Number of outlets/circuits for HT?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by MarkMac, Sep 20, 2005.

  1. MarkMac

    MarkMac Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm in the middle of framing my dedicated HT, and it's time for electrical. The room is 22x15, and there will be a couple rows of seats, and a ceiling mounted projector. There will also be a component rack sunk into the rear wall. Right now, I know I'll need an outlet inside the rack, one in the ceiling for the projector, and one in the front of the room for the sub.

    How many more do you think I need? There will be no floor lamps to worry about, and I'm not interested in butt-kickers, but aside from that, I'm sure there's a million things I might need--I just can't think of them right now.

    Also, as far as circuits, I was planning on two for the room. One for the equipment (rack, projector, sub), and one for the rest of the outlets/wall sconces. Thoughts on this?
     
  2. SteveLeach

    SteveLeach Stunt Coordinator

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    The number of outlets and circuits depends on what you are trying to achieve.
    If what you want is a single light in the center of the room 2 circuits should be fine. If however you are planning something a little more elegant than that, then you'll probably want more circuits and outlets.

    I'm working on a similar sized room, 16 X 22.
    I have 6 circuits,
    2 20 amp circuits to the equipment closet
    4 15 amp circuits for lighting

    You should also check your local electrical codes, mine required an outlet within 6' from each corner and every 12' along the walls.

    From memory I have 10 outlets around the perimeter of the room to meet electrical codes. Which will probably only be used to run the vacuum during clean up.

    Then I have 8 additional outlets for equipment in specialized locations. Like the equipment closet, projector location, power for curtains, in the floor next to the seats and so on. For lighting I have 5 separate lighting zones, one for the riser step, one for stage lighting, one for wall sconces, one for recessed lighting on the walls and one for lighting the crown molding.

    It sounds like a lot, but my configuration is mild compared to some I've seen or read about. If I was forced to eliminate some of the lighting, I'd eliminate the crown molding and recessed lighting on the walls, but that's about it.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. MarkMac

    MarkMac Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks, Steve.

    Should the projector be on the same circuit as the other equipment? Also, since I'll be running two amps, should I have them on a separate circuit from my sub?
     
  4. chris_everett

    chris_everett Second Unit

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    I have three circuits in my theater. One for the amps, one for the rest of the electronics, and one for the lighting (3 zones)and a "Utility" outlet(which is also shared with stuff outside the theater)

    Even this is overkill, to be honest. If I were to do it again, I would put in one 20 amp circuit for equipment, and that would be the only "dedicated" theater circuit. However, my room is smaller than yours, so three circuits would be my pick. I would also recommend that you have some sort of power in your riser, be it for buttkickers, a game console, or whatever the future holds. It's far easier to put in wiring in the construction phase, then wanting it later and not having it. Also, put at least a double duplex outlet in your equipment rack to minimize the need for power strips.

    Steve, I'm curious why you have so many circuits for lighting... That's 7200 watts of potential lighting...
     
  5. SteveLeach

    SteveLeach Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris
    I agree it sounds like a lot, but as I said, it depends on the effect you are trying to achieve.
    Wire is cheap and labor is free as I'm doing the work myself. Like you said, it's easier to put it in during construction, than after the fact.

    As I described there are 5 separate lighting zones,
    one for the riser step, on when the room is to dark to see the step
    one for stage lighting, lights up the curtains, off when watching a DVD
    one for wall sconces, on before and after a DVD, off when watching a DVD
    one for recessed lighting on the walls, on before and after a DVD to light up movie posters, off when watching a DVD
    one for lighting the crown molding, on before and after a DVD, off when watching a DVD.

    While it looks like I could have gone with 2 zones, one for the riser step light and one for the rest of the lighting. I wanted to be able to control each group of lighting to separate brightness levels, so that's how I ended up with what I have.

    Mark
    I would put power hungry equipment on separate circuits, as well as sensitive equipment, like a projector, on it's own circuit. But that's just me.
    There have been many discussions about circuit planning for an HT on this forum. Like putting your equipment circuits on a phase that doesn't have any electric motors. Like refrigerators, washing machines, garbage disposals, dryers and the like. When a motor starts it draws a lot of current possibly causing a brief sag, or spikes in voltage. Which could feed into your AV equipment. Now you could say that properly designed equipment should be able to handle this. But why worry about it if you can avoid it with a little planning.

    I have a UPS at home with power line monitoring software. I was shocked at how much the line voltage wonders between a low of 109 to a high of 132. When I asked the Elect Company, they came out and monitored for a week. Then claimed all was in spec, apparently they work on averages. So now I put all of my electronic equipment on UPS's.
     
  6. chris_everett

    chris_everett Second Unit

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    Steve-
    I'm not questioning having 5 different zones (I have three, and the capablity of adding a forth), I'm just wondering why you have so many _circuits_. I would think that all of your lighting could be handeled by one circuit, with capacity to spare.
     
  7. Adam Gregorich

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    I have tripped a 20 AMP circuit before with my HT gear, so I would run two 20 AMPs even if you only use one. In my current setup (under construction) I have a 30AMP and 20 AMP for the gear (including sub and proj). I have a few for lighting, and another for regular outlets in the room. Whatever number you end up using, make sure you put them on the same phase in your electrical panel.
     
  8. SteveLeach

    SteveLeach Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris,
    You're probably right, I could have done the lighting with fewer circuits.
    But as crawling around in the attic isn't at the top of my list of fun things to do. I only wanted to do it once.
    So I pulled more wire than I really needed. Then I had this extra wire at the junction box an a few open slots for breakers in the pannel, so I put the wire to breakers. Now the wire is connected to breakers, so I might as well use them. Anyway that's pretty much how it went.
     
  9. David Noll

    David Noll Stunt Coordinator

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    Two 20 AMP circuits for my entire theater.

    I have ten zones for my lighting but only one 20 AMP circuit powering them through a Lutron dimmer. The other 20 AMP circuit is for power through a Panamax conditioner/surge protector powering everything else. I only put receptacles on my risers, none around perimeter of room.

    No need to over do it!

    David
     
  10. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    MarcMac,

    I think Chris’ approach is on the right track – one circuit for the amps, one for the rest of the equipment, and one for everything else. If your amps are particularly high powered, or your speakers particularly inefficient, then you might add a second circuit for the amps.

    There is really no need to put the projector on a dedicated circuit if you will use a separate circuit for the amplifiers. That leaves only non-demanding source components; they won’t be a problem for even the most sensitive projector.

    As Adam noted, put all your equipment circuits on the same electrical phase. This helps avoid ground loops.

    While it’s certainly desirable to keep your electronics on phases that don’t have motors from refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, etc., the reality is all the circuits servicing those appliances have already been distributed between the existing phases, due to proper design and implementation of the electrical system. However, you should keep lighting with dimmers on the opposite phase from the HT equipment.

    Another upgrade might be putting room lighting on a different circuit from the room electrical outlets. We recently moved into a house that has both on the same circuit, and I’ve noticed that often the lights will momentarily dim when something plugged into the outlets is turned on. More of an annoyance than anything else, but a separate lighting circuit will eliminate this.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  11. MarkMac

    MarkMac Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all of your replies. Here's what I ended up with:

    20A in the rack (this will power my Pananmax 5300)
    20A for two outlets in the front corners for the sub (not sure which corner the sub will end up in)
    15A for the projector outlet
    20A for the lights (sconces on the walls) and wire running to the riser for rope lighting
    20A for the remaining outlets in the room (every 10 feet)
     

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