New room power requirements & setup

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian Treinen, Nov 28, 2001.

  1. Brian Treinen

    Brian Treinen Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi,

    We're building a new room - my wife calls it a family room, I call it the Home Theater Room. It's actually both. It's brand spankin' new with a full basement underneath. My question is pertaining to power. I'm thinking of running a 20A line from the box to 4 outlets dedicated to HT equipment. The outlets would most likely be PS Audio Power Ports (or similar - is there anything else like them out there?). If I would do this a) will that suffice for clean power b) I'm guessing I'll still need protection so should I still use a Tripplite type product and cut down from 4 outlets to two? c) is there a better way to do this?

    Thanks!
     
  2. RossB

    RossB Extra

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    If your electrical panel can handle it I would run 1 20A service to one duplex plug (for the amplifier), and up to 3 15 amp to 3 other plugs. When you start looking at the components you are going to power you will have a VCR, DVD, TV, digital descrambler (satelite or cable), amplifier(s), Powered sub woofer and perhaps a center channel..just for starters. Its cheap to do this now and it will allow lots of expansion.

    Another advantage is you isolate the components betters, and push the common connections onto the bus on the electrical panel, which tends to reduce spikes and drop outs cause by some components.

    IMHO
     
  3. Brian Treinen

    Brian Treinen Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks! Am I better off doing it that way (run 3-4 lines, which should be no problem because we've got to add a box anyway) or running one 20A line and then using a power conditioner on that one to plug everything into? The only concern I've got with doing it the way you are suggesting is that I've got no conditioning or surge protection that way?!? Is that a big deal?

    Thanks!
     
  4. RossB

    RossB Extra

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    Tough call. It is entirely possible that at some point in the future you might need a 20A service just for an amplifier. As it is not that expensive to run the wire in now ( you can actually use two 14/3 and use the third wire for the second breaker, and a 14/2 for the 20A service). You could place the wire, leaving it tagged and unterminated, and then later in you life have it available when your monster theather equipment shows up. It is so easy to add now and so hard to add later.

    Did you also remember to wire for speaker??
     
  5. Brian Treinen

    Brian Treinen Stunt Coordinator

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    Ross,
    Thanks! Yup, the speaker wiring is the easy part and I can do that myself - I've already ordered all the wall plates and have the speaker wire (up to code even!). Right now we've just got the new room capped, it doesn't have walls roughed in or not even to the point where we've begun demolishing the current residence yet. I wanted to try and plan ahead [​IMG] I'm really torn on the power side of this. Financially it's cheaper to run one 20A line and use a single larger power conditioner on that line for everything. However, as you said, I'm sure it's power-wise better to run a 20A and two 15A lines but that's three power conditioners then! Or maybe, as you said I go with the first option for now and run an extra 20A line over there just in case for the future. Hell, as long as they are running it I could always install the outlet too right away. AGHHRRR Choices!!
     
  6. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Whatever you decide to go with (personally I'd have two separate circuits, one 20A, the other 15A, like Ross suggested) you should use 12/2 wire on a 20A circuit.
     
  7. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Brian,
    It’s difficult to make power recommendations without knowing what kind of system you plan on using. The fact that you are planning for only 4 duplex outlets tells me this is probably a fairly simple system. I really don’t see where anyone needs 65 amps of service unless they have a 5-ft. stack of power amps.
    I have 18 components, including amplifiers rated for 1700 watts of power in my system, and I only have two 15-amp circuits, and I’ve never had a problem. And I’m filling 6200 cubic ft. of air space, and I like it loud.
    If you go with two (or more) circuits, I think it would be best to run a separate piece of 14-2 or (even better) 12-2 romex instead of the (X)-3 romex. If I understand correctly, using a single common only meets code if the two circuits are connected to opposite phases (service legs) at the breaker panel. (Ross is an EE—perhaps he can verify this.) It is not a good idea to put HT circuits on opposing phases. Professional audio companies always require all dedicated circuits to be on the same phase on any installations they do.
    If you’re using out-board power amps, you should check with the manufacturer before using a power conditioner on them. Many amplifier makers do not recommend using conditioners. If you do use one, make sure it has a higher amperage rating than what the amplifier(s) require.
    Also, unless this is gong to be a really high-end system, I’d pass on the megabuck PS Power Ports and just use heavy-duty commercial or (even better) industrial grade outlets. For 95% of us, they are more than enough.
    Good Luck,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  8. Dave Bertrand

    Dave Bertrand Auditioning

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    "It is not a good idea to put HT circuits on opposing phases. Professional audio companies always require all dedicated circuits to be on the same phase on any installations they do."

    Wayne, can you explain why putting dedicated HT circuits on opposing phases is a bad idea? Or can you point us to some place we can read about it?

    I'm planning on having 3 equipment circuits (20A, 20A, 15A), one lighting circuit (15A), and one baseboard heating circuit (120/240, 30A). If I put the equipment circuits on one phase and the lighting/heating circuits on the other, will that satisfy the rule? How closely do the phases need to be load-balanced?
     
  9. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Dave,
    First, welcome to the Forum!
    The reason you want your equipment circuits on the same phase is to avoid ground loops. I know it doesn’t make sense, since there is (or should be) only one house ground, but judging from the posts I’ve seen on this and other forums from people who have ground loops (typically manifested as hum in the sub), it happens quite a bit.
    Of course, this is only relevant if you have equipment with a three-pronged grounding plug on the power cord, but most subs have grounded plugs, and a lot of amps do too.
    While I have a lot of experience with electricity, Dave, I’m not an electrician. So my answer to your second question about load dividing is “to the best of my knowledge.”
    That said, It shouldn’t matter how the load is divided, or if it’s evenly distributed, as long as you don’t exceed the service capacity. For instance, if you have 100-amp service on two 50-amp legs (phases), it should be no problem if one leg has a 40 amp demand and the other 25 amps.
    Keep in mind, when they divide up all the circuits in a house between the two legs, the electricians really have no idea what kind of load the owner will ultimately put where. He may put a window AC unit in the garage. He may have two freezers in the kitchen. He may have a gas dryer (light load) or an electric dryer (heavy load). He may have all of the above! He may plug 10,000 Christmas lights into the outdoor outlet by the back door. Gee, some crazy people even put in those ridiculous high-powered home theater systems. [​IMG] So I think it’s safe to say that no home actually has an evenly divided load demand, despite the electrician’s best efforts and estimates.
    Bottom line, Dave, I don’t see any problem with putting all your HT circuits on one leg and everything else on the other, even it looks “lop-sided,” as long as the maximum load doesn’t exceed what the service delivers. And really, even though you’re putting in 20 amp circuits, I ‘m confident none of them will ever draw anywhere near that amount in actually usage. So it really will be more evenly divided than it appears on paper.
    Hope this helps,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  10. Derrick G

    Derrick G Stunt Coordinator

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    Wayne,

    Your are correct about running 12-2 instead of 12-3. Most state electric codes do not allow a single common wire for multiple circuits. As far as load balancing, most electricians take the total number of outlet circuits and put half on one leg, half on the other. The only ones I generally try to balance is circuits that usually serve high power appliances. The bathroom (hair dryers), and kitchen (blenders, etc.) circuits, refridgerator circuit, and any other dedicated circuits defined by the homeowner in advance. The average home theater system is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall picture.

    If it were me, I would run 12-2 wire for everything. A bulk roll of 12-2 is usually cheaper than a smaller roll of 12-2 and a small roll of 14-2. I would also forget about the power ports. A good commercial or industrial outlet will do just fine.

    If you're adding a room would I would probably try to tie the overhead light into an existing circuit. There's no sense in running a 15 amp circuit just for an overhead light or two. I would run 2 20A circuits dedicated for the HT system. This would handle about anything you could put in for an average room. You also need a general purpose outlet circuit for lamps, vacumn cleaners, clocks, etc.

    This may sound like a lot of wiring but it's hard to go back and add a circuit if you come up short in the future

    Good luck,

    Derrick G
     
  11. Brian Treinen

    Brian Treinen Stunt Coordinator

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    WOW! Thanks a lot guys! In response to Wayne's question here is the equipment list:
    Toshiba TN50X81 HDTV (ready) TV
    Toshiba sd4700 DVD player
    Dish Network satallite reciever
    Mitsu VCR
    Yamaha CD Changer
    PE Plate Amp (250W)for SVS sub
    Kenwood DD/DTS 5.1 reciever (500W Total)
    Lite bar for backlighting
    I'm not under the impression that I'll ever go to separates simply because of convenience and the WAF - but who knows I never thought an RPTV would "get approved" but it was HER idea to get one!!! [​IMG]
    After much searching and posting and reading I'm leaning toward going with two separate runs (either one 20A and 1 15A or two 20A) for the HT. I'll plug the Plate Amp directly into one of them (and also have it for future expandability) and use some type of line conditioning on the other for the rest of the equipment. So, now I have to decide on a power center, features are all pretty similar, prices vary widely, Monster HTS5000, Panamax 5300, VansEvers CleanLine 85, PS Audio Power Director. Anyone have any input on these??
    Thanks for all the assistance. I'll have to print this thread for reference when sitting down with the electricion.
     
  12. RossB

    RossB Extra

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    one last long comment
    Code here allows a 14/3 for two runs. I used 14/3 for my outlets, but I used the 3rd wire to beef up the ground (except for one run at my computer..for a printer and a scanner and yes on opposite phases). Of course it is over kill to have one breaker per duplex plug, and my small home theater upstairs actually is on a single breaker..with other house lighting, and it works just fine. Now my basement theater is a different story.
    My basement has a woodworking shop with a bunch of AC motors, it has a green room with a small hydroponic area, and it has a home theater/computer room. The overall size is 24ish X 36ish so it is not a huge space. In wiring the basement I moved all of my shop ciricuit onto one panel and added another panel for the basement electronics. I have lots of spare room on this panel. I also ran another ground to this second panel. To me a solid ground is the most important thing. When I wire a single breaker to each duplex plug I also get 1 ground per plug and I make sure they are all connected together. This makes the ground at the theater outlets and about the same potiential as the panel.
    I always like to draw a comparison between water and power. Think of a half inch copper pipe that is run to the toilet, washing maching and shower. Now picture having a shower while washing clothes...and then your wife flushes the toilet. Of course this all works but ... Power is similiar. When I turn on a large power tool (like a 2 HP single phase motor) there are large inrush currents and I can see a slight dimming of the lights. I expect when your amplifier is really pounding and your sub woofer is fully on, you are drawing alot of power. Going back to the water comparison, if you run all of the water through 3/4 inch plastic smooth walled pipe and bring it back to a central manifold, well then your wife can have a shower and wash clothes and you can flush the toilet because you have increased the capacity of your water system. This is exactly what you are doing when you run several runs of power back to your panel. You minimize power bumps and spikes because you spread them across everthing in the panel. I do this instead of power conditioning.
    Natually there is lots more that could be said but this is my line of thinking...and if I have too much power available at my theater panel .. well darn [​IMG]
     
  13. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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    Why is 12 gauge a must for a 20A circuit? I'm running a dedicated breaker to two double outlets. One outlet will have my PC and one outlet will have a Monster HTS 1000 power center with my Mits 55" TV, 80W x 6 receiver, CD, DSS and VCR. I might add a DVD and a subwoofer in the future. No separate amps or lights. I bought 14-2 to run from the outlets to the dedicated 20A breaker at the panel. Should I return it and get the 12-2? What are the dangers?

    Ralph
     
  14. Dave Bertrand

    Dave Bertrand Auditioning

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    Yes, return the 14-2 and get 12-2. The National Electric Code requires 12-gauge wire for a 20-amp circuit. 14-gauge is suitable for 15-amp service. The reason is that 14-gauge wire can overheat and cause a fire hazard if you draw more than 15 amps of current through it.
     
  15. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Dave,

    Nothing like the words "Fire Hazard" to get your butt back in the car to Home Depot! I appreciate your help.

    Ralph
     
  16. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    I agree with Derrick. Wire is cheap. Run at least 12ga wire. Forget about fire hazard... the issue is voltage drop. Depending on the length of your run, you can lose a half-dozen volts in the wire at peak demand. And unless you have megabuck Krell amps with regulated supplies, this drop corresponds directly to reduced rail voltages in the amp's output stage, which reduces the output of the amp (causes it to clip sooner).

    In my theater, I ran two dedicated 20A circuits for the amps (2.0 KW total) with 10ga --and it's only 20 feet to the 600A breaker box! I stopped at 10ga only because it was the biggest wire I could stuff into hospital grade 20A outlets. Don't waste your money on snake oil power conditioners, the filters in them exacerbate the voltage drop problem. Go for the lowest-source-impedance power you can. By the way, this will do as much to reduce electrical noise as most filters.

    Oh, and all of the lights in my theater are on existing 15A circuits. My room is used for serious audio listening and I wanted to avoid lights dimming on loud passages. Good Luck!
     

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