How to get 6000w short-term from panel?

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Old 03-07-08, 06:05 PM
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How to get 6000w short-term from panel?

Hi everyone,
I'm doing some low-budget filming in a home and I need to run some hot lights of a high wattage (I'm thinking 2 @ 2kw and maybe 2 @ 1kw) for a total of about 6000 watts, which the home's installed wiring obviously cannot support.

Does anyone know about hooking up temporary breakers or similar to the main panel bars that could be used to feed the room (via heavy guage extension cables, most likely) and the most common safe way to do this? I'm guessing that there is a common way to do this in the film industry, but I don't know what hardware to use or if there is a lower-budget (but still safe) method, assuming the "common" way is prohibitively expensive.

Please keep in mind, this is for a temporary (2 or 3 day) shoot, after which the panel would be returned to its normal state.

Thanks in advance for any insight!
 
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Old 03-07-08, 06:15 PM
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2kW = 16.7 amps so that would take one 20 amp circuit. The 1 kW would be 8.3 amps so you should be able to put 2 on a 20 amp circuit so,

what's the problem?
 
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Old 03-07-08, 06:31 PM
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That 2kW light is gonna have a 20A plug though. Which might be a small problem. Suppose you could temporarily bend the rules and swap out two receptacles?
 
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Old 03-07-08, 07:31 PM
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i'd go with the other guys and just find something thats in the house that'll work. But you never mentioned if those lights were 120 or 220? So if you're looking for something concentrated to one spot or maybe your bored and need something to do .....

You'll need atleast 50 amps to hold all the lights, so maybe you could get a small 60amp panel and mount it on something portable. Then you could add all the outlets you need on it, and then put a 6/4 cord on the subpanel to feed it to your main panel and install a 60 amp breaker. but if you're talking low budget, that cord is going to be very expensive, even just to go a few feet with it.

gl
nova_gh
master electrician
 
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Old 03-07-08, 07:58 PM
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Thumbs up

Thanks for the replies guys.

This is a small house with a 100A panel, all 15A circuits, so at least with the 2k's I have no choice but to go to the panel. I'm just looking for the simplest way to install one new breaker and have proper receptacles for the lights hooked up to it. Ive heard of "pro" gaffers just using alligator clips to hook up to the panel bars, but I know thats a no-no.

Again, thats (2) 2000w lamps and the possibility of (3) 1000w lamps, 7000 watts - and it sounds like a 60A breaker would do the trick. Now...

Nova, as far as that 6/4 cable, how expensive are we talking? If you mean a few bucks a foot, we're not that low budget. Along those lines though, lets say I throw in that 60A box - how should I "install" receptacles for the lamp plugs in a temporary fashion? These arent going in the wall, so what would I do? I've done something similar in the past but I'm curious to see what a pro would do if confronted with the situation. Thanks.

Other suggestions are still more than welcome, I like to see all the options whenever possible.
 
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Old 03-07-08, 09:45 PM
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Interesting

Are filming or growing something?
 
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Old 03-07-08, 10:29 PM
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The most common safe way to do what you propose is to have a licensed electrician do it for you.
This is not a diy project.

Even though your film maybe low budget it is still a commercial enterprise and I presume on someone else's property.
The potential liability if something went wrong would be an extreme burden to bear.
 
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Old 03-07-08, 11:03 PM
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Truly appreciate the concern Greg.

The film is firmly in the realm of personal projects in a friend's house. That said, I do have experience with panels and the basics of electrical work. I understand and sympathize with your reccomendation of a licensed electrician for safety and to avoid financial ruin. While it is arguably not true of many people, I would never toy with something I didnt feel comfortable with.

I would be interested, if only for my own personal enrichment, to hear what a Licensed electrician would do. Thanks.
 
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Old 03-08-08, 04:14 AM
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Senice you mention tempory hook up why not use this product this spider box

i think this will be about the safest way because you may end up having mixed bag of 120 and 240 volt luminaires.

some rental centres may have this on hand{*} other wise ask a electrician to see if they can make a tempory power panel for your need.

Merci, Marc

{*} note .,, most rental centre useally reqired a electrician to hook up this device for safety reason.
 
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Old 03-08-08, 05:00 AM
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Are you actually shooting on film? There are high-speed, low-grain film stocks available that will make your life easy. The whole shoot can be done with 1k's and you don't need to worry about extra power.

If you're shooting video you don't need anywhere near that much lighting in a typical residential room. There would be so much light that it would look completely unnatural.

If you're looking to bring the interior light levels up to match the daylight coming in from the windows you'll need HMI's and they aren't cheap to rent. It's much better and cheaper to gel the windows with ND from the outside.

Another option is Kino Flo fluorescent (color-balanced) lighting. You can use a boatload in a house if you want.
 
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Old 03-08-08, 08:26 AM
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If you didn't want to go with a commercially available distro box like Marc linked to, I'd do something similar...

60A breaker box, wired to 6/4 SO wire, wired into a 60A breaker in the main panel. Mount the 60A box on a piece of plywood, then add a number of 20A receptacles, each to a 20A breaker in the panel. I'd do it just like you were wiring a "fixed" subpanel in the house in terms of neatness, etc, I'd just use the plywood as the backer and mount 4" square boxes with offset nipples for each receptacle mounted to the ply.

If done neatly and cleanly, it should be quite safe and quite similar to how a "fixed" subpanel would be wired up.
 
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Old 03-08-08, 08:28 AM
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two suggestion I can think of.
1. Use a portable generator with an appropriate cord attached panel.
2. Use the same corded panel and plug it into the stove or dryer receptacle.
 
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Old 03-08-08, 10:20 AM
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Marc's or Zorfdt's ideas would be the most practical. Zorfdts simply being a home made version of the spider box essentially.

Zorfdt has spelled out exactly what we use for a temp panel on jobs except we do it with 100 amp panels. We often have 3 or 4 scattered around a job to facilitate temp power to all areas.

since this seems to be a small house, I would do somthing such as;

replace several 15 amp breakers (to circuits that you will not be using) with 2o amp breakers and wire 12/3 SO cord directly to the breaker, neut bar, and ground bar and place the appropriate cord connector on the other end. If you place some screws backwards through the panel cover screw holes, you can run nuts down so this acts as a hold off (room for the SO cord to pass through) and you can replace the panel cover with wing nuts. Be sure to attach the SO cord with a kellum or such tied to something substantial to prevent anybody from pulling it from the panel or breaker.

With the minimal number of circuits you apparently need, this may be the simplest, most cost effective, and mobile method available.

If the intended use is very far from the panel, the temp panel Zorfdt describes would be the next step up for what I would do. Using the stand offs as I described, the panel would not remain totally exposed to afford some level of safety. Be sure to use a kellum or such to prevent the cable from being pulled from the panel.
 
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Old 03-08-08, 10:23 AM
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I just notice joeds ideas.

the dryer recep would do no good since that will only be a 30 amp recep. The stove recep, if there is one, would work up to it's capacity (generally 50 amp I believe. I am not a big residntial guy. commercial and industrial is my forte`)
 
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Old 03-08-08, 10:40 AM
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30 amps at 240 volts is 7200 watts. If used properly there should be enough power there.
 
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Old 03-08-08, 11:13 AM
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If you have the spaces in your existing panel or your panel can use tandem breakers I would just install dedicated outlets next your panel. That would cost the least (no panel needed) and be the easiest to install (4" boxes and some EMT) and remove when your are done. (1 KO seal) As long you use heavy ga. extension cords you will be in good shape. This way you will not overload any of your existing circuits and you can serve lunch too.
 
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Old 03-08-08, 02:10 PM
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I'm just curious; are all of the 120v circuits really only 15 amp?

My house has 5 (and a soon to be added 6th) 20 amp circuits (2 kitchen small appliance; dishwasher/disposal; bathroom outlet; washing machine; and adding one for microwave.)

Does this house have any similar circuits that you could use? And, are these lights 120 or 240v?
 
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Old 03-08-08, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by joed View Post
30 amps at 240 volts is 7200 watts. If used properly there should be enough power there.
sorry about that. You are absolutely correct.
 
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Old 03-08-08, 10:14 PM
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Lightbulb Thanks

Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply.

Yes, unfortunately the house has all 15A breakers - except for the A/C, which will remain in use during filming. I've always felt like 20A should be a minimum, although I imagine electrical businesses would disagree, bottom-line wise.

In any case, thanks again guys. Y'all make me hope I have a problem again soon. Keep it up!
 
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