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Plugging all of your electrical units into 1 outlet versus spreading them over the same circuit.
Old 8th August 2020
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Plugging all of your electrical units into 1 outlet versus spreading them over the same circuit.

Does the issue with having too many units plugged into one single electrical outlet have to do with each individual outlet, or does it go by the circuit? In other words, If I have 4 power outlets in one room that is on the same circuit/breaker. Would it make a difference if I were to plug 8 pieces into one outlet versus going 4 on one outlet and 4 on the other outlet?

The reason I ask is because it would be easier to put everything into my 1 good surge protector on 1 single outlet versus trying to spread them out throughout the room IF there will be no issues doing it. I used to think plugging too many pieces into one outlet was bad, but I was recently told the outlet doesn't matter, its the circuit in general that matters.

So 8 units plugged into 1 outlet would be the exact same as plugging 8 units into 3 or 4 different outlets in the same room on the same circuit/breaker?
Old 9th August 2020
  #2
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nightchef's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwayne7 View Post
Does the issue with having too many units plugged into one single electrical outlet have to do with each individual outlet, or does it go by the circuit? In other words, If I have 4 power outlets in one room that is on the same circuit/breaker. Would it make a difference if I were to plug 8 pieces into one outlet versus going 4 on one outlet and 4 on the other outlet?

The reason I ask is because it would be easier to put everything into my 1 good surge protector on 1 single outlet versus trying to spread them out throughout the room IF there will be no issues doing it. I used to think plugging too many pieces into one outlet was bad, but I was recently told the outlet doesn't matter, its the circuit in general that matters.

So 8 units plugged into 1 outlet would be the exact same as plugging 8 units into 3 or 4 different outlets in the same room on the same circuit/breaker?
I think outlets are not always rated to the same capacity as the whole circuit (i.e., you might have 15-amp outlets on a 20-amp circuit), so it's not necessarily exactly the same. Our electrician is always telling me "spread the load". She's talking more about not ganging surge protectors, but I think the same principle applies to outlets.

But it depends on what you're plugging in. I keep a spreadsheet where I've mapped out what's plugged into what, with the maximum current draw of each device marked. That way I can keep a tally of how much total load I'm putting on each surge protector and outlet and make sure I'm keeping under capacity limits.
Old 9th August 2020
  #3
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
general socket outlets are rated at 10 amps. 10 amps at 240 volts equals 2400 watts.

you dont want to overload the wattage rating of the socket outlet.

generally speaking its better to spread the load over as many sockets as is practical.

hope that helps Buddha
Old 9th August 2020
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwayne7 View Post
...
So 8 units plugged into 1 outlet would be the exact same as plugging 8 units into 3 or 4 different outlets in the same room on the same circuit/breaker?
Yes, the total load seen by the breaker is the same whether it's spread across four outlets or concentrated into one outlet that has power strips attached. Electrical safety rules always designate that a single outlet should be able to tolerate the load up to the limit of the wiring and the breaker.

Your best investment is a watt-meter. They're generally under $20 USD. You can plug it into the wall and string the power strips underneath it. With that, you'll see the load created by your music equipment, and you'll probably be relieved to see that the normal usage is not much of challenge to the circuit capacity.

To say anything else at this point would require some knowledge of where you are in the world, and what your equipment list is like.
Old 10th August 2020
  #5
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MediaGary View Post
Electrical safety rules always designate that a single outlet should be able to tolerate the load up to the limit of the wiring and the breaker.

.
close but not quite correct.

i got my first electrical licence way back in 1982 and still have one today, refresher courses and relicensing exams every 2 years, so thought i should clarify.

the Breaker is rated to protect the Cable.

so a 1.5mm cable that has a maximum current limit of 16 amps can have a 6 or a 10 or a 16 amp breaker. anything up to 16amps.

a 2.5mm cable which is rated at 20 amps can have a 10 or a 16 or a 20 amp breaker. anything up to 20amps.

a power circuit wired in standard 2.5mm cable, could have 5 or 6 socket outlets on that single circuit, but will still have a 20 amp breaker, (to protect the cable) even though the current limit of the individual power sockets is generally only 10 amps.

the theory and reasoning for this, is that if some clown plugged in 5 devices, to 5 power points on the same circuit, and if each device was drawing 10 amps, you would have a theoretical maximum load of 50 amps, which would exceed the current limit of the cable. the cable would burn out in the wall and start a fire. under these circumstances a 20 amp breaker would blow and protect the cable from melting.

its very common to have multiple 10 amp sockets, connected to a 20 amp cable, with a 20 amp breaker. almost every house is wired this way, at least in Australia and NZ, and most of the world, where we run 240 Volts.

in the USA at 120 volts things could be different.

anyway regarding the original post its best to spread the load.

Buddha
Old 10th August 2020
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
close but not quite correct....
in the USA at 120 volts things could be different.

anyway regarding the original post its best to spread the load.

Buddha
We're saying similar things: I was hoping to say in the most pithy way that it's fine to have a single outlet/socket that is rated use all that's offered by the wire and breaker, (e.g. a 20A outlet on a 20A circuit). I guess I should have added a sentence that says that it's also perfectly fine to have an outlet that is rated/keyed for less than the wire and breaker can offer (e.g. a 15A outlet on a 20A circuit).

No matter what, it's always possible in a string of 3 or more outlets/sockets on a circuit to create more demand than the wiring and breaker are rated to handle.

Here in the US, the residential cables are typically American Wire Gauge (AWG) 14AWG for 15A circuits, 12AWG for 20A circuits and 10AWG is rarely seen in residential wiring, but it's for 30A circuits. 14AWG is ~1.6mm, 12AWG is 2.05mm, and 10AWG is 2.59mm, so the standards in your part of the world are demonstrably more safety/capacity conscious than the US.

Given the madness that happens in residential wiring I think in 2006 there was a revision to the National Electrical Code as it applies to New York City apartment buildings, to specify 12AWG for 15A branch circuits.

Do we know where the OP is in the world?
Old 10th August 2020
  #7
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

No one has mentioned the LOAD of all the gear..
Most outboard gear draws very little current, I have measured a FULL rack of gear at least 12 pieces and was only around 3 to 4 amps...
Some gear may draw less than a 1/10th of a amp..
Power amps and consoles are VERY different, I prefer those in separate outlets.
Old 10th August 2020
  #8
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
close but not quite correct.

i got my first electrical licence way back in 1982 and still have one today, refresher courses and relicensing exams every 2 years, so thought i should clarify.

the Breaker is rated to protect the Cable.

so a 1.5mm cable that has a maximum current limit of 16 amps can have a 6 or a 10 or a 16 amp breaker. anything up to 16amps.

a 2.5mm cable which is rated at 20 amps can have a 10 or a 16 or a 20 amp breaker. anything up to 20amps.

a power circuit wired in standard 2.5mm cable, could have 5 or 6 socket outlets on that single circuit, but will still have a 20 amp breaker, (to protect the cable) even though the current limit of the individual power sockets is generally only 10 amps.

the theory and reasoning for this, is that if some clown plugged in 5 devices, to 5 power points on the same circuit, and if each device was drawing 10 amps, you would have a theoretical maximum load of 50 amps, which would exceed the current limit of the cable. the cable would burn out in the wall and start a fire. under these circumstances a 20 amp breaker would blow and protect the cable from melting.

its very common to have multiple 10 amp sockets, connected to a 20 amp cable, with a 20 amp breaker. almost every house is wired this way, at least in Australia and NZ, and most of the world, where we run 240 Volts.

in the USA at 120 volts things could be different.

anyway regarding the original post its best to spread the load.

Buddha
Well the fact is outlets are rated 15 & 20 amps, so ONE outlet should handle 15 or 20 amps...
What I have noticed is how many have LARGE loads on a IEC type cable that is far smaller than the load..
Most don't have a 15amp IEC cable on there power amps (for example) that may draw close to that..
Plus low quality connectors get pretty warm with a good load..
Ever compare a good 20amp Hubbell to one of those 15amp cheap Slater outlets, huge difference..

NOTE: IM in the USA, 120V..

Last edited by nosebleedaudio; 11th August 2020 at 12:22 AM..
Old 10th August 2020
  #9
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
Power amps and consoles are VERY different, I prefer those in separate outlets.
yeah. good point. power amps can chew up the wattage.

in my new studio i actually have 5 power circuits just for the control room.

on circuit 1, i have 2 power amps running over 2000 watts (combined) just to run my big JBLs. the 2 seperate amps both running on 1 circuit, are fed from a 20 amp breaker, wired in 2.5 TPS, but each amp is plugged into a seperate socket, therefore splitting the load over those 2 different sockets.

on circuit 2, i have my console, which also has 2 very large and heavy seperate power supplies, and i have a 20 amp breaker and 2 sockets for those.

on circuit 3, i have a Studer A800 analog tape machine. the Studer gets its own circuit as accelerating and breaking those 2 inch reals is power hungry. the drive motors don't like Volt Drop (which can cause speed variation) so a seperate circuit is good Karma.

on circuit 4, i have all my outboard racks, digital i/o, Fx units, compressors, whatever, and also the small power amps for the NS10s and the other near-fields.
the Genelecs (self powered) are also on this circuit.

on circuit 5, i have a few power points which get used for general purpose. i.e. a vaccume cleaner, or a charger for a lab-top, plug in a keyboard etc. for things not permanently connected to the audio Input, Recording, processing or monitoring system. external devices.

thats my set up. Buddha
Old 10th August 2020
  #10
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
Well the fact is outlets are rated 15 & 20 amps, so ONE outlet should handle 15 or 20 amps...
what country are you in? what voltage is the supply?

Most of the World is running at 240 volts, and standard sockets are 10 amp rated.

you can get 15s and 20s, but they are physically different to a standard socket. larger earth pins on the 15s and all 3 larger on the 20s. also 4 times the price.

i guess you might be in the US. things might be different there with a 120 volt supply and higher current ratings to achieve equivalent wattage.

best we clarify that point for the casual observer.

Buddha
Old 11th August 2020
  #11
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

IM in USA, 120V.
Its on my "Location"
I think everyone should have at least their country, so we don't have to ask...

Last edited by nosebleedaudio; 11th August 2020 at 12:40 AM..
Old 11th August 2020
  #12
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shalimo's Avatar
 

best practice..spread the load..rule of thumb for ages.
Old 11th August 2020
  #13
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jaddie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shalimo View Post
best practice..spread the load..rule of thumb for ages.
Better practice: know the load, determine if spreading it is necessary

Example: People talking about 2000W power amps don’t actually know the load. There’s exactly one condition that would result in the full 2kW+ load being placed on an electrical circuit: a full power continuous tone into a load resulting in the full 2kW, plus whatever amp inefficiency there is. Don’t listen to full power tones? Me neither. So what the crest factor of music? 8-10dB, which means our RMS power is down to 200W if you’re nearly clipping peaks. The peak energy comes from the power supply filter caps. Need a separate circuit for that?

Nope.
Old 11th August 2020
  #14
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Every studio I have designed/wired I always measure the current on each circuit at the panel..
One studio I had 3 circuits (20 amp 120V) in the control room; 1 for power amps, 1- for large console, 1- for all outboard gear (3 bays). 2 Tape machines; 1- 1" 8 track, 1- 1/4" machine, NO problems and all well below full load..

Also NO hum/buzz..

I would get the better power strips, not one of those $5.00 units..

Last edited by nosebleedaudio; 11th August 2020 at 12:21 PM..
Old 11th August 2020
  #15
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwayne7 View Post
Does the issue with having too many units plugged into one single electrical outlet have to do with each individual outlet, or does it go by the circuit? In other words, If I have 4 power outlets in one room that is on the same circuit/breaker. Would it make a difference if I were to plug 8 pieces into one outlet versus going 4 on one outlet and 4 on the other outlet?

The reason I ask is because it would be easier to put everything into my 1 good surge protector on 1 single outlet versus trying to spread them out throughout the room IF there will be no issues doing it. I used to think plugging too many pieces into one outlet was bad, but I was recently told the outlet doesn't matter, its the circuit in general that matters.

So 8 units plugged into 1 outlet would be the exact same as plugging 8 units into 3 or 4 different outlets in the same room on the same circuit/breaker?
You don't want to overload the receptacle, which is either 15 or 20A. A true 20A should have one blade that looks like a T.

If you use power strips, they are generally fused at 15A and would not be a problem because you'd trip the fuse on the strip first.

That being said, it's generally not a good idea to daisy chain multiple power strips together.
Old 11th August 2020
  #16
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
One studio I had 3 circuits (20 amp 120V) in the control room; 1 for power amps, 1- for large console, 1- for all outboard gear (3 bays). 2 Tape machines; 1- 1" 8 track, 1- 1/4" machine, NO problems and all well below full load..
Very good practice.

thats the way to do it.

Buddha
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