Male Socapex Panel?

IanTech

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Dec 6, 2018
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East Bay
We will be redoing our electrical on our stage, and one of the things we're constantly moving around is the 208V power soca cables. They tend to run from the distro up to the grid before being used. I know they make 19 pin Male Socapex panels, but I was wondering if anyone has seen, or if anyone has any objection to the idea of having a male socapex panel side stage, that 208V in electrical conduit up the wall and then out in the appropriate junction boxes distributed throughout the grid with a female socapex outlet?

This would drastically clean up the amount of socco run up the walls or behind legs. I feel like this would be useful for tours as well if they wanted to bring in their own soca dimmers and a generator so cable isn't needed to run up the wall. Are there any electrical code concerns? There are a lot of soca junction boxes with the female connector that run from dimmer racks and such, but what about those with portable distros used as a semi-permanent install until a tour or something needs reconfiguring?
 

STEVETERRY

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Aug 12, 2007
Location
New York
We will be redoing our electrical on our stage, and one of the things we're constantly moving around is the 208V power soca cables. They tend to run from the distro up to the grid before being used. I know they make 19 pin Male Socapex panels, but I was wondering if anyone has seen, or if anyone has any objection to the idea of having a male socapex panel side stage, that 208V in electrical conduit up the wall and then out in the appropriate junction boxes distributed throughout the grid with a female socapex outlet?

This would drastically clean up the amount of socco run up the walls or behind legs. I feel like this would be useful for tours as well if they wanted to bring in their own soca dimmers and a generator so cable isn't needed to run up the wall. Are there any electrical code concerns? There are a lot of soca junction boxes with the female connector that run from dimmer racks and such, but what about those with portable distros used as a semi-permanent install until a tour or something needs reconfiguring?
(Warning--the Deep Dive continues!)

You will by now be an expert in 520.50 Road Show Connection Panels!

However, your post contains an additional subtlety. You mention Socapex-type male inlets connected to Socapex-type female outlets via permanent conductors, servicing 208V circuits. A 208V circuit contains two ungrounded phase conductors. This would normally require a two-pole, common-trip circuit breaker as the overcurrent protective device in the Road Show Connection Panel. However, since there is no standard configuration for Socapex-type connectors, the permanent circuits could service either 120V or 208V circuits, depending on the portable distribution feeding the Socapex-type male inlet and the breakout assembly connected to the Socapex-type female connector.

This means you have to two choices:

1. Use single-pole breakers in the Road Show Connection Panel, and accept that an overload may trip only one of the OCPD's on the circuit, leaving one ungrounded conductor live when using 208V circuits.
1. Use two-pole common-trip breakers in the Road Show Connection Panel. Accept the fact that when using 120V circuits, a fault on one circuit will cause two circuits to trip.

On balance, I believe choice 1 is the most practical--since the OCPD's in question are supplementary to the OCPD's in the portable distribution feeding the Road Show Connection Panel.


BTW, for the 2023 NEC, there will be a proposal to article 520 covering "Special-Purpose Multi-Circuit Cable Systems"--or Socapex-type multicables. The NEC is currently silent on this subject.

ST
 
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TimMc

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Feb 15, 2017
I think before installing a load transfer panel, the OP needs to run the numbers and see how much additional labor and materials (cabling) are required to make his *aesthetic* issue go away.

Our PAC had a transfer panel that got used exactly ONCE since I started there in 1997 and was removed a few years ago when dimming and distribution were replaced to better accommodate traveling theatrical productions. I'm not sure how often it was used between 1969 and 1996 but my guess was "not often".

The other reality is that tours are *very* reluctant to use installed infrastructure because of the unknown condition of such. If a tour doesn't want to use the installed audio six pair to the spotlight booths, you can bet they'll refuse to use the house load transfers and run their own cable, period and end of story. Think about who benefits from this project, what it costs, and what else in the theater those funds could be spent on and I bet this project evaporates like an orange spray tan.
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Clayton NY 13624
I would think some cable tray like products for the vertical runs and leaving cables in them with good labels would be simpler and less expensive. Or even just some cable management rigging and thought about the route. Plus when the next guy comes in and doesn't like it, less to remove and less lost.
 

derekleffew

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2. Use two-pole common-trip breakers in the Road Show Connection Panel. Accept the fact that when using 120V circuits, a fault on one circuit will cause two circuits to trip.
Please elucidate how, "when using 120V circuits, a fault on one circuit will cause two circuits to trip."?
Would not the "two-pole common-trip breaker" interrupt both the H & N of any given circuit if a fault occurs?* Pretty sure I read somewhere NEC that a fused neutral is a no-no, probably roughly the same amount of infraction as leaving half a circuit energized when using scheme#1.

The other reality is that tours are *very* reluctant to use installed infrastructure because of the unknown condition of such. If a tour doesn't want to use the installed audio six pair to the spotlight booths, you can bet they'll refuse to use the house load transfers and run their own cable, period and end of story. Think about who benefits from this project, what it costs, and what else in the theater those funds could be spent on and I bet this project evaporates like an orange spray tan.
This. One-thousand times this.

BTW, for the 2023 NEC, there will be a proposal to article 520 covering "Special-Purpose Multi-Circuit Cable Systems"--or Socapex-type multicables. The NEC is currently silent on this subject.
Good luck with that. Users enjoy the silence. And also appreciate the excitement that comes from having to replace six expensive 120V 2K Fresnel lamps that once shone ever so bright for such a brief moment. "I TOLD you to label the cable. No, I told YOU to label the cable."
The key is to label the cable, and also lies in the mystery of pin#19.


*Unless using the rare non-standard Strand/Christie Lights Soca break-out pin-out.
.
 

Malabaristo

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Jul 11, 2008
Location
Wisconsin
On balance, I believe choice 1 is the most practical--since the OCPD's in question are supplementary to the OCPD's in the portable distribution feeding the Road Show Connection Panel.
This seems counterintuitive since it's ambiguous which breaker of (presumably) the same rating will trip in a fault condition. If the 1-pole breaker in the panel happens to trip first, then the 2-pole breaker in the distro probably won't trip--leaving a partially energized circuit. I feel like this is a case where you have to permanently designate this as either 120V or 208V and select a breaker to match in order to be even close to correct... but then I'm also just generally opposed to anything where you're using the same connector for two, very different purposes.
 

IanTech

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Dec 6, 2018
Location
East Bay
OK here's a weird thing. I gave indu-electric a call (makes the cube series that we have side-stage) and they said that a breaker-ed panel ISN'T required by code, at least here in California. I highly doubt anyone except me, and whoever I train will ever be touching the cam-lok and socco anyways, and a tour coming in may end up, as stated, using their own socco looms. I'm gonna say that it seems reasonable just to go with a standard male socapex panel for the house convenience and cost.
 

IanTech

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Dec 6, 2018
Location
East Bay
National Electric Code must not be the law in California then. Good luck!
I'm just stating what this guy who builds distros for a living does. And obviously I'd rather get this project done than spend an excessive amount of money on a potential problem that isn't a safety issue, but would only become one due to careless roadie. Seems to me, that person shouldn't be working in the LX Pit or Dimmer Beach in the first place. Proper labelling and warning signs will be posted as well. Plus it's dual-breakered at the company switch and then on the distro itself. A triple breaker seems to be overkill, no?
 

MNicolai

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Might want to double check that Indu is talking about the same thing as you. They make a bunch of portable distros and contraptions which can be a fuzzier distinction as to when/where codes apply and what you can get away with if you really want to. What you're asking about is permanently installed cabling which is far less fuzzy.
 

IanTech

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Dec 6, 2018
Location
East Bay
Begs the question would it be cheaper to run a new appropriate 208v feed to a plain vanilla OPD panel, motorized or not, with Soca females, at grid level ?? Lot of labor installing and wiring the male Soca plus OPD panel, at grid.
Yep, I've looked at that, but I'm all about flexibility. Spaces are constantly changing and let's say we wanted to run 120V for whatever reason, or dimmed power to a specific location in our grid, this would allows us to do that. (Bring in a portable dimmer with soca and run it to that location in our grid). Replace the breakout with the proper one (Dimmed L5-20 vs L6 for 208V non-dim) and we're good to go.
 

STEVETERRY

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Aug 12, 2007
Location
New York
Please elucidate how, "when using 120V circuits, a fault on one circuit will cause two circuits to trip."?
Would the "two-pole common-trip breaker" not interrupt both the H & N of any given circuit if a fault occurs?* Pretty sure I read somewhere NEC that a fused neutral is a no-no, probably roughly the same amount of infraction as leaving half a circuit energized when using scheme#1.

This. One-thousand times this.

Good luck with that. Users enjoy the silence. And also appreciate the excitement that comes from having to replace six expensive 120V 2K Fresnel lamps that once shone ever so bright for such a brief moment. "I TOLD you to label the cable. No, I told YOU to label the cable."
The key is to label the cable, and also lies in the mystery of pin#19.


*Unless using the rare non-standard Strand/Christie Lights Soca break-out pin-out.
.
Derek, you are absolutely right--duh! The two pole breaker will indeed interrupt both hot and neutral on a 120V circuit. That is allowed by code, as long as the breaker is common trip and clears both the neutral and the hot on a fault.

I humbly revise my recommendation. I have edited my reply accordingly.

BTW, voltage labeling is indeed part of the 2023 proposal to article 520.

Thanks,

ST
 
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STEVETERRY

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Aug 12, 2007
Location
New York
I'm just stating what this guy who builds distros for a living does. And obviously I'd rather get this project done than spend an excessive amount of money on a potential problem that isn't a safety issue, but would only become one due to careless roadie. Seems to me, that person shouldn't be working in the LX Pit or Dimmer Beach in the first place. Proper labelling and warning signs will be posted as well. Plus it's dual-breakered at the company switch and then on the distro itself. A triple breaker seems to be overkill, no?
With all due respect. your source is wrong. All Road Show Connection Panels per 520.50 require overcurrent protective devices.

ST
 

IanTech

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Joined
Dec 6, 2018
Location
East Bay
National Electric Code must not be the law in California then. Good luck!
Might want to double check that Indu is talking about the same thing as you. They make a bunch of portable distros and contraptions which can be a fuzzier distinction as to when/where codes apply and what you can get away with if you really want to. What you're asking about is permanently installed cabling which is far less fuzzy.
With all due respect. your source is wrong. All Road Show Connection Panels per 520.50 require overcurrent protective devices.

ST

Suppose we did do circuit breakers on each circuit. Do they make standard rack panels with breakers that you guys recommend? So we can run from the custom soca panels through the breaker panel then up the conduit? I'm trying to do this as inexpensively as possible. We're gonna need like 78 breakers , even if they're not all being used yet. Currently, our distro is only 4 outputs, but in the future we could add another pass through.
 

SteveB

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Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
If I can sum up, you want:

1) To eliminate the many runs of Soca from deck to assorted locations on the grid
2) Be able to use that Soca/breaker panel system to
A) Connect 208v power systems, ML's etc... at grid level from deck level power distro.
B) Provide for dimmed 120v circuits from deck mounted dimmer packs
C) Provide both of the above to touring events when they come to the theater so as to speed up the process of getting the multi's run from deck, to grid and down to overhead electrics.
D) Running the circuits into conduit as THHN eliminates "some" of the de-rating issues that apply to multicable, especially those bundled together to look neat and clean.

I think it's going to prove to be an expensive install. You need a Soca male panel on deck, a custom circuit breaker panel - either 2 pole (likely) for the circuits, conduit and wiring deck to grid, a Soca female panel at grid level.

A big question. When a deck level feed is 208v how do you indicate that at the corresponding grid level Soca receptacle, as opposed to the times it's a 120v ?. Concerns with that.

I understand the desire for maximum flexibility but I think it's an expensive system. Maybe prioritize the need. 208V needed the most ?, dimmed circuits to grid ?, traveling show circuits to grid ?.

I'd be thinking about grid level 208v power distro from a CB panel, having 120v in that as well for LED. I think your going to see fewer and fewer dimmed circuits in the future, including off road shows, where it makes sense for them to do LED and movers.

Not sure what the in-house system is like or the plans for the future in terms of replacing incandescent with LED.