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Moving to new apartment... not sure if it has enough power

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Evan H, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. Evan H

    Evan H Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm moving to a new apartment next week, and while I've spent many hours planning on where to put the HT, I was checking out the circuit breaker today and discovered it only has 47 Amps for the whole place. It's only a studio apartment, so I was expecting less than 100 Amps, but this is crazy. I have no idea how much juice goes to each circuit, but with 5 circuits, I know that 2 go to the AC, and 1 each for the lights, kitchen, and living room. Anyone run into this to know how to go about upgrading... can I talk to the superintendant of the building, or hire an electrician. Also, the power sockets don't have a ground plug... just two slots. Any chance of doing damage to my system? I'm running a 60" Grand Wega and a Sony 4-ES powering 5 speakers... the subwoofer will be coming this summer most likely.
     
  2. DaveNel

    DaveNel Second Unit

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    Hello

    you can talk to the building manager, They may and may not contact the owner. But I will tell you that 98% of the time
    they will say OK, But you will pay the tab for any upgrades. Also if the building is old they may say no they dont wanna overload there system..
     
  3. ScottHH

    ScottHH Stunt Coordinator

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    Evan,
    The bad news
    Are you remaining in NYC? I have some friends who wanted to put a washer and dryer in their apartment on the tenth floor. They needed a new circuit run for the dryer, and it was going to cost them $2,000 per floor—I'm not kidding. You definitely should ask, but best of luck!

    Also, “the power sockets don't have a ground plug”. I’d think this means there’s no ground wire run with the power lines. So you might need to rip out all the wires the breakers and maybe even the panel to put in grounded receptacles. Even if the breaker is in your apartment, there might not be enough amperage coming into your breaker, and you might need to run the ground out to the basement too.

    The good news
    265W for a 60” Sony TV. I think your amp is 110 WPC, theoretically that could be 770W (but it never will be). This totals 1035W, divide by 120Volts, and you’re looking at potentially drawing 8.6 amps. You need to add the draw of the rest of your stuff, but you’ll never ever get anywhere near full power on your receiver. I would assume that you won’t be tripping the circuit.

    One more word of advice, you won’t really be able to use much subwoofer in a NYC apartment. I couldn’t turn my system up for more than 5 minutes without the neighbors coming over to tell me that it sounded and felt like the Allies were landing in their living room. So you’ll probably be drawing way less than that 8.6amps anyway. I think you’ll have enough power. I’m running 7x200W amps plus a 150W sub amp on a 15 amp breaker now, and when the wife and dog aren’t around I can get it very loud without tripping the breaker.

    Can anyone add the potential risks of not having grounding receptacles?
     
  4. Peter Fallon

    Peter Fallon Extra

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    I used to live in a rather old building. My apartment was unique in that it had two 15A circuits when all the others had one. That extra breaker only covered one outlet which was in an awkward place, so besides running a lamp and vacuum cleaner from time to time, the whole apartment was handled by a 15A breaker.

    It really wasn't a problem so long as you didn't try to microwave a burrito and blow dry your hair at the same time. My system was modest at the time. A 27" tube, Yamaha RX-V992 and a crappy little 80W sub, but I'd run it full tilt on a regular basis. Never had any electrical problems as far as the HT was concerned. I think you'll be more than fine.

    I had to deal with old 2 prong outlets too. Thankfully the boxes were grounded, so I just used cheaters. This should technically work provided the box is grounded and you actually connect the ground tab on the cheater. Most people leave the ground floating though, and some old boxes aren't grounded. Replacing the outlets would still be the best option.
     
  5. Evan H

    Evan H Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks everyone for the quick replies. Yes, I'll still be in NYC. The building was built in 1960, and it looks like the wiring is still from original construction.

    My old place surprisingly enough was built in 1929 and has 145A of power if i'm reading the breaker correctly... which means over .5A per Sq Ft! But that's not relevant.

    What is relevant is that I don't have a subwoofer currently because I am afraid of too much LFE ticking off my neighbors. The building is a Co-Op, and I'm the owner of the shares for the apartment. Since it's winter time, could I just unplug the AC's circuit and use it as the power source for the HT? I still don't know how to check if the circuits are grounded either... do I just plug it into the wall and pray I don't hear the infamous hum?

    Thank you again Dave, Scott, and Peter for your quick help, hopefully this will not be a $14,000 fix!

    edit:
    also, I'm only running 5 channels out of the amp... don't think that a 7.1 setup in the space that's dedicated for the HT would really make any sense... that can be a future discussion once the power is completely addressed [​IMG]
     
  6. ScottHH

    ScottHH Stunt Coordinator

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    >My old place surprisingly enough was built in 1929 and has 145A of power if i'm reading the breaker correctly...

    Most likely the electrical was updated sometime between 1929 and today. But, that still sounds like a lot of power. Often the top switch is a breaker for the whole box. So if there's a 100amp circuit at the top, and the rest of the circuits add to 45amps, you may have had 100amp service and a total of 45amps worth of breakers in there.

    >Since it's winter time, could I just unplug the AC's circuit and use it as the power source for the HT?

    Are you talking about window-type air conditioners that are pluged into "standard" NEMA 5-15R or NEMA 5-20R picture recepticles? If yes, absolutely. If the A/C uses some other shaped plug or is wired directly to the breaker NO.

    >I still don't know how to check if the circuits are grounded either.

    1. Find out the model of the breaker box and try and find it on the Internet.
    2. Post a picture of the breaker box here and see if anyone can figure it out.
    3. Electric has a hot (black) and neurtal (white) wire. If it's grounded there is a third wire which should be bare copper or green. Be very careful if you decide to go looking (which implies touching) this stuff. This link tells you how to test if the box is grounded and how to convert two-prong outlets to three-prong ones.

    FWIW, I am not an electrician. I took an interest in this stuff when I decided that eventually I'm going to run a bunch of circuits for a dedicated home theater. But I have run a bunch of circuits in the basement of a relative's new home. I have this book, or one like this might be worth buying or at least browsing.

    Just be very careful if you decided to muck around with this stuff. Touching a 120 volt source will give you a nice jolt. Touching 240 volts could be extremely damaging to you--which you could be exposed to inside a circuit breaker as there are two hot wires (usually red and black coming in). Also faulty wiring could start a fire.
     
  7. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    More than likely your sockets aren't grounded since they are two-prong. Go out to your local harware store and get GFCI outlets to replace the ones you have. See if the super will pay to get an electrician to come in and do it for you.

    Kevin
     
  8. Evan H

    Evan H Stunt Coordinator

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    I went to the apartment to inspect the job the painter is doing and checked out most of what we've been discussing on these pages. The AC idea can be scratched.. it's a 208V circuit. I took pictures of the circuit breaker and will upload them sometime tonight. Do you think that the upgrade to GFCI plugs will solve the problem... especially now that we've ascertained that I do have enough power to avoid killing the circuit?

    Thank you again to everyone who's helping me out here!
     
  9. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    Evan,

    Unless your running a crap load of stuff at one time you'll be fine. The power ratings of your gear and appliances are for maximum draw which you'll never hit in reality. My HT is hooked upto one 15A socket(TV, DVD, Receiver, amp, Monster HTPS7000/AVS2000) and the maximum draw is 3 Amps while watching a movie.
    I'd still go with the GFCI sockets since your saying your sockets aren't grounded. With the GFCI's if a situation arises that could cause a short the socket will trip and cut power. Better to be safe than sorry.

    Kevin
     
  10. joseFMJ

    joseFMJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Your outlets and box are grounded. And you can replace the two prong outlets with three prong type if you wanted to. If you don't want to replace the outlets but still have access to a ground at the outlet you can use adapter( infamous cheater plug) and simply attach the green ground wire with the spade to the center screw of the plate. You may have to scrape the paint off the screw to get a screwdriver into it. Most of the equipment are two prongs anyways. Some power amps has the three prong plugs. I would not recommend using a GFCI on you stereo equipment, especially your power amps. And one 15A outlet can certainly power your whole set up. Try and not use the same circuit branch that your refrigerator uses.
    Here is how you can assure yourself of the presence of a ground at your outlets. Go to your local hardware store, or even those .99cents stores and buy a simple voltage tester. It simply a small bulb with two wires attached to it encased in plastic. Push one lead into one side of the outlet and the other into the other, it lights up. Now scrape any paint thats on the screw that hold the plate over the outlets, making sure the metal is bare, holding one lead against the screw head place the other lead into each hole...it will light in only one hole. The side where it lights in is the 'Hot' side.
    I work on these old building all the time.
     
  11. Evan H

    Evan H Stunt Coordinator

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    Jose, thank you for that update! So I should basically just get a standard 3-pronged outlet and make sure everything is connected? The equipment is connected through a monster HTS1000, so I'm not worried about spikes. The kitchen appliances are on a seperate circuit from the "living room". I'll get the power tester and do see what happens. I'll be able to do these tests on thursday when I finally move in to the place.

    Additionally, I'm having issues uploading the pictures I took of the circuit breaker (file's too big for AOL, and I don't have any other source... I know, pathetic for a computer engineer) I just wanted to let it be known that the pics are sitting here and not online for a reason [​IMG]

    Thank you again everyone!
     
  12. joseFMJ

    joseFMJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Let us know how it turns out. I don't really need to see the breaker panel, I have seen plenty of those throughout the years.
    Oh and if you choose to change the receptacle yourself, turn off the breaker for that circuit. And it might be the older type waxed-linen-insulated wires, they tend to get dry and brittle with age and may just crumble when handled which will leave a long length of bare wire exposed, this will be a problem, then you may have to have an electrician handle it. Just don't get the polarity mixed up.
    Safty first!
    Good Luck.
     
  13. Diallo B

    Diallo B Screenwriter

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    i am having power concerns with the house that i just bought. i am going to upgrade my electrical system in the spring.

    i have a fuse box. that's right a fuse box! and the room that i have my ht in runs off of a 15 amp fuse. i have blown the fuse 3 times since i moved here last august.

    i know that it will be overkill but when i change the fuse box to a circuit breaker every room will have at least a 30 amp breaker with the exception of the bathrooms.

    i have a similar setup as you but here are all of the major power draws:

    toshiba 57H81
    sony str da-4es
    powered polk rti1000's for the fronts (1 " tweet, 6" mids, built in powered subs)
    400w powered kenwood subwoofer

    if i hit a demanding passage of a movie the lights will dim and the fuse will blow. luckily, i have my system protected with some very good industrial surge protectors. i can't wait to upgrade.
     
  14. joseFMJ

    joseFMJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Those 30A breaker circuits will cost you. The electrician will have to run new wires throughout the house. I don't know where you live but here in the City, almost no electrician use 14/2 anymore, everybody use 12/2 which is rated to 20A even if they put the lights on 15A breakers. A 30A-rated run will require a 10/2 wire.
    I do hope you are not going to just slap a breaker panel in place of the fuse-box and throw some bigger breakers in there using the same old wire...better install a sprinkler system too.
    Nothing you have listed there require more than 15A circuits or the most a 20A. Maybe you have other loads sharing the circuit.
     

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