Author Topic: Electrical Wiring Options  (Read 3038 times)

Offline drlucas

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Electrical Wiring Options
« on: August 11, 2013, »
I've been thinking about this for a few weeks now, but would like some advice on which option I should go with for this year. I'm not 100% sure yet on the draw i'll be pulling, but overall my show is going to be based on 2 active hubs with about 20 SSCs loaded up with 100pixels each, 10 DSCs with about 400 rgb nodes in total and still to be determined, I have 3 LEs and 3 SSRs and still trying to figure out how to put them to use (icicle lights, simple candy canes, some mini trees, not sure).
 
My house electrical panel - 200amp service is located on the same wall that I want to mount the outlets outside so in either scenario I'll likely not need more than 10' of wire to get from the main panel to the outside.

Option 1 - a 125amp Subpanel with a 60 amp feeder breaker (via a 4 wire at 6AWG)
- i'd put in 3 x 15amp gfci breakers in it
- then run the wires down to three outlet boxes that are weather proof and have an in-use cover on it
 
Option 2 - three direct runs off simple 15amp feeder breakers from main panel and use a GFCI receptacle in weather proof box again with in use cover.

I'm not 100% sure if this is up to code (either the Canadian Electric Code or local code) but from a pure cost perspective option #2 is the $100 solution vs what's looking to be about a $500 job for option #1.

Any thoughts on the approach here? Do I even need 45amps for the show?

I'll be sure to validate the approach I take with an electrician before I move forward on this, but thought I'd start with getting the design on this important step done with some assistance of the folks here.

Thanks!
Ryan
-Ryan Lucas-
- Pickering, Ontario, Canada, Eh?! -

Offline caretaker

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2013, »
Ryan,
   First you want to total up the load for your regular lights and then add in the AC amperage of your power supplies for your smart strings. After you have that information you will know how many circuits you will need for your show.  I am not familiar with Canadian electrical codes so I won't begin to suggest any installations methods but I would suggest checking online for some help and then take a visit to you local electrical inspector and run it by him what you want to do and he should give you some advice including whether you can pull a home owners permit or need to have a licensed electrician do the work.  If you can do it yourself installing 4 to 6 outlets is not that hard BUT can be very dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.
Jeff Squires
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Offline drlucas

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2013, »
Yup...I have the three power supplies for the hubs all lined up...just need to figure the math out for the dumb strings...or get one of those kill-a-watt devices to see what the show really is going to draw. I need to do the sequencing a bit deeper too, because I assume white will draw more than a different mix of colors...and not sure what sort of dimming I need.

OK - so how about I approach the question from a different angle - what have others done to feed their show in recent years? From there I could look at the related youtube/vimeo vids from previous years and say, yeah that's about right. I saw one post here with a real slick looking portable setup but haven't been fortunate enough to find anything like that on craigslist or ebay yet.

As for my skill set with power....I've done a couple of electric heaters at 240v but nothing inside the panel. Been reading up and the most suggestions people have is that you do the rough-in work and then just have the electrician come out, inspect the work and do the connection.

Outside of watching a few youtube videos and seeing that I need a small piece of plywood and a good flashlight and touch the panel with one hand only and keep other hand on my hip, I really don't much about the main panel. I have learned a ton about neutral and ground this afternoon and gauge to amp requirements....but i'm not getting fried from an afternoon of youtube videos.
-Ryan Lucas-
- Pickering, Ontario, Canada, Eh?! -

Offline jnealand

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2013, »
With all LEDs ON my house and my mega tree, by total load is only about 3 amps, with 64 LED strings on the megatree , 4 windows, 80 ft of gutters, and 16 snowflakes on the roof.  Now my 16 300ct incan mini trees were a horse of a different color, took about 19 amps.  Same with my incan arches.  Both the mini trees and the arches are being replaced this year so that gets rid of a huge power drain, but even then those incan number were only when all lights were on.  My biggest challenge was finding enough outlets to plug cords into because of the topology of my display.  I was running 11 LEs and two hubs last year.  Only the mini trees and arches moved the power needle.

For your new pixels you are going to plug in two PC power supplies, would you be worried about adding two new PCs to your household?
Jim Nealand
Kennesaw, GA

Offline Steve Gase

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2013, »
The big thing to add is a GFI to the circuit.  Also, make sure that the outlet(s) you use are not connected to your freezer, fridge, etc.  With rain you can count on a trip of the circuit breaker.  <yk..
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Offline drlucas

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2013, »
OK....think i'm going down the right path here...I won't need a subpanel for mostly LEDs.

So the only question next for me to figure out is do I get a GFCI receptacle or the GFCI breaker. Economically I know the outlet is cheaper and with just the one receptacle connecting to the panel, my logic says the receptacle is sufficient, but this is where I'll go consult a local electrician. I have one GFCI breaker from an old above ground pool pump that I'm not running anymore so that gives me 1 to start with. I definitely will keep the circuit completely dedicated to just xmas lighting and nothing else...I have the spare real estate on the main panel. I will start thinking about the downstream plugs...but with just 3 the three LEs and two active hubs things just might not be that bad..

Appreciate the thoughts.
-Ryan Lucas-
- Pickering, Ontario, Canada, Eh?! -

Offline Steve Gase

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2013, »
my first year included building an "extension" cord that used a GFCI receptacle that was rated for 15amps, but the outlet I plugged into was a 20amp service.    this "extension" was used for my outdoor lights, and when it tripped it took only the outdoor lights offline.
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Offline drlucas

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2013, »
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and You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login have likely helped me make up my mind. I'll go with the cheaper route....will confirm that CEC is the same as NEC, but looking like a standard 15amp feeder breaker to a single outside GFCI waterproof outlet is the way i'm going to go. Just saved me a whole lot of cash that I can spend on more LEDs and thus saving me even more money in electrical bills in January :)
-Ryan Lucas-
- Pickering, Ontario, Canada, Eh?! -

Offline jnealand

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2013, »
I have a sub panel that supports a number of things in the house and also the AC unit outside the house.  Since I don't run the AC in the winter I put two 20amp circuits in the box and ran the wire to two outside GFCI outlets.  That actually gave me 4 places to plug extension cords in along with the already installed outlets on the front and other side of the house.  I used those two GFCI outlet to drive my incan mini trees and my arches since they were the only elements pulling big amps.  I ran everything else off one outlet on the front porch.  This year, after getting rid of the incans I can run my whole display off the front porch outlet since I calculate that I will only be pulling about 6-7 amps total.   Except for the LED snowflakes on the roof where I use an outlet on the rear deck just to keep the extension cord and LE out of site.  I've been putting my LE on the roof in the middle and running long spt2 cords to each snowflake, but I'm thinking this year of keeping the LE on the deck and making longer spt2 cords for the snowflakes.  I hate to go on the roof anymore than I have to.  It's h*** to get old - I'm 71 now and still addicted.
Jim Nealand
Kennesaw, GA

Offline tbone321

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2013, »
I would suggest that you go with the sub panel but in a different way.  I would install a 50A or 60A four pin outlet near the main panel connected to the same rated breaker inside the panel.  Then depending on how you want to do it, you can use either an indoor or outdoor subpanel mounted to a piece of plywood on some type of stand.  You can also mount the outlets and their cases on this panel as well.  If you use an outdoor subpanel, you can put the entire subpanel outside in or near the display.  If you use an indoor subpanel, you can place it near the window that you will be using to send the power outside.  Then wire it's feed with the 4 pin plug to fit the socket you installed on your main oanel. 

This will give you much more flexability, especially if you decide or need to add more circuits.  It is a piece of cake to add more circuits to an external sub panel than it is to run them in the wall near an existing panel and much safer as well.  When you don't need these circuits, just unplug the panel and put it away and if you need to add more, just unplug the panel and there is no way to get shocked while working inside of it.
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Offline caretaker

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2013, »
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and You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login have likely helped me make up my mind. I'll go with the cheaper route....will confirm that CEC is the same as NEC, but looking like a standard 15amp feeder breaker to a single outside GFCI waterproof outlet is the way i'm going to go. Just saved me a whole lot of cash that I can spend on more LEDs and thus saving me even more money in electrical bills in January :)
Go with a 20 amp breaker(s) and 12 gauge wire feeding 20 amp GFI outlets, the little bit extra in cost is worth it.
I regards to a temp panel setup, that is what I have, a 50 amp receptacle under my front porch then I have a 100 amp panel mounted on a hand cart with a 30 foot piece of 6-4 SJ rubber cord. I just plug the panel into the outlet and I am good to go, although with going to LEDs it is now overkill and will likely be replaced with GFI outlets around the porch.
Jeff Squires
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Offline chrisatpsu

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2013, »
I think you will still need to assess the power requirements of your show to see what you really need. You don't want to add a single 15 or 20 amp circuit if you're trying to power up 50 amps of items. but also, 100 amp sub panels are way overkill if you find out you're only running less than 20 - 30 amps for your show (even with room to grow)

As far as the power supplies, you'll need to know what they draw from the wall, maxed out. (which is usually right on the sticker)
As far as the smart / dumb  string nodes, you only need to figure out the amp requirements to make sure you have enough power from your power supplies (since you can't draw more power from a power supply than it's rated for.

plus you can try estimates for how you want your show to look in a few years (for example, if you're replaced incans with leds, or leds, with rgb stuff.) that way if you have an electrician doing the work for you, you'll only need him to do the job once. (at least for awhile)
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Offline tbone321

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2013, »
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I think you will still need to assess the power requirements of your show to see what you really need. You don't want to add a single 15 or 20 amp circuit if you're trying to power up 50 amps of items. but also, 100 amp sub panels are way overkill if you find out you're only running less than 20 - 30 amps for your show (even with room to grow)

While I agree that it is a good idea to have some idea of the power that you may need, it is not critical with a temp subpanel as it is easy to add circuits to it. A 100 amp subpanel is not overkill because they don't cost that much more than a 60 amp one and you don't have to power it to the full 100A.  The nice thing about the 100A boxes is that they have more breaker poositions which gives more options on power configurations which can be helpful when using GFI for this.

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plus you can try estimates for how you want your show to look in a few years (for example, if you're replaced incans with leds, or leds, with rgb stuff.) that way if you have an electrician doing the work for you, you'll only need him to do the job once. (at least for awhile)

That is the best part of the temp subpanel, you only need the electrician once, if at all.  The dangerous part is connecting the 4 pin outlet to the main panel since it is a live panel and if you don't feel confident working in there, that's when you might need the electrician.  If you are not sure on things, you may also want the electrician to make the connectins in the temp sub for it's feed power cord.  Working in the temp subpanel is much safer since you can unplug it before adding anything which makes it a dead panel with no risk of electrocution.   
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Offline zwiller

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Re: Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2013, »
Run your numbers but I would imagine (2) 20amp dedicated circuits GFI with in use covers at strategic locations would do it, and this coming from a guy would lugged a 100amp subpanel for his band to play...  I recommend a Kill-a-watt if you want accurate amp measurement or don't want to run numbers.   

With led and RGB I think the days of high AC requirements are limited.  I hope to be completely 12V this year!   
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Offline drlucas

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Electrical Wiring Options
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2013, »
2x20 is the way I'm going to go to start. And will invest in a killawatt

Thanks all for the advice.
-Ryan Lucas-
- Pickering, Ontario, Canada, Eh?! -