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s196635
12-28-2012, 07:52 PM
Why is there no video a wiki page that shows how to install a sub panel for christmas lights? If there is(i am sure there is but i can't find it) can someone put it in the reply's below, i am trying to get ready for next year and want to get a head star with my extra time.

Thanks

pmcpa
12-28-2012, 07:58 PM
cause it can be dangerous/illegal in your area/country. Unless you know what you are doing, I highly recommend leaving panel work to the pros who are insured & licensed to do it. Besides, your homeowners insurance might not be too happy if something goes wrong with your wiring.

s196635
12-28-2012, 08:02 PM
Well I have a LOT of experience so when i do mine i will have to film it and put it on YouTube.(not to be rude)

pmcpa
12-28-2012, 08:05 PM
that is good to do, and good to know you have the skill to do it, but you just have to keep in mind liability. Someone could follow your video and get it wrong, then come after you. Play it safe!

pmcpa
12-28-2012, 08:10 PM
And I did not mean my post to come off in a bad way, it is just a word of warning...

s196635
12-28-2012, 08:12 PM
And I did not mean my post to come off in a bad way, it is just a word of warning...
I didn't find it rude at all

pmcpa
12-28-2012, 08:17 PM
:happy:

jchuchla
12-28-2012, 08:20 PM
Why do you need a sub panel, just exchange your incans for LEDs and you can probably get it all on one outlet. And depending on your house and local codes, it may even be cheaper than getting the electrician (and perhaps drywaller and painters) to do the panel work.


--Jon Chuchla--

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

crazy_carpenter
12-28-2012, 08:23 PM
Not to be rude either, but being in the construction biz for 27 years now, setting up a high voltage sub panel is not something you can learn on a wiki page or watching a few youtube videos. You may have alot of experience but most folks won't. I would encourage anyone who needs a sub panel and does not know what they are doing, hire a certified electrician to do it and just write it off as the cost of doing buisness.

jchuchla
12-28-2012, 08:30 PM
If you are actually in need of a sub panel, the easiest way to do it is a temporary type of setup similar to what would be used in theaters and such. (Often called a "company switch") codes for temp wiring are often much more flexible. You can install a large 2 pole breaker (30A) In your panel and a large outlet (Hubbel L630 twist lock for 30A) near the panel and use a #10/4 SOOW cable (very heavy extension cord) to the sub panel which can be mounted to a stake in the yard, or to a construction horse or similar. You can do larger capacity circuits this way too. But I don't recall the plug numbers and cable gauges necessary off the top of my head.


--Jon Chuchla--

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

LabRat
12-28-2012, 08:49 PM
I went the sub-panel route. I did the research, and installed a 30A breaker (double breaker) in the basement, with a honkin' big hubbel twist-lock in the back of the garage. I then proceeded to purchase 20' of some of the largest gauge wire I've ever used, only to realize I had the wrong #$)(*$)# cable, and needed to buy a new one (with 1 more strand in there). All said and done, it works well.. but then I did the math. Had I taken all the money I spent on the fardling sub-panel (cable, plugs, breakers, etc etc), and purchased quality LED strings... I would have been *way* ahead. Mea culpa (my bad). I should have done the cost calculations ahead of time.

That being said, I'm now ready for the electric car that we will all be driving in about 15 years time. :biggrin:

Edit: For your viewing pleasure, here's the finished panel. You can see the large power cord at the top left. This then goes about 20' away to the twist-lock plug mounted in the back of the garage, under a lovely weather proof cover (yes, even though it is in the garage. There's a hose outlet in that same garage, and I'm not taking chances).

17278
Obvious costs: Panel, 4x15A breakers, 30A double in the basement, Heavy gauge cable for "inside" the house, Heavy gauge cable for "outside" the house, Twist-Lock socket and plug (had to order over the internet, as nobody I could find sold this at a reasonable price locally).

Hidden costs I didn't think of right away - cost of shielded ROMEX cable (and the cable clamps, and plastic sleeves required when using it). The cost of the 4 single boxes, cover plates, and the 4 GFCI plugs (which were *significantly* cheaper than going for an "Arc Fault Breaker"), Staples for tacking down the cable inside the house.

jchuchla
12-28-2012, 08:55 PM
Thanks labrat for the validation. I was just adding up the costs in my head and comparing to rebuying strings and led and was just presuming that might be cheaper. You're proof that it is.

s196635
12-28-2012, 08:56 PM
If you are actually in need of a sub panel, the easiest way to do it is a temporary type of setup similar to what would be used in theaters and such. (Often called a "company switch") codes for temp wiring are often much more flexible. You can install a large 2 pole breaker (30A) In your panel and a large outlet (Hubbel L630 twist lock for 30A) near the panel and use a #10/4 SOOW cable (very heavy extension cord) to the sub panel which can be mounted to a stake in the yard, or to a construction horse or similar. You can do larger capacity circuits this way too. But I don't recall the plug numbers and cable gauges necessary off the top of my head.


--Jon Chuchla--

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Thanks! Do u mean something like this? Where the power comes from the main panel and goes into the box and is distributed to the outlets right? 17277

pmcpa
12-28-2012, 08:58 PM
Thanks! Do u mean something like this? Where the power comes from the main panel and goes into the box and is distributed to the outlets right? 17277

That is the kinda expensive but very professional way to go! That one is for 3 phase, so you wouldn't use the blue connector, but again, very nice way to do it!

jchuchla
12-28-2012, 09:10 PM
That pic shows the main panel, not the sub panel. That's where the power comes from, not where it goes to. The device in the picture appears to be a 3 phase 100A company switch. When the breaker is on, 3 phase power comes out of the cam locks on the bottom. Red blue and black for the 3 hot leads, and white for neutral, and green for ground. This particular piece is not appropriate for residential power service.

critic2
12-29-2012, 01:03 AM
That pic shows the main panel, not the sub panel. That's where the power comes from, not where it goes to. The device in the picture appears to be a 3 phase 100A company switch. When the breaker is on, 3 phase power comes out of the cam locks on the bottom. Red blue and black for the 3 hot leads, and white for neutral, and green for ground. This particular piece is not appropriate for residential power service.

Plus one on that. 3 phase is usually not a residential service. :thup:
Cam locks? Someone knows their temporary power products...

s196635
12-29-2012, 01:44 AM
Thanks again everyone for the input! And a special thanks to LabRat for the image came in really helpfull

LabRat
12-29-2012, 03:42 AM
As you are local, you are welcome to come and see it first hand, if it will be of any assistance.

PM me. (though I'm due to work the weekend, but perhaps one evening?)

timon
01-01-2013, 11:50 PM
I thing for most DIYers having a 30 or 40 amp 240 plug that a cable from a sub panel is a great way to go. By code those don't need to be GFCIed so you'll want to still GFIC anything coming off the sub panel.

jchuchla
01-01-2013, 11:57 PM
I could be wrong on this but I don't think GFCI protection is required by code on temp circuits. Don't get me wrong, of course it's much safer to use them, but I don't think it's required by code for temporary power. I do a fair share of festival work, (and I'm in Chicago where the codes are strictly over enforced, even for festivals) and I've never seen a GFCI outlet on a temp distro panel used outdoors. And I've seen some crazy-scary temp panels tied to a tent pole with water flowing thru them and all the circuits still working.

gizmohd
02-19-2013, 03:19 PM
Something like http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Cable-Portable-Temporary-Distribution/dp/B003RRWWAY/ref=pd_sim_hi_4

May make it a lot easier... just use a 30a/ 240v generator/dryer receptacle and get 5@ 20a 110v circuits

lineman
02-20-2013, 08:12 AM
you may want to google spider box. this works good for me, I made my own but you will get the idea. http://www.robsindustrial.com/servlet/the-50AMP-125-fdsh-250V-Spider-Boxes-%26-Cords-cln-SPIDER-BOXES/Categories

De Trommelslager
02-20-2013, 11:39 AM
A sub panel is a wise thing to do if you are using tons of incandescent lights. Leave that work to the pros, though. There are many ways of doing things wrong, and your home is worth much more than the money savings that would come by doing it yourself. Balancing the load is also a wise thing to do. But as has already been stated throughout this thread, take the cost of adding a sub panel and compare that to LED lights and the difference between the two may be a surprise.

Also take into account that with LED lights, your power usage will be dramatically less than an equal number of incandescents. For us, in 2010 & 2011, we had incandescent icicle lights (static) and a couple of inflatables, with a total light count of around 4000 lights or so. For the 2012 season which was our first year of animation, we went to LEDs for the icicles, had LEDs on window frames, LEDs on display elements in the yard and a handful of incandescents on a couple of items, with a light count of slightly more than 15,000. Two 40 minute shows each night with static lights for the remainder I expected our utility bill to be comparable to the previous year, but it was only about $10 more than November's bill. In years past, the December bill has been pretty steep; well over a $100 spike for lights.

The 2012 display ran off of two circuits, and probably could have done it with only one. As for the cost of lights, I didn't keep track of exact figures but we spent about $900 on lights (2011 close out sales, etc.). To add a panel for my home layout and display setup, I figure the panel and breakers would cost around $200-$250, the wire to feed it would be about $400, then there is the brand wiring and plugs that would add another $300-$350 to the cost. So for me to buy the materials and add a panel myself (which I happened to be a licensed electrician), my cost would have been $900-$1000 plus I would have had to "feed" the utility company on top of that. To pay a contractor to do the sub panel work, I would probably have to double that cost. And if my display was all incandescent, the December bill each year would easily be a $200+ spike.

All of that to say, if you are using incans and need to add a sub panel to feed them, take a close look at switching to LEDs. Cost wise for me it was a wash on the front end, but in utility savings I am ahead. And it also gave me an effective argument to the "you are using too much power and polluting the world" folks that visited one night (another topic for another time).



A quick comparison as I see it:

Incans:
Pros
* Cheap to buy
* Easy to repair
* Lights give a "warmth" that LED doesn't
* Dim evenly

Cons
* Use a lot of power / cost more to operate
* Requires more power circuits
* Not as bright as LEDs


LEDs:
Pros
* Use less Power / cost less to operate
* Requires fewer or no additional circuits
* Lamps last longer (debatable)
* Brighter

Cons:
* More expensive to buy
* A little harder to repair
* Lack the warmth of incans
* Dimming can be troublesome


My goal here is to pass along my observations and not to say that everyone should use LEDs, etc. Do what is best for your situation, budget and display goals. No matter which way one chooses to go, do things wisely. Let the professionals do the heavy work of adding panels and outlets if that is what you need. There are a lot of opportunities to save money, but for safety & liability purposes power systems should not be on that list.