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Owning A Vacuum Contactor – A Perspective on Total Cost of Ownership

Posted by Hugh Waller

Apr 2, 2014 4:00:00 PM

You may be saying to yourself, "Duh! It costs what I paid for it." But in fact, there are many aspects to the cost of owning a vacuum contactor. We would like to share a few with you. Total Cost of Ownership is the purchase price of an asset plus the costs of operation. When choosing among alternatives in a purchasing decision, buyers should look not just at an item's short-term price, which is its purchase price, but also at its long-term price, which is its total cost of ownership. The item with the lower total cost of ownership will be the better value in the long run. Let's explore some different factors you may want to consider.

For example, the total cost of ownership of a car is not just the purchase price, but also the expenses incurred through its use, such as repairs, insurance and fuel. A used car that appears to be a great bargain might actually have a total cost of ownership that is higher than that of a new car, if the used car requires numerous repairs while the new car has a three-year warranty.

Now in the case of vacuum contactors, versus air break contactors, we consider:

Initial Price

Higher for a vacuum contactor than an air-break contactor but has a longer live span without maintenance. See blog on vacuum contactors versus an air break contactor. Factors such as less arc time & temperature, contact oxidation and contact replacement make vacuum a viable lower cost solution

5-Year View

Considering the factors mentioned above, maintenance costs alone should be plugged into a 5-year ownership model.


The air break contactors requires frequent contact replacement thus the need for personnel, a preventive maintenance process, repairs and materials consideration.

Operating Expense

Both contactors should have common operating costs based on coil voltage used @ KWh prices.

Downtime Costs

With the risk of contact welding and oxidation alone with a shorter electrical and mechanical life, air-break contactors run the risk of a sudden failure this impacting your customer’s product.

Maintenance Costs

Collected from points already mentioned, the labor, the material, shorter life span require a budget for ensuring the contactor is operating at full rated specifications.

Company Brand Image

Lastly, in today’s social media world, companies run the risk of a negative brand image if their product fails in highly visible “accidents” or downtime.

So, in conclusion, a 5-year total cost of ownership should be factored over just the initial purchase cost when considering the lower price air-break contactor or the vacuum contactor. Operating and commercial factors as described add to the cost model and add significant expense over a 5-year life cycle. Vacuum contactors have been known to last well beyond 10 years of use. Power quality and environmental considerations of the application may also want to be reviewed before final selection.

Topics: Joslyn Clark, Vacuum Contactors, Cement, Mining, Mills, Oil & Gas

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Written by Hugh Waller

Hugh has been with Danaher Specialty Products for about 4 years serving as our go-to-guy for Joslyn Clark applications support.


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