Capacitor start submersible pump relay for irrigation

Discussion in 'Irrigation / Sprinkler Forum' started by Nathan Gant, May 21, 2020.

  1. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    I am working with a customer who has the mechanical indexing valves and controllers. I recently had to replace his capacitor-start (Franklin Electric) pump relay to keep the water going. This is wired into his indexing controller inside garage. His irrigation water supply is from a 240vac submersible pump outside next to indexing valves.

    I would like to consider installing a 24vac irrigation controller which can run his 3 zones without removing indexing valves. I am aware of several types of irrigation controllers which allow settings for changing pump delay times in software, which would be required to continue to use indexing valves. That, as you may know, is needed for indexing valves to work, as they are sequentially operated from pump ON/ pump OFF operation, when the sudden drop in water pressure "indexes" on to the next zone. So pump is started again for each zone to operate, and a lag time is needed for indexing to work.

    At some point the indexing valves and timer may need servicing and it may be cost effective to go with a 24vac controller and possible change over to electric valves in the future. So I would like to at least have a 24vac irrigation controller and working pump relay ready to work with indexing valves when that happens. Electric valves can be replaced later.

    The problem is that most irrigation pump relays I've seen are not capacitor-start and only are switched on by 24vac coming from controller. They don't provide enough boost to run a 240vac submersible pump. Can such 24vac pump relays be "piggy-backed" to work with the capacitor-start pump relay that use its own separate pump relay inside the indexing timer in garage? Would that mean timer has to be toggled OFF or toggled to AUTO to work properly? Also are there 24vac capacitor-start irrigation pump relays out there? No one at local irrigation supply store has an answer for me yet. I'm sure these types of pump relays are out there, but it's not a common one and I'm sure it's more expensive than the standard pump relays.
     
  2. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Your 24V relay just sends power to the pump control box with the capacitor which starts the pump.
     
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  4. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    Yes but the indexing timer has a primary pump relay and secondary relay (24vac) is what you are referring to. I need to keep indexing system operational but want to have the secondary relay work independently from primary relay. Should I be asking an electrician for advice? Are there capacitor start relays that have 24vac wires for that purpose? Probably more money, for sure.
     
  5. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    Also the Hunter 24vac pump relay is magnetic pull/solenoid only, no capacitor start in these models. Capacitor start is in OEM Franklin Electric relay , which is connected to indexing timer. No 24vac wires here.
     
  6. fitter30

    fitter30 Active Member

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    Three 24v relays with contacts all wired parallel to the start contacts of pump
     
  7. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    There are only two mechanical relays, one is the Hunter pump relay (solenoid) which connects from the 24vac supplied by Rainbird controller's 24vac relay outputs. The Hunter pump relay will work as designed for electric valves but it doesn't have the capacitor start to run a submersible pump.

    The indexing system timer has its own relay inside. Indexing timer has a toggle switch: AUTO, OFF, and ON. AUTO will run submersible pump based on clips in the timer, which allows a short delay before pump automatically starts onto next zone, the indexing valve mechanically advancing in sequence to the 3 zones once a brief drop in water pressure (pump OFF) allows it move to next position, i.e., after a short delay, the submersible pump is energized and back ON.

    Capacitor start is what I'm assuming is your third relay.

    I think that parallel connections for all relays as you suggest is part of the answer, but wouldn't L1/L2 inputs need to be re-routed to begin inside Hunter pump relay first? Unless I misunderstood the electrician on site, I was told that toggling indexing timer from AUTO and leaving in ON position will bypass the automatic OFF/ON cycles, overrides its internal pump relay, leaving the 240vac wires permanently hot, these are the 240vac wires that terminate inside Franklin Electric capacitor pump start relay. Is that what the indexing timer should be doing? I won't be able to be there onsite until next week to verify that.

    If that's the case, I'm guessing that I need to disconnect these two 240vac wires from the Franklin Electric relay (L1/L2 input) and instead run these 240vac L1/L2 hot wires into Hunter L1/L2 inputs first, and then run the Hunter L1/L2 output wires back into L1/L2 inputs inside Franklin Electric. So by my logic that allows for pump ON/OFF operation to be controlled from the Rainbird irrigation unit, as long as it is pre-programmed for pump delay in MENU settings. I really need to submit photos for clarification before I do this, I have a funny feeling that I might end up frying the Hunter and Franklin relays at the same time with this re-route of main wiring.
     
  8. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    The indexing primary relay is wired to turn on pump based on trigger clips from indexing clock. It cannot be bypassed by toggling from AUTO to ON unless clips are already in position for triggering and running pump.


    Note below in photo: white wire / Power Out from Hunter relay is wired with red wire in OEM pump relay. Per electrician on site. Hunter black wire / Power Out is in same spot as black wire going to submersible pump inside OEM pump relay.

    Question: if I bypass indexing relay, should the submersible pump wires, need to be re-routed into Hunter L1/L2 in, and Hunter L1/L2 outgoing wires should be wired back into OEM relay, L1/L2 power in?
    upload_2020-5-27_13-43-53.jpeg
    Yellow wire is by itself, white wire is actually connecting to red wire.
     

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  9. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    Nathan, did you get this resolved? I live south of you in Avalon Park.
     
  10. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    I have installed the new Franklin Electric pump relay, the original mechanical indexing valves appear to be working as the yard isn't getting dry anymore. I also have a new Hunter pump relay piggybacked to the Franklin Electric relay, and it's only there to check that the new irrigation controller sends the 24vac to the relay and it can be activated when it needs to do the job. I don't want to do any more modifications at this time, if it ain't broke, I'm not fixing it.

    In the future though, I'll keep both pump relays hooked up for the time being. Unfortunately the issue is still the same, Hunter relay won't work with the indexing controller which has its own relay. Indexing valves need a short delay so that the indexing cam will "index" sequentially to each zone. An digital-based irrigation controller has to have the "pump delay" feature in its software setup if you want the indexing valves to work properly.

    At some point, I'm thinking that I would have to internally bypass the indexing controller relay completely if I wanted to go to a newer digital-based irrigation controller to work. That would be nice but it's not a priority for the moment. And the other problem is that there apparently isn't a capacitor-start Hunter pump relay, or none that I know of. That's too bad, as you'd think there are plenty of submersible pumps out there that are used for irrigation. So capacitor-start relays are mandatory for those kinds of water pumps. You need that extra surge of capacitor high voltage to kickstart these kinds of pumps. The Hunter and Franklin Electric relays are staying hooked up in parallel for that future project.

    It would definitely be helpful to know someone who has tackled this kind of conversion before, but I haven't seen enough forum comments by knowledgeable "experts" here to trust their judgement. It seems pretty easy to act like a wannabe expert with simplistic comments until their job is put on the line, or if they can't produce the work to get the job done, otherwise they're out of business. The answers aren't really found in the manuals and you can't just do a google search and expect to find out how to do something like this.
     
  11. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    looks like everything for the past few months has been working fine until today, customer says he lost irrigation again. hopefully I can diagnose and narrow down the problem this week. I don't do submersible pumps, is anyone available to tackle this if that is the problem. Customer lives in Maitland, Central Florida.

    The pump is buried somewhere next to the K-Rain indexing system, and which I installed a new green irrigation box on top of it to keep it located in future. Don't know exactly where the submersible pump is, but it can't be too far from that box if it needs to be dug up and replaced.
     
  12. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    Up to a few days ago we been having extremely strong lightning storms for the past month or two. Maybe it was hit by lightning. Hopefully the 24v transformer took a hit.
    The wiring looks fairly hack up. It does look like a three wire pump.

    [​IMG]

    Jump to 4:50 minutes for the three wire pump.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
  13. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    Indexing irrigation systems are mechanically operated, so is no 24vac irrigation transformer to replace in this system. Indexing systems don't use 24vac electric solenoids and 24vac transformers aren't needed to open and close valves. Although I wish I could go with a more modern 24vac irrigation system, but I'm not sure how to convert away from the owner's indexing valves. So it's more cost effective to keep everything as indexing valves and run irrigation with the 220vac submersible pump.

    Besides that, I haven't found a standard 24vac irrigation pump relay that uses capacitor-start for 220vac submersible pumps. OTOH some newer 24vac irrigation controllers have pump delay settings in software for running indexing valves, because you need a short delay to advance to next zone with the indexing valve. That would be fine if you have irrigation on city water supply, but I'm stuck with servicing the system as indexed irrigation and submersible pump.

    So back to problem at hand. It may be a bad pump start capacitor in the relatively-new Franklin Electric 220vac pump controller box that I replaced a few months ago. This is a 1hp pump start controller that connects to 220vac submersible pump outside. I read that you can do an amp test when 220vac well pump runs, if under 30amps, it could need a new cap. Over 30amps, it may be pump motor not working. A replacement cap is fairly cheap, so I'm not out a lot of cash if it gets replaced. I understand that caps do go bad sometimes.

    I can't replace submersible well pumps, I'll have to recommend a pump expert or electrician to verify pump operation before major expenses need to be spent in that area.
     
  14. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    They don't make irrigation pump start relays with a capacitor. You just use the standard pump start relay in the irrigation controller to send power to the Franklin Electric control box that does have a start capacitor. If the pump is drawing more amps than the SFA listed on the Franklin Control box something is wrong. If the pump draws locked rotor or max amps on start up, you may need a new start cap and/or a new start relay in the Franklin box. And if you are having problems with the start cap and relay, then you are starting the pump too many times. Start caps blow when the pump is cycled on and off to much. You either need to match each zones output to the out out put of the pump, or use a Cycle Stop Valve to make the output of the pump match the irrigation.
     
  15. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    Thanks for that information.

    I just checked voltage from panel box, got the 220vac circuit coming in hot with K Rain indexing controller toggled in ON position, so I’m just going to swap out for a new capacitor.
    upload_2020-8-27_12-14-13.jpeg
    It’s says 270vac here, is that normal? I didn’t notice that much extra ac voltage when I first installed the capacitor start pump controller a few months ago.

    I clamped on output wire for amps but didn’t get any current draw. Would this be a bad cap?

     
  16. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    Also homeowner told me that about 2 weeks ago, there was a lightning strike in neighborhood and it zapped a wireless router and some other equipment inside house.

    Just ordered new 220vac cap so hopefully this will complete the circuit and get power back to pump.
     
  17. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    No current draw means the pump isn't running.
     
  18. fitter30

    fitter30 Active Member

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    The voltage to which a capacitor is subjected is not line voltage, but is a much higher potential (often called back electromotive force or back EMF) which is generated in the start winding. On a typical 230 volt motor, the generated voltage may be as high as 400 volts and is deter-mined by the start winding characteristics, the motor speed, and the applied voltage. Thats why capacitor voltage is 370 or 440 volt.
     
  19. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    Thanks for all the expert advice here.

    Speaking of lightning, I’ve once found an entire series of irrigation 24vac solenoids that all got zapped when a lightning surge traveled through the ground wires and hit half a dozen irrigation solenoids at once.

    It may be a bad capacitor in the system so a remove and replace with new one should at least eliminate 1 unknown here. Hopefully this will complete the circuit again.
     
  20. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    I just finished putting in a new capacitor, I’m getting 275vac output going to pump now
    upload_2020-9-2_12-56-57.jpeg
    However I tracked wires going to submersible pump and noted a significant voltage drop at that point, barely 27vac here. Would this suggest a bad wire or pump needs servicing?
     
  21. Nathan Gant

    Nathan Gant New Member

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    Here is photo showing voltage drop near pump in ground, only 27vac but output at capacitor start controller is 275vac.
    upload_2020-9-2_13-6-2.jpeg
     
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