All about Big Brute Motors

We get a lot of enquiries about the Big Brutes and their motors. Have a read through our summary to find out more about them.

How Many Motors do Big Brutes have?

All Big Brute power units have 3 motors nestling in there.

Each motor is of power 1.2kW, giving the power unit itself a total power of 3.6kW.

3 motors inside a a Big Brute power unit


What's the Electrical Rating of a Big Brute Power Unit?

Big Brute power units are available in 230V or 110V versions.

Since each motor has a power rating of 1.2kW, the 3 motors in each Big Brute power unit give it a total power of 3.6kW.

230V Big Brutes are rated at 3.6kW and can pull a current of 13A.

110V Big Brutes are rated at 3.6kW and can pull a current of 24A.

Power rating of a 230V Big Brute Power Unit


Why do 230V Big Brutes have that strange, blue plug on them?

Domestic appliances have a standard 13A plug fitted to them. By comparison, these are quite fragile compared to the 16A plugs that are fitted to Big Brutes. They don’t like being dropped, or pulled hard, or being trodden on, or being dragged about, which are exactly the kinds of environments Big Brutes are likely to be used in.

Also, because 230V Big Brutes are rated at 3.6kW, they can, under certain circumstances, pull up to 13A of current.

Because of this, we fit all 230V Big Brute power units with a 16A plug (this is the strange, blue plug).

Now, obviously, you can’t plug this into a standard 13A 3-pin socket, so make sure you have a dedicated 16A supply on site.

If you don’t, you can use the Big Brute 16A-13A power adapter lead. This has a 16A socket on one and a 13A plug on the other, which will allow you to plug the Big Brute into a standard 13A socket. Just make sure your breakers and cabling are rated sufficiently to handle the 13A current the Big Brute might pull.

16A plug fitted to 230V Big Brute power units


Why do 110V Big Brutes have that strange, yellow plug on them?

Because 110V Big Brutes are rated at 3.6kW, they can, under certain circumstances, pull up to 24A of current.

Therefore, all 110V Big Brute power units are fitted with a 32A plug (this is the strange, yellow plug).

Check your transformer you’ve got there on site to make sure it has a 32A socket – many don’t as standard.

Also, check the rating of your transformer.  We recommend at least a 5kVA constantly-rated model with a 32A socket.

32A plug fitted to 110V Big Brute power units


Why can't I just use a cheap 16A to 13A adapter from the caravan shop?

That’s a really good point. You can indeed buy a 16A-13A adapter lead from caravan and camping shops.

Just check out the core diameter of the cables used inside the adapter lead, though.

Because the Big Brute can pull up to 13A of current, we make our power cables with a larger core diameter, and therefore larger cross-sectional area.

This reduces the amount of heat generated in the cable, reducing the likelihood of it overheating, melting or causing a fire.

Our power unit cables, and our adapter lead, are made from cables with 2.5mm2 core area. The adapter lead you can get from the caravan shop is very likely to be just 1.5mm2 core area. This lower spec could lead to overheating of the adapter lead.

We also fit a heavy-duty rubber 13A plug on the other end which can better withstand the tough environments your Big Brute’s going to work in.

So, for safety reasons, we always recommend using an official Big Brute 16A-13A adapter lead.

V1337 Big Brute 16A-13A Adapter Lead


Do the Motors Have Overheat Protection?

Big Brute motors absolutely do have overheat protection.

Remember the Cutty Sark that caught fire during restoration work in May 2007? This was caused by an industrial vacuum cleaner (NOT a Big Brute!) that was left running constantly for 2 days. It overheated and set fire to the ship.

All Big Brute motors are fitted with overheat protection devices, and always have been. These safely shut down the motors if the temperature gets too high.

As soon as the temperature comes back down to safe levels, they’ll restore the electrical power to the motor. Note that if your Big Brute is still plugged in, it’ll restart, so this is another good reason to always unplug your Big Brute when you’re not using it.

The Cutty Sark in Greenwich, London, not on fire any more. Photo by @johnhiggittphotography on Unsplash


Can I Replace The Big Brute Motors?

You can replace any of the motors in your Big Brute.

The Big Brute motors have been designed to give you years of trouble-free service, if the filters are always used correctly. However, sometimes they reach the end of their useful lives.

Any competent electrician can replace any of the Big Brute motors.

We supply motor replacement kits for 230V and 110V motors, regardless of the age of your Big Brute.

What we strongly recommend doing first is identifying the model number of your existing motors.

Remember to check the model number of all 3 motors, though – don’t assume that all 3 motors are the same. Although each Big Brute power unit is fitted with 3 identical motors when we build them, sometimes one or more motor might get replaced with an alternative over the years, so just quickly check each one.

Once you’ve identified your motors’ model numbers, head over to the Motors section of our spares website and find the replacement kit you need.

Big Brute Motor Replacement Kit


Why do Big Brutes have that switch that turns the motors on one at a time?

All Big Brutes (except the Economy Vac) have that 4-position switch that switches each motor on individually:

  • Position 0 – all motors off
  • Position 1 – motor #1 on
  • Position 2 – motors #1 and #2 on
  • Position 3 – motors #1, #2 and #3 on

When an electrical device is turned on, each motor requires a surge of power to get it running from rest, before settling down to its normal running values.

This soft-start approach of turning each motor on one at a time ensure that that these spikes don’t all happen at the same time. This means that your circuit breakers are much more likely to cope without tripping.

Does this mean that you can run the Big Brute on just 1 or 2 motors, if you don’t need the full power?

Absolutely not! We always recommend running the Big Brute on all 3 motors at all times. This ensures that all 3 motors get the same amount of wear and use. Running it on 1 or 2 motors leads to premature wearing on the motors that are doing all the work.

Have a listen each time you switch each motor on to make sure each motor really is running. Air is lazy and if you have a motor that’s not working, the other motors will will suck air backwards through it. This is going to adversely affect the performance of your Big Brute.

Big Brute 4-position switch


Can I use an extension lead with my Big Brute?

All Big Brutes are built with a generous 10m long power cable.

However, sometimes your plugs just aren’t in the right place, so you’d naturally just reach for your existing extension lead.

Just watch out though – remember the 230V Big Brute can pull 16A of current.

Most extension leads use thinner core cables, usually 1.5mm2 area.

This is usually fine for domestic appliances that don’t pull as much current but with a Big Brute, the larger current can cause heating in domestic extension leads. This can result in them melting or posing a fire risk.

Our official Big Brute extension leads come in 10m, 20m, 30m or even 50m lengths.

And, like the Big Brute’s power cable, are made from cables with a larger core diameter (2.52mm area, or even 6mm2 area for the longer ones.

This reduces the heating effect of the larger current, reducing the risk of overheating or fire.

So if you do need an extension lead, always use an official Big Brute extension lead, and always uncoil it fully before use.