After all these years of testing my own stuff I decided to get a commercial panel and evaluate it. Since I have been recommending American Rotary for the last 6 years I bought their 20 hp AD panel and used my own 20hp rotary idler motor.
I was concerned about one main issue that could mislead people, but found enough good surprises in there to keep recommending them. If I could have bought their ADX panel I would have got that. One of my conclusions after the testing is that they should do away with the AD model and just sell the cheap AR PRO and the ADX. Now they have other models listed but I feel the insides are the same it is just the packaging that is oriented toward different users.
My interest in the American Rotary came about from marketing claims made on their website. They have been hyping up the Microsmart™ controller with language such as precise voltage, precision voltage. This would naturally lead someone to believe that they have discovered what I would call the ‘holy grail’ of rotary converters; balancing the voltage on the load motor. Unfortunately that is still not achieved.
If you watch the videos you can see it performs exactly like a typical rotary converter. I felt that it was balanced midway for the 10 horse power load it is suggested for as the largest starting motor. Supposedly rotary converters can run up to three times their hard starting load. This would mean that this panel should be capable of running 60 hp of mixed motor loads. In my opinion I don’t know about that. I did run a bunch of tests on this unit.
I ran three different motors; a super small quarter horse blower, a mid range blower that can be varied from light load to heavy load, and a ten horse power vacuum cleaner that is very hard to start. Then of course we ran a welder and welded at 150 amps. These all ran as expected for a rotary converter. The vacuum started but took a long 12 seconds or so to get up to speed. At that rate you would risk destroying the motor from the strain and heat build up. Feeding 200 amps into a small ten horse for over 10 seconds in not what they are designed for.
To present more data and to give us some comparisons I also had a homemade 10 hp rotary converter and I used the 20 hp air compressor running from a transformer converter acting as a rotary converter. Not pumping air just idling. This gave us data to compare the results from the American Rotary panel to, instead of just looking at the results in a vacuum.
After the initial runs we then went into adjusting the balance as explained in the instruction manual from American Rotary. This allows you to bring the balance back to what would be considered good. We also ran two unloaded five horse motors and then ran the test motors at the same time. Again you had to rebalance with capacitors. All this can be seen in real time in part two of the video series.
In the last part of the series we did an experiment to test what I believe is the path American Rotary is following. They have gone way overkill in my unit on two things. The microsmart™ controller® and the start capacitors they are using. There is just no justification for using this expensive stuff unless they have bigger plans. It is my opinion that the ADX model uses these two items to provide the 250% more starting power their ads claim. The test I did with the vacuum cleaner showed that if they cut in the start caps they can make a dramatic difference in how fast the vacuum starts. From 12 seconds down to about 4 or 5. I state in the videos that all this is my conjecture and opinion as I am not privy to what their engineer’s are designing. But, if you look at all that is there you can pretty much come to that conclusion. I explain all that in the videos.
So what were the good points and what was my disappointment? The good was the expensive start caps and the microsmart™. You can not build the unit for the price you can buy the panel for. And that is not even close. The panel is an excellent deal. The disappointment was that I interpreted all the marketing language they used on the website to mean that they could balance the voltage at the load motor. I even talked to a salesman at the company and I asked him the direct question; “does the microsmart™ help to balance the voltage at the load motor.” He positively said “yes it does.” And in my testing and in my opinion it does nothing for the balance at the load motor. To be fair no one has come up with a way to do that with the rotary converters. I still recommend you buy one instead of trying to build one yourself. Now that you have watched the videos you can see how easy it is to balance it yourself and I would recommend skip the AD and get the ADX.