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Author Topic: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?  (Read 13313 times)

Jason Lucas

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Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« on: November 11, 2013, 12:38:46 am »

My knowledge of power doesn't go very far beyond standard 15 amp wall sockets and standard NEMA 5-15p connectors.

I know in more professional audio applications they use power distros. Where can I learn some of the basics of what makes up one and how they're hooked up?
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Tim Perry

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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2013, 01:27:32 am »

My knowledge of power doesn't go very far beyond standard 15 amp wall sockets and standard NEMA 5-15p connectors.

I know in more professional audio applications they use power distros. Where can I learn some of the basics of what makes up one and how they're hooked up?

Yes, but it takes 2 to 4 years to read it.

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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2013, 03:00:46 am »

My knowledge of power doesn't go very far beyond standard 15 amp wall sockets and standard NEMA 5-15p connectors.

I know in more professional audio applications they use power distros. Where can I learn some of the basics of what makes up one and how they're hooked up?

Mr. Perry is spot on.  I'm still trying to fully understand the NEC from 2005.  :-/

A "distro" is, in NEC-speak, a sub-panel.  Its line-side connection takes big, high ampacity wire and connects those wires to a bus bar for each hot leg, neutral, and earth ground.  The line side of a circuit breaker is connected to 1 or more hot leg buses and the load side is wired to an outlet of some kind (along with the neutral* and ground).  It's analogous to the electrical system in your home.

I suggest http://www.amazon.com/Electricity-Entertainment-Electrician-Technician-Richard/dp/0240809955/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384156647&sr=8-1&keywords=richard+cadena

It's not exactly "for dummies" but you'll find it much more useful than readying the National Electrical Code.  That comes later...

* some loads do not require a neutral, such as 3 phase motors.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2013, 04:54:43 pm by Tim McCulloch »
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2013, 07:42:01 am »

My knowledge of power doesn't go very far beyond standard 15 amp wall sockets and standard NEMA 5-15p connectors.

I know in more professional audio applications they use power distros. Where can I learn some of the basics of what makes up one and how they're hooked up?
The whole "dummie" thing takes on a new meaning when you can kill people or burn down buildings or destroy lots of expensive equipment.

It is not something you "read", but rather something you learn-from people who know what they are doing.

Fundamentally it is pretty simple-if you understand the basics-but NOT something that should be taken lightly.
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Jason Lucas

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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2013, 01:29:05 pm »

Understood, I'm not trying to do a DIY sub-panel or anything right now, I just want to know more about power distros in pro audio applications, what makes up one, how they're wired, etc.

Our equipment has always simply been plugged into the nearest wall outlet, so we've never used a dedicated distro for audio equipment.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2013, 01:47:05 pm »

Understood, I'm not trying to do a DIY sub-panel or anything right now, I just want to know more about power distros in pro audio applications, what makes up one, how they're wired, etc.

Our equipment has always simply been plugged into the nearest wall outlet, so we've never used a dedicated distro for audio equipment.

What we do is build a private electrical distribution system that must meet Code requirements, just like your home or office.

I built my first distro almost 30 years ago so I could play a gig in a converted motorcycle service shop.  Lots of NEMA 5-50 for welders and other stuff, so I wired an electric range cord/plug to a 8 space subpanel breaker box, installed the outlets on the side of the box and wired in 20 amp breakers.  I think I used a little paperback book from the lumber yard "guide to electricity in the home and on the farm" (or something like that) for guidance.  Didn't kill anyone or start any fires, but the only thing about it that would be a violation of Code is the plug & cord set (not listed for the use).  It was retired long ago.

Do you have some specific questions about electrical distribution?  It's not magic, but it does require a healthy respect for the forces of the energy involved and an absolute commitment to safety.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Jason Lucas

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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2013, 04:01:57 pm »

What we do is build a private electrical distribution system that must meet Code requirements, just like your home or office.

I built my first distro almost 30 years ago so I could play a gig in a converted motorcycle service shop.  Lots of NEMA 5-50 for welders and other stuff, so I wired an electric range cord/plug to a 8 space subpanel breaker box, installed the outlets on the side of the box and wired in 20 amp breakers.  I think I used a little paperback book from the lumber yard "guide to electricity in the home and on the farm" (or something like that) for guidance.  Didn't kill anyone or start any fires, but the only thing about it that would be a violation of Code is the plug & cord set (not listed for the use).  It was retired long ago.

Do you have some specific questions about electrical distribution?  It's not magic, but it does require a healthy respect for the forces of the energy involved and an absolute commitment to safety.

I just want to know what a power distro for a pro audio system looks like. What components are involved, and how it's all wired together.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2013, 04:12:39 pm »

I just want to know what a power distro for a pro audio system looks like. What components are involved, and how it's all wired together.

You can usually think of a distro as similar to the main breaker panel in your house.  A big fat wire comes in, and then thinner wires get sent to each outlet or outlets in the home. The stove and dryer get bigger wires sent to them, as they need more than 15 amps, but pretty much everything else is small circuits.  It's the exact same concept for an pro audio distro.

Now, where things get complicated, is that you have to know what your source power is going to be, and how you're going to divide all of that stuff up.  A typical home will have single phase power which has 2 legs around neutral.  3 phase power has 3 legs.  Ideally, you want to divide your load so each leg has approximately the same load on each.  In a 3 phase situation, if 2 legs are loaded, and the third free, there is going to be more current on the neutral line than on either of the legs.  If the load is perfectly balanced, nothing flows on the neutral line.  Of course, that never happens, and a loss of a neutral line in any multi phase system can cause instant voltage swings that destroy gear.  Good times.

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Jerome Malsack

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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2013, 05:58:57 pm »

I will say that there is a separate forum for AC Power and grounding and believe this topic should be moved there! 
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2013, 06:36:17 pm »

Distro for dummies is any book someone reads and then believes they can build their own distro without consequences.
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Re: Is there a "Power Distros for Dummies" resource somewhere?
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2013, 06:36:17 pm »


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