Welding Receptacles: Believe the Hype?

woman displaying welding receptacle

So far, we have covered industrial Wiring Devices as well as Motor Disconnect Switches. Now, let’s combine the two and cover a product group that is well known in the industry but infrequently covered: welding receptacles.

What Is a Welding Receptacle?

First and foremost, Welding Receptacle come in many different names. They can be commonly referred to as Welding Outlets, Switched Receptacles, Switched and Interlocked Receptacles, or Interlocks. No matter what the name, the product functions the same. A welding receptacles takes the following two electrical concepts…

  1. Disconnecting Means
  2. Plug & Receptacle Standardization

…and combines them into one. The benefits here are numerous. For starters, these types of devices allow for power to be disconnected within an electrical enclosure using a standard switch. Additionally, a receptacle is provided in the same enclosure that follows the IEC 60309 standard. That essentially means that you can take a standard IEC plug and power a machine with it. A Welding Receptacle in the field may look like this:

Hubbell Welding Receptacle

Is That the Only Benefit Of a Welding Receptacle?

If you weren’t convinced by the description above, I don’t blame you. That’s not an earth shattering kind of product on its own. However once you’ve seen something like this..

Square D Disconnect with receptacle

…it may strike you why this is important. The key with this product is safety. The word “Interlock” in some of the descriptions for a Welding Receptacle are meant to demonstrate that a plug cannot be disconnected under load while plugged into a Welding Receptacle. This prevents a user from the potentially harmful arching that can occur when disconnecting a live electrical connection under load. Most of these Welding Receptacles also have a padlock so they can comply with OSHA Lockout/Tagout regulations whereas the picture above would not. See below:

OSHA Lockout Tagout Handle for Welding Receptacles

How Does It Work?

Without going into too much detail, when a plug is mated with a Welding Receptacle, there is a “plunger” piece that locks the plug in place once energized and turned on. It’s important to note that if the plunger hasn’t been triggered, it means that the plug isn’t fully mated and you need to try again. Only when the switch is turned back off does the plunger allow for the plug to be removed.

Where Are Welding Receptacles Used?

So, the most obvious answer here you have probably already figured out. These are used in Metalworking, Steel Mills, and other facilities where welding or fabrication occurs. We would call this “Old America”.

However, in recent years there has been a shift and broader adoption in Food Processing wherever there is portable equipment. Even once the food is manufactured, there are Welding Receptacles that are connected to truck docks for trucks that have cold storage (think seafood, frozen vegetables, etc). Additionally, wineries and shipbuilding use these as well. There are even Explosion Proof (called Class Rated) devices that can go in chemical plants or in oil refineries. Basically, wherever portable equipment is being used and the machine has an IEC 60309 standard, Welding Receptacles can (and in our opinion, should) be used.

 

You should now understand what a welding receptacle is, why it’s important, and where it’s used. If you are looking to buy one, you can find them at your local distributor or online. Good luck!