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  1. #1
    Shane Dredge's Avatar
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    Default Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    I have run accross this issue on a few different occasions and always noted it for inspections I performed. I have had 3 different licensed hvac contractor owners tell me that there is nothing wrong with the way this is done. The reasoning is that this is a reversible direction motor and in order to determine the direction the fan blades will spin in they must connect the wire leads after the condenser housing has been replaced. The wires are open and exposed but they are uv zip tied to the fan guard. They are relatively low voltage of course so not a major safey issue but just seems like it could be done better. Does anyone know if this is or is not a real problem? Anyone HVAC experts out there have an opinion on this?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Sounds like they put in a rescue motor which has lots of wires to choose from the get the rotation right and cap wired up.

    I'm not sure what the voltage is on those exposed wires but I can say this, I replaced one of those when I was 20 something years old and I did not have to leave wires hanging out like that so why would an hvac tech have to?

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  3. #3
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    When I see this I recommend that they put the wires on the bottom side of the wire guard after the rotation is set. Takes about 1 minute and a couple of wire ties.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Condensers do not come like that. That happens when a guys switches out a motor as you mentioned. No it is not Ok.
    - Kids playing outside, 'ooh, look what are those'; little brats grab and yank the wires, so much for a AC, or the little brats
    - Forgive me ignorance, I don't know if you get snow down there or not. Rain probably Ok but maybe not. If you get snow I could see the snow seeping into the connections over the winter, go to start it up in the spring and there's a short.
    - Plain and simple it is a sloppy job that could cause side problems
    - Next time they say its Ok ask them for the manufacturer referral that states its Ok
    - Write it up every time, screw them. Because as you may be aware, the new HVAC will of course ask the homeowner, 'You mean the inspector didn't write this up?'

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Exposed wiring, outdoors, subject to damage and unprotected from deterioration, whether or not this outdoor location is covered or not. Be it weather, rodents, contact with debris, etc. beyond the GUARD, etc.It maters not if low AC voltage, minimal amperage can kill,Violation of the Standards for Safety, the product Listing for the appliance and the residential, mechanical, and of the electrical code. The componant or replacement part has been adulterated (connectors).


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Shane Dredge View Post
    I have run accross this issue on a few different occasions and always noted it for inspections I performed. I have had 3 different licensed hvac contractor owners tell me that there is nothing wrong with the way this is done. The reasoning is that this is a reversible direction motor and in order to determine the direction the fan blades will spin in they must connect the wire leads after the condenser housing has been replaced. The wires are open and exposed but they are uv zip tied to the fan guard. They are relatively low voltage of course so not a major safey issue but just seems like it could be done better. Does anyone know if this is or is not a real problem? Anyone HVAC experts out there have an opinion on this?
    Not a proper repair. A good indication of a lazy HVAC contractor in a hurry to the next job. I see it all the time as well and I simple report that although the unit is working the fan has been replaced and has improperly exposed wires that need to be contained within the units cabinet.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Kind of one of those "Everybody does it, so it's OK kinda things"

    The wires are exposed because when the Condenser is started, there's a 50/50 chance of it spinning the right way.... if not, they just reverse them. Is it correct? No. Is it common... yep.

    Last time I mentioned that, the AC tech was there... he said, if I spin the wires under, the fan blades will hit them and "That's dangerous"


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Shane Dredge View Post
    I have run accross this issue on a few different occasions and always noted it for inspections I performed. I have had 3 different licensed hvac contractor owners tell me that there is nothing wrong with the way this is done. The reasoning is that this is a reversible direction motor and in order to determine the direction the fan blades will spin in they must connect the wire leads after the condenser housing has been replaced. The wires are open and exposed but they are uv zip tied to the fan guard. They are relatively low voltage of course so not a major safey issue but just seems like it could be done better. Does anyone know if this is or is not a real problem? Anyone HVAC experts out there have an opinion on this?
    How long have 240 volt a/c motors been low voltage?

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    One of the most ridiculous and unsafe practices I've ever heard of.
    Any HVAC tech doing in this would not be working for me very long.
    CW or CCW rotation of the fan can be determined by looking at the fan blade; rotation of the motor can certainly be set properly BEFORE installing the motor.

    I've also come across an unsafe practice where 230v condenser motors have been replaced with 110v motors with the neutral conductor connected to the chassis.
    Unbelievable what some folks will do to get a quick buck or save a trip to a supply house.


  10. #10
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    I agree that the picture in the original post is not okay but securing the wire under the wire cage makes it no more dangerous than the spinning fan blade.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    I agree that the picture in the original post is not okay but securing the wire under the wire cage makes it no more dangerous than the spinning fan blade.
    The spinning fan blade has its guard still protecting it.

    Now, if you were to remove the guard and expose the fan blade, I would agree that "securing the wire under the wire cage makes it no more dangerous than the spinning fan blade", however ...

    Because the AC tech had the good sense to leave the fan blade guard in place, they should have had the good sense to leave the guard (electrical protection - i.e., the junction box) in place too.

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  12. #12
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    As long as the wires are not accessible (under the wire guard) they are okay. If these wires need to be in a junction box then joints in a well need to be in a junction box. They are not accessible but the code says they need to be in junction box?


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    As long as the wires are not accessible (under the wire guard) they are okay. If these wires need to be in a junction box then joints in a well need to be in a junction box. They are not accessible but the code says they need to be in junction box?
    James,

    Your attempt at trying to find some justification for leaving the wires exposed boggles the mind.

    - 300.15 Boxes, Conduit Bodies, or Fittings Where Required.
    - - A box shall be installed at each outlet and switch point for concealed knob-and-tube wiring.
    - - Fittings and connectors shall be used only with the specific wiring methods for which they are designed and listed.
    - - Where the wiring method is conduit, tubing, Type AC cable, Type MC cable, Type MI cable, nonmetallic-sheathed cable, or other cables, a box or conduit body shall be installed at each conductor splice point, outlet point, switch point, junction point, termination point, or pull point, unless otherwise permitted in 300.15(A) through (M).
    - - (B) Equipment. An integral junction box or wiring compartment as part of approved equipment shall be permitted in lieu of a box.

    That equipment came with an integral junction box/wiring compartment as part of the approved equipment. When the fan is replaced, the junctions still need to be made in the manner which was with the approved equipment at the time of manufacture.

    To do otherwise not only leaves the work sloppy, but unsafe too.

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  14. #14
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    The NEC does not apply to this unit....but you want it to so feel free to make yourself feel better. And it does not take much to boggle your closed mind so it is no longer a challenge. (I have you on ignore but I had to read this post because I could feel you fuming!) You and Waton..two of a kind!


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    The NEC does not apply to this unit....

    It doesn't?

    Please explain.

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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    It doesn't?

    Please explain.
    Just a note - many of these motors have a 2-pole male/female plug which just needs to be unplugged, rotated 180 degrees and reconnected to reverse the rotation. There is just enough lead to have this plug hanging outside the motor to make the change. There are no long leads, so nothing to place inside a junction box.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    I see this a lot also. Some of my Home Inspection students with an HVAC background, had a hard time understanding why this was not a good idea...since...'everybody does it!' So I posted a You-Tube video for them. You can check it out if you want to see what happens after the insulation scrubs off the energized motor conductors.
    ‪HAZARD-HVAC cabinet energized2.AVI‬‏ - YouTube

    Glenn R. Curtis CMI
    La$ Vega$, Nevada
    Inspecting Nevada since 1982

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn Curtis View Post
    You can check it out if you want to see what happens after the insulation scrubs off the energized motor conductors.
    ‪HAZARD-HVAC cabinet energized2.AVI‬‏ - YouTube
    Glenn,

    Interesting, but ... you disappointed me with the video when I saw that long probe laying there (I'm sure you know where I'm going with this) ...

    ... I was looking forward to you picking that that long probe up and touching between the cabinet and something grounded and showing the sparking/arcing - now THAT would be so cool.

    Don't get me wrong, that video still shows why that is not allowed and is not a good practice to try to be away with for those who do try to get away with it.

    Does James work in your area? Maybe he could attempt to service that unit with it energized like that ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  19. #19
    Robert Alfred Moller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    This is pure laziness. No one would work for me if he ever did that. That is why HVAC technicians must be licensed, unfortunately they only need certification.
    NATE. HVAC Excellence, only two states I know on the East Coast have a real license.
    Here on Long Island they have Appliance License, limited Electrical License, Limited Plumbers License which most good companies have, however technicians are not required to have. Go figure


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    How long have 240 volt a/c motors been low voltage?

    That's what I was thinking too.
    Quick look
    (NEC) does not specifically define low voltage. Article 490.2 only defines "high voltage" as more than 600 volts. So under 600 is low voltage.

    As for the HVAC tech, there is an access panel for reason. To ACCESS the electrical wiring.
    If the fan spins the wrong way, just unplug the wires and reverse them inside the access panel. They have a 50/50 chance of getting right the first time. LOL
    Write it up as exposed energized wiring, as that's what it is. .


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Binford Tools View Post
    That's what I was thinking too.
    Quick look
    (NEC) does not specifically define low voltage. Article 490.2 only defines "high voltage" as more than 600 volts. So under 600 is low voltage.

    As for the HVAC tech, there is an access panel for reason. To ACCESS the electrical wiring.
    If the fan spins the wrong way, just unplug the wires and reverse them inside the access panel. They have a 50/50 chance of getting right the first time. LOL
    Write it up as exposed energized wiring, as that's what it is. .
    As mentioned in a previous post, the reversible leads only extend just outside the motor frame, just enough to make the switch with the plug. They generally are not long enough to reach the junction box. The issue is when a technician pushes them up through the fan guard thus leaving the connection exposed.


  22. #22
    Binford Tools's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Got it, Thanks!.

    Those look like simple spade lug connectors, but look to be fully insulated.



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    Last edited by Binford Tools; 08-15-2011 at 04:23 PM.

  23. #23
    Kenton Odom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    This was recently done on my unit. Can someone explain where the wire should go or provide an image as I am going to have to the fix myself. It seems my only option is to zip tie the wires below the guard unless someone can provide a better solution.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenton Odom View Post
    This was recently done on my unit. Can someone explain where the wire should go or provide an image as I am going to have to the fix myself. It seems my only option is to zip tie the wires below the guard unless someone can provide a better solution.
    See attached photo - arrow is pointing to liquidtight flexible non-metallic conduit used to route the fan wiring across under the protective grille and above the fan blades. The wiring (and those connectors) should be in there - actually, the wiring should be long enough to reach where they should go, there really is no need for those connectors, just feed the wiring through the conduit to where it needs to go ... except that takes too long for the a/c technician, so they just cut the wires off short and install those connectors, then tie the connectors up as shown in the original photo.

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  25. #25
    JOn Bennett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    See attached photo - arrow is pointing to liquidtight flexible non-metallic conduit used to route the fan wiring across under the protective grille and above the fan blades. The wiring (and those connectors) should be in there - actually, the wiring should be long enough to reach where they should go, there really is no need for those connectors, just feed the wiring through the conduit to where it needs to go ... except that takes too long for the a/c technician, so they just cut the wires off short and install those connectors, then tie the connectors up as shown in the original photo.

    LOL!! im sorry guys, i was just browsing this section of the site, and found this, and HAD to make a comment! Jerry, if you only knew what you were talking about, you would have a good argument! As Steven Saville has commented twice, the wires ARE NOT LONG ENOUGH to go into the controls cabinet. They are only about 4-6 inches long. The wires have the connectors installed already so all you have to do to change rotation of the fan is to reverse the wires. See my picture!

    This is a universal motor, not an OEM. If HVAC techs, like myself, had to have an OEM motor for every unit ever made, i would need more than the one ton service van i have now!

    Not trying to bash anyone, but it IS the right way to install that motor.

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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by JOn Bennett View Post
    but it IS the right way to install that motor.
    Not with those conductors and connectors exposed.

    That might be the way YOU and MOST installers install the motors, but that does NOT make it "right".

    The "right" way is to protect all the conductors and all connectors from exposure to the weather, people, and other potential problems which could lead to shock, electrocution, deterioration of the conductors or connects, etc.

    Surely you jest!

    Leaving those conductors and connectors (as shown in the original posters photo) is not the 'right' way to leave a replacement fan.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  27. #27
    Scott Cook's Avatar
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    No experienced technician would ever leave 240 volt wiring exposed to where a kid, dog, squirrel, etc. would be able to mess with it. I have installed hundreds of these motors, and most have information on the nameplate telling which direction they will rotate with the plug in the factory position, those that don't I just turn them on for a second before installing the guard and put the plug in the correct position, then tie wrap it to the other wires where they come out of the motor. I would fire an employee for leaving such a dangerous condition as seen in the photo,it is a lawsuit waiting to happen. It is also not correct to install the capacitor outside of the electrical box, but I see that done on occasion quite often. NEC is not used for machinery per se, but NEMA and other agencies prohibit this sort of dangerous wiring by manufacturers.
    Shade tree mechanics unfortunately, are not regulated.

    Last edited by Scott Cook; 02-08-2012 at 10:34 PM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by JOn Bennett View Post
    ...This is a universal motor, not an OEM. If HVAC techs, like myself, had to have an OEM motor for every unit ever made, i would need more than the one ton service van i have now!

    Not trying to bash anyone, but it IS the right way to install that motor.
    Agreed 100% and, of course the rotation leads should be nylon-tied to the other motor leads and NEVER left exposed above the fan grille as shown in the original post.

    Having the ability to change rotation easily by switching the leads was the best improvement to these motors. I remember in the "old" days, we had to disassemble and reverse the ends of a motor to change it's rotation.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Condenser Fan Motor Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cook View Post
    NEC is not used for machinery per se,
    While correct, per se, NEC 110.3(B) installation and use does address that issue: (bold and underlining are mine)
    - 110.3 Examination, Identification, Installation, and Use of Equipment.
    - - (B) Installation and Use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.

    And that was never listed or labeled for that type of repair.

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