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Author Topic: Stage Band Power??  (Read 7534 times)

Luke Geis

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2018, 02:19:49 pm »

I realize this thread is on the old side, but I too have started the shift into powercon stage box power distro. The price that many demand for these units is a little outrageous to say the least. In the end it is a steel or rubber box with common connections contained within it. I sourced a few boxes from Prospeakerparts.com and the quality of them is great. You can get powercon stuff from all over the world rather inexpensively even in non bulk pricing. For one box I have gotten the parts cost to under $25. The single largest cost is the 12/3 Sjoow power cable!!!!! DO NOT BUY FROM HOME DEPOT......... I went there just to get a short length to finish out my proof of concept box. I bought 35' and it cost me $56!!!! Roughly $1.50 per foot before tax.  You can typically find sjoow online for just under $1 per foot, so I was a little burnt there. Needless to say, once you have the parts, the box pretty much builds itself. I bought a bunch of stainless steel #6-32 screws in 1/2" length in both standard and countersunk varieties with lock nuts and I can put 1 box together in about 15min.

So the question is this. IT seems obvious to me, but when you buy the larger brand boxes they all tout 20 amp ability. I too have 20 amp receptacles in my box. As soon as you place a Nema 5-15 plug on the stinger cable, you now have only a 15 amp rated outlet stinger and outlet. All of the stinger cables that the larger companies sell are simply that, a stinger with Powercon on one end and a Nema 5-15 on the other. One such model even has 20 amp GFCI plugs in it, but it may ultimately still be powered by a Nema 5-15 plug........ So what is the actual proper way to deal with the downgrade in amperage rating? If you plug your Nema 5-15 into a real 20amp rated circuit breaker, the edison plug is still only rated for 15amps. How are the bigger guys getting away with selling a product that is UL/CE listed at 20 amps when you know damn well it is going to get powered via a 15amp plug?

My wonder being, would it be best to simply get a 20 amp rated Furman rack distro and use real 20amp plugs? Or is the consideration that the chances are really high that multiple stringers will be connected into 1 15-20amp circuit making it almost impossible for you overload any 1 single Nema 5-15 plug? To me the right way is to make it 20amp rated for the entire system, thus eliminating any potential weak point. Since I am doing this for band / backline power I intend on having a GFCI inline anyway. What is the actual proper way to do it though?
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2018, 08:06:11 pm »

I can't imagine the difference between a 15 amp load and a 20 amp load overloading a plug-the distinction is primarily the blade configuration.  Code allows both 15 and 20 amp receptacles to be installed on a 20 amp circuit-only 15 amp receptacles can be installed on a 15 amp circuit.  It is primarily intended to prevent large single loads from being installed a 15 amp circuits.  If you look at the internal design of a 20 amp receptacle it actually has less contact area with the blades because of the provion to accept both a vertical and horizontal blade.

Keep in mind that GFCI protection is a completely differerent consideration and technically unrelated to the actual ampacity of a circuit.  The GFCI fault thresholds are essentially the same for different ampacities of circuits (There are difference in types of GFCI-but irrelevent to this discussion.)

Where getting "real" 20 amp plugs makes a difference is in the internal construction of the distro-which obviously is subject to a different standard if it passes muster.  In this age of engineering to the razor edge, a 100 plus year old design is unlikely to be the weak point.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2018, 10:38:46 pm »

Makes sense to me. I didn't look at it that way. I just didn't want to ever have a city official come by and ask if they are A: homemade and or B: Why do you have a 15 amp plug with 20 amp receptacles attached to it?....... These boxes I am making look very legit!!!

I was unaware that code allowed the use of Nema 5-15 plugs within a 20 amp service. I just know that 5-15 plugs say 15 amp. This makes more sense seeing as a 20 amp receptacle has the accommodation for both 15 and 20 amp plugs.

As for the GFCI, I was looking at just a rudimentary safety feature that was plugged inline to the on stage power. I understand that GFCI is not considered the greatest safety devise, but I rather have something instead of nothing. I realize it might be cruel to place the GFCI upstream of the whole band, but if one guy was going to get it, I may as well stop them all from getting it at once. If the GFCI trips at least I can get the bands attention. Still not 100% sure how I want to implement that yet to be honest.

My intention is to have power drops at each monitor position and in the other key places on stage. I would then have a power strip with a short lead for each one that is in essence my way of keeping the cleanest and most accoutermented stage in my area! I would at this point be the only one in my area that utilizes modular stage power! The stringers with the metal install boxes are just hideous and cumbersome to deal with.....
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Brian Adams

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2018, 06:55:51 pm »

I would put 15A plugs on, not 20A. Even if your distro has 20A outlets, it's very likely that you'll eventually need to plug this into a 15A outlet somewhere. Maybe a wall outlet, maybe someone else's distro. It'll happen.

Also, you mention using power strips. I hate power strips on stage. If a band wants to use their own, fine, but I won't provide one because I don't carry any. I have plenty of quads though. My quads are black, don't have switches or breakers, and they're not cheap plastic. They're much better than a power strip.

A power drop at each monitor position would be great, but it's probably overkill. Plus you'd still need backline power. Just run a stringer upstage for backline and another downstage for pedals and fans and iPad chargers, then you'll probably only use 1 or 2 other quads for random things and usually not even that many. Most of my quads don't see much use since I built stringers.

BTW, there are some very interesting things on that prospeakerparts website. I think they've built some stuff for me before, actually. They do good work, nice find. A rubber box is much better though. They don't bend, dent, scratch, rust, short out, or damage stage floors like a metal box will.
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Rob Spence

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2018, 07:11:19 pm »

I have a bunch of quad boxes with Powercon in & out. For power for the band, the boxes each have a CGFI. My power strips that I use for the band have no off switch nor surge suppressor.
I have one quad with CGFI that also protects the output connector and several with no CGFI. They get used for PA & lighting power.


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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2018, 08:46:24 pm »

I would put 15A plugs on, not 20A. Even if your distro has 20A outlets, it's very likely that you'll eventually need to plug this into a 15A outlet somewhere. Maybe a wall outlet, maybe someone else's distro. It'll happen.

Also, you mention using power strips. I hate power strips on stage. If a band wants to use their own, fine, but I won't provide one because I don't carry any. I have plenty of quads though. My quads are black, don't have switches or breakers, and they're not cheap plastic. They're much better than a power strip.

A power drop at each monitor position would be great, but it's probably overkill. Plus you'd still need backline power. Just run a stringer upstage for backline and another downstage for pedals and fans and iPad chargers, then you'll probably only use 1 or 2 other quads for random things and usually not even that many. Most of my quads don't see much use since I built stringers.

BTW, there are some very interesting things on that prospeakerparts website. I think they've built some stuff for me before, actually. They do good work, nice find. A rubber box is much better though. They don't bend, dent, scratch, rust, short out, or damage stage floors like a metal box will.

The ugly duckling kludge - one of those spaced outlet stringers like the LEX stringer Phil linked to, with a Tri Tap Outlet in each outlet for the downstage.  Everything is UL listed.  For the pedal boards, fans and light controllers and keyboards, it's plenty.

If I were doing a new stage power system for upstage use on big stages, I'd use a hybrid of L21-30 to connect boxes kind of like the Whirlwind, but with some changes - L21-30 in/thru, PowerCon outlets, only 1 Edison on the block.  The PowerCons feed OA Windsor rubber Edison quad boxes with PowerCon outlets.  Think of a master upstage stringer where quads are then laid out downstage, and as you backline the support acts, just adding another quad box with the PowerCon outlet.  As you strike the support you take the quad box with you.  Nice and clean, and the GFCI can be part of the Edison quad box so a vintage and leaky Death Cap guitar amp won't shut down the entire stage.  That single Edison on the stringer block?  No GFCI for it, we use a single outlet extension cord to leaky Death Cap Amp.  The lack of GFCI on those (label "NOT FOR USE BY PERSONNEL") is intentional, those outlets few and reserved for situations that cannot be resolved any other way. ;)  Many folks aren't using 30 Amp circuits, but the idea can be translated down.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 08:50:01 pm by Tim McCulloch »
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Luke Geis

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2018, 12:08:11 am »

My thought was simple in idea. Have one outlet that feeds all stage power to the band / backline. My plan is to have three quad outlets that run upstage ( L, C, R ) and then have it run downstage where there would be one duplex per monitor position. All boxes would be powercon in / out and fed via 1 edison plug. The boxes I am using look very legit ( as in mass produced looking ), but do not accommodate gfci receptacles. Hence my idea to have 1 inline gfci that feeds the run. I can see the issue with the death cap guitar amps........

I started making the boxes and so far I am really liking what I have. The idea for power strips at each location was simply for convenience to the band. Power strips are cheap and give the band / me no excuse.......  So far I have built two boxes to fulfill proof of concept. I can definitely afford to make them on demand. The things we go through to keep a clean stage.......
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Callan Browne

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2018, 03:55:43 am »

Got any pics Luke? I've thought about these myself but haven't yet committed to buying and building.
I did get some small boxes but that was it. I wasn't that happy how they lined up.

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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2018, 12:29:31 pm »

One thing that Mike has mentioned several times is that leakage currents on gear are addititive.  It's not uncommon to have a couple mA of leakage on a device.  The threshold for GFCI's is 6 mA-so several devices plugged into one GFCI can cause a trip-everything is working fine, GFCI is not defective and leakage is acceptable by normal standards, but the combination can cause you grief.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2018, 10:53:39 pm by Stephen Swaffer »
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Rob Spence

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Re: Stage Band Power??
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2018, 01:51:19 pm »

I stopped bothering with an upstage center power drop. Drummers donít use them and it ends up under the throne on shallow stages.

I found that by shopping around, I could get CGFI receptacles that were shallower than others and could fit them into my quad boxes. I start with the cast metal deep outdoor boxes with only 1 or at most, 2 of the smallest openings.

Unlike a lot of folk around here, I spend an inordinate amount of effort getting power right. Without good power you canít have good production. I really hate having power problems during a show.


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Re: Stage Band Power??
¬ę Reply #19 on: March 06, 2018, 01:51:19 pm ¬Ľ


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