4 Circuit Power Distro Question

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Jason Cathcart

New Member
Last week I put together a power distro, allowing me to plug into either a stove outlet (preferred, its 50 amps) or a dryer outlet to get power. I'm breaking this off into 4 15 amp circuits. Yes I know I have the potential to exceed the draw of the wall outlet - I just have to make sure I don't. Most of the venues I go to have these outlets installed, and having a board like what I built is very common.

Took it out for the first time yesterday, and plugged my fog machine into one of the 4 circuits I've got on the board. When the fog machine would start up I'd get a bang through my sound system, which was plugged into a different circuit on the board.

When I built this board I ran separate hot (black wire) and neutral (white wire) for each circuit, but I ran a common ground across all the outlets back to the breaker panel.

Would running a separate ground for each circuit solve my issue?
 

BillESC

Member
More than likely, your fog machine was on the same phase as your sound. Try to keep them on different phases.
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
I'm trying to picture what your describing but I'm not seeing it..
IE: you say "board" but you also say you ran individual white and black to each circuit? How are they jumpered back?

They I would have done it, would be to run the red wire to the two ccts on the left, and the black wire to the two ccts on the right.. The neutral (white) wire is common to all 4 ccts, same with the gounding wire..

can you take some pictures?
my first instinct (without seeing it in person) is undersized wiring.. IE: when the smoke machine turns on the current rush mementarily drops the voltage on the other ccts via the neutral wire?.

Would running a separate ground for each circuit solve my issue?
easy trouble shooting step is to remove the gounding wire on the box temporarily.. (and before all the safety people go nuts, I said temporarily to see if it makes a difference)
 
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Jason Cathcart

New Member
They I would have done it, would be to run the red wire to the two ccts on the left, and the black wire to the two ccts on the right.. The neutral (white) wire is common to all 4 ccts, same with the gounding wire..
That's how I've got it... Red for 1 & 2, and Black for 3 & 4 inside my breaker box.

I'm running 14ga solid strand to my outlets. The longest run is about 12".

No pictures - I wouldn't want anyone who doesn't know what they're doing electrocuting themselves ;)
 
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dobby10

Member
Easy way to test if it is due to the ground (which I'd say yes it is)... put a 3 to 2 converter on the fog machine that removed the ground plug and see what happens. I don't suggest running it like this, but as a test it should do no harm.
 

NickyB

Gear and Equipment Moderator
Like Bill said, both the sound system and the fogger were most likely on the same leg of the distro box. The POP when you trigger the fogger is caused by an electrical arc across the switch contacts. It can be eliminated by soldering a disc capacitor across the switch contacts.
 
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BillESC

Member
Like Bill said, both the sound system and the fogger were most likely on the same leg of the distro box. The POP when you trigger the fogger is caused by an electrical arc across the switch contacts. It can be eliminated by soldering a disc capacitor across the switch contacts.
Or making sure audio and lighting are on different phases.
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
well, I have had my different smoke machines on the same cct as my audio many times, and never had a 'pop' happen. so thats the part that confuses me.. Why, when using your distro your now getting one..
I'll be interested to hear what you find out..
 

dboomer

Member
Or making sure audio and lighting are on different phases.
You mean different "legs". Stove and dryer plugs are single phase 220V (well in the USA) ;)

I'm breaking this off into 4 15 amp circuits. Yes I know I have the potential to exceed the draw of the wall outlet
On a dryer plug you should have 30A at 120V for each leg and from a stove plug 50A is available so you really aren't drawing more than you should (assuming you've done everything correctly)

Very Important ... you do mean 4 cond plugs and not 3 cond plugs right? Do NOT use 3 cond services as it could be fatal. NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 14-30 !!!!
 
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hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
You mean different "legs". Stove and dryer plugs are single phase 220V (well in the USA)
same in canada.. I was thinking the same thing, but so many people say the same thing "phases" I have given up correcting people..
 

dj Vecchio

New Member
Hey Guys
I am sorry to say u will not get 4 separate circuits from any 2 phase plug when u separate the black and red wire. U only get 2.
There are 4 wires inside black red white and green. the only 2 wires that have power is the red and black,
and u are putting a lot of stress on the neutral wire...
why? Think about it, all your wire goes back to the same point and the separate neutrals u ran for the red and black still come to the same point which is then transferred back to the electrical panel in the building, 1 white wire. As for not over loading your gear well if u don't have a breaker that's is in between the actual plug u insert into the wall and the first point of the box you built, you can burn all your gear.
why u might ask... the outlet in the wall is attached to a DOUBLE POLE breaker running at 30 to 50 Amps. when u separated them u are no longer using it in the proper way it was intended and you could draw up to 50 amps to our gear which is mainly set for only 15 to 20 amps.
if u can figure out the buzzing I would set up your distribution idea with a few breakers so as not to burn your stuff.
good luck
i hope this helps
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
"...you could draw up to 50 amps to our gear which is mainly set for only 15 to 20 amps..."
WHAT??!?!??!
I think what he is trying to say, is with an accidental short, at 15 amp, the fuse will blow.. no major damage..
at 50 amps a fire is actually very likely..

and yes, i will ditto the fact that the proper way to do it is to run the stove plug to a garage type breaker panel (60 amp main breaker on top) and room for four 15amp breakers, then run the wiring from the breaker panel to four receptacles..

it might even solve the "pop"ing problem, as the breaker panel gives the neutral wire a true backplane.

Only way I can think of to explain on why this is important is to think of how water is run in an old house VS a new house..
in an old house when someone flushes the toilet, while someone is taking a shower, the person in the shower can get scalded.. this is because the water for the toilet is pulling pressure from the shower, upsetting the balance..
in a new house they run the water (hot and cold) directly all from the same point. if pressure is lossed, it is lossed equally on everything.. so less chance of a hot and cold shower ;-)
 
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Another thing to consider, is that on a PROPERLY wired 120/240 volt circuit, the neutral wire actually sees less current imposed upon it as each leg's load approaches an even figure. If you have 10 amps on X and 15 on Y, the neutral current is 5 amps.

When evenly loaded, such as when there is 15 A on x AND y, the neutral current is ZERO. The reason for this is because the AC wave forms from both legs have a 'zero crossing' point, and the neutral current effectively cancels out.

If you were to take 2 100-watt lightbulbs, and wire them from X and Y to the neutral, the current measured would be really close to zero. Cut that neutral wire, and the bulbs would still be able to light up and not be damaged in any way.

Check out this link over at Wikipedia that explains 120/240 volt 2-pole, 3-wire electrical service. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split-phase_electric_power
 

Jason Cathcart

New Member
Very Important ... you do mean 4 cond plugs and not 3 cond plugs right? Do NOT use 3 cond services as it could be fatal. NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 14-30 !!!!
Absolutely.

and yes, i will ditto the fact that the proper way to do it is to run the stove plug to a garage type breaker panel (60 amp main breaker on top) and room for four 15amp breakers, then run the wiring from the breaker panel to four receptacles..

it might even solve the "pop"ing problem, as the breaker panel gives the neutral wire a true backplane.
My box does not have a main breaker, perhaps this is the problem. I had assumed the breaker on the other side of the stove plug should be sufficient.

I haven't had a chance to do any more testing on this - I have to haul my smoke machine and a speaker into either my kitchen or laundry room to do it and that doesn't make my wife happy :)
 
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BillESC

Member
Hey Guys
I am sorry to say u will not get 4 separate circuits from any 2 phase plug when u separate the black and red wire. U only get 2.
There are 4 wires inside black red white and green. the only 2 wires that have power is the red and black,
and u are putting a lot of stress on the neutral wire...
why? Think about it, all your wire goes back to the same point and the separate neutrals u ran for the red and black still come to the same point which is then transferred back to the electrical panel in the building, 1 white wire. As for not over loading your gear well if u don't have a breaker that's is in between the actual plug u insert into the wall and the first point of the box you built, you can burn all your gear.
why u might ask... the outlet in the wall is attached to a DOUBLE POLE breaker running at 30 to 50 Amps. when u separated them u are no longer using it in the proper way it was intended and you could draw up to 50 amps to our gear which is mainly set for only 15 to 20 amps.
if u can figure out the buzzing I would set up your distribution idea with a few breakers so as not to burn your stuff.
good luck
i hope this helps
This is actually not quite correct. You can get four separate circuits from a single phase service.



This 30 amp single phase distribution box features a 15' 6/4 cable, four slot breaker panel and four duplex outlets.
 
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maestro

Well-Known Member
If I didn't scoop one for 50 bucks, I would have just bought one of Bill's, much easier that way. Mine has a 4 cond range plug on it. My good friend who is an electrician checked it out an gave it the green light. When I asked him about a 3 to 4 cond adapter he told me that I could not use a 3 cond dryer outlet. He explained why, I believe it was a grounding issue but I don't remember exactly. I'm sure Billy Bolts knows. :cool:
 
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