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Multiple Electrical Sources

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Heckle, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. Heckle

    Heckle Member

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    Hi all,
    So I’ve recently embarked on a new challenge. Smallest “stage” I’ve seen, and absolutely no lighting equipment. The problem we are running into is power supply. I’ve scoured the internet’s and haven’t been able to find a direct answer for my question. If I am intending on running only incandescent fixtures and lower wattages at that. Is there a product or solution to combine multiple ac wall outlets from different circuits to have one higher wattage power supply. I would assume there is some way to connect them together to make a “bus” just as the power grid has multiple power stations. I just don’t know if this is feesable on a smaller scale or if it is even possible and where I would begin.

    Thanks,

    Heckle
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  2. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    Nice idea but the short answer is no.


    Get a PD that can handle all your fixtures and if the stage doesn’t have a service tie in call an Electrican and tell them what you need.

    Or

    Just go all LED and leave it at that.
     
  3. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Heckle Beg, borrow or purchase a couple of 'three lamp receptacle testers'. Test them all at home to ensure they're all working correctly. Tour the venue when you've time to spare and no one else in the building will be unduly disturbed by you periodically switching circuit breakers off and on. Carry a paper pad or a lap top. Test receptacles and make DETAILED notes of which receptacles located where, are on which breakers along with the amperage ratings of the related breakers. You'll likely find multiple duplex receptacles wired in parallel on the same breaker. You MAY find some duplex receptacles wired as splits where the two halves of a given receptacle are powered from two poles of a common-trip breaker. You MAY also find split receptacles powered from two non-common trip breakers. This would be non code compliant but you MAY still find this.
    Basically invest time, make copious detailed notes, and document everything you learn. Once you're armed with your ACCURATE documentation you'll be in a much better position to assess and utilize your situation.
    Been there. Done this. Sympathetically feeling your pain. (Retired IBEW construction and maintenance electrician and retired IATSE sound, automation and lighting worker, operator, programmer and department head.)
    If you're aware of the ProSound forums, you MAY wish to search there for "poor man's distro". Possibly @TimMc will chime in with a constructive comment or two.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  4. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Distributed dimming. As Ron said above, map the place out. Your answer is to go with multiple small dimmers ("Shoebox") usual 4 channels each. Remember, even if you find a clean and free 20 amp circuit, you are probably going to be limited to 1,800 watts total for the pack due to the 15 amp plug it probably has. Although two packs on the same plug may give you 2,400 watts total, you could not run a total more than 1,900 watts for an extended period of time due to the derate rule. Still, if your needs are moderate and you have a few 20 amp sources available, you can probably put something together that will work. One other caution: If you find outlets that are fed from different circuit breaker boxes (common in older situations) beware! Noise on the ground between such outlets may cause havoc with your DMX lines, or even damage equipment if the panels are not properly ground bonded.
     
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  5. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    I agree emphatically with Amiers - do not try to combine branch circuits! If there are no funds what-so-ever, you might have to say can't be done. Unless a very old and under served building, installing a 50 amp company switch - a big receptacle - should not be that expensive. And the LED route makes this a piece of cake - plug them in anywhere, distribute data - wireless may be viable here but wired not that hard -and go at it.

    Would help to know if this is a single production, or for a few, or "permanent" install. What one might do for one night is a lot different than for 5 years.
     
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  6. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    Also, lots of these small buildings were designed to have a laundry room and kitchen but many have since removed the stove and dryer. There's a bunch of power that can be rerouted for you. I've had to do this for film shoots to power a 12K.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  7. tjrobb

    tjrobb Active Member

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    Isn't a 12k pretty much a dryer / stove at close range?
     
  8. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    When you are talking about re wireing and or buying dimmer packs, some of the inexpensive LED fixtures start to
    look pretty attractive. For what you lay out for a dimmer, you can buy a couple to a few fixtures, and can power a whole slew of them
    off of one normal wall plug. I bought some used blizzard pucks for a song a few years back, and they didn't hold up, but at 100 bucks a pop, and 5 of the 10 still working, it still wasnt a bad investment
    Blizzard has come a long way and newer proparV12 are great... even that model has been superceded.
     
  9. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Dryer = 30x2 or 60 amps at 120 volts =7200 watts x 80% = 5760 watts net.
    Range = 50 x 2 or 100 amps at 120 volts = 12,000 watts x 80% = 9600 watts net.
    Now the bad news- Make sure this is all done (including distribution) by a qualified, licensed electrician. Many older buildings use 3 blade receptacles (no ground) and often the "Neutral" is actually the ground conductor in the cable (old Romex) which may actually be undersized. In addition, I have often found 4 blade receptacles with the same ground wire strapped feeding both the neutral and the ground, or the ground being left unwired. BEWARE! The deep fryer, range, whatever, may have worked... Just not in any safe, approved way.
     
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  10. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    John, I know you feel passionate about the 80% rule but that is for continuous loads - more than 3 hours. I would not think twice about using it for a single shoot at 12K, of course realizing the breaker might not hold. Never-the-less, acceptable safe and compliant with code. In drama, rarely are lights on continuously for three hours.

    Should you check ground? Sure.

    Doing a permanent install? Get a proper feed and company switch or panel checked or installed by a qualified electrician.
     

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