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brad2157

Power upgrade needed for 2011, look at my current layout

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2011 will be my first year with a larger show (going from 24 channels in 2010 to approx. 240 channels and maybe more) and I will need a lot more power. I know a lot of people say switch to LED's, but I have already bought a LOT of incandescents to use for my 2011 display and I also like the look of the fades, shimmer effects, etc.. that you get with the regular incand lights.

My electrical meter is on the side of the house and after reading several posts, I found this thread and want to add something like this to my house. (It will be portable with the exception of the two-50A outdoor socket holders-will be mounted on side of house, so I can bring in most of it during the off season and store in the garage or attic.

http://forums.planetchristmas.com/showthread.php/37800-New-200A-rated-weatherproof-porta-power-unit?highlight=panel

I want to add two - 50A outdoor, weatherproof socket holders, two - outdoor rated 125A breaker panels, and a large enclosure (maybe hoffman) to add my electrical plugs into. I plan to use GFCI breakers, so I don't have to purchase a ton of GFCI outlets.

---------------------------------------------------------------

My question is, how do I find out how many amps my outdoor meter is rated for? From what I understand, I will need to know the amp capacity of my meter, so I will know how many more breakers I can add to the panel to upgrade my power, without overloading.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Here is my current outside layout. Outside, the meter feeds an outdoor load center (breaker panel) that has 8 slots total. Of the 8 slots, 5 are being used (listed below). That leaves me 3 slots empty.

GE Powermark Gold Load Center

20 100

empty 100

empty 60

empty 60

----------------------------------------------------------------

Here is my current circuit panel for the whole house, which is located in the garage. It has 24 slots, 4 of which are empty.

GE Powermark Gold Load Center

15 20

15 15

15 15

15 20

15 20

15 20

15 20

30 30

30 30

empty 50

empty 50

empty empty

---------------------------------------------------------------

Please be easy on me, since I am new to all of this. I know that I may need to hire a licensed electrician, but even doing so, I want to know how all of this works and goes together.

Based on the information I provided, can you tell if I have room to upgrade and add some circuits like I want? If not, what do I need to check?

Like I said, please be gentle on me. Even if this is something I don't need to be messing with, I still want to know the "how" and "why" behind it, so I can learn.

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Looking at just the load you will have from controllers(240 channnels)15 controllers,that's 30(15) amp circuits to just run the controllers.Granted they will not be fully loaded all at once, but you still have to consider your current needs in your home.I got some advice early on last year and didn't take it until the last minute which left me scrambling to get my display up and running for Christmas. That advice was to plan out my display with ALL the elements you want to include.Here's a controller spreadsheet from quartzhill christmas that is editable that will allow you to calculate your loads on your controllers. I added a 125 amp subpanel to run 8 controllers that fully loaded at 100% pull 126 amps.Again, eveything is not ON all at once. I do electrical work and just the materials alone for the panel, wire, receps, breakers, ect was over $500. You also, probably need an electrician to assess your current power capacities. It really sounds from what info you have provided that you may need a 400 amp service upgrade. Costly!!!! Cliff http://www.quartzhillchristmas.com/resources/LightControllerCalculator252010vC3.0b.xls

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Along with the spreadsheet that Cliff offered, you can also look at the one that Richard Holdman used. In his spreadsheet he uses the RG difference (basically, he gets more "bang for your buck" by not turning on RED and GREEN at the same time. You can read more and get his spreadsheet here http://www.holdman.com/christmas/projects.asp

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I am using Renard 24 Channel DIY controllers. I will have 10 of them, each with two 15A circuits. I am doing a similar thing to Holdman's display, so I should be able to use the RG spreadsheet to save a little on max power.

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So you will have the 2-50 amp sockets power a pair of relocatable sub-panels? I guess you can use RV power cables to connect the sub-panels, probably cheaper than gen-set cables. Or maybe even just stove pigtails if you don't need a very long cord. In the off season you would even be able to power a big-honkin' motorhome (well, two, actually!). Interesting plan, keep us abreast of your progress.

ShantaClausSm.png

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So you will have the 2-50 amp sockets power a pair of relocatable sub-panels? I guess you can use RV power cables to connect the sub-panels, probably cheaper than gen-set cables. Or maybe even just stove pigtails if you don't need a very long cord. In the off season you would even be able to power a big-honkin' motorhome (well, two, actually!). Interesting plan, keep us abreast of your progress.

ShantaClausSm.png

Yeah, that is the idea. It would work out really well at my house, due to the meter & outside circuit breaker box is right around the corner of the house from everything and I would not have to run a million extension cords out of the garage. I only had 24 channels this year and it was too many cords to run through the garage window to go outside. I want to place my controllers outside this year as well. I have a security camera system now, so I won't have the worry of someone messing with my controllers (if they do, I will have some good footage for the police). I will keep you posted as I find out more information about my power upgrades.

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First off, hire and electrician to install the meter/panel combo. That is a must. It is not a DYI project.

After the panel is installed, go ahead and do what you feel comfortable with, hire for that which you are not. Electricity is deadly.

You have multiple issues with single point bonding and equipment grounds. Please refer that to a Qualified Electrician

Please do not use regular RV cable, it's too small (30A) You would need at least 6/4c ( awg #6x 4 conductors ( 2 hots,neutral,ground)) out door rated cable.

If you provide over current protection (breaker/GFCI) at 50A, your wire capable of 50A. Also, your subpanels should be NEMA3 rated (weatherproof) as well as having "in-use" covers on your recepticles.

822770.jpg

this provides protection for your outlets and cords while....wait for it......"in use".

Above all, please be safe.

Walt

Master Electrician

Electrical Inspector

Evil Genius (apprentice)

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Please do not use regular RV cable, it's too small (30A) You would need at least 6/4c ( awg #6x 4 conductors ( 2 hots,neutral,ground)) out door rated cable.

There are two popular choices for RV cables, the older standard which is 120v 30amp, and the new standard for large RVs which is 240v 50amp (with separate ground and neutral). One of the big advantages of using RV cables and sockets is that they are somewhat more rugged, since they are designed to be plugged and unplugged frequently and often the plug will have an integral grip which makes it easier to hold to remove (and keeps your paws away from the hot blades).

F98isBNL1J0Zs6wEVkoW3euZh2Rb8SnMoiVgJnN8ZNwgtlNHnXq_MnoeuMHTPEimqdc3FD12VfPuDbspwUTwWi97BunMcWyyeg7bXkZ1y9eUHnfuB3U_xQ5X1i_q-5HbxdcBZ0yEgrxXkzeIrdUxH4_1_lI3Qs1fqiEqxD5JxbRp0PUIlwd8QW4

ShantaClausSm.png

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I'd be very interested to hear how your electrician(s) design out everything! There are too many variables for us to be able to guess at a plan of action, local fire/inspection idiosyncrasies chief among them. The expensive part may be increase your service into the house (if required), but its all doable.

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I will keep you guys posted. I am going to see if I can find a "friend electrician" to save me some money. I believe my brother-in-law's uncle is an electrician, so I am going to see if I can get him to come take a look at it for me. Unfortunately I lost my job the end of October and have been looking for another job since, so I don't have much $ to spend at the moment.

Thanks for all the input guys!

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