electric clothes dryer power draw and cable

petrieSeptember 10, 2006

I recently replaced the original spliced (!) cable that powered my electric clothes dryer. There is now a 50 cable-feet homerun of 10/3 from the 30 amp breaker to the outlet that powers the dryer. As I previously mentioned, when the dryer has been running on hot/cotton setting for an extended period of time, the two hot wires become slightly warm to the touch. They do not become hot or even very warm, they are just not as cold as everything else down in the basement. To help solve this mystery, I borrowed a clamp type multimeter today and measured the power draw on both phases. While running on "hot/cotton" one phase was drawing 24.5 amps at the breaker and the other was drawing about 24.8 amps. When running on "air/cool" one phase was showing 0 while the other was showing 0.4 amp. I assume this means the dryer uses a 120v motor.

From what I understand, it is dangerous and illegal to run a circuit at over 80% of its rated capacity. So am I correct in saying that this 30 amp circuit is overloaded? 80% of 30 amps is 24 amps. Yet my circuit is drawing almost 25 amps at the breaker.

Do I need to replace the 10/3 wire with 8/3 to minimize the loss? Do I need to have my dryer inspected to see why it's drawing more than 22 amps?

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The current draws you measured are normal. Yes, the motor is 120V. The heater elements cycle on and off. They do not run continuously. Nothing to worry about. Everything is good.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2006 at 10:59PM
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My dryer is blowing 30 amp fuses I have checked just about all I can think of . I used a meter to check amp draw and what I found seems normal on cool,air one phase reads 0 and the other is 4.1 on heat one phase shows 22.5 and the other 21.5 . The fuses get real hot on the heat cycle , sometimes it works for several weeks and other time one or two loads .

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 2:20PM
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The fuse holder may not be holding the fuses tightly, the wires may be loose in the lugs in that panel. Tighten those lugs. Continued heating will ruin the fuse holders. If it is a pull-out fuse holder, the tension may be gone for the prongs on the fuse holder. Look for blackened places.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 5:44PM
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Thanks bus driver but I have already checked and everything is tight .

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 7:56PM
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Are you sure your ammeter is accurate? A lot of the cheapie clamp meters sold for under $100 are pretty questionable. The fact that it's inconsistent, reading 4.1a for the motor alone but only showing a leg imbalance of 1 amp with the heat on, makes me wonder.

Is the cable itself getting noticeably warm or hot, or just the fuses?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 8:12PM
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Davidr Im using a Fluke tester and only the fuses get hot. What you are saying regarding the motor makes sense , I would think that leg would draw somewhat more amps . Do you think the total amp from that leg should calculate exactly heating and motor amps together . One other thing I have notice since you bring it up the highter of the two legs (22.5) is the leg that does not draw from the motor leg but the one that shows 0 on the cool,air .

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 5:04AM
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