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Author Topic: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal  (Read 1067 times)

Taylor Hall

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Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« on: January 04, 2019, 11:15:24 am »

Our outfit has reached a stage (no pun intended) where we will be rapidly phasing out our remaining "orange stuff" for basic power needs along with auditing the rest of our cabling inventory to be sure we're up to code.
Really the two areas that this will affect are AC power and speakon as our XLR is all whirlwind (apart from a few patch cables that will never leave a rack) which I would assume is up to code already. In my searches it seems that SOOW and SJOOW are the two jacket types mentioned the most, and our second-hand AC cables we got from a retired local is a mixture of both types with a couple SEOOW mixed in, all with hubbell hardware.
Is it safe to assume that using any of the above jacket types is fine so long as the conductors are properly rated for the loads they'll be receiving? I know STOOW and SEOOW are other common jacket types but don't know where they fall under service types since I'm not a NEC master. Finding the handful of SEOOW cables is what prompted my concern though it seems it's fine based on a few searches here.
Thanks!
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2019, 11:25:40 am »

Our outfit has reached a stage (no pun intended) where we will be rapidly phasing out our remaining "orange stuff" for basic power needs along with auditing the rest of our cabling inventory to be sure we're up to code.
Really the two areas that this will affect are AC power and speakon as our XLR is all whirlwind (apart from a few patch cables that will never leave a rack) which I would assume is up to code already. In my searches it seems that SOOW and SJOOW are the two jacket types mentioned the most, and our second-hand AC cables we got from a retired local is a mixture of both types with a couple SEOOW mixed in, all with hubbell hardware.
Is it safe to assume that using any of the above jacket types is fine so long as the conductors are properly rated for the loads they'll be receiving? I know STOOW and SEOOW are other common jacket types but don't know where they fall under service types since I'm not a NEC master. Finding the handful of SEOOW cables is what prompted my concern though it seems it's fine based on a few searches here.
Thanks!
The "J" series cables are listed as "junior hard service" and are not allowed for stage use due to the concern of physical damage to the cable leading to injury or fire.  Extra hard service cable - either SOOW or SEOOW - is required for this usage.  There are a number of exemptions in the NEC that allow "J" series cords in some circumstances such as when the cables are protected from physical damage and for short cables, etc.

Whether any of this is relevant to you probably is probably determined by your local inspector, should you ever encounter him/her.  Considering most of the hotels and conference centers I work with commonly use 18-ga orange cords plugged into 100A or more panelboards fed over #4 wire from an illegal plug series (e.g. using NEMA 15-series 3-phase 4 wire plugs with no neutral), I suspect you're unlikely to have any show-stopping interaction from the inspector with SJOOW cables, but rating is important.  Use #12 wire for everything and maintain your inventory so any cords that get damaged get pulled out of service.

Edit - also, speaker cables and other signal wiring are unlikely to reach the eye of the inspector.  Even though today's high-power amps can produce voltage similar to or higher than 120V mains power (an amp that can do 4000 watts into 8Ω puts out almost 180 volts), they aren't handled the same way as mains wiring.  I've never seen anyone use SOOW cord for speaker wire, and it likely wouldn't fit into the connectors you want to use anyway.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 11:33:10 am by TJ (Tom) Cornish »
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2019, 12:43:35 pm »

Note 7 to table 400.4 lists  types:  G,GC,S,SC,SCE,SCT,SE,SEO,SEOO,SEW,SEOW,SEOOW,SO,SOO,SOW,SOOW,ST,STO,STOO,STW,STOW,STOOW,PPE and W as being acceptable on theater stages.  Types ending in W are suitable for wet loctions-so if ever outdoors probably a good idea to use those.
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Steve Swaffer

Taylor Hall

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Re: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2019, 12:49:41 pm »

Gotcha, the J-rated cables are actually 15ft, so I guess they were made with the short runs in mind where they wouldn't see any traffic like you mentioned in the NEC exemptions. We also made prolific use of cable covers and such to keep things out of reach wherever possible, and even our "orange" cables were black so they were unlikely to draw much attention.

We've never had anyone raise concerns about our current stock of cables, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. We're starting to work with a lot more convention centers and large hotels where we've observed in-house service providers "supervising" from a distance or not-so-casually inspecting what equipment we have while "passing through" the space. Probably just me being hyper-critical of everything I see, but I'm not about to take any chances if I can help it.

Thanks again for the input, guys.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2019, 01:16:59 pm »

Hi Taylor, while you're at it you might want to think about building a proper set of power distro gear and not just code-compliant extension cords.  I know we have a number of threads here about stringers and Powercon boxes, so plenty of resources to reference.  I'm a big user of the OA Windsor boxes but there are others on the market too.  The cost is reasonable and if properly thought out ahead of time will give you endless options for getting power where you need it.  Hope this helps!
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2019, 01:22:06 pm »

Hi Taylor, while you're at it you might want to think about building a proper set of power distro gear and not just code-compliant extension cords.  I know we have a number of threads here about stringers and Powercon boxes, so plenty of resources to reference.  I'm a big user of the OA Windsor boxes but there are others on the market too.  The cost is reasonable and if properly thought out ahead of time will give you endless options for getting power where you need it.  Hope this helps!
I agree that building cords and stringers is fine for the OP and others (tip - SO/SJ type cord is unidirectional - match up the screw layout of the plugs to the natural twist of the wire.  If you have to cross over, you've got the male/female plugs reversed), however it doesn't really make sense for end users to build distro gear.  This is specifically prohibited by the NEC2017, and isn't really cost effective anyway.  Construction-grade spider boxes are very inexpensive, and if you need a different or larger config than that, Motion Labs/Whirlwind/etc. are your legal options that are reasonably cost effective.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2019, 01:35:32 pm »

...however it doesn't really make sense for end users to build distro gear...

Ah, I was wondering if anyone was going to misinterpret that.  By "build distro gear" I don't mean build a power distro.  I meant to assembly a kit of various lengths of Powercon cables (with various ends), Powercon outlet boxes, and the other bits and pieces needed to deploy a working solution in the field.  Definitely best to clarify though!
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Taylor Hall

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Re: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2019, 02:03:55 pm »

Hi Taylor, while you're at it you might want to think about building a proper set of power distro gear and not just code-compliant extension cords.  I know we have a number of threads here about stringers and Powercon boxes, so plenty of resources to reference.  I'm a big user of the OA Windsor boxes but there are others on the market too.  The cost is reasonable and if properly thought out ahead of time will give you endless options for getting power where you need it.  Hope this helps!
We have several Windsor boxes already. We inherited a stringer setup from the aforementioned buyout as well, so we've got a nice little cache of their stuff already.
And yes, we're only messing with making cables, not distro hardware. I know enough to know that I know far too little to try and homebrew anything like that haha. Motion labs/Lex stuff comes up often enough secondhand for good enough prices that it's not worth saving an extra 50 bucks or so to try rolling our own.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2019, 02:09:38 pm »

Ah, I was wondering if anyone was going to misinterpret that.  By "build distro gear" I don't mean build a power distro.  I meant to assembly a kit of various lengths of Powercon cables (with various ends), Powercon outlet boxes, and the other bits and pieces needed to deploy a working solution in the field.  Definitely best to clarify though!
I was pretty sure that was what you meant, but wanted the thread to be clear.
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Frank Koenig

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Re: Accepted types of cable jackets for power/signal
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2019, 03:29:41 pm »

Is it safe to assume that using any of the above jacket types is fine so long as the conductors are properly rated for the loads they'll be receiving?

To be clear, the conductors must be rated for the upstream overcurrent protection, not the load. This must take into account both the heating of the conductor during normal operation and the ability of the conductor to cause a large enough fault current to trip the overcurrent protection when a direct short occurs (either to ground or another current carrying conductor) at the end of the line. There are some exceptions, such as taps, which must be short and sufficient for the immediate downstream overcurrent protection, and line cords on equipment utilizing 15 and 20 A overcurrent protected branch circuits. Love the way it's OK to plug a desk lamp with an 18 AWG cord into a 20 A branch circuit. -F
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