20 amp outlet?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark Austin, Jul 5, 2001.

  1. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    I have heard a lot about changing your outlets to "hospital grade" for HT. What all does this entail? Do you also have to change the circuit in the breaker box? Is this something I can do myself? Thanks for any help.
     
  2. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    Hi Mark,
    I installed a 20amp dedicated circuit for my amps and it may be more complicated than you think. First, yes, a 20 amp circuit requires a 20 amp breaker in your circuit box. It also requires (unless you want a fire)wiring which is of sufficient gauge to carry that type of amperage. Finally, a 20 amp line will use a "hospital grade" type (T shaped plug outlet)wall outlet. Devices which require a 20 amp and above line will have a plug which will not fit into a 15 amp outlet. 15 amp devices will still fit and work when plugged into a 20 amp outlet.
    The only way I could do it in my house was to use the already installed 60 amp circuit and wiring supposed to be used for an electric clothes dryer. Since I have a gas dryer, I simply expended that circuit to my equipment rack and changed the circuit breakers in the circuit box to 20 amp ones. Good luck with your project.
    ------------------
    Take Care,
    merc
     
  3. Kerry Hackney

    Kerry Hackney Stunt Coordinator

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    If you decide to use "hospital grade" devices, it is as simple as taking out the old receptacle and putting in the new one. However, the wire in your walls may well be 14 gauge. If so, it is only rated for 15 amp loads. Putting a 20 amp device on it may violate your local electrical code. If you decide to do it anyway, DO NOT change the breaker. The breaker will be sized to protect the conductors in the wall. If the wire is 12 gauge everything is fine. The outer insulation on the wire will have the size. It will say something like "12/2 WG NMB" on it, meaning 2 conductors of 12 gauge, with a ground, non metallic, type B. Hope this helps...
    John,, the normal receptacle in you house with two blades vertical and a ground plug below them have a 15 amp rating. Not sure what a 10 amp is??? All of the cords on your HT equipment will be 15 amp.
    Also, can someone explain the point of hospital grade over any other 20 amp device or a 15 amp for that matter? The only difference between hospital grade and other 20 amp devices is that HG has a nylon face that will be smooth. Reason: 1 protect against breaking if a plug is jerked out and 2 make it easy to clean in a hospital environment. The contacts inside are rated to carry 20 amps just like all the others. Unless, you specify isolated ground there is nothing else different????
    I can see how increasing the current carrying capacity of the entire circuit by increasing the wire size and feeding breaker may indeed offer a benefit in a HT by preventing any voltage drop. Also making it dedicated and thereby isolating it from other loads that could cause "noise". However, if your current installation does not have voltage drop or noise problems what is gained by changing the device?
     
  4. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    Thanks John and Kerry. I may try to just replace the receptacle first. The wires are 12ga.
     
  5. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Mark,
    Standard builder’s grade electrical outlets are very cheap, usually costing about 50¢. Although rated for 15 amps, they typically cannot sustain continuous loads at or even near their rating. For instance, I know of a case where a large number of outdoor Christmas lights were plugged into a single outlet, and it caught fire. The load was not high enough to trip the breaker, but it was too much for the outlet to handle.
    By comparison, commercial or industrial outlets have “beefier” internal construction and are better suited for continuous duty. They require secure screw-down connections instead of the spring-loaded pressure connections found in residential outlets. In addition, upgraded outlets grip the plugs better.
    In most cases, upgraded outlets for home theater use falls into the “it’s overkill, but it sure can’t hurt” category. Unless you have an unusually high-powered home theater system, builders grade outlets are sufficient. They are certainly much superior to the cheap power strips many people use to plug their gear into.
    It is highly doubtful that upgraded outlets will deliver any audible improvements to a system (unless perhaps you have equipment valued in the five-digit range), but it never hurts to have better quality equipment, especially when the price is cheap. So-called commercial outlet devices cost only $3-4 each, and are perfectly adequate for home theater use. Industrial and hospital grade devices offer no additional advantage to the home theater user to justifies their higher prices (typically double that of commercial outlets). Likewise, 20A devices offer no advantage in a home theater over 15A devices—unless you have a power amp that requires 20A service.
    When selecting a commercial outlet, make sure it can accommodate side wire connections, which are the preferred method for solid romex wire. Back wiring is for stranded commercial THHN wire.
    You can get directions for the installation at this site:
    http://doityourself.com/
    Kerry,
    A quick search on the ’Net turned up nothing on hospital grade outlets. However, I believe they are designed to eliminate the possibility of any sparks when pulling out a plug, which could be disastrous in high-oxygen environments. Again, hospital grade devices are unnecessary for home theater applications.
    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  6. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    Wayne,
    Thanks a bunch. I'm not looking for any sonic improvements as much as just trying ti ensure I'm not overloading the cheap residential quaility receptacle. And it sounds as if replacing the receptacle may provide what I'm looking to achieve.
     
  7. Kerry Hackney

    Kerry Hackney Stunt Coordinator

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    For more info on Hospital Grade trywww.leviton.com The contact wipers do reduce the hazard of sparking, however they are not explosion proof devices as rated by NEMA. FYI, 15 amp residential devices are 15 amp rated devices. No provision is given for intermittent or continuous duty for any wiring devices. A device that fails at less than the rated current had arcing inside which could be caused by mechanical damage or other defect. It should not fail due to amperage drawn across the contacts for any period of time. Heating of the contacts is not normal for a given rating unless it is overloaded.
    A lot of damage can be done by unplugging a device while it is drawing current. A prime example is unplugging the vacuum cleaner while it is running. It causes an arc as the blades pull out of the contacts. Do it over and over an you will ruin the receptacle. Accidently knocking a plug out of the wall can also bend the internal contact causing the connection to be loose. Any "loose" electrical connection is a recipe for disaster.
     
  8. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    Mark: it sounds like unless you need a 20amp circuit (like I did for my ATI 2505 amp which requires it), you can just get along with upgrading the wall outlet. But, if you find that your current outlets are NOT the spring loaded outlets(I've never seen these cheapies?), you might get no improvement by replacing these with Hospital grade ones.
    ------------------
    Take Care,
    merc
     
  9. Robert_Sloan

    Robert_Sloan Extra

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    There is one more thing I would recommend and that is to get an independent ground for each outlet. You can purchase these types of outlets and if your house is newer then you might already have this. It is best that you connect these wires directly to the grounding of your house however you can use the cold water pipe. COLD WATER PIPE ONLY! This is not the same but it is better than a common ground.
    BTW in case anyone is interested....
    A true hospital grade electrical system would require your building (house in this case) to be connected to 3 seperate power grids. 2 of those power grids would have to be hot at all times so if one grid goes down the other is there and you have no interruption in electricity. In the event of this failure you would ride on the 2rd power grid which would come online automatically and be your failover grid. The failed grid would be under repairs while the other 2 grids were active. There is also a very costly issue of paying for the electricity. Hospitals are never prone to "rolling brown outs" In the even of a power shortage you would not lose power under any circumstance. ALL utility companies charge a very high premium for this service.
    I work in a building with hospital power and since I run IDC every time we have to install new power I have to go through a whole lot of headaches to get everything signed off by the code inspector.
    In case anyone wants to know which building I work in... http://www.infomartusa.com The white steel and mirror building in Dallas is me!
     
  10. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    Thanks to everyone for the wealth of information. I am heading to Home Depot ths evening to pick up some outlets. [​IMG]
     
  11. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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  12. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    quote: All residential outlets have holes in the back, where stripped wire can be inserted directly without having to take the time to wrap around and tighten a screw. These are spring-loaded pressure connections. All residential outlets have the option for more time consuming side wiring, but building contractors like the quick and easy push-in method. [/quote]
    Wow, I didn't know that! Guess that is why when I want to install something electical... I call Katy Wayne! In the meantime, David Weakly didn't hire subcontractors who used this approach in my home... thank god!
    ------------------
    Take Care,
    merc
     
  13. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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  14. Rob Roth

    Rob Roth Stunt Coordinator

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    I went with Hubbell 5262's for my 20 amp circuits. These are a recognized high quality receptacle and cost $10-12 apiece. Cheap fix. Takes 10 minutes to swap receptacles. Easy fix. Be careful with isolated grounds: IMHO you'll want all your HT to share a common ground so as to reduce potential for ground loops (caused by interacting components whose grounds are at slightly different ground levels).
    In my experience dedicated circuits made a difference. My big B&K amp runs better on its own circuit eventhough it was not blowing out the circuit it once shared with other components. Lots of people also argue that analog and digital components should not be on the same circuit.
    Be careful using any plumbing for grounds: As mentioned above it is not code since the earth contact is not deep enough; a plumbing system CAN act as an antenna introducing RF; and lastly the use of PVC anywhere in the downstream side can, obviously, break the electrical continuity.
     
  15. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    I switched the oulet yesterday and have been pleased with the results. I ended up using the Hubbell Bryant Industrial Model 5252IZ for $4.91 and Home Depot as it was the only one they had in stock that could accomodate double red and black wires. Why would it be double wired like that?
    After taking off the old receptacle I was amazed at how much corrosion/degradation of the connectors inside the this have an adverse effect?
    Thanks again for everyone's help.
     
  16. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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  17. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    Wayne,
     
  18. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    quote: There were two red wires, two black wires, one white wire, and a ground wire. In the old receptacle one red and black were were back/spring loaded, then the other red and black wires were connected on the side. The white wire was connected on the opposite side.[/quote]
    Very peculiar. It almost sounds like the outlet is switched with a two-way switch, but if that were the case, not all the wires would be connected to the plug.
    Maybe a real electrician can enlighten us. [​IMG]
    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     

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