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Author Topic: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon  (Read 7636 times)

Jeff Lelko

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8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« on: October 03, 2015, 06:33:47 pm »

Hi all,

So the title says it all (sort of) - I'm trying to use PowerCon with 8/3 SOOW.  The problem that I know I'm going to run into is that 8/3 won't fit into the standard connectors such as the NAC3FCA.  12/3 of course works and 10/3 is okay with some fidgeting, but I know there is no way I can get 8/3 into this.  Does anyone have a suggestion on how to make this work?  I've seen that there are 32A connectors available as well as PowerCon TRUE...  Will either of these do the job?  I certainly don't need the 32A capacity that the high amperage connector offers, but since this will be a 100ft cable (120v, 15A) I don't want to use less than 8/3.  Any input is much appreciated!

-Jeff
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2015, 07:47:52 pm »

You can't.  Not in any manner that will meet Code.  Hint: you're not allowed to modify the connnector nor are you allowed to remove wire conductive materials (you can't trim strands).
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Mac Kerr

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2015, 07:53:29 pm »

but since this will be a 100ft cable (120v, 15A) I don't want to use less than 8/3.  Any input is much appreciated!

Can we assume this was meant as a joke?

Mac
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Jamin Lynch

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2015, 07:53:38 pm »

Hi all,

So the title says it all (sort of) - I'm trying to use PowerCon with 8/3 SOOW.  The problem that I know I'm going to run into is that 8/3 won't fit into the standard connectors such as the NAC3FCA.  12/3 of course works and 10/3 is okay with some fidgeting, but I know there is no way I can get 8/3 into this.  Does anyone have a suggestion on how to make this work?  I've seen that there are 32A connectors available as well as PowerCon TRUE...  Will either of these do the job?  I certainly don't need the 32A capacity that the high amperage connector offers, but since this will be a 100ft cable (120v, 15A) I don't want to use less than 8/3.  Any input is much appreciated!

-Jeff

Why do you think you 8 gauge?
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2015, 09:04:53 pm »

#10 wire with a 15 amp load gives about a 3% voltage loss-peak draws would be a bit worse so #10 would be OK but perhaps marginal.  If you really need 8 the best way would be powercons to edison or twistlocks with a short piece of 12 then use 8 for the distance.  Not ideal, but it would work.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2015, 12:53:48 am »

Can we assume this was meant as a joke?

Mac

Mac, would you be able to explain what is wrong by doing this?

#10 wire with a 15 amp load gives about a 3% voltage loss-peak draws would be a bit worse so #10 would be OK but perhaps marginal.  If you really need 8 the best way would be powercons to edison or twistlocks with a short piece of 12 then use 8 for the distance.  Not ideal, but it would work.

That's pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking but wasn't sure if it's permissible to use a jumper/adapter like that.  I agree that it's not ideal though, hence I'm trying to see what other options are available. 

Why do you think you 8 gauge?

This is primarily for use with lighting (and getting power into places with no nearby outlets), so I'll be pulling a decently high continuous current (not to mention inrush) and don't want to incur unacceptable voltage drop.

Thanks!
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Mac Kerr

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2015, 11:22:10 am »

Mac, would you be able to explain what is wrong by doing this?This is primarily for use with lighting (and getting power into places with no nearby outlets), so I'll be pulling a decently high continuous current (not to mention inrush) and don't want to incur unacceptable voltage drop.

I regularly run my whole front of house on 250' of #10/3 and have 115V at the end. I have in a pinch done the 250' run with #12 with no ill effects. Using #8 wire for a 100' run on a 15A outlet looks like a lot of extra work, weight, and expense for no payoff.

Mac
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2015, 06:32:26 pm »

I regularly run my whole front of house on 250' of #10/3 and have 115V at the end. I have in a pinch done the 250' run with #12 with no ill effects. Using #8 wire for a 100' run on a 15A outlet looks like a lot of extra work, weight, and expense for no payoff.

Mac

Thanks for the explanation Mac.  Now, my understanding (which isn't great, hence I'm asking before doing) is more in line with what Stephen is saying - 10/3 could work but is marginal at 100ft with those current draws if I want to say within a 3% voltage drop.  From what I've gathered, the NEC allows a maximum of a 3% voltage drop on the main branch of a circuit at the farthest outlet of power, so if I'd like to be fully NEC compliant then 8/3 would really be the way to go, especially if the connectors I'm using are rated for a full 20A (and not 15 like a NEMA 5-15P).  Again, please correct me if I'm mistaken on any of this!  I just want to do this the right way even if it isn't the cheapest or most convenient. 
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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2015, 06:46:18 pm »

Thanks for the explanation Mac.  Now, my understanding (which isn't great, hence I'm asking before doing) is more in line with what Stephen is saying - 10/3 could work but is marginal at 100ft with those current draws if I want to say within a 3% voltage drop.  From what I've gathered, the NEC allows a maximum of a 3% voltage drop on the main branch of a circuit at the farthest outlet of power, so if I'd like to be fully NEC compliant then 8/3 would really be the way to go, especially if the connectors I'm using are rated for a full 20A (and not 15 like a NEMA 5-15P).  Again, please correct me if I'm mistaken on any of this!  I just want to do this the right way even if it isn't the cheapest or most convenient.

Listen to the people who've done this for years.  Rule of thumb for safe, practical use is 12/3 SO up to 100', 10/3 SO up to 150'.  Beyond that, get a generator and site it within a more practical distance.

I'd also suggest you use 20 amp circuits rather than 15.  If you can't get more than 15, investing in heavy, expensive cable is not the solution.  You need to sort out your power before that.

And I doubt that "NEC compliance" applies here...
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Jamin Lynch

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2015, 08:12:48 pm »

Mac, would you be able to explain what is wrong by doing this?

That's pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking but wasn't sure if it's permissible to use a jumper/adapter like that.  I agree that it's not ideal though, hence I'm trying to see what other options are available. 

This is primarily for use with lighting (and getting power into places with no nearby outlets), so I'll be pulling a decently high continuous current (not to mention inrush) and don't want to incur unacceptable voltage drop.

Thanks!

What kind of lights are you using? LED?
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2015, 10:07:42 pm »

Listen to the people who've done this for years.  Rule of thumb for safe, practical use is 12/3 SO up to 100', 10/3 SO up to 150'.  Beyond that, get a generator and site it within a more practical distance.

I'd also suggest you use 20 amp circuits rather than 15.  If you can't get more than 15, investing in heavy, expensive cable is not the solution.  You need to sort out your power before that.

And I doubt that "NEC compliance" applies here...

Believe me, I'm not trying to rock the boat or anything - just asking questions to get a better understanding of what matters when running portable cord and what doesn't.  The circuits I usually run power from are in fact 20A, however I'm usually forced to connect with a 5-15 which to my understanding bottlenecks that particular run to 15A.  I much prefer to use a true 20A connector when possible, but that's not always available.  I suppose NEC "compliance" wouldn't be the right thing to say as the 3% voltage drop is just written as a Fine Print Note and not as a requirement, but being that it's a performance issue is it just not worth the extra weight and cost to meet this suggestion (as Mac alluded to)?

What kind of lights are you using? LED?

Nope, no LED (yet).  I'm running halogen up to 575w per instrument and discharge up to 700w per instrument.  I don't always have access to the higher voltages either, so all this combined had made me think that 8/3 is a good idea when I really need to run 120v out to 100ft.  Also, the 700w instruments are movers and I didn't want them getting glitchy if the voltage dropped too much. 
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2015, 10:23:18 pm »

Practically speaking, I have no problem running a 100 foot #12 cord on a 15 or 20 amp circuit-what matters is your load.  Most of the time your going to be fine-if you load it to the max continuous and have surge type loads and have digital equipment or any devices sensitive to brown outs it could be marginal.

The NEC 3% is actually an unenforceable suggestion (unless the local AHJ insists-which I doubt they would)

An oddity of the code is that both 15 amp and 20 amp receptacles/plugs are allowed on a 20 amp circuit.  From my observation, the actual construction is the same (at least on quality devices) so I doubt it makes any difference whether the receptacle/plug is 15 or 20 amp-though the UL listing would argue otherwise.

What does matter is that ohms law applies equally to all parts of a circuit.  If, on one gig, you plug your cord into a receptacle 10 feet from the panel (which is fed by heavier wire) you might be fine.  If you happen to get a receptacle that has a 300 foot conduit run to the panel then you will have lower voltage available at the far end-whether or not that is a problem depends on your load.

On lighting loads, tungsten/halogen will be marginally dimmer at full brightness (do you run at full brightness very often?).  Leds, more than likely-and I would view this as a bullet point at purchase, have a universal voltage power supply which is going to be happy with anything from 100 to maybe as much as 277.  In that case, voltage drop is a moot point unless you let it get really bad.
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Samuel Rees

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2015, 11:07:23 pm »

It's a little odd I know, but I've been told here that the 15p and 20p connectors are electrically identical, the 20p just being around to put on 20-amp requiring single end-devices. Taking them apart generally confirms this. 

On the topic of powercon and 8/3 or 10/3... I don't see how even 10/3 could possibly work for powercon with a feeder caliber jacket. Southwire 10/3 SJOOW has a 14.7mm jacket diameter that exceeds powercons stated maximum of 14mm and that's SJOOW we're talking about, not really appropriate for long 100ft main feeder for diverse applications. For all my 'on stage' powercon cables I use that Southwire 12/3 SJOOW and it actually feels pretty damn tight in the cable chuck at just 12mm. Have you actually tried a 10/3 cable? What kind of jacket did it have? 

I use 12/3 100ft runs frequently. In my rig it's powercon on one side and 5-15p on the other.

If you are really set on a high gauge feeder cable I imagine you could get a small pack distro device with L5-20 input and powercon output, then get 8/3 feeder cable and put L5-20 on one side and 5-15p on the other.


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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2015, 01:51:01 am »

An oddity of the code is that both 15 amp and 20 amp receptacles/plugs are allowed on a 20 amp circuit.  From my observation, the actual construction is the same (at least on quality devices) so I doubt it makes any difference whether the receptacle/plug is 15 or 20 amp-though the UL listing would argue otherwise.

Yes. However, a 15A plug is intended to be used on appliances that draw no more than 15A. Since cords in the United States have no integral overcurrent protection, it is expected that the appliance hanging off the end of the cord draws less than 15A. Extension cords are intended to be used with a SINGLE appliance; running a power splitter or distro off of an extension cord is actually use outside of the safety listing of the cord. Power splitters/strips/distros are intended to be connected directly to a fixed, installed receptacle, not an extension cord. (Anecdotal; I haven't verified this.) While your electrical inspector may not blink at it, many fire inspectors/fire marshals will issue a correction order or citation for connecting more than one appliance to an extension cord. Some will even cite you for using more than one extension cord in series, and they will certainly cite you for using an extension cord in an obviously permanent or semi-permanent manner.

On the other hand, if you look at a proper distro, rather than a cord and plug, it has an input connector. This allows the use of a single cord between the source receptacle or connection point and the distro. (No intermediate connections.) So it's not considered an extension cord, and the intention is that the distro will be plugged into a receptacle that is on a dedicated circuit, and the ampacity of the distro's input cord is rated for the ampacity of the circuit.

If I recall correctly, the input cord's ampacity can be LOWER than the circuit rating, IF the distro has overcurrent protection no greater than the ampacity of the cord AND the length of the cord is less than some amount. But I may be mixing up two different code clauses; I don't have a code book available.

At least that's what I gather from what I've read and observed.

P.S. -- That hasn't stopped me -- or probably anyone here -- from daisy chaining extension cords, or plugging an outlet strip into an extension cord.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2015, 01:55:19 am by Jonathan Johnson »
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Jamin Lynch

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2015, 09:50:21 am »

Believe me, I'm not trying to rock the boat or anything - just asking questions to get a better understanding of what matters when running portable cord and what doesn't.  The circuits I usually run power from are in fact 20A, however I'm usually forced to connect with a 5-15 which to my understanding bottlenecks that particular run to 15A.  I much prefer to use a true 20A connector when possible, but that's not always available.  I suppose NEC "compliance" wouldn't be the right thing to say as the 3% voltage drop is just written as a Fine Print Note and not as a requirement, but being that it's a performance issue is it just not worth the extra weight and cost to meet this suggestion (as Mac alluded to)?

Nope, no LED (yet).  I'm running halogen up to 575w per instrument and discharge up to 700w per instrument.  I don't always have access to the higher voltages either, so all this combined had made me think that 8/3 is a good idea when I really need to run 120v out to 100ft.  Also, the 700w instruments are movers and I didn't want them getting glitchy if the voltage dropped too much.

How many fixtures you planning to run on 1 100ft cord?

Will they all be at full intensity all the time?
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Samuel Rees

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8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2015, 11:54:19 am »

More information about precisely how you intend to use this in a broader power distribution setup might be helpful, like are you running to other distro units and etc.
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Mike Pyle

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2015, 02:57:36 pm »

If you are running a bunch of lights that far away from the power source consider using socapex feeder with breakouts.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2015, 04:17:27 pm »

If you are running a bunch of lights that far away from the power source consider using socapex feeder with breakouts.
Good idea.
 However, I just found out that if you are running non dimmed lighting loads close to the 20A capacity, you can only use 3 of the 6 ccts in a SOCA....at least here in Ontario Can.
Perhaps a run of L14-30 or L21-30 to a break out box would work.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2015, 05:43:20 pm »

For all my 'on stage' powercon cables I use that Southwire 12/3 SJOOW and it actually feels pretty damn tight in the cable chuck at just 12mm. Have you actually tried a 10/3 cable? What kind of jacket did it have? 

Definitely.  I've made quite a number of 5-15 to PowerCon 10/3 cables.  This was a while back and I recall it being a pain to assemble (to the point I don't think I'd do it again), but I got them together without modifying anything or trimming the leads.  I believe I used the Carol brand of 10/3 SOOW for that.  I guess in contrast to your experience, the 12/3 has always felt a little loose to me.  The 10/3 was VERY tight though...

How many fixtures you planning to run on 1 100ft cord?

Will they all be at full intensity all the time?

It varies.  I'd say anywhere from 8 250W Par 38s to 4 500w Par 64s to 2 700w moving heads.  Regardless of the configuration, I stay at or under 2kW for margin though, especially if a 5-15 connector is involved.  The movers using discharge are pretty much a constant load while the halogens vary greatly depending on the moment.  I generally avoid mixing halogen and discharge on the same circuit (have had issues with halogen inrush dousing movers in the past). 

More information about precisely how you intend to use this in a broader power distribution setup might be helpful, like are you running to other distro units and etc.

I'm basically just looking to run power out from venue service or a distro to locations that need it for one reason or another.  Lighting would be the primary use - for far away trees with a basic shoebox dimmer or a few movers, though on occasion I might use the cables for sound work as well.  Nothing I do is terribly complicated in terms of power distribution.  I like what PowerCon offers which is why most of my rig uses it, but at the same time if using 8/3 with PowerCon is a no-go, I'm not hard over to fight it.  It also sounds like 8/3 is for the most part massive overkill for what I'm doing and using it would only complicate matters with no real benefit.

If you are running a bunch of lights that far away from the power source consider using socapex feeder with breakouts.

That's actually a great idea that I didn't think about.  I'm not sure that's what I'd like to do with this specific case but I'll certainly keep that in mind for future applications!

So since I need to make a decision on this fairly soon, it seems that the general consensus is that 12/3 works just fine and is PowerCon friendly, and if I do decide to go the route of 8/3 I'd need to use a different connector and some sort of breakout.  Just out of curiosity, would there be any issues (NEC or otherwise) with permanently attaching an outlet box to the end of 8/3, assuming that the strain relief on the box is sized for such a cable (such as the LEVITON 3059-2E)?

Thanks for all the input on this!

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Stephen Kirby

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2015, 06:36:18 pm »

On the other hand, if you look at a proper distro, rather than a cord and plug, it has an input connector. This allows the use of a single cord between the source receptacle or connection point and the distro. (No intermediate connections.) So it's not considered an extension cord, and the intention is that the distro will be plugged into a receptacle that is on a dedicated circuit, and the ampacity of the distro's input cord is rated for the ampacity of the circuit.

Interesting.  My small distro came with a 50' feeder on it.  I went down to my friendly industrial electrical supply house and picked up a pre-made 50' 6/4 CA extension cord for when I need to reach further.  It was a bit better price than buying connectors and cable.  I assume the only reason for this things existence on their shelf would be to extend runs from sources to spider boxes/distros.  I have had fire marshalls look at it and not say anything about the intermediate connection.  Now I'm worried that some stickler will call me on it and I'm up a creek.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2015, 08:45:03 pm »

Interesting.  My small distro came with a 50' feeder on it.  I went down to my friendly industrial electrical supply house and picked up a pre-made 50' 6/4 CA extension cord for when I need to reach further.  It was a bit better price than buying connectors and cable.  I assume the only reason for this things existence on their shelf would be to extend runs from sources to spider boxes/distros.  I have had fire marshalls look at it and not say anything about the intermediate connection.  Now I'm worried that some stickler will call me on it and I'm up a creek.

NEC Article 520.53(J)

(J) Number of Supply Interconnections. Where connectors
are used in a supply conductor, there shall be a maximum
number of three interconnections (mated connector
pairs) where the total length from supply to switchboard
does not exceed 30 m (100 ft). In cases where the total
length from supply to switchboard exceeds 30 m (100 ft),
one additional interconnection shall be permitted for each
additional 30 m (100 ft) of supply conductor.

Tail to feeder:  1 interconnection; feeder to extension feeder:  1 interconnection; feeder to distro:  1 interconnection.  You should be good.
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Scott Wagner

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2015, 09:37:16 am »

Interesting.  My small distro came with a 50' feeder on it.  I went down to my friendly industrial electrical supply house and picked up a pre-made 50' 6/4 CA extension cord for when I need to reach further.  It was a bit better price than buying connectors and cable.  I assume the only reason for this things existence on their shelf would be to extend runs from sources to spider boxes/distros.  I have had fire marshalls look at it and not say anything about the intermediate connection.  Now I'm worried that some stickler will call me on it and I'm up a creek.
I often use short "adaptor cables" to change the plug end on my feeder without actually having to change the plug. I've never had an inspector say anything about it. YMMV.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2015, 05:35:04 pm »

Thanks for quoting the whole thing Tim.  Most places I use the distro have an installed CA outlet so I really only have the one extra connection.  Even with the short adapter cable it still meets this.  There is one place I did this summer where they have a feeder cable coming out of somewhere (it's hanging under the eave of the building) with a CA socket on it and something like 150' of extension cord they run out to their outdoor stage, which I plugged the flying lead of my distro into.  So from my side of things, it sounds like I'm okay.  Not sure how that pigtail outlet is connected in their building, but that's their problem.  It meters good and GFCIs don't trip so I'm not worried about next summer.
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Re: 8/3 SOOW and PowerCon
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2015, 05:35:04 pm »


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