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Thread: POWER?

  1. #1
    727 & DC3 Cockpit Builder skyline223's Avatar
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    Question POWER?

    Alright guys,

    I am curious how you guys are managing electricity in your sim. Not power supplies but actually what you are using for "plugging in" your 120V components (computers, monitors, projectors, etc.) I have ended up with about 5 surge protector power strips around my sim... and it makes me a bit nervous.

    So, what are you guys using?
    Run of the mill power strips? High end power conditioners? Let's discuss.

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    25+ Posting Member bussgarfield's Avatar
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    Re: POWER?

    Hi skyline223 - sorry could not see your name on the post !!

    I cannot speak for the US but here in Spain, I have two multiple socket extentions (each with surge protectors) connected to the household mains supply sockets (230v). These quite happily run two computers, six monitors, various usb hubs and numerous OpenCockpit plug in devices. Believe me, the power supply here leaves a lot to be desired but I have not encountered any problems so far.
    For the lighting and annunciators I will be using the 5v and 12v supply from eventually three computer power supply units.

    Gary

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    727 & DC3 Cockpit Builder skyline223's Avatar
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    Re: POWER?

    Thanks for the info, Gary.

    Glad to see that I'm not too far out of touch. I figure that there probably isn't too much of a problem with basic surge protectors, it will be interesting to see if someone has come up with something different.

    Will

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    Re: POWER?

    I think it all depends on the ratings for your country's electrical system and how homes are wired up. I suppose if you were being really serious about your power and needed the amps, you could set up a separate distribution board for the sim and get an extra main in to power it, but I doubt most people here would need that.

    It's all about the amps, when it comes to power. Here in the UK, we have a different wiring practice than, well, most of the rest of the world. You generally have a number of radial circuits originating from the main consumer unit, powering just a few sockets each. In the UK we have a ring main, basically two sets of positive / negative with a common ground, that goes around all the sockets in the house. You wire every other socket onto the respective ring, and in theory this means the load is spread evenly across the two rings. Each circuit is then wired with a 30A breaker; so the most you can draw from that ring is 30 amps, and the most a single appliance can draw is 13 amps. A PC with a 1000W PSU (which is pretty rare) would draw 4 amps or so if working flat out, but most of the time probably draws less than 1 amp. LCD screens and TVs draw more than that at startup, but little when running. You'd be hard pressed to draw the full 30 amps - except if you tried to turn on everything at the same time; PCs, LCD screens and computer PSUs all draw much more power at startup than in operation.

    Of course, in a 120V country (the UK is a 240V country), the amps calculation is different if the device for the same wattage - 1000W is 8 amps at 120V.

    My setup uses two 8-way adapters plugged into two sides of a twin outlet (thus spreading that load across the two rings). This includes 3 PSUs (one dedicated to 5V and 12V electricals, the other two powering PCs with some extra drawn off for electrics), several LCD monitors, and power bricks for a couple of laptops. I haven't measured the draw directly, but I figure it's on the order of 10-15 amps. So I definitely wouldn't leave it on when I wasn't using it

    (EDIT: some of the above (about the ring main) is inaccurate. Sean Nixon explains it properly below. My bad.)

    NH
    Last edited by Neil Hewitt; 04-04-2011 at 01:39 PM. Reason: Factual inaccuracy

  5. #5
    500+ This must be a daytime job Sean Nixon's Avatar
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    Re: POWER?

    Hi Neil

    I'm not sure I understand your description of a typical UK ring final circuit.

    In it's simplest form, one 3 core cable (live, neutral and earth) leaves the circuit breaker, travels around each socket on that particular ring (usually the whole floor of a typical house), in no particular order but usually the next nearest socket, before heading back to the same circuit breaker, where it's doubled up with the first cable. Only one 32 Amp circuit breaker per ring.

    Both sides of a twin socket are on the same circuit, protected by the same circuit breaker.



    Apologies if I misinterpreted your post.

    Sean

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    Re: POWER?

    Hi Sean, Neil, Will and Gary.

    I also think that Sean is correct. Both sockets on a dual gang outlet will be on the same circuit. The max on each plug is 13A and the max for the entire ring is 32A. However I am not an electrician. But I have a dual socket in the garage for the sim and there is only one cable going into it. Much like the one in the diagram that comes from the junction box.

    Tom.

  7. #7
    500+ This must be a daytime job Sean Nixon's Avatar
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    Re: POWER?

    Hi Tom

    The socket in your garage is probably wired like the diagram, and is known as an unfused spur. But it could also be a fused spur (less common), be the last socket on a 20A radial circuit, or indeed be a dedicated radial circuit from the consumer unit.

    It's important to recognise that a twin socket has a total load of 13A, not 13A per socket.

    That's important because not only is the socket being overloaded, but if your socket is indeed on an unfused spur, the one cable supplying the spur is likely to be 2.5mm, which under most circumstances, was not designed to carry 26A for long periods of time. If it were on a fused spur, a 13A fuse would protect that length of cable to your garage and limit your current consumption.

    Similarly, a radial circuit will have been designed so that the circuit breaker is the weakest link.

    In reality, you're unlikely to encounter any problems, your unlikely to draw 26A's from the socket (that's over 6kW), but you should be aware of the limitations. If you suspect something may be wrong (eg the socket looking burnt or the cable supplying it feeling warm), then you probably are in an overload situation.

    Most electrical systems are designed to carry overloads for short periods of time, eg equipment startup as Neil mentions, it's the continual drawing of high currents that presents problems.

    Sean

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    Re: POWER?

    Hi Sean.

    Thanks for putting me straight on that. I didnt think about it being total load, I assumed it was per individual socked.

    At the moment I am only running 1 projector, 2 computers, 3 monitors and an old PSU (very underloaded). Doubt its above about 2kW total load but before I turn it on again, I will check the total W and work out the amps. Thanks for the information.

    Tom.

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    Re: POWER?

    Hi all.

    I should probably state first of all that IANAE (I Am Not An Electrician), and this is merely how it was explained to me by the one who came to check my electrics last year. I may well have misinterpreted what he said. Sean, you clearly know your stuff here so I'm very happy to admit to being wrong Electronics was always more my thing than electrics.

    In fact, thinking about it, it's pretty fundamentally obvious that you're right. I got confused by the fact that there's two cables behind the socket - but of course there is: one from the previous socket, one on to the next socket. It's a ring. Doh. And there is only one breaker on my panel for the sockets. So ignore that portion of my post.

    Of course, that means that a full-on simulator running at the same time as a TV or two and a PC elsewhere in the house starts to look like a big load.

    I'll get my coat.

    NH

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    Re: POWER?

    Will,
    I see that you are in the US as I am (in PA). You need to allow for current draw of your main computer first of all. The pertinent formula is Power = Voltage x current. For a typical 110v US household voltage, and given a top of the line main computer with a 1000 watt power supply, the potential current draw is 9 amps. Add 10-20% for safety. That would leave 4 or 5 amps to power everything else (including monitors), and whatever else might be on that house circuit. I chose to run a separate 20 amp circuit for my main computer, and run everything else from the normal 15 amp circuit in my simpit room.

    Also for protection, I chose to put in a 1500 watt APC UPS unit because of the superior surge & brownout protection. (Not taking any chance with my 1000 watt computer!) I am in a thunderstorm area as you are (probably not as bad), and IMO the surge protectors on the market are not that good. My UPS unit is rated as requiring 12 amp. I use it to power the computer & primary monitor. My secondary monitors (& other stuff) are on a quality "surge protected" distribution strip.

    Don't cut yourself short on power. Hope this helps.

    Gene

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