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  1. #1

    Repurposing Compressor into a Vacuum Pump

    Hopefully, this is the right place for this post. If not, I apologize. On my property is an old cooling house that was loaded with various coolers and such (there is quite a bit of parts if anyone is interested). I pulled a Copeland CRL3-0350-PFV (4 HP, 208-230V, 47,500 BTU) compressor from one of the industrial air-conditioners hoping to re-purpose it into a vacuum pump. I believe it has a capacitor start motor. Could I start and use this without a capacitor, using just a centrifugal switch? Or would it be necessary to insert the capacitor in series with the phase winding as usual? Also could I adjust the vacuum from the compressor by adjusting voltage (would it still work)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    If it has a start and a run capacitor, it "might" be possible for it to start without the start capacitor, but you will need the run capacitor. Otherwise it will over amp. I can't think of any possible way to rig up a centrifugal switch, but if you can figure it out, go right ahead and try it. I would have to believe it would be much better and easier to use the stock start components, though.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by ammoniadog View Post
    If it has a start and a run capacitor, it "might" be possible for it to start without the start capacitor, but you will need the run capacitor. Otherwise it will over amp. I can't think of any possible way to rig up a centrifugal switch, but if you can figure it out, go right ahead and try it. I would have to believe it would be much better and easier to use the stock start components, though.
    Thanks for responding. I was actually able to get the original start/run capacitors and relay switch from the air conditioner but they look very old and worn. I was thinking of just ordering a 3-Wire Mechanical Potential Relay & Start Capacitor 3.5 to 4.5 HP from Removed link to direct purchase site If I get a run capacitor and this, it should work fine, right?

    Also I was thinking that I would want to vary the vacuum pressure. I've read that this compressor runs on 26.5 amps (this seems really high!!) but most of the variable controls I've found are rated at 10 amps Removed link to direct purchase site. Any ideas on how I could handle that? Or would the compressor even run on reduced amperage?

    Please let me know what you think of these ideas. I'd hate to fork out a bunch of cash on this stuff only to find that it doesn't work.
    Last edited by jpsmith1cm; 12-06-2012 at 01:07 PM.

  4. #4
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    What is the vaccuum pump going to be used for?

  5. #5
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    Western PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by craig1 View Post
    What is the vaccuum pump going to be used for?
    good point.

    While a compressor CAN pull a vacuum, it really isn't designed to do so and it won't do the same job as a proper vacuum pump will.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2009
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    Prattville, Alabama
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    IMO, this endeavor is most likely a waste of time. And a compressor.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Me and my Dad used to make em out of compressors like that. They tend not to last very long unless you can change the oil in them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Refrigeration compressors also rely on the cool returning refrigerant to cool the motor. If you use a compressor as a vacuum pump it will overheat over time. You will vaporize the oil in the crank case under a vacuum and the oil vapor will be pumped out so you would also need to make sure there is enough oil in the compressor at all times.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2005
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    Atlanta GA area
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    Seen folks use compressors from refrigerators for vacuum pumps... what is said about oil above is important... check it EVERY time you use your new 'custom' vacuum pump...

    Problem with doing vacuum this way is: One cannot draw deep enough vacuum for anything associated with AC or refrigeration.

    For things like jewelry work (castings need a vacuum to get the air bubbles out), this can work.

    I am curious, what are you planning to use this for?
    GA-HVAC-Tech

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ga-hvac-tech View Post
    One cannot draw deep enough vacuum for anything associated with AC or refrigeration.
    I used to use them to do mvacs. BUT I had to leave them hooked up running overnight to get a decent vacuum.

  11. #11
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    And for the record, I don't use them anymore. They are probably more trouble than they are worth.

  12. #12
    You know, it would really just be general purpose vacuum pump. I'm trying to learn how refrigeration systems work, too. So it would be handy to have one around. But tt sounds like it would cost me nearly as much to fix this compressor than to buy one. Also, it's a 230v compressor that runs on 26.5 amps. I'm thinking this means I'll have to either upgrade a power source form the mains in my house or buy a 120/230v converter. I'm I'm wrong here please tell me. I'm probably better off going to Harbor Freight and buying one for 100 bucks. Can you suggest any other good sources for a pump?

  13. #13
    How much psi do you think I would get from a 1.5 CFM, 1-stage, 1/6 hp vacuum pump? I'm looking at this one http://www.mechanicstoolsupply.com/R..._p_18677.html# Another question, how long do you thing I could run a pump like that for? I didn't see any info on that.

    Thanks for responding again. You guys are helping tons. I'm pretty much an idiot when it comes to this stuff.

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