Movable unit with it's own subpanel?

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Old 01-23-17, 06:19 AM
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Movable unit with it's own subpanel?

So I have an indoor aquaponics system. I want to put a subpanel on it for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because this system must not be hard wired in the buildings wiring because I want to be able to move it to other locations and also because I want to have GFCI breakers as close to where the power is being used.

My idea is to have a subpanel mounted on to my aquaponics system, outside of any possibility of it getting in contact with water obviously, but I want it to be that I have a pigtail like an oven or dryer cord that feeds the power to the subpanel. I want to be able to easily unplug this system and move it around when I need to.

I have talked with my electrician friend, unfortunately she only works on industrial applications like bridges and such so she wasn't sure if my idea would be up to code or not.

I know physically I can make it work, but I don't know if it can be done and it still be up to code or if there are any other huge warnings that I am overlooking. I guess in the end I can accept if it will not be up to perfect code as long as it is safe, but it would be great to know if it would fail an inspection and why.

I plan on running 2 phase @ 20 amps to the subpanel.

Thank you for your time. I am open to any ideas that you guys may have on this topic.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 07:23 AM
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If you only need to use 20A, then a subpanel should not be used. Simply use a GFCI power strip: https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Ou.../dp/B000WJ7R4G

BTW, it's single phase, there is really no such thing as 2 phase.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 08:34 AM
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I need to run 220v over to this for lights. Plus, I want this whole thing to look nice, clean, and professional so a power strip would not fit the bill of that very well.

Also, this system in our 3 season sun room. I have to run electricity to this room as is so this would be a great chance to hook up enough juice to this system for future additions. As is, I am already taking up around 20 amps on the 110v circuit that it is currently on and it is not enough.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 08:52 AM
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You can install a brand new cable rated for the desired amperes (30? 50?) from the house panel to the desired location where you have a dryer receptacle or range receptacle or similar receptacle with the matching amperes rating. Your rollabout aquaponics (aquarium? terrarium?) would have a subpanel on it with a cord and matching plug comparable to a dryer. This subpanel would feed 120 volt and 240 volt receptacles as needed.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 08:54 AM
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Bad news. You will not be able to get 220 or 110. They haven't been used in the U.S, for at least 70 years. You can though use 240 and 120.

If you install a 30 amp 120/240 NEMA 14-30 receptacle where you want the aquaponics system you can put a subpanel on the aquaponics system that plugs into the receptacle. You would run a 4-wire cord set such as usually used for a clothes dryer from the aquaponics system subpanel to plug into your receptacle. The breaker supplying the receptacle will be 30 amp and can be a GFCI type. Depending on the number of receptacles you need a 100 amp main breaker panel can be used for the subpanel.

Edit: OOps, Allan types faster.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 01-23-17 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 01-23-17, 08:59 AM
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If your aquaponics unit will draw less than 20 amps @ 240 volts then you can mount a junction box instead of a subpanel on it to wire up the various receptacles.

But if it draws well over 10 amps most of the time you will need a new branch circuit home run from the house panel to a single 120/240 volt receptacle which in this installation would be comparable to a window air conditioner circuit.

A general rule of thumb is to have a separate branch circuit for any one appliance or piece of equipment that usually occupies the same place and that draws more than half the amperes rating of the circuit.

One choice is to run a single trunk line, say, 6-3 with ground Romex for 50 amps, to handle the aquaponics unit and also other future power needs in the sunporch. If you do this instead of individual branch circuit cables up from the main panel then you will need a subpanel on the sunroom wall in addition to the subpanel (if more than 20 amps are involved within) on the aquaponics unit.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 01-23-17 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 01-23-17, 09:32 AM
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@ray2047 and @Allanj
Yes. That was EXACTLY what I had in mind, even down to the NEMA 14-30 plug and outlet.
The only question is, does that follow code? I know it will work.

Thank you very much.

P.S. I get what you mean about it being 120 not 110. Easy confusion for someone that doesn't do this stuff regularly.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 09:49 AM
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Yes, it should be code compliant. Of course all code is local but I doubt they would care except for the wiring of the receptacle.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 11:41 AM
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Cord and plug connected units are generally not regulated by electrical codes but ARE inspected and "listed" by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL, ETL Listed Mark). The only possibility of a problem with your unit would be from an insurance claim and even then I seriously doubt any problem.

Having a one-off homemade device listed would be quite costly and for very little, if any, benefit. Just use all listed components (any that have UL listing are fine) and do it in a "workmanlike" manner.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 11:51 AM
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Electrical & building code only applies to premises wiring (wiring built-in and affixed to the building). A portable device is not covered good or bad by NEC. A homemade portable device can never meet code as building wiring and equipment is only approved for use affixed to buildings.

Normally appliances which are plugged in should be UL listed, which is not possible for homemade systems. You can purchase a fully compliant power distribution unit which is essentially a portable subpanel often with built in GFCI protection as these are designed for use on construction sites and performance venues.

Example of one: https://www.amazon.com/Southwire-Xtr.../dp/B000289AQK
 
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Old 01-23-17, 12:02 PM
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Are going to share the profit from the marijuana?
 
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Old 01-23-17, 02:50 PM
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@Electromen
Here's some quick pictures of it.
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Old 01-23-17, 03:57 PM
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Sorry about the marijuana comment.
I was asked to wire a three car garage with no windows and covered in grow lights. It had HVAC with Humidity control. I refused the job.
About two years later they were busted for growing pot. The huge electric bills is what tipped off the site.
 
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Old 01-24-17, 08:10 AM
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Yeah, I did 2 top-to-bottom house rewire jobs in 2016 after the farmers went off to jail (or I believe the grave in one case) and left the houses ruined with the management company holding the bag. Happens all the time sadly.

DeadlyFoez yours looks like a nice set up. BTW, I grow cacti and succulents indoors all winter. It certainly presents some challenges.
 
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Old 01-25-17, 10:06 AM
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@Electromen
No worries. It is legal in my state and everyone bugs me to grow it, but i couldnt do that with having kids in the house.

Those few pics dont show really all that there is to this system. Check out more details here Backyard Aquaponics • View topic - DeadlyFoez's Indoor Aquaponics Barrel System.
I have put in a lot of work custom making this system and I am far from done.
 
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Old 01-29-17, 09:34 AM
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How does a house get ruined over a grow room? The only problem I can see arising is mold, but any responsible grower wouldn't have that issue.
20 outlets in a room? No problem.
A ventilation system? Just remove it.
Fresh paint and you are done.

So I must be missing something as I am responsible with my aquaponics system and it will not leave any permanent changes to our sunroom if I decide to remove it.
 
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Old 01-30-17, 07:38 AM
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First of all, they aren't responsible growers; second I assume it's more the behavior of the people it attracts than the actual plants. They usually rip wiring out of the walls to access random circuits to hook up the grow lights. They also hack up the service entrance because they try to steal the power and bypass circuit breakers. One of the way the cops find these houses are by analyzing unusual electricity usage, then when they drive by and see foil on all the windows, it's a pretty good indication what goes on inside.

I think often the damage happens when they're trying to do a quick move-out and just tear stuff out. The one house in particular had a lot of the interior walls drywall busted out and all of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets had been smashed. Who knows if that was directly related to the growing or just they wanted to wreck up the place? Another one the finish flooring and subfloor was completely rotted through to the basement in several places. I assume from a leaking water system. That house also had about 6-8" deep of porno magazines and empty booze bottles mixed with various animal waste through every room in the house - the crew was actually using snow shovels to scoop it up.
 
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Old 01-30-17, 09:57 AM
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OMG! That is horrible. Nothing like that would ever be in my house.

I plan on putting up an aquaponics greenhouse in the spring time where I will wire up a 240v 30 amp subpanel. My little inside grow was just to get my feet wet with this stuff again as it had been many years since I was in the position to grow plants. My whole goal is to provide food to my family as I am the stay at home dad and my wife works as a biopharmaceutical engineer.
 
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