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Electrical Question???


HiramDawg
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I under stand the concept but am curious to how everyone runs their power. I already know I need to get a sub panel put in because I only have room for 1 more breaker in my main panel. Where do you put all of you receptacle's for so many channels. Just before Christmas I had a friend put in 3 - 2 gang outlet's on my front porch (this was before I decided to go with LOR) this really don't help me out much because all 6 receptacle's are on 1-15 amp breaker.

I guess I would like to see some pictures of where you guys put all these outlets you need to run LOR.

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Scott Blessing

I have 7 lamp posts going around my house and each has it's own outlet and they are all on the same circuit too, they were installed long before I knew what lor was.

I think it is more important where you put your controllers, you only run one or two power cords to the controller, you will run alot of cords from the controller to the lights. If you can get your friend to install some dedicated outlets on either end of your home You will probably be glad they are there. but it depends on what location is good for you.

I have a sub panel in a utility closet that I used for two circuits this year. My plan for next year is to install 6 ground faults right below it and run my power cords from there thru a short conduit in the wall to outside. figure I can cap it off when not using it. These 6 circuits will take care of my controllers that are running lights on ground level. I figure it was just as easy to use long power cords as it would to have individual outlets installed around the property. I like that If a gfi trips, it is very easy to reset in a room with light and they don't require weather proof covers. ( not a single trip this year :))

I also have two controllers in the attic each using two circuits. I had run a lot of extra wires to the attic during renovations incase I ever needed them, so I was lucky there. I have a very visible roof and can do alot on it so this works for me and it is nice to have the controllers inside too.

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I paid an electrician (about $200) to install two 20A circuits in my garage last year...

Called the same guy again this year for two more and he wanted $300. So I passed and made due, but I am definitely running out of amps.

Charlie

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This will be my first year with LOR, but I used to blow circuits with my static display long ago. When I added a screen room on the back of my house and a new deck, I added several outside outlets on different circuits, including a 20amp on the back of my house to use with power tools. I have been using long 16/3 cords to power some of my display. Right now I'm thinking about adding two outlets next to my outside A/C switch and use the AC power capacity for Christmas outlets since I don't run the A/C in the winter anyway. I've got 10ga wire running to that outside box so and a 30amp breaker so I figure I could break that up into two separate 15amp outlets which would be on the side of the house. Or I could just pull two new 12ga wires over to that area and put in two new outlets with 20amp breakers.

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Donald Puryear

jnealand wrote:

This will be my first year with LOR, but I used to blow circuits with my static display long ago. When I added a screen room on the back of my house and a new deck, I added several outside outlets on different circuits, including a 20amp on the back of my house to use with power tools. I have been using long 16/3 cords to power some of my display. Right now I'm thinking about adding two outlets next to my outside A/C switch and use the AC power capacity for Christmas outlets since I don't run the A/C in the winter anyway. I've got 10ga wire running to that outside box so and a 30amp breaker so I figure I could break that up into two separate 15amp outlets which would be on the side of the house. Or I could just pull two new 12ga wires over to that area and put in two new outlets with 20amp breakers.

Remember thats 30amps 240volts, You could put 4 15 amp 110 circuits. The only problem is that most a/c feeds do not have a neutral. You got to have the White wire to get 110v safely
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Guest wbottomley

Donald Puryear wrote:

The only problem is that most a/c feeds do not have a neutral. You got to have the White wire to get 110v safely


What.:shock:

Are you an electrician?
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Donald Puryear

Mountainwxman wrote:

Donald Puryear wrote:
The only problem is that most a/c feeds do not have a neutral. You got to have the White wire to get 110v safely


What.:shock:

Are you an electrician?

Yes, 20 years under my belt.:D
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Push,

Just curious ... so how many circuits are you using with your 64 channels? How many 15a and 20a ?

Donald, my building installed a 50a circuit for an electric range ... but I'm using gas instead. Can this 50a (double slot) in the panel be converted to something else or are those difference beasts?

I noticed that my main panel only has 4 slots available ... and I already have a smaller subpanel that is maxxed out (on house items, not LOR).

I have (4) 15a dedicated circuits I can use for lights, but want to add a lot more ... and wonder how I'll do it with only 4 slots left. I have 200a service and the house was built in 2005. I know sometimes they can convert a single pole into a double pole but didn't know if that was wise or not.

If you can answer, great ... otherwise, I understand you have limited time.

Scott

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Scott Blessing

taybrynn wrote:

Just curious ... so how many circuits are you using with your 64 channels? How many 15a and 20a ?



My first year with LOR and had 64 channels. all mini's and alot of c-7's. total light count about 19,000. two of the four controllers were divided power supplies, for a total of 6 circuits, 2 15 amp and 4 20 amp (110 amps total). My display with all lights on drew about 80 amps. Funny thing was that even though I had extra power to the controllers I was maxed out with my channels. I plan on adding at least two more controllers this year to add more channels to my current display. My 3 channel large tree this year will be 16 channels next year. Note: large tree not mega, Mine does not compare. Even though I will be adding two controllers, I am really not planning on adding a huge amount of new lighting. Wish I could do more but $ and the time, I have to be realistic.

I saw the picture of your lights, very nice! You already have a great start. Use what you have and try busting it up into peices and see what you want it to do and what you want to add. You might find that you have enough power with the circuits you are currently using. If you have a 200 amp service, are using gas, and already have 4 dedicated circuits for your lights, You are in much better shape than you think. IMO
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taybrynn wrote:

Donald, my building installed a 50a circuit for an electric range ... but I'm using gas instead. Can this 50a (double slot) in the panel be converted to something else or are those difference beasts?

That 50A double-breaker you have is equivalent to two 50A single breakers that are mechanically linked such that when one trips, it also trips the other.

Yes, you can use those slots for new circuits, but you'll have to replace the breaker with 2 20A (for 12-gauge wire) or 2 15A (for 14-gauge wire) breakers. Unless you really know what you're doing, you really want to get an electrician to do this for you.
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Donald Puryear

taybrynn wrote:


Donald, my building installed a 50a circuit for an electric range ... but I'm using gas instead. Can this 50a (double slot) in the panel be converted to something else or are those difference beasts?

I noticed that my main panel only has 4 slots available ... and I already have a smaller subpanel that is maxxed out (on house items, not LOR).


SCOTT: Yes, You could have an electrician change that the 2 pole to 2 20 amp breakers, or use that 50 amp breaker to drive a 2nd sub panel. The second subpanel could operate your display with another 6 -20 amp circuits.
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What is your opinion of those 'twin' breakers, which offer two breaker in a single slot? I know they are pricey.

I have 4 available slots and 1 on the left leg and and 3 on the right leg of the main panel. The right leg already has a 100a subpanel off of it. The left leg has a 30+30 and 40+40 breakers for two different A/C units on it ... so I'm think I safely have 140a of available capacity on the left in the winter months, since I'll NEVER run A/C then and hardly use it in the summer either.

I was wondering if a twin 50a or 70a could be used to feed a new 100a or 140a subpanel off the one remaining slot on the left leg of the panel where the A/C units reside but would not be used in the winter.

I'm then also wanting a basement subpanel ... so then I could use 2 of the remaining 3 slots on the right leg to feed that and still have 1 slot left on the right leg.

If I could get a new 140a subpanel, then I'd add 20,20 20,20 15,15 15,15 circuits and have enough for 64 channels of LOR ... 2 40a controllers and 2 30a controllers ... all dedicated.

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Donald Puryear

The small tandem breakers are ok for small loads, would not recommend them for a sub panel feed. If You have 4 spaces just install 2 full sized 240v breakers (1 for each sub panel) when it comes to loading on the panel the load is not figured by side, its figured by phase. Every other breaker is on A phase. EXample:

1----a phase-----2

3----B phase-----4

5----a phase-----6

7----B phase-----8

ETC:

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Ok, Well that helps a lot ... thanks for the explanation.

I'm not really look to do this myself ... but more or less understand

what my real options are.

So if this is my current setup:

40a ... a phase ... avail

40a ... b phase ... avail

avail ... a phase ... avail

I could add two subpanels like this (see below) ?

40a ... a phase ... +to subp C

40a ... b phase ... +to subp C

+to subp D ... a phase ... +to subp D

And are subpanels always fed with 240v breakers?

So I could add (2) 70a 240v breakers for subp C and (2)70a 240v breakers for subp D ... and then have two 140a subpanels to fill with whatever 20a and 15a circuits I might want?

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Breakers have a maximum voltage, but this is not important.

In the US, most residential power is 240 volt, center tapped, with the center tap grounded. This means that the "A" side and "B" side of the center tap are 180° out of phase. Sometimes this is called "two-phase" but that's not really the correct term.

The goal to maximize the capability of the equipment is to keep the current on the "A" side and the "B" side approximately the same. This is why the panels are wired the way the are. Because the 240-volt supply's center tap is grounded, an appliance (or subpanel) that requires 240 volts needs two breakers, on the two hot sides.

Subpanels are usually fed with both sides, so 240 volts is available, but I believe you can use a subpanel with just one side.

So yes, you could feed subpanel C with two breakers, so subpanel C would be a 240v subpanel, and subpanel D would be fed with one breaker, so subpanel D would be a 120v subpanel.

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Donald Puryear

taybrynn wrote:

Ok, Well that helps a lot ... thanks for the explanation.

I'm not really look to do this myself ... but more or less understand

what my real options are.

So if this is my current setup:

40a ... a phase ... avail

40a ... b phase ... avail

avail ... a phase ... avail

I could add two subpanels like this (see below) ?

40a ... a phase ... +to subp C

40a ... b phase ... +to subp C

+to subp D ... a phase ... +to subp D

And are subpanels always fed with 240v breakers?

So I could add (2) 70a 240v breakers for subp C and (2)70a 240v breakers for subp D ... and then have two 140a subpanels to fill with whatever 20a and 15a circuits I might want?


Not exactly if its a two pole breaker then its attached to A and B phase.

Your sub panel breakers have to be on the same side.

How many spaces does your panel have( factory marks)
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Thanks so much.

Any idea how much I should expect to pay for say just a 100a subpanel install with (2) 20a and (4) 15a circuits installed ?

I have a bunch of gfci outlets I could use to protect them with, or I could get the more expensiver GCFI breakers.

I'm just wondering what would be a fair price for adding just a single 100a subpanel (outside).

I'm thinking I'll wait on the basement subpanel for now ... and just get my immediate needs met with a little room for growth.

Thx in advance,

Scott

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I used the A/C disconnect.. Mine are 60amp feeds, and happened to have extra spaces, so I put 2 30amp doubles in- then ran 10/3 to each.. There was a neutral.. I've tried to balance each 10/3 so both phases are carrying an equal load to reduce the load on the smaller neutral.

Around here, we have to have an outside disconnect next to meter base, so that's an easy place to put a sub-panel... Just remember that the disconnect off the meter base will have the sub-panel and main-panel both coming through it... If you have electric heat, oven, hot-water heater, etc, those will add up.

The best way to tell is take the cover off and take a clamp type Amp Meter and check the load on each phase. I did this numerous times... Then once I had the display plugged in, I setup 'all' to 50% intensity and checked it. It's just simple math at that point.

You will find that a sequenced show will use a LOT LESS electricity than a static one.

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One of the electrical contractors I talked to told me something today that surprised me.

He basically said that I shouldn't run another 100a subpanel from my main panel and that it would be against code to do more than a 50a or 60a subpanel, because of all the things already in my main panel and because I already had a 100a subpanel attached and filled up as well. Does this sound correct?

He also seemed to allude that 50a or 60a is 'a LOT of power' ... and he kind of doubted I would need much more than that. Again, as a newbie ... I know that my static display (in 2007) was well under what the (3) 15a circuits I was using could handle, even wither everything on all the time, including a roof full of C9's.

So I'm adding more in 2008, in addition to going to LOR. But I've been measuring everything I have, plus everything new ... and adding it into a new inventory tab on my spreadsheet (varient of the Quartz Hill sheet) for controller mapping and load confguring.

Do people generally hook each controller up to a dedicated circuit? ... or do they sometimes share a dedicated circuit between two controllers if they know that combined amperage is still below 15 or 20? I'm inclined to try and stay totally dedicated, but the cost is much higher to support that. I do have a lot of those extension cords that turn into 6 outlets and such ... do people use those to spread a circuit to say two controllers very often? I know that knowing the amps is critical ... but assuming you know it and its below the limit ... is this dangerous or ill advised to do?

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Donald Puryear

Its not illegal here in Maryland. Your electrician will be able to determine if you can add more load to your panel. After all unless you have a heat pump your AC unit is off all sumer.(30 amps or better) I run multiple loads or controllers on each circuit. I just Calculate total load and connect accordingly

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Thanks Donald.

So hooking up say (3) 30a controllers (and the 6 extension cords to do that) would often be done using only 3-6 circuits, not necessary 6, correct? I really need to finish filling out the spreadsheet to see what my load with be per controller bank.

In 2007, I only used a total of 27.64 amps with everything going. That was on those (3) 15a circuits I already have.

So even with a lot of new stuff in 2008, I can't imagine I'd use more than double that.

I think, as usual, I'm over-thinking and over-planning (my actual needs). My 16 zone computer controlled sprinkler system is living evidence of that. But it sure works good! And there are even more unused valves and lines available, if need be.

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You can only add additional breakers to the capacity of the system coming into your house. If you already have a 100 amp sub panel filled, you may be getting close. I am pretty sure that code does not allow for the fact AC units will not be run in the winter.

Have you considered trading electrical power for LEDs? Before automation I was close to my max power. I received an estimate of $1500 to heavy up my main panel to 200 amp, add a 100 amp sub panel, and install a generator transfer panel. I think it was $1000 w/o the transfer panel.

I am starting to replace incadescents with LED. It's cheaper than a new electrical system. I am estimating that with the use of automation and LED, I will dramaticlly reduce my power requirements as my display increases.


edited for spelling/grammer.

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Thanks -- yes, I'm definately planning on LEDs in the long run, and at some point, getting away from the power hog C9's ... but right now, those are what I have and can afford. But your right, compare the costs of upgrading power vs. LEDs .. and the LED's start looking even better!

What do most people replace a C9 roofline strand with in the LED world that looks similar and works fine with LOR? I'm not a big fan of minis on the roof ...

I think long term, I'd love to go kind of micro-richard Holdman ... and eventually have red, green and white/blue ... and have it be LEDs primarily. Allthough those target 40% less power savers are pretty darn good for the $$. I have a lot of old icicles which are actually using more power than the C9s ... so those need replacing ... the old 100ct icicles are taking about the same power as a new set of 300ct icicles from target !!

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taybrynn wrote:

Do people generally hook each controller up to a dedicated circuit?

Last year (my first), I had 3 controllers, each with lights on all 16 channels, including 60 C-7 bulbs, dozens of strings of minis, and some LEDs, all hooked up to 1 15-amp outlet, which was shared with garden lights (which were off while the show was running), and a sprinkler timer (also off). Everything worked until January 3, when we had a storm that tripped the GFCI.

I had a contractor-style 3-way outlet, like this one: 1484708_Detail.jpg
I plugged a 3-way 2-prong outlet into it where I attached the first controller. The second controller was connected to this outlet with a custom 2-wire 16-gauge cord (I used a 2-wire pigtail on the controller.) The 3rd controller was connected with a 100-foot 3-prong green extension cord. It was all very ad-hoc.
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I am not sure about there but I know here you can have as many sub-panels as you want as long as you are not pulling more power then what is being serviced. You have to keep in mind all the people who may have swimming pools and hot tubs etc and use LOR have sub panels for those and then probably for swimming pools too. I have read people with 200 amp service where they have had a couple of 200 amp sub panels throughout their house for various things. As been mentioned it is all about how much your current load is now. Randall suggested probably the best thing you can do and I did the same and it is probably the safest why to determine your load. Turn everything you can think of in your house on, washers, dryers, dish washers, microwaves, AC, tvs lights, etc everything then get a clamp on meter or get someone to come meter it for you and see how much your house draws at full load. That will give you a good estimate of what you have to play with in case you would ever have everything in your house running which in most cases you probably won't so it will give you head room to figure in and play with so you stay within a safe range.

About the Quartz Hill spreadsheet one thing you should be aware of and I realized this a couple of weeks ago is that the numbers in the inventory sheet are not correct. So I would not use them as a general guideline. I found out after I bought a Kill-A-Watt that the lights I were using changed my loads greatly. So if you be a great asset to but one of those and get accuret readings. Where you might thing you are under 15 amps on one side or 30 for the whole controller might actually be more depending on the lights you use.

Don't worry about over planning and over thinking, I don't think their is no such thing when it comes to projects like this. It is better to be safe then sorry.

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