HID switching solution

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Old 10-31-16, 08:07 AM
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HID switching solution

I work at a tennis club that currently has 64 1Kw Metal Halide lights that are switched on/off via the breakers. The service is 240V 3 phase and each breaker currently controls 2-3 ballasts/lights.

Switching the lights via the breakers over the years has caused some issues with breakers becoming loose and bad connections to the bus. We're looking at switch solutions to better control the lights. The longer term solution is going to LED's but budget constraints will push that out 3-4 years.

Any thoughts on retrofitting some switching for the lights in the interim?
 
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Old 10-31-16, 08:19 AM
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Sounds like the associated breakers are worn out, and need to be replaced anyway. Look for "HID" or at least "SWD" rated circuit breakers. These are meant to be used as switches.
 
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Old 10-31-16, 09:38 AM
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The switch rated breakers may not help if the buss bar has been worn. I would try one and see if it can firmly clamp onto the buss bar. If not I'd consider having switches installed. 240v 3 phase switches, even in high amperages, are surprisingly inexpensive.
 
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Old 10-31-16, 11:45 AM
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Since that's a commercial location and three phase.... you should/may find bolt in breakers there.
 
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Old 10-31-16, 12:39 PM
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It's a Square D panel and the breakers push in. The cabinet face isn't keeping the breakers positioned tightly and as was pointed out the bus bar is probably worn so I'm assuming new switchable breakers may not help. There are 2 panels each with 12 breakers so currently there are 24 breakers used to control the lights.

We had another issue this morning with a couple lights not coming on and it looked to be that the breaker was slightly dislodged.

Can anyone point me to a specific type switch that could be retrofit to an existing panel. I'm looking to have a better understanding of the options before getting a couple bids from local electricians.

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Old 10-31-16, 05:56 PM
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Those are two pole Square D QO HACR type breakers. Usually they are used with A/C equipment.

They are not rated for switch duty. As far as I know there are no "switch duty" QO type breakers.

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Old 10-31-16, 06:17 PM
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I'm hoping someone can point me to a type of switching system that could be used for HID lighting. We really weren't looking to replace the existing breakers with switchable.
 
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Old 10-31-16, 06:40 PM
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The least expensive method is to install switches at the panel.
The most effective but costly method is to use switching contactors to control the lights.

How many lighting circuits are there ?
 
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Old 10-31-16, 06:52 PM
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First off this is a commercial space and any electrical work would likely need to be done by a licensed electrical contractor. That said...

I have been working on a bunch of shopping centers with a grocery store and strip malls lately. In all cases, the exterior buildings and parking lot lighting (pole lights) are controlled by a single 120-volt photo cell and/or a time clock. When either the clock or the photocell is triggered, it switches a set of relays what turns on all the lights. Some case we are talking 6-8, three or four pole relays. The same could be done for your setup and could be controlled by a simple single pole switch, or multiple switches if you only want to turn on certain courts at a time.

You would need an enclosure to house the all of the contactors, and each breaker would need its own set of contacts. I'm guessing they are all two pole breakers, so 4 pole relays with 120-volt coils would be the best option. Just make sure the contacts of the contactors are rated to handle the load of each breaker.

Another option, if the panel(s) only run the lighting, is to install a big single three-pole contactor that will switch the entire panel(s). That would need to be 200 amps, or more, whatever the rating of the panel is.

A note on the LED: Make sure you check on any rebates from the power company for switching to LED. We are in the process of changing two type malls I mentioned over to LED wall packs and Pole lights.
 
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Old 11-01-16, 07:14 AM
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So, sure enough, Square D does not make switch rated breakers in two pole QO series, only single pole.

Which Square D or Schneider Electric circuit breakers have SWD (Switch-Duty) ratings?

THat leaves the better option of using a new, switch box. I submit that relays and contactors should not be necessary for safety on a lighting circuit; unlike a motor circuit where unexpected restarts are a hazard.
I'm suggesting a number of A-B two position rotary switches, like these, mounted in a NEMA12 box:

https://www.amazon.com/Allen-Bradley.../dp/B00AAGI0JC
 
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Old 11-01-16, 07:30 AM
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Thank you for the replies. All work will certainly be done by licensed electricians. I'm just looking to be more knowledgeable concerning options when we talk solutions.

A little more detail. We have (2) Square D panels, each containing (12) 2 pole breakers, split 6 for each court. The ballasts(transformers and capacitors) for the HID lighting are mounted on a board attached to the wall above the electrical panels.

Am I right in assuming if a single contactor were used per panel it would fit in the circuit before the panel, and if we went with multiple contactors, one per each breaker(or a 4 pole serving 2 breakers) they would be installed between the breaker(s) and the ballast?

The downside to a single contactor per panel would be if it were to fail all lighting for 2 courts would be out. Obviously a single contactor solution would be more cost effective than multiple contactors. I'm also thinking 2 contactors per panel each controlling the lighting for a single court would be difficult as the 2 pole breakers would alternate between the 3P buss bar connections(red, blue and black) making that solution near impossible without a total rewire?
 
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Old 11-01-16, 07:41 AM
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All switches and/or contactors will be placed after the breakers. It's up to you how many switches you want, from one to 64. Is your panel actually 208V 3ph? You mention 240V. This factors into the current rating of the contacts feeding 1kW per lamp.
 
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Old 11-01-16, 07:52 AM
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The 3P service is 120/240, not 208. "All switches and/or contactors will be placed after the breakers." I guess I don't see how a single contactor as mentioned could be placed after the breakers. You would be directing multiple circuits to a single switch with no ability to break them back to individual circuits.

The link to the switch is an interesting idea, but we would need probably 32 of them, each controlling 2 lights. That's a lot of switches to throw. A contactor solution could allow us to throw a single, or a couple switches, to energize multiple contactors.
 

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Old 11-01-16, 09:39 AM
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Three phase Line to line voltage is square root 3 times line to neutral. So, can't be 120 to neutral and 240 Line to line. It is possible to have some non-symmetric services do some tricks, but doubtful here. Obviously, it's possible to get any voltage you want with transformers.

Against code to work with switching upstream of the circuit protection. Yes, you are correct, a single contactor therefore is not a solution when fed by multiple breakers. So, the most cost effective solution appears to be the same number of switches as you have breakers. Double pole switches, contacts rated the same as the breaker rating.
If that is too many switches, then it is certainly possible to have fewer switches control the same number of contactors as you have breakers.
 
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Old 11-01-16, 06:25 PM
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Am I right in assuming if a single contactor were used per panel it would fit in the circuit before the panel, and if we went with multiple contactors, one per each breaker(or a 4 pole serving 2 breakers) they would be installed between the breaker(s) and the ballast?
That is correct. Telecom does make a good point, though. Being a commercial space I am assuming that these lighting panels are fed from some type of switch gear and does have an overcurrent device. If they are not, then you likely have a main breaker you could just throw. Or you could also install a 200 amp (or the panels rateing) disconnect, an option I didn't think of.

Obviously a single contactor solution would be more cost effective than multiple contactors.
Not true. A single 200 amp three pole contacter with a 120 volt coil can be quite expensive at $700 or more (online prices). A single 4 pole, 30 amp contactor with 120 volt coil is about $50. Instalation of multipul contacters would also likely be easier then interupting the main feeder. You would need 6 - 4 pole contactors per panel, two circuits (breakers) per contactor. All of these contoctors could be switched by one single pole switch.

So, can't be 120 to neutral and 240 Line to line.
He could have a 120/240 volt three phase system with a high leg.
 
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Old 11-02-16, 06:53 AM
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If you are currently flipping all those breakers to run on/off the lights I don't see how flipping that many switches would be worse. Many individual switches is also easy, though repetitive, to install and should meld easily with your existing wiring. When the time comes for a lighting upgrade in the future you can determine if the cost of changing the wiring is worth the convenience of fewer switches.
 
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Old 11-02-16, 08:26 AM
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You would need 6 - 4 pole contactors per panel, two circuits (breakers) per contactor. All of these contoctors could be switched by one single pole switch.
Is it code to feed a single multi-pole contactor from a couple, non-linked double pole breakers? This is similar to MW branch circuits that has had code changes in this regard.
 
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Old 11-02-16, 11:07 AM
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I met with an electrician yesterday and I believe we have a workable plan. Each of the 4 courts has its ballasts mounted on a wall mounted board, 16 for each court, one for each light. What we're looking at doing is to add an enclosure to hold 8 or 16 contactors and control them using two switches so we can either light all fixtures or half for each court. We would have 8 total switches for the 4 courts.

I also discovered that our Square D panels are capable of using screw-in breakers, but for some reason the push-in have been installed. But even if we replace the existing with the screw-in if they're not switch rated then that still would not be an optimal solution.

Our service is a Three Phase Four Wire Delta as Tolyn pointed out.

Thanks for all the input.
 

Last edited by ednu99; 11-02-16 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 11-02-16, 07:02 PM
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but for some reason the push-in have been installed.
Plug in QO breakers are less expensive then bolt on ones.

Is it code to feed a single multi-pole contactor from a couple, non-linked double pole breakers?
I can not think of any code that would prohibit it. Multiwire circuits are required to have a common disconnect where the circuit originates, which doesn't apply here because they are not multi-wire circuits as there is no common neutral. The only other code that is close would be 210.7 but that applies to multiple branch circuits on the same yoke of a device. IE: receptacle/snap switch.
 
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