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Author: Subject: Need Lab Space Advice - Power at current place can't support all of my equipment
beerwiz
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[*] posted on 17-12-2019 at 18:25
Need Lab Space Advice - Power at current place can't support all of my equipment


My current lab space is running out of room to house all of my equipment. I also need place for a bed and desk in there so I can work on my project 24/7. The biggest issue is the electricity, I need a place that can easily power the equipment which ranges from 300W-3kW. I do a lot of high heat work and the furnace can't even heat up to the required temperature because the power is too low.

Problems at current location:

1. It's a residental location. The power is too low, circuit breakers go off and/or the power is so low that the vacuum pump doesn't even turn on. I live in a major city in the US and during summer/winter periods the power is weak citywide due to high usage. The equipment I use consumes from 300W - 3kW for the biggest piece.

2. Runing out of space. But a commercial location is out of the question, I want to do this privately and avoid all the red tape of running a company.

3. I work on a small scale, a few grams at a time.

In short, need a location with enough power/electricity and privacy. What would you advise?
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G-Coupled
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[*] posted on 17-12-2019 at 19:22


120V circuits?
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DavidJR
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[*] posted on 17-12-2019 at 19:51


Why would 3kw be a problem? Oh, right, USA...
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beerwiz
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[*] posted on 17-12-2019 at 20:42


All 120V circuits

It's very frustrating, I'm working on a project that has inifinite ROI yet something as small as this is getting in the way.

[Edited on 18-12-2019 by beerwiz]
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j_sum1
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[*] posted on 17-12-2019 at 21:10


How much for a generator?

I am surprised that 3kW overloads your circuits. I would talk with an electrician to find out what your options are. Around hete, 15 amp circuits @240V are pretty common and higher wattage are not unusual for ovens, sheds and pool equipment. And if you really need the grunt, three phase is possible. Thete must be some options available although they might require some rewiring. Failing that, a generator or a different kind of furnace.
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Sulaiman
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[*] posted on 17-12-2019 at 21:12


Power :
1) change to gas power : furnace, Bunsen burner etc. and use bottled gas
2) buy a petrol generator, used are (in uk) about half of new price

Location :
1) a van, RV or a caravan then drive to an isolated place
2) look for a 'makerspace' in your city
3) publish your location ... maybe a member here can help
4) get a larger living space within commuting range




CAUTION : Hobby Chemist, not Professional or even Amateur
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beerwiz
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[*] posted on 17-12-2019 at 21:33


Current location is an apartment in a residential building. A generator is not suitable for an apartment.


1) change to gas power : furnace, Bunsen burner etc. and use bottled gas
*********************************************************

I need accurate temperature control, gas and open flame is out.

2) buy a petrol generator, used are (in uk) about half of new price
*********************************************************

This may be a good option if its a private house, but rents here in NYC are the most expensive in the US. I'm at an R&D point where it may take a day to complete the project, a week, or a couple of months. Should be more like a day or two though if I can get enough power/electricity to run the melts.


1) a van, RV or a caravan then drive to an isolated place
*********************************************************

This may be a good choice, but despite what I'm doing being legal (inorganic compound), crooked and/or ignorant cops may accuse me of cooking meth if pulled over and searched. Plus where can I park and do the lab work? A public park?

3) publish your location ... maybe a member here can help
*********************************************************

NYC

4) get a larger living space within commuting range
*********************************************************

I've been looking for houses for rent, despite the rent prices being sky high, there's no guarantee that the power level will be sufficient. I could get a generator installed but it will have to be quiet enough not to disturb the neighbors. I don't know how the landlord will react when he finds out that I installed a generator.


I am surprised that 3kW overloads your circuits. I would talk with an electrician to find out what your options are. Around hete, 15 amp circuits @240V are pretty common and higher wattage are not unusual for ovens, sheds and pool equipment. And if you really need the grunt, three phase is possible. Thete must be some options available although they might require some rewiring. Failing that, a generator or a different kind of furnace.
*********************************************************

This may be an option if the landlord agrees to the rewiring at my expense, but I doubt he'll agree. Even if it's rewired, the power will still be low, they lower the power during the peak usage months in summer and winter to the point where I can't melt solder with a soldering iron.

An external generator in a private house or RV may be the only reliable options.

Any other ideas?
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WGTR
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[*] posted on 17-12-2019 at 22:29


To address power quality issues you could use a constant voltage transformer:

https://www.alliedelec.com/circuit-protection/constant-volta...

They're used all the time in third-world countries. They can accept an input voltage range (95-130V usually) and output a solid 120VAC. Yes, they're expensive, unless you find a used one.

Another option is to use a power inverter with battery backup, like what people use for solar energy storage.

https://www.altestore.com/store/deep-cycle-batteries/lithium...

This option is also expensive, but then you have the benefit of having your own power source with (limited) storage.




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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 02:11


I know that sometimes people in the US have 240V circuits put in for high grunt things like clothes driers etc., and IIRC that's often done by tying a couple of 120V lines together.

Maybe ask an electrician how much/can you have this done for your lab area - just explain that you want to run your electrical furnace or whatever, and see what they say
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XeonTheMGPony
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 03:57


if the electrical grid is in that pathetic of a state of repair, there is nothing you can do on the grid side of things.

best thing you can do is if you know the average run time of your work, you can design and build a battery inverter system to guarantee run the whole length with ample power, now add a good high capacity battery charger.

Basically building a giant online UPS benefit is add solar to it and you'd never know if the whole grid collapsed!

I find it hard to believe that the grid is this bad of a state, I'd have a look at the breaker panel and check for corrosion, reseating the breakers will some times solve things. You deff have a major problem if a trivial 3 Kw is failing to provide, each duplex should source 1500w cont if wired to current code

sounds like you need at minimum 3 independent circuits and perhaps a dedicated 20amp circuit for the oven.

standard circuit is 14awg NMD90 2c wire on a 15amp breaker (I'd recommend arc fault interrupt rated breakers for a lab where shock risk is low GFCI where high)

12awg on a 20amp breaker.


But no mater what your breaker panel needs looking at if performing so badly.
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 04:01


I'd also ask an electrician.

My own kiln trips the breakers (1500 watts) but other equipments (heater, oven etc) that consume the same amount of power dont.
It's quite something when the lights go out at night and I'm just about to pour. I've been given a few explanations as to what might be happening but a pro might have a more definitive opinion.




The spirit of adventure was upon me. Having nitric acid and copper, I had only to learn what the words 'act upon' meant. - Ira Remsen
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 11:54


If it is in fact the local grid not being able to keep up with local power requirements, then you might have better luck setting your high power equipment up to run during the off-peak hours on the local grid - like 00:00-0:400 or whatever (look it up).

Bad luck if it's procedures that require you to be there to keep an eye on it, but you could rig up a cheap net cam to be able to watch from elsewhere.

I find it hard to believe that NY (IIRC) suffers from such brownouts like a 3rd world country - is it not more likely that your building's breaker box and wiring might be from the 1920s or something? :)
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karlos³
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 12:35


Quote: Originally posted by DavidJR  
Why would 3kw be a problem? Oh, right, USA...

First I had to laugh, then I thought a moment and oh man am I happy to live in europe!
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 13:03


I know a little about the USA and their electrical grid is first class.
There may very well be some sub-standard apartments which have a poor electrical feed. (they do not normally expect industrial type of things happening in a dwelling).

I could set up any type of heavy electrical use industry at my residence simply by telling what I need (of course at a cost). That being said there is a 150kw single circuit power line crossing my property.

The USA may have a couple of places which suffer but I do not think NYC is one of them.
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 13:34


Quote: Originally posted by karlos³  
Quote: Originally posted by DavidJR  
Why would 3kw be a problem? Oh, right, USA...

First I had to laugh, then I thought a moment and oh man am I happy to live in europe!


Most houses or dwellings in USA have centre tapped 240V (120V, 0 120V) feed. Wall sockets are 120V about 15A. In kitchens and utlility rooms 240V (>15A) (connected to each side of the supply) power sockets/connections are provided for tumble dryers ovens/hobs and AC/heating.




i am wg48 but not on my usual pc hence the temp handle.

Thank goodness for Fleming and the fungi.
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 13:39


IDK much about power grids, but I can't imagine that any location in NYC is more than a few hundred metres from an electrical substation.

It's got to be his breaker box/house cabling.

In the US, is the power company responsible for the wires right until they enter the premises?
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 15:16


In an old dorm built in the mid 1900s we had some electrical problems.

I opened up a junction box in the ceiling to move a switch, and there was a split bolt clamp with around 10-12 solid wires clamped together in it, for the electrical fixtures in the bathroom, utility room, and hallway (5-6 dozen lights, washing machine, dryer, fans, etc). Intuitively the less surface area a wire had connecting it to the 'feed' wire, the less current it would be able to draw. I took it apart, crimped it together when done, much tighter, squashing the wires together much better, and with the 'feed' wire in the center, and the incandescent lights in the bathroom became about twice as bright. I recon they were able to draw more current through the better connection.

Also, there were two live wires in that box for a dumb wiring reason... one apparently coming from the floor above I hadn't shut off at the breaker box. Painful shock through my arm, hurt for weeks. Fun times.

[Edited on 18-12-2019 by andy1988]




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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 15:54


Modern code in North America, Kitchen duplexes must be split, with each outlet driven by each phase.

So if you metered out the two hots you should see from 230 to 240V, that allows the full 1500w per socket

Older houses may not have followed this practice. Bedrooms usually will feed up to 4 outlets from a single phase, if you had a good electrician they will be interlaced, socket one will be L1, second socket L2 third L1, 4th L2

then you have places like mine wired by a retard, I had to hunt down ground leakages and ring circuits and other such epic stupidity!

I have to strip my place and rewire it properly but atm I have it so it mostly works.
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DavidJR
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 15:55


Quote: Originally posted by morganbw  
(they do not normally expect industrial type of things happening in a dwelling).

I don't think a 3kW space heater or a tumble dryer is an "industrial type of thing".

Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  

I am surprised that 3kW overloads your circuits. I would talk with an electrician to find out what your options are. Around here, 15 amp circuits @240V are pretty common and higher wattage are not unusual for ovens, sheds and pool equipment.


In the UK, normal sockets are rated for 13A, which at 240v is 3120W. For sockets, we use an unusual "ring main" system, and each ring is usually rated for a total draw of 32A (i.e. 7680W). So, I could plug in two 3kW furnaces side by side and not run into any problems at all.

Higher power stuff like ovens and electric showers do have their own circuits rated appropriately.

Total supply capacity to a house is variable. I just checked and it looks like my house has a 100A main fuse (i.e. max power draw is 24kW). Actually, this is a large house which used to use electric heating, so we have a three phase supply, with each phase fused at 100A (theoretical max 41.5kW) but as far as I am aware we only actually use a single phase now.

Quote: Originally posted by XeonTheMGPony  

then you have places like mine wired by a retard, I had to hunt down ground leakages and ring circuits and other such epic stupidity!

As stated above, this is the normal configuration in the UK and it works very well. It allows higher current for a given wire gauge, and minimizes the effect on other sockets (in terms of voltage drop) of high power loads. That said, there are disadvantages of this approach too - but I disagree that ring circuits are "epic stupidity".

[Edited on 19-12-2019 by DavidJR]
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 16:27


I have never come across ring circuits before. I am not sure I see any positives and I think there are a bunch of ways it could go wrong: especially if you did not know it was a ring and were trying to isolate something.

In Aus and NZ distribution is typically three phase to the street. A single phase and neutral connects to each house. A second ohase is often connected for hot water heating: this may be switched on and off by the power companies to even out demands on the grid. It is metered at a different rate. Depending on proximity to transformers and substations you may have the option of having a full three phase supply.
It seems to me to be a flexible and sensible system. I remember being very surprised when I learned that the US system has two 120V phases 180 degrees apart.
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G-Coupled
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 16:39


The Aus/NZ system sounds pretty good from what you've described - simple, but capable and efficient.

For all it's mad quirks, the UK system seems to me to be miles better than what most of the US seems to have.

You've got to admit that UK plugs and sockets are boss-level, though. :cool:

IMG_20191219_34190.jpg - 28kB Uk_13a_double_socket.jpg - 109kB IMG_20191219_49850.jpg - 71kB

[Edited on 19-12-2019 by G-Coupled]
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DavidJR
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 16:40


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
I have never come across ring circuits before. I am not sure I see any positives and I think there are a bunch of ways it could go wrong: especially if you did not know it was a ring and were trying to isolate something..


Yeah, might not be a great idea to implement in a country where it isn't normal.

There are also some fault conditions which are not immediately apparent. For instance:

A 32A ring main in the UK is usually wired with 2.5mm^2 copper wire, which is actually only rated for 23-25A (depending on who you ask). This is usually fine because the current is split between each half of the ring. However, if the live conductor were to become discontinuous somewhere in the middle of the ring, then everything would appear to work fine but it would now be possible (with the right configuration of loads, arguably unlikely anyway) to exceed the power rating of the cable in the walls without tripping the breaker. This could potentially result in a fire.

On the other hand, if it were to be the earth conductor that became discontinuous, it would improve safety because all sockets on the ring would still be earthed.

Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
I remember being very surprised when I learned that the US system has two 120V phases 180 degrees apart.

Yeah, I forgot about that part. That is frankly just bizarre.

Quote: Originally posted by G-Coupled  
For all it's mad quirks, the UK system seems to me to be miles better than whta most of the US seems to have.

I agree if this wasn't obvious already.

Quote: Originally posted by G-Coupled  

You've got to admit that UK plug sockets are boss-level, though. :cool:

They are indestructible and were designed with a very heavy emphasis on safety. Really the only negative thing I can say about them is that they fucking hurt if you stand on them barefoot (they always seem to land pins up).

I am honestly kinda disgusted by the horrible flimsy American two prong deathtraps.

[Edited on 19-12-2019 by DavidJR]
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 16:49


Quote: Originally posted by DavidJR  

There are also some fault conditions which are not immediately apparent...(with the right configuration of loads, arguably unlikely anyway) to exceed the power rating of the cable...

What would those load configurations look like, as a matter of interest?
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 17:57


I've lived and worked in the UK, France and the Netherlands and overall I'd choose the UK wiring system (I've seen ring mains elsewhere in Europe as well), even with the UK plug which stepping on as DavidJR says can only be equaled by pieces of lego strewn by your children across the carpet like landmines! It's worth checking that you have the right sort of circuit breakers as well as there are thermal and magnetic operations as well as combo ones - this is important if you're running motors or anything which isn't just resistive loads. In France you used to pay more for your standing charge (which was a high proportion of your total bill) depending on the total load your house was allowed to draw. This could be reset by the utility company without rewiring (just a mod in your supply switch). It was designed this way to manage peak loads for the utility company (EDF) which is very sensible, but explained why most french houses boiled water on their stove rather than using an electric kettle! I'd be interested in knowing if it's changed at all?
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[*] posted on 18-12-2019 at 18:33


Quote: Originally posted by RedDwarf  
I've lived and worked in the UK, France and the Netherlands and overall I'd choose the UK wiring system (I've seen ring mains elsewhere in Europe as well), even with the UK plug which stepping on as DavidJR says can only be equaled by pieces of lego strewn by your children across the carpet like landmines! It's worth checking that you have the right sort of circuit breakers as well as there are thermal and magnetic operations as well as combo ones - this is important if you're running motors or anything which isn't just resistive loads. In France you used to pay more for your standing charge (which was a high proportion of your total bill) depending on the total load your house was allowed to draw. This could be reset by the utility company without rewiring (just a mod in your supply switch). It was designed this way to manage peak loads for the utility company (EDF) which is very sensible, but explained why most french houses boiled water on their stove rather than using an electric kettle! I'd be interested in knowing if it's changed at all?


I recently rewired an old French house. It had a three phase supply which from memory was only 15A per phase. The owner did not want to increase it because it would put the standing charge up and as its only used as a holiday home he was reluctant to increase it. With one phase for the work shop, one for the kitchen and one for the rest of the house and huge barn. It did mean they had to be careful about using two or more power hungry items at the same time in the kitchen.

Originally it had no grounded earth so with a damp-ish stone floor and grounded taps and sink with electrical goods in the kitchen it was potentially lethal. Leakage to floor from the dish washer housing was such it would deter the dog from licking the plates. After I had finished the dog started standing on the door to lick the plates as he did in the UK LOL

PS: Old French farm houses distant from cites sell for small fractions of the prices of similar properties in the UK.

[Edited on 12/19/2019 by wg48temp9]




i am wg48 but not on my usual pc hence the temp handle.

Thank goodness for Fleming and the fungi.
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