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Thread: Extension power wires for long term use

  1. #11
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    The very first thing is to discard rumours from fact. Even with the different electrical standards between the US and the UK, there is a common good practice system to follow.

    Each outlet in your home, office or studio has a maximum capability in it's design. We're not really interested in the voltage, but the current in amps. In the comments above, plenty of people are using 1 outlet, perhaps with 20A maximum capability. What do you have that takes big amounts of power. Looking at my own studio - nothing! If you want to put it into perspective, each device you have will have a label that says 1.2A or perhaps 4.5A, but loads will be small percentages of an amp - like all those wall wart power supplies. Add them up and see how close you are to the maximum. If you building is wired properly, then when you approach the maximum the connectors and wiring can handle, the current is switched off by an old fashioned fuse, or a miniature circuit breaker, an RCD Ground leakage device or other gizmo.

    As for those 4 and 6 way socket strips - use the ones that are physically strong and have a cable long enough to let them lay on the floor - never dangle a few inches off it! You can even daisy chain them - the usual advice is to never do this - but as long as you don't overload them, it's fine.

    Have a think about what you are connecting - let's say you have a heater in the studio that takes 15A - using that one 10A outlet gives you 5 amps for everything else, which is fine if your load comes to say 19A, but that heater does NOT want to be in the end socket on that string of 4 way connectors - because some of them are cheap Chinese imports and use cable that doesn't have enough copper in it. It's not uncommon for these things to actually get hot, and the normally stiff pvc cable gets hot.

    The responsible solution is to get a proper electrician to put you more outlets in. However, if you manage all the things that use power, you can organise things properly. Local code will set rules for the types of outlets and the circuit protection, but with proper planning most modern studios use very little power. It's heating and air conditioning that eat the power.

    I always smile when Bands with PA systems arrive at my venue and ask for power - we have 125A, 63A, 32A, 16A and 13A supplies available - and many have big power distros for their amp racks. One recently had forgotten their distro and was having a panic. The rack had 6000W of amps in it - which on our mains voltage is about 25A - the 32A supply was a little further away, but a 13A outlet was very close. The big current demand comes from the big spike when you turn on, while the load when running even very loud is much, much lower. They ran the entire rack fro the 13A supply.

    I'd advise simply having an add up of the current in Amps, or the Wattage on the label, if there is no Amp details - volts x amps = watts can be used to calculate this for most equipment. If your electrics are decent, then each outlet will be able to supply it's design figure - or at least the value on the breaker!

    Last comment - surge protectors. The vast majority of them are total rubbish! Some are well designed and can stop voltage spikes. Some, like the one I bought as an experiment were a one-shot device. The protection worked once, and then it had no effect. My voltage here is steady and pretty clean and I do not see a need for proper protection. Do you have a need for this? Dirty mains from arc welders next door? That kind of thing?

    Ideally cable lengths should be physically sensible for the room - so no coils of extra length coiled up, creating heat and potentially melting, no strips with 5A cable carrying 10A or more - that kind of thing. Well made and looked after temporary cabling is not dangerous. They get dangerous when abused, overloaded, squashed with heavy flight cases, slit with sharp edges, and being under tension.

  2. #12
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    Better than getting serge protectors is to get a UPS unit, one that has serge protection and power filtering inbuilt (not the cheap USP types) a UPS will save you if the power goes off to let you shut gear down properly and to back up work on the computer.

    I have a UPS on the console and hard drive recorders and another UPS on the computers. My power amps and the outlets in the studio that run guitar amps etc don't have any backup or filtering. Any earth loops that may exist between the different UPS's and the non filtered mains is controlled by isolation transformers on the computer audio, or audio earth lifts between the studio and control room. The UPS's are wired into the studio on their own power circuit and outlets. I do have a large mains isolation transformer that can be used if any of the guitar amps etc that come into the studio are noisy, but the transformer hums when in use (not audio but physical) so it has to be located outside the studio and feed in via dedicated power points. All this wiring has been approved by a licensed electrician.

    However all the power points used are on the same circuit and phase of the 3 phase power coming into the building. Air con is on its own phase and lights and kitchen on its own phase as to not cause spikes or interference.

    So in a small studio setup, get a good ups rated for the load and run all the gear off it.

    Alan.

  3. #13
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    Some people may not care...
    ...but if you're running your analog audio gear off any UPS...ideally it should be a UPS capable of generating pure sine wave AC.
    Only some of the more expensive UPS units are designed to do that...most of your basic UPS stuff is not, and the generate simulated sine waves...which are actually stair-stepped.

    Non-audio gear may not care....but analog power amps, pre-amps, guitar amps...basically any analog amplification circuit in any piece of gear could be affected negatively by non-sine wave AC.

    That said...a lot of the newer computers are using Active PFC power supplies...which don't work well with simulated sine wave UPS boxes...so it might be another reason to get UPS boxes that can generate pure sine wave AC if you want to run all your studio gear on them.

    I only run my computer and LCD monitors off a UPS...the rest of the studio is on voltage regulator and balanced power boxes.

  4. #14
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    An iec cable is the cable with the outlet plug on one side and the D-shaped plug on the other. The detachable plug on guitar amps and desk top computers are iec cables.

    Extention cable are the ones with an outlet plug on one side and an outlet on the other. It extends your reach to the outlet.

    Even though everyone knows what you mean, wires are the things inside the cable.

    You can tell how much an outlet is rated for by finding the breaker that it is attached to and reading the rating on it. If it is a 15 amp breaker, that outlet is on a 15 amp circuit. Mind you, there may be more than one outlet per breaker, so you have to add up the load on all the outlets attached to that breaker.
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording. I am also the forum spokesmodel for Terasyne Amplification

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    ...ideally it should be a UPS capable of generating pure sine wave AC.
    This ^^^, don't buy cheap rubbish, get a good one and it will protect the gear and give you a back up for power outage.

    Alan.

  6. #16
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    MOSTLY all good advice but I am surprised no one has mentioned 'earth (aka 'ground', aka 'hum') loops?
    These arise when two or more bits of earthed gear, a guitar amp and computer say, are earthed by the mains AND by the audio cables. One way to mitigate the effect is to run everything from a single, earthed mains outlet.

    Therefore you really DO need to pull all your juice from one point. Yes, in UK at least it is 'illegal' to run a diss strip off another diss strip but in practice, for the low currents even a seriously complex 'studio' would draw from audio/digital gear. A BIG valve gitamp would only pull about an amp.

    In UK (WTF are you PLEASE!?) 20A would be 4.6kW (actually more most of the time because we get 240V + not the 'harmonized' 230V!) so a single (double) 13A outlet could probably run Abbey Road!

    Surge protection and filtering are, as said, pretty much a waste of time and if you DO have a kart Mig welder next door, NOTHING will keep that out!

    Forget you ever heard the term 'Balanced Mains'. It can cause a dangerous condition, maybe not SO bad in US but lethal in 240 lands.

    DO buy quality mains strips. Look at products from CPC UK | Electronic Components | Electronic Parts (might be dot com?) A 4 way will cost 15 not 5 from Rock Bottom but it will last and not go intermittent.

    As said, don't coil mains cables and don't hide them under carpets although that is belts, braces and a bit of string, at the currents you are likely to pull there is little danger of overheating.

    Lastly...I know of 'single' phase mains and 'three phase' mains. Never come across a TWO phase supply?

    Dave.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecc83 View Post

    In UK (WTF are you PLEASE!?)
    He's in the US.


    Quote Originally Posted by ecc83 View Post
    Lastly...I know of 'single' phase mains and 'three phase' mains. Never come across a TWO phase supply?

    Dave.
    2 out of 3 phases run to every house. That is how we get 240v for heavy loads like a/c units, electric dryers, electric kitchen ovens..... and kilns, if you got one.

    Does this link help
    Understanding Residential AC Phases | AnOldMan.com

    [Edit] Maybe that's not quite right. In readiing a little more, in the US, a single line is split using a center tap transformer. Each leg coming off the xformer is 120v and 180 apart. We use a single phase to neutral to power light loads at 120v and across both phases to get the 240v. [Edit/]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split-...electric_power

  8. #18
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    Yes Mr C, that is what I thought the US supply was like (though had not appreciated that the 240V was cntr tapped to earth) . 120 V for light loads and the full winding for heavy ones.

    UK is quite different. We have local substations, BIG Mothers (my nearest one is in a building bigger than my house!) and these feed out 415V (nom') on 3 phases (120 degrees apart) under the road (mostly now) . Each dwelling is fed with one, 230V phase alternately so as to balance the total load.
    So, houses EITHER get 230 one P or (rarely) 315V 3 P. Bigger places, garages, supermarkets etc will get a 3P supply and the local wiring will balance the load, i.e. different floors will be on different phases. It is considered bad form to bring another phase supply into a room e.g. on an extension cable but in practice there is very little danger.

    N very B! I am NOT a power engineer! These are just things I have picked up on the way.

    Dave.

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