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Author Topic: "All the other bands use it...."  (Read 7881 times)

Jamin Lynch

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"All the other bands use it...."
« on: July 17, 2016, 10:18:39 am »

Had a private party at an old dance hall last night. We were looking around checking out the power when the owner came up to the stage, who was at least 85, and said we can tie into their "power supply" if we want to, just let me know so he could turn off the power to it. I immediately said this is totally not safe and would not be using it. That's when I heard the all too common phrase, "All the other bands have been using it for years with no problem." Yikes.

There happened to be 4 outlets across the back of the stage and 4 across the front which appeared to be OK. I was then informed that the ones on the back wall are all on a 50amp breaker and the front outlets are all on a separate 50amp breaker...Yikes again. They tested out to have about 112volts. There were no other outlets anywhere close by.

After scratching our heads for several minutes trying to figure out what to do, we finally decided to downsize the sound system and lighting (all LED thank God) to the bare minimum and evenly separate the power between the to sets of 50amp breakers. I was able to locate one other outlet about 50ft away that was separate from the stage power that I used for all the lighting. We held our breath as we fired up everything. So far no issues.

As the band was playing you could see some decretive lights dim every kick drum hit. So we brought the levels down just below that margin and didn't increase the volume any.

Fortunately, everything went OK.  The band quit early so we shut it down and got the hell out of there. Whew I can breath again.

 
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2016, 11:53:39 am »

Had a private party at an old dance hall last night. We were looking around checking out the power when the owner came up to the stage, who was at least 85, and said we can tie into their "power supply" if we want to, just let me know so he could turn off the power to it. I immediately said this is totally not safe and would not be using it. That's when I heard the all too common phrase, "All the other bands have been using it for years with no problem." Yikes.

There happened to be 4 outlets across the back of the stage and 4 across the front which appeared to be OK. I was then informed that the ones on the back wall are all on a 50amp breaker and the front outlets are all on a separate 50amp breaker...Yikes again. They tested out to have about 112volts. There were no other outlets anywhere close by.

After scratching our heads for several minutes trying to figure out what to do, we finally decided to downsize the sound system and lighting (all LED thank God) to the bare minimum and evenly separate the power between the to sets of 50amp breakers. I was able to locate one other outlet about 50ft away that was separate from the stage power that I used for all the lighting. We held our breath as we fired up everything. So far no issues.

As the band was playing you could see some decretive lights dim every kick drum hit. So we brought the levels down just below that margin and didn't increase the volume any.

Fortunately, everything went OK.  The band quit early so we shut it down and got the hell out of there. Whew I can breath again.

If someone told me those outlets you mentioned where on 50amp breakers I would have had someone show me to the breaker panel and then turn them off and confirm where they go. I always like to know where the breakers are if I am plugging into the wall so if one pops I know how to get to it quickly and reset it. And just checking out the breaker panel will usually tell you a lot anyway.

It wouldn’t hurt your equipment to plug into a 50amp breaker but if their wiring is anything like that picture they are probably not wired with heavy enough gauge so you might melt their wires if you were to draw too much current. I doubt that they were wired to 50amp breakers (and definitely) not properly if the power was sagging on your system. Unless your system is unbelievable power hungry.  Is that I typo and you meant to say they were 20amp breakers?
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Jamin Lynch

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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2016, 12:07:21 pm »

If someone told me those outlets you mentioned where on 50amp breakers I would have had someone show me to the breaker panel and then turn them off and confirm where they go. I always like to know where the breakers are if I am plugging into the wall so if one pops I know how to get to it quickly and reset it. And just checking out the breaker panel will usually tell you a lot anyway.

It wouldn’t hurt your equipment to plug into a 50amp breaker but if their wiring is anything like that picture they are probably not wired with heavy enough gauge so you might melt their wires if you were to draw too much current. I doubt that they were wired to 50amp breakers (and definitely) not properly if the power was sagging on your system. Unless your system is unbelievable power hungry.  Is that I typo and you meant to say they were 20amp breakers?

I probably should have checked out the breakers as you suggested, but the owner was already in a bad mood...didn't want to push my luck.

I was told by someone who knew the power situation that they kept tripping the breakers on the front and back stage outlets, so the "solution" was to change out the breakers to 50amp... :o

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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2016, 12:29:31 pm »

I probably should have checked out the breakers as you suggested, but the owner was already in a bad mood...didn't want to push my luck.

I was told by someone who knew the power situation that they kept tripping the breakers on the front and back stage outlets, so the "solution" was to change out the breakers to 50amp... :o

If you had some incandescent lights that drew a lot of power you could have just kept plugging enough of them in till it melt the wiring then they would have to have some electrical work done and maybe get it done properly. Are we afraid of reporting these obvious code violations? I used to get in trouble for pointing out violations and then learned to keep my mouth shut and just call the fire marshals office anonymously.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2016, 01:04:50 pm »

If you had some incandescent lights that drew a lot of power you could have just kept plugging enough of them in till it melt the wiring then they would have to have some electrical work done and maybe get it done properly.

Well, that old insulation would likely catch on fire, and then you have a fire inside the walls of the building. Of course that's why we don't oversize the breakers to begin with. Many years ago I did some playing gigs in a few old clubs like that, and I finally convinced them to let me install a 50-amp/240-volt "stove plug" for my band. That's when I started bringing my own 100-amp distro.
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2016, 02:25:27 pm »

Well, that old insulation would likely catch on fire, and then you have a fire inside the walls of the building. Of course that's why we don't oversize the breakers to begin with. Many years ago I did some playing gigs in a few old clubs like that, and I finally convinced them to let me install a 50-amp/240-volt "stove plug" for my band. That's when I started bringing my own 100-amp distro.

I probably should have put some sort of indication that I was being sarcastic. I was also going to say to do this before you loaded in your gear so when the place burst into flames you wouldn’t also be sacrificing your gear. And I was trying to make a point with sarcasm, but that hardly ever works.

I stand by my suggestion of an anonymous call to the fire marshal. How would you feel if you knew that an overload of those outlets was dangerous and you ignored it and then down the line someone is hurt when the place burns down?
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2016, 02:34:32 pm »

If you had some incandescent lights that drew a lot of power you could have just kept plugging enough of them in till it melt the wiring then they would have to have some electrical work done and maybe get it done properly. Are we afraid of reporting these obvious code violations? I used to get in trouble for pointing out violations and then learned to keep my mouth shut and just call the fire marshals office anonymously.

The problem is, in many cases, the AHJ only has jurisdiction on new construction.  Minor violations won't be addressed-major ones might be if there is a clear danger to the public.  The government can't fix everything (whether or not it should try to is a political debate outside the scope and purpose of this forum)-as individuals and businesses we have to do the right thing-even if it means turning down an opportunity to make some cash.  Obviously "all the other bands" would rather live dangerously than make the owner mad.  The question is, do you want to be one of "all the other bands"?

If everyone refused to use the setup, it would get changed!
« Last Edit: July 17, 2016, 10:01:47 pm by Stephen Swaffer »
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Mike Sokol

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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2016, 03:18:12 pm »

I probably should have put some sort of indication that I was being sarcastic.

Yes, I knew that. But I get to play the straight guy in the comedy team... ;)
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Mike Sokol
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2016, 03:23:32 pm »

Yes, I knew that. But I get to play the straight guy in the comedy team... ;)

When I nod my head you hit it.  ;D
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Mike Sokol

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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2016, 04:22:23 pm »

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Mike Sokol
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Re: "All the other bands use it...."
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2016, 04:22:23 pm »


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