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Discussion of the week lets talk about Electrical Equipment!

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Scooterman

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Joined
Oct 30, 2003
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10,943
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Louisiana
How do you have your equipment wired, connected & is it safe?
Drip loops? Is it a big Birds Ness, Let see what you got!
I made a post of informative electrical basics. We can use this as a reference, and see if anyone needs help, ideas etc..
I've seen some very neat set-ups, and also some scary wiring.
 

TDEVIL

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Messages
110
great topic ;)

never thought of taking a pic of the electric, its hard enough getting a pic of my wrasses's, lol

one thing that i can add, make sure that everything is easy to get to, so if something happens, you dont have to move a lot of stuff to get to it ;)

td
 

Alice

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Joined
Jul 18, 2003
Messages
1,108
I used to work part time at an LFS and after rewiring quite a few tank hoods I would suggest that the wiring for lighting really needs to be run under that silver "quilting" material. Heat from the lights, especially MH, can make the wiring brittle and even melt the exterior coating in just several months.

Using the connecter with the pins to make the lighting able to break away from the canopy is a great idea, too. It makes it much easier to work on/remove the canopy if all you have to do is unhook the wiring right outside the backside.

Gotta agree with Nikki too; I hate playing "guess what cord this belongs to" ;)
 

mojoreef

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Jul 5, 2003
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Sumner
Labeling is a neat idea, I have all my plumbing labeled (or I would get lost, lol) but never thought to do it to the electrical also.
Scott I know you have a good background in electrical, can you give us some ideas say on what wattage pumps and/or wattage lights can be handled by any given amperage breaker????

Mike
 

wooddood

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Sep 22, 2003
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marion in
i agree labeling your wiring is a good idea,if you need to shut a pump ect down real quick its a life saver.
 

Scooterman

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Nikki, that is a great Idea, In my line of work we label everything to an extreme, UGG but well worth it. Alice, that also is some good pointers and a subject I wish to elaborate on, Lighting Is probably the biggest concern because it is the most common DIY there is in electrical equipment, so Proper wiring, safety load circuits I will attempt to write up on. On Mikes question, this also is important, heaters & chillers included, are the next biggest power hogs. I think with the ideas & information people supply here I can write up on several subjects designed for our hobby. I will break it down in sections, so I can take a break from the keyboard & allow questions & ideas to come up, this will allow me to try and provide useful information for everyone to use. For the first time, a few days ago I was asked to give information in wiring a device to do something it wasn't quite designed for & I had to back away, I won't make those kind of suggestions, one for safety & also codes & just plane old common sense. So my next post I'll start with Mikes question because I think it will be easier to start with, then I would like to get more involved with the wiring of lighting, & bring up the conditions as Alice suggested, please bare with me, I'll need time for each, please post ideas & questions to help out in our direction of learning.
 

Doug1

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Joined
Aug 1, 2003
Messages
249
Location
Southern Oregon
NEVER EVER CHEAT on basic safety precautions!!!!!!!!!!! Electricity travels at the speed of light and you CANNOT pull your hand back or flip that switch fast enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Scooterman

Administrator
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Oct 30, 2003
Messages
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Louisiana
Breaker, Pumps & Lights Oh my!

Accessories!

On average, not a custom job, in a home you will normally have a branching circuit for each room, & may have several circuits in one room, such as kitchen. A circuit in a living room may consist of all the outlets, lights on one breaker, usually 15A or 20A (Amperes). With a home entertainment system, optional lighting & accessories, you may reach @ a peek of 8A or 10A roughly & this is a Max load. Once everything starts up, the over-all surge drops considerable, so your total power consumption, with the TV, sterio etc rocking wide open, your still using less way than the initial start-up surge, which in most cases, you will never start up everything all at once anyways, so reaching that peak will take work, maybe throw in a vacuum, or hair dryer. How does this all relate to breakers & my aquarium. Well, your aquarium, loaded with power hungry components will probably make good use of a 20A breaker, thinking MH average maybe umm 250W @ 2.0833A, each VHO, PC T5 another 420W 3.5A for an IC660 ballast. Heaters, how many of you use two of these just in case, average 200w to 300W each @2.5A, you can see how quickly these things add up, if this is on the same breaker as your living room (all say Eye) then your loaded on that circuit. One thing you can do is get your trusty pen & paper and write things down. When I get new electrical equipment, first concern is, can I use this and still be safe, meaning will it use more current than my already loaded circuit can handle? I write down the wattage, or amperage reading on the piece of equipment, if it is purchased new, it will be labeled, usually on the bottom. Then I continue with all of my equipment until I have a list, Example Return Pump 65W on 120 volts AC = 65 divided by 120 = .541667Amps using Ohm’s law. I then total the list, I will use the total amperage to figure out if I’ve exceeded the breaker I’m using or maybe plan to use, I like to have a cousin of minimal 75% or less the rating of the breaker total Max load, which means if you instantly turned on everything all at once, this is how much amperage it would need. The labeled amperage in most cases is this initial start-up current surge and not the actual running load amperage. Some of your more larger power consumers will label two listing of amperage, starting & operation amperage, those values are nice to have, otherwise you would need an ammeter to get a true reading of how much current is being used. Our main concern here is making sure we’re not pushing the limits of our circuits. These basic ideas will work on most any electrical device you have. The link I’ve posted has calculator in them to do the very same as described, including figuring out wire size & breakers needed. If you get to the point that you do need another circuit, then unless your really experienced, I’d stop there & get professional help, make sure it is someone that keeps up with the ever changing local & national codes. It just isn’t worth trying to DIY & save you money, at this point you owe it more so than anything else to get this done properly. The rest of the equipment can be DIY & safely with a little help.

I will write up on, surge power strips, why I like them, & touch on, GFCI & AFCI as my next subject matter, also ground probes. I purposely went generic on these topics because each location can be unique, I’d rather a PM or direct post for your particular application. These basic steps are easier than it looks, & should be practiced by anyone that is willing to give a fish a home such as ours.
:idea:
 

RedEyeReef

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Feb 24, 2004
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ID
Good topic. I just recently build a new house and had only one extra 20A circuit in the basement for my 360, I have of put in 3 separate circuits... Any Idea how much an electrician would charge to retro in a few more circuits into a 6 month old house?
 

reedman

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Jun 30, 2003
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Mukilteo, WA
How many power strips can you string together without causing a fire hazard?

I was told a long time ago that you really should not do this at all, but I see this more and more often. Is this a limitation of the strip itself, the breaker, or is it dependent on the components that are plugged into the strip?

Great thread. Lots of scary setups out there.

-Reed
 

Scooterman

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Instead you quoting you, reedman, I'll say correct, None!
Each strip has a current rating on it, in theory if you strung out 20 of these into each other and never exceed the limitations of any one of the strips you would be ok but we all know this in real life is a big NO NO!
There, Ive answered your question & left you with an opening LOL!
 

Fly n Reef

Sky Goddess
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
255
Location
Kent, WA
This is a great thread indeed!!

I am getting ready to wire my new canopy and will be adding more lighting than my old canopy. My question is....is there a way to wire in a "quick disconnect" to a MH ballast that does not already have one? I want to be able to remove the entire canopy with out having to drag all that wiring over the tank. I might add it is an ARO ballast.
Thanks for the help.
Karen
 

Scooterman

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Yes, indeed this is a good question, I was planning on adding lighting wiring details soon. I will have to do some looking up but to answer your question yes, in several ways this can be done, I'll try and look for some of the materials needed & practical for everyone to get, so this can be made an easy task. Basically you would want to get a multi conductor male & female disconnect, that can handle the solid wires of lighting, some of these you merely strip back the wire & by compression they lock in a connector. I'll try & post more details & info tonight if possible.
 

tomz

Reality; an open mind
Joined
Jan 14, 2004
Messages
76
Location
Snohomish WA
“How many power strips can you string together without causing a fire hazard?”




That depends on what device you have plugged in to them. If nothing is plugged in (meaning now current draw) then you can plug in an infinite amount without a fire hazard. The problem is that the resistance of the wire and the connections of the strip create a voltage drop. The more connections and the longer the strip the larger the drop. The biggest (most prevalent) problem with the drop is that the device being powered is usually designed to run at 120V and will often suffer degradation from running at the lower voltage (reduced product life). This will depend on the device and its specified operating parameters.

The associated problem (fire hazard) resulting from the resistance issue is the dangerous one. Most fires involving power strips are caused by either exceeding the power specification of the strip or a faulty (degraded) connection. Exceeding the power rating is obvious if you pay attention to the specifications of the strip and the powered device(s). The faulty connection, which is quite common in our hobby is the dirty (or corroded due to water) plug or receptacle. This contamination causes electrical resistance which creates a higher voltage (power) drop that increases with resulting heat (a cascading effect) resulting in a fire. Conditions have to be right with high enough power draw and a degraded connection but it can and does happen.




Tom
 
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