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RobertB

Which portable panel to do?

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This question is kind of 2 fold. Both of these panels would be fed with about 200' to 250' cable. Royal Electric 12/3 SOA-W cable. I already have 2 runs of this, so I would like to use it.

To do a 220v sub-panel with breakers and CGFI plugs

or

To do a 120v setup with CGFI plugs attached

The 120v setup is pretty much what I did this year. Worked fine with one controller attached to one.

Here is what it will be feed from;

I have 2 AC units that brings the 220v throw off right to the outside unit. These are "breakered" by 2 separate 220v 30amp breakers.

I was going to come out with the power from these (the outside switch box) and do either the 220v hookup or the 120v.

If I use the 120v, should I also make that a CGFI plug as well? I guess that would be code (?)

Let me know what you think.

Thanks,

Robert

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Hummmm Well the 12/3 has only the three wires, black-white-green, so the 120v option is the only way to go. Also the amp rating for most 12awg flexible power cable is 15amps. For this setup I have built a junction box with a 6 foot tail made of 10/4awg wire and a 15amp fuse in the box for the two leads going to the controllers. You want to protect the long wire going to the controller, if it becomes damaged you want to pop the fuse not burn the display to the ground with that 30amp breaker. This will give you four more circuits for your display. James

P.S. If you could use only one power cord on the controller that would free up some power also.

Edited by jshelby

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Hummmm Well the 12/3 has only the three wires, black-white-green, so the 120v option is the only way to go. Also the amp rating for most 12awg flexible power cable is 15amps. For this setup I have built a junction box with a 6 foot tail made of 10/4awg wire and a 15amp fuse in the box for the two leads going to the controllers. You want to protect the long wire going to the controller, if it becomes damaged you want to pop the fuse not burn the display to the ground with that 30amp breaker. This will give you four more circuits for your display. James

P.S. If you could use only one power cord on the controller that would free up some power also.

Ok on the 120v option. Don't play with 220v that often ;-)

Now would this work? (see attached...get your magnifying glasses out...sorry ) I really would like something that could be expanded later.

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Robert, Jshelby is right, your 12/3 is only rated for 15 Amp at the length. I doubt putting in a 15 Amp sub-panel is worth it to you.

I'm assuming when you say 12/3, you mean 12/3 with ground? If so, here's what I would do:

Provided you put them on opposite legs, you can run two "circuits" on that one wire using the common neutral. That would mean from each breaker, you get two separate 15 Amp outlets, for a total of 30 Amps of 110, per breaker.

On your 220 breaker, hook up the black and the red wire, one to each terminal. Ground the ground wire, and hook the white to the neutral bar (note: the neutral bar and the ground bar should NOT be connected in this breaker box. Might want to check it while you're in there.)

Run the wire to your outlets. I'd use a duplex box, with each outlet as it's own 15 Amp circuit. Connect the white wire the the neutral side of the outlet, and connect the black to one outlet's hot side, and the red to the other. Definitely use GFCI outlets here.

However, you do have a bit of a hazard here. Your breaker is only going to trip at 30+ Amps, but that wire size can't handle that much load. I would STRONGLY recommend you buy a couple 15 Amp double pole breakers to swap out when you're set up for your lights, and put the 30 Amp guys back in for the summer.

As far as expansion, your limiting factor right now is wire size. If you wanted to go up to #10 or #8, you could pull more. At that point it might be worth your while to run 8/3 to a 30 Amp sub-panel, which has 4 or 5 15/20 Amp breakers.

Edited by Steve Lelinski
Bold

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Wow - you sound like you actually know what you are talking about...:giggle:

I'm frightened.:eek:

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+1 I am impressed with Steve's reply. and this is from torch boy :) (hey where did our smileys go off to?) Oh, there they are. Hey do I need to type in the colon and bracket or is there icons somewhere?

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Steve makes some good points.

Also flexible cable is marked with the number of wires under the jacket. 12/3 is three total wires (black-white-green), 12/4 is four total wires (black-white-red-green). To answer your question, using 12/4 cable, the black lead goes under the left lug, the red lead under the right lug and white and green leads under the ground bar. On the outlet end you would have the black wire going to the first outlet, red wire to the second outlet, white wire will split between the two outlets and green wire split between the two outlets. Using 12/3 cable the black lead goes under the left lug, the white lead under the right lug and green lead under the ground bar. On the outlet end you would have the black wire going to the first outlet, the white wire to the second outlet (*used as a hot wire), green wire will be your neutral split between the two outlets and you won't have a ground. *I don't like using option two because there is a good chance to make a mistake that will cause you to burn up a controller or this mistake could kill you. I hope that is as clear as mud, James.

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*I don't like using option two because there is a good chance to make a mistake that will cause you to burn up a controller or this mistake could kill you. I hope that is as clear as mud, James.

So.... you don't like going with splitting off 120v plugs off of the 220v? I really want to go in this direct if possible. Reason? I have 2 runs of this "Royal Electric 12/3 SOW-A" line. Each at about 200'...250' (haven't measured it). Looking at that pdf link file...it shows a possible load of 25amp and even list a portable welder as possible usage. This a BIG cable. Huge outter jacket.

James I may be misunderstanding you....is this what you afraid of me doing....the above :confused:

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You just need to remember that the white wire on the outlet end is HOT. With it being your own and not something your building for someone else you should be fine. I have big 6/3 and 8/3 cables set up with a 3 wire dryer outlet on the other end. Then I take a four foot dryer cord with two 4"X4" boxes on the end with four 110v outlets. Works great for me, in the winter I plug controllers into them and in the summer I've made four foot dryer cords with 220v outlets for my popcorn poppers, cotton candy maker and funnel cake fryers. You should be fine. Ask away if you have any more questions. James

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In a three-wire dryer circuit, you have two hots and a neutral, with *NO GROUND*, and the neutral wire can not be bare or green. There is a special exemption that allowed dryer and range frames to be bonded to the neutral (but only for dryers and ranges). Since the 2002 NEC, all new dryer and range circuits must be 4-wire.

So there's no NEC-compliant way to get two 110V outlets off a dryer plug; the closest and safest is to use two GFCIs and not connect the ground. You can't use the neutral as a ground since voltage drop will cause it to be at a non-ground potential, and an open neutral in that case would energize the "ground pin".

As for "remembering" that the white is hot, re-identify it with heatshrink or marker. You are not allowed to re-identify a green or green/yellow wire or use the bare wire for anything other than ground.

If you have 3-wire cable, the only legal and safe way to use it is to get one 110v 20A circuit per cable, and you need to watch for voltage drop if they are long enough. I guess you could send 220V with no neutral and use a transformer with appropriate fuses at the far end to get a derived neutral, but it probably would be cheaper (and easier) to get a new 12/4 or 10/4 cable

/mike

Edited by n1ist

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(hey where did our smileys go off to?) Oh, there they are. Hey do I need to type in the colon and bracket or is there icons somewhere?

Click the "go advanced":giggle: button and you will find them.....

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You hit the nail on the head but we need to remember the "NEC-compliant way" is for public safety and the safer the better. Your right 4 wire would be the most ideal way to go for a 220v setup, which I stated earlier. To protect public/property I have gone and feel we all should go as far as it takes to abide by the NEC, which I'm bound to do as a contractor, but on the other hand a mans home is his castle. If a licensed electrician advises you your "temporary Christmas display, 60 days a year, which will be taken down and stored soon" is as safe as it can be and there is no foreseeable safety concerns, then it's safe. Legal, maybe not, but from the old school of electrical it's safe. Also Christmas lights don't use a third wire ground, there are many appliances that don't use a ground. I run a very large commercial display and for the last 27 years not one accident.

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So.... you don't like going with splitting off 120v plugs off of the 220v? I really want to go in this direct if possible. Reason? I have 2 runs of this "Royal Electric 12/3 SOW-A" line. Each at about 200'...250' (haven't measured it). Looking at that pdf link file...it shows a possible load of 25amp and even list a portable welder as possible usage. This a BIG cable. Huge outter jacket.

James I may be misunderstanding you....is this what you afraid of me doing....the above :confused:

Robert, your 12/3 wire may be rated for 25 Amps, but at the lengths you're talking about it gets derated due to volatage drop. The "huge" size of the wire is mostly insulation, which unfortunately does nothing to increase it's current carrying capacity.

With regards to using the black and white as hots and the green as neutral... I'm not familiar with this particular wire, but in many multiconductor cables the green/ground is sized smaller than the current carrying conductors. If you do decide to go that route, make sure the third wire is the same size as the other two.

While I can certainly understand wanting to use what you have on hand, the wire seems to be really limiting you on what you're trying to do. It might be worth it in the end to get some larger gauge wire and do this right the first time. That 12/3 will make some excellent controller input cables if you're looking for a way to use it up.

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However, you do have a bit of a hazard here. Your breaker is only going to trip at 30+ Amps, but that wire size can't handle that much load. I would STRONGLY recommend you buy a couple 15 Amp double pole breakers to swap out when you're set up for your lights, and put the 30 Amp guys back in for the summer.

I haven't been following this thread, and I usually stay out of electrical threads since people like to point out that I'm not a licensed electrician and shouldn't be giving such advice. But one was to do the setup you mention (which is fine), you'd need a duplex 15 amp breaker, not a 30 amp. Such a breaker will trip if either hot goes over 15amps, which makes it safe. Both legs will be able to pull 15A, for a total of 30A at 120V. The common neutral would never see more than 15A since they're guaranteed to be on opposite phases by the duplexed breaker.

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There is an option that I haven't seen and I would consider.

1) install a 230 volt breaker panel some where near the airconditioner.

(I assume you won't be using the air conditioner at this time of year.)

2) Equip the new panel with 2 - 230 volt 15 amp GFI breakers.

(talk to a spa/hot tub center if you are having problems finding them)

3) Then you can make 2 runs out to your field devices for a total of 60 amps.

Hope this helps. Have fun.

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This thread is so far above me that I'm not even sure if I can learn from it. So, I'll add my solution: If Steve won't come in person: call an electrician!

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After seeing all the "evidence" on the possibilities... I am kind of going to do what making_it_easy has said. However,l am going to pull the breakers at the panel (pull the 220v breakers....I have 2 30am 220v breakers for 2 air con units). Once replacing with 4 15 amp breakers, I will run the wire out the panel...into the conduit and out to 4 GFCI plugs. When the season is over, take out the 15 amp breakers, cap off the wires, reinstall the wires for the air con, install 220v breakers...and then we're done.

Just will have to get rid of some wires when we sell the house ;-)

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[ATTACH=CONFIG]34087[/ATTACH]

That should work for you.

Color codes on each cable shoud be as follows.

Black - 1st leg of 230 volt breaker (120 volt to ground)

Red - 2nd leg of 230 volt breaker (120 volt to ground)

White - Neutral of both legs.

Green - Ground.

#12 Cable with a 10% drop will be able to deliver 1800 watts of power (per leg) out to 200 feet

That works out to a full 15 amps at 120 volts.

#12 Cable with a 10% drop will be able to deliver 1500 watts of power (per leg) out to 250 feet.

That works out to 12.5 amps at 120 volts.

I have one more comment.

If you are going to use the air conditioning circuit.

Make sure that you have/or have something installed to make sure the air conditioner won't come on.

This is in case some precious person plays with the house thermostat and accidently turns on the air conditioner.

Many years ago, I had this happen to me.

Turning the air conditioner on when it is cold out.

Blows the reed valves out or your compressor.

There may or may not be a thermostate outside in the air conditioner to protect against such an event.

Mine didn't work and the new compressor was not cheap.

To this day.

A disconnect (which is now code in most areas) is the only way I go.

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Robert; Why don't you get a large 16x24 inch weatherproof box and mount a smaller 8 circuit panel inside, then install 6 circuits with 15amp gfi plugs inside. Feed the panel off your exsiting ac plug with soow cable and male cord end. Just make sure you have 240 volts plus a neutral at the ac hook up. Sometimes electricians will run a 3 conductor to the ac even though you don't necessarl need it. This is roughly what I have done.

PS I am a journeman electricain so it maybe easier to do it than to try to explain it.

I can send you a few pictures if that would help.

Bryan

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