Adapting a 230V/50Hz Washing Machine to 110V/60 Hz

Moving around in the world like a snail with it its house, we brought our beloved washing machine (because it’s in best working order, can heat up to 95degC and doesn’t use as much water as the Asian style top-loaders without heater) from Europe to Asia. First, we had 230V/50Hz, so it was no problem, as the supply was like at home (that’s why we put it into the container), but after our next move to 110V/60Hz, we were facing serious problems: The water removal system was not working anymore, it simply didn’t drain the water from the machine as desired. Opening the sump valve and releasing the lye on the floor of our ‘working balcony’ and controlling the machine manually? Nope. Too tedious, too inefficient and wasting resources, too.

First a note, as you probably already are wondering how we can operate a 230V machine in a 110V grid? That’s no real problem, as usually, there are 2 phases with a differential voltage of 220V (or so) which are actually designated to drive the outdoor unit of the AirCon. We asked an electrician to attach a separate outlet to that line on the balcony (and on that occasion, also attach the emergency supply outlets which are in the kitchen, living room and the bedroom to the same system. Thus we may use our 230V appliances there, too). So there might be still/just a problem with the 60Hz in some cases.

A first, quick, workaround was changing the tubing for the wastewater: lowering the air-removal system (and disconnecting the foam duct -> causing a lot of luan78zao, so it wouldn’t work well indoors) to about 1/3 of it’s initial height, so the pump had much less load to drive, and was doing the job. You already may guess the reason: The power of the lye pump was too low at 60Hz. That’s because of some basic electrics/physics: In short, the power delivered by a motor that has been designed for 50Hz, when operated at 60Hz is (50/60)², thus approximately 60%. For some lucky reasons, this problem doesn’t significantly affect the main motor that is driving the drum at various speeds (probably, as its speed is controlled by some electronics and converting the mains to DC somewhere in that process).

There were 2 solutions available: 1) obtaining a pump designated for the South Korean market (240V/60Hz, about 250USD) or 2) making up my mind and compensate for the power loss at the lye pump! We chose the latter. To this end, I obtained a custom made transformer to adapt the voltage for the pump motor from 230 to 280 Volts (6/5*230). The data of the transformer are: 30W (according to the power consumption of the pump, taken from its label) 900 windings primary, 1100 windings secondary. Costs: less than 100USD. I inserted it into the supply lines of the lye pump and fixed it with several cable straps in a place where the spinning drum can’t reach. That’s it. Works already for at least 10 washloads. Celebrate!

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One Response to Adapting a 230V/50Hz Washing Machine to 110V/60 Hz

  1. Stoyan says:

    That’s not bad idea! I have the same issues and was thinking to put a drain solenoid valve- that will cost as well some money :-))

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