% efficiency

Thus proving the power factor corrected power source uses the same amount of wattage on the primary as does the standard power source to produce the same wattage in the arc. Both power sources have the same electrical efficiency. Proof of 3. Since a capacitor is a storage device and cannot create energy, it will not compensate for line voltage fluctuations. Example: If the power source is designed to operate on 230 volt primary and this voltage drops below this value, the output power to the arc will also drop. If the primary voltage goes above 230 volts, the output power to the arc will also go up. Since the capacitor is being charged from the primary voltage it will follow the primary voltage very rapidly and cannot possibly correct any long term primary voltage fluctuations. If you can read the primary voltage fluctuations on a standard volt meter, the capacitor will do nothing to correct for this and the arc is going to fluctuate. Proof of 4. In the matter of arc characteristics there are no meters or devices that can accurately measure what is felt in the mind of the welder watching an arc. However, it has been shown to be virtually impossible for a welder to determine any difference in arc characteristics between a standard power source and one that is power factor corrected. This can be easily set up by using both types and not allowing the welder to know which type of power source is being used. Then run a series of trials to see if the welder can determine which is the power factor corrected model.

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