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Author Topic: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues  (Read 2436 times)

Callan Browne

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3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« on: December 10, 2017, 07:38:37 am »

As I start to push the limits of a single 240/10a circuit with my expanding PA system, I've thought about using the 3 phase plug I often see in venues.

Since looking into this, I found a number of standards and current capacity options, including 2 sizes of plug. (20a vs 32a + ).

I thought that the 32a socket was going to be the common standard for entertainment venues, then I saw a 20a socket at our gig last night.
This was an older building and not really in a stage area, so it might be a one off.

My next gig with full pa is a month away, but also 2.5 hours drive, so no chance to pop in and check what standard is in use at this place.

Does anybody know what is the common 3 phase socket standard for smaller venues/ stages in Australia? How often does this vary?
Thanks,

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Jean-Pierre Coetzee

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Re: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2017, 11:48:02 am »

Reading the specs correctly all smaller connectors can fit into a larger one so go 20A and leave it at that.

Have you actually consulted an electrician on this?

Australia seems for be much like America in giving the finger to everyone else and developing their own standards(although yes America was first)

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Callan Browne

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Re: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2017, 04:19:43 pm »

Reading the specs correctly all smaller connectors can fit into a larger one so go 20A and leave it at that.

Have you actually consulted an electrician on this?

Australia seems for be much like America in giving the finger to everyone else and developing their own standards(although yes America was first)

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What I read on Wikipedia (right or wrong) was that the 20a was a smaller size plug that does not fit higher amperage sockets.
32a 40a and 50a share the same size plug, with a key so you can't plug a 50a plug into a 32a socket, but the other way is ok.

I have spoken to a company that will build me a certified breakout box, but he was unfamiliar with what exists in smaller venues as the norm, or how often there would be an exception.

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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2017, 12:46:56 pm »

What I read on Wikipedia (right or wrong) was that the 20a was a smaller size plug that does not fit higher amperage sockets.
32a 40a and 50a share the same size plug, with a key so you can't plug a 50a plug into a 32a socket, but the other way is ok.

This seems weird. I'd expect to see it the other way around, where you can plug a 50A plug into a 32A socket, but not a 32A plug into a 50A socket.

The reason is that your 50A circuit is protected to 50A, but wires to your 32A distro are only rated for 32A... meaning that you could overload your 32A distro to 50A before any protection kicks in.

BUT, if it really is the way you say it is, where you can plug a 32A plug into a 50A socket, then I'd recommend that your distro have a "main" breaker rated for 32A or whatever your cord is rated for (whichever is less). That way you can plug it in to 32A, 40A, or 50A sockets. Then for those odd 20A sockets, you can make an adapter cord that plugs into the 20A and gives you a 32A socket on the other end.

(I can see that it could be set up the way you describe. Here in the USA, you can't plug a 20A plug into a 15A socket, but you can plug a 15A plug into a 20A socket. And we have 16 AWG extension cords with 15A plugs and sockets, but the cord is only rated for 10A or less. If I ever meet the person who thought this was a good idea, I have one question for them: "Are you naturally stupid or did you have to go to school for it?")
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2017, 07:52:08 pm »


Australia seems for be much like America in giving the finger to everyone else and developing their own standards(although yes America was first)


Given that electrical distribution was developed more or less simultaneously on both sides of the pond in a day and age where it took more than a mouse click to transfer documents, how much of a standard was there to follow?  For that matter, when the standards we are locked in to today by a large installed base were developed there was no practical reason for North America and Australia and Europe to be locked to the same standard.
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Frank DeWitt

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Re: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2017, 08:44:53 pm »

Given that electrical distribution was developed more or less simultaneously on both sides of the pond in a day and age where it took more than a mouse click to transfer documents, how much of a standard was there to follow?  For that matter, when the standards we are locked in to today by a large installed base were developed there was no practical reason for North America and Australia and Europe to be locked to the same standard.

We couldn't develop a standard until we invented the outlet.  Electrical distribution was invented for lighting.  There were fuses, sockets, switches, an dlight bulbs, but no outlets.  There were some very strange attempts before we got it close to right.   I have a small collection.
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John Sulek

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Re: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2017, 11:27:12 pm »

What I read on Wikipedia (right or wrong) was that the 20a was a smaller size plug that does not fit higher amperage sockets.
32a 40a and 50a share the same size plug, with a key so you can't plug a 50a plug into a 32a socket, but the other way is ok.

I have spoken to a company that will build me a certified breakout box, but he was unfamiliar with what exists in smaller venues as the norm, or how often there would be an exception.

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Can't remember much from Australia as it has been quite a few years but...
It is common in the UK to carry adapters for a lower amperage Ceeform socket then the one your distro is rated for.
So if you have a 63A 3phase distro...you would carry a 63A to 32A adapter cable, and probably a 32A single phase adapter as well.
As long as you're plugging into a lower amperage socket then what you are rated for all is safe and well.
The Ceeform plugs and sockets will not mate between differing voltage/amperage plugs and sockets.
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Callan Browne

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Re: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2017, 09:35:16 pm »

My new 32amp 3 phase to 4 X 10amp (240v) single phase portable distro has been ordered and hopefully will be ready for use this weekend.
I'm hoping this will be the right unit for most of the venues we play, but if not then I'll deal with that when the time comes.
Hopefully most venues I will be able to check out ahead of time and make plans as needed.

Thanks for all the input.
cheers,
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Lyle Williams

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Re: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2017, 03:13:08 am »

Odd it isn't 3x or 6x ?
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Callan Browne

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Re: 3 phase sockets in Australian venues
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2017, 07:41:27 am »

Correct, it's 4 to keep the physical size down.
If I want to balance the phases I'll need to mark down which 2 circuits share the same phase and treat them as one.
Not a problem for me, I don't need anywhere near 30amp. Unlikely to even draw 20amps.
A rough spilt will be stage L, stage r, then lights haze and backline on the 3rd phase. It should balance ok

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