Wiring

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by herefordman, Jan 25, 2005.

  1. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like theres already 240 volt there, that well pump is likely 240.
    Ditto on the dumping the GFI breakers, they are a pain, and if your chicks are going to die without power, don't use them.
    Check the wattage of all your stuff together, and if memory serves me right, I believe the norm is no more than 4000 watts per circuit.
    Good luck wear your rubber boots !!
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    A 30 amp breaker is a bit large to run 110 on, you're up to twist lock plugs not 3 prong. These heat lamps draw how many watts?!? The biggest I use are 250watts, that's only 2 or 3 amps. You could string a few of those on 15 amp breakers! I agree with the heavier 12 guage wire mostly to handle the distances being run. Just don't start out from the panel on 14g and then move up to the heavier 12 guage. You can finish a 12 guage run with 14guage for the last plug or something like that. Space heater is an whole other ball game typically 220v run 5000 watts 110v 1500 watts, your still fine with a 15 amp breaker for the 110v version but a 20 will be more reliable. The 220v (who has 220 coming into their building? You've totally lost me on that one) would use 2 breakers on a 110 panel running black wire to one and red to the other on 3 wire cable. (Its weird here in Canada you can use 2 wire and omit the neutral, my water heater is set up like that but I had to insist on the neutral wire being hooked up for my welders!) 5000 watts needs a double 30 amp breaker. I'm no fan of GFI plugs either but maybe they have improved or there are some better than others.
     

  3. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Thanks.

    I understand on the GFI's. Didn't think of that. I have them in my house and they do go off occassionaly.

    I'll take another look at the wiring out there and call the guy who put it in to get more details.

    Hubby told me that running too many circuits would cost too much in wire, but it's my money anyways :)

    Jena
     
  4. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    not sure on your length of runs. it may make more sense to run a heavy wire to the chicken area and branch off for heat lamp circuits. find out the code for your state. if improperly done the insurance will fight you all the way! find a self ermployed electrician to show you the ropes on one circuit(you will need him to wire the new barn box)and check guage of service wire . if this needs replacing and you can handle the wire size ,go to a 200 amp service costs pennys more to install and opens up options check ALL old wire for code and run, have found too many dead end runs open to the elements! also get a book on basic wiring,i still consult mine from time to time(seems age kills brain cells after 40)
     
  5. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In my county, the inspector has insisted I use the GFI breakers. Unfortunately, they are $30 apiece for 20 and 30 amp models. Since you don't have to worry about the inspector, but are concerned about the safety, you could use the GFI outlets where you see more risk.

    The size of the incoming wire will determine the amperage it will carry. Copper must be at least 3 guage to handle 100 amps. Maybe you can spot the guage on the wire where it enters the box.

    I'm curious, does your meter box have breakers? Some do. My inspector says I have to get a meter box that has two breakers below it, one for the house, and one for the garage. (When I build the house, it will need a box) Then I need a breaker box in the garage, two ground rods, GFI breakers on every circuit and a lightening arrestor.

    My BIL is an electrician, and religiously uses GFI products. He made me a GFI extension cord for my cement mixer, because it has a motor and there is water all around.
     
  6. BobBoyce

    BobBoyce Well-Known Member

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    GFCI breakers and outlets may be great for safety, but they are lousy for reliability. If you use one where the life of livestock (chicks for instance) hangs in the balance, they will let you down at the worst of times.

    Any fluctuations in power, such as surges, glitches, transients from motors or other electrical equiptment, thunderstorms, wind storms, substation power switching, ect. will trip, or even damage them. Then the circuits protected by them are down until you can reset, or replace the damaged ones.

    Not a good position to be in when you're in the middle of a winter storm with hundreds of chicks relying on that power to keep them alive. Been there, done that, multiple times. I've ripped out every critical location GFCI outlet and replaced them with regular outlets for that reason. I still keep them in the kitchen, bathrooms, where lives are not hanging in the balance. I won't even own a GFCI breaker. Not only are they overly expensive, but they consistently fail at the worst times. That kind of stuff was designed for smooth clean city power, not the kind of dirty, electrically noisy power that most rural areas have.

    I also have solar power that provides a good portion of my low demand power consumption, and this is relied on to carry critical loads (incubators, brooders) as well, just in case grid-power goes down.

    Bob
     
  7. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like you are planning big enough changes that you should be doing a new overall electrical load calculation. You can get into trouble in a number of ways, not just the barn and its panel must be considered but whatever its feeder source if it does not have a separate meter.

    Usually these systems are put together as main panel with separate sub panels in other locations. Most locations today do require the service to have a breaker / disconnect at the meter service area. That is for allowing firemen, Emergency types to shut off power if necessary before trying to get into a building.

    Many sources on the web that explain and walk you through how to do a load calculation. Some common sense is required here. If you are adding 100% duty cycle loads that are known, you don't take the slop factor allowed in most calculations. You never plan systems where your safetly factor is the main breakers tripping to save your bacon. Systems built over different ages, codes, materials can be nightmares if taken to extremes. Sometimes good overall upgrades are well worth the effort.

    You can do 30 amp 120 volt circuits, the standard rule is 10 gauge wire, go to 8 guage if runs are over 100 feet. You can buy the heavier receptacles. GFCI is still a good thing if required. I don't like the breakers, the receptacles are less problematic. Really heavy loads normally are done via smaller sub panels that act to distribute power instead of trying to run heavy wire individual circuits over longer distances.

    http://www.seisco.com/PDFdocuments/Electrical-guide.doc.pdf

    Don't think you want to be doing anything in the area of jury-rigging. As pointed out the insurance companies are always looking for good excuses not to pay. A good middle ground is first get your knowledge base up to speed. Many good web sources, lots of good basic books out there. Talk to an electrician and have them advise, walk you through the recommended requirement and maybe even do some of the work.

    You don't want poorly installed home brew electrical anything. Just don't sleep good at night. Can be done yourself in many areas but have to get the knowledge base up to the required level.
     
  8. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Jena, here is a tool that you may find to be of benefit.
    http://www.stanselectric.com/vdrop.html

    When you buy the receptacles for your lamps do not buy at a big box store. Go to an electrical supply facility and tell them your application and pay the slight difference for quality components. We have a chicken house and were plagued with corrosion/insects and system faults initially. As a contract producer we told what to do. Being hardheaded, and against recommendation, we installed the lighting using pigtails and quality fittings. Now if a light/ballast/transformer fails, we simple remove the entire unit and hang the light in eye bolts and plug- in using a twist lock replacement. This avoids distrubing the chickens by having to make the repair in the house itself. Guess what? Now that is the recommendation by the parent company!
     
  9. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the help.

    There is a main breaker at the meter. The lines run from the meter pole to various locations...one to the barn in question, one to the grain bin, once to the feed shed, etc.

    There is another meter on the pole that goes to the house. It is a 200 amp loop. I've called the coop to have them switch the leads on the loops....100amp to the house and 200 amp for the rest of the farm.

    After checking, the main breaker in my bird barn is 70amps. I can't go 100 amps in there or I'll be tripping the main everytime I run the feeder or anything else out back. The main already trips if we run the grain bin dryer and feeder at the same time.

    I'm going to go ahead and start putting up boxes while I continue to learn and figure out the rest. Boxes are easy enough, except for that hard barn wood!

    Jena
     
  10. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    if a barn has cement floors you should have gfi outlets cement is a conductor
     
  11. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    get the boxes without the nails use your drill screw them in will be easy use long deck screws
     
  12. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I aree with a lot of what others have said.

    GFI is a good protection, but really causes more problems than it helps out in the coutry. They need to come up with a self-resetting system. Dead livestock from electrocuding or from freezing - still gives you dead livestock. The GFI's cause more death & damage from lack of power than the electrocution danger......

    You _can_ run 30 amp runs, but that is not a _good_ idea. Normal wall recepticales are 15 amp, you can get some (they are identified with a cross-slot in the face) that are good for 20 amps. I would go with those.

    30 amp stuff is a whole new plug in, totally incompatable with regular plug ins. Trying to use the 15 or 20 amp wall recepticals with a 30 amp breaker is a dangerous thing - the wall recepticale will heat up & catch on fire before the breaker trips in many situations, and you don't want that.

    Yes it costs more to run more wire, but running a couple extra 12 gauge wires to normal 20 amp recepticales will be cheaper & simpler than trying to do the 30 amp stuff properly with thicker wire & much costlier outlets & plugs.

    Remember, the breakers only protect your wires & recepticals from overheating. :) They do not protect your equipment. All the wires & recepticals & wire connectors need to be sized for the breaker for the system to work. If you run 30 amp breakers, all the comonents need to handle 30 amps. Or, the breaker won't break, the weak component will melt.....


    Also, are you familiar with the difference between the ground wire & the nuetral wire? They are _not_ the same thing, and should _only_ be wired together at _one_ location - the main box. This is typically the most confusing thing for a home wirer, and doing it wrong totally defeats the whole safety of the ground (3rd prong) wire.

    Along those lines, if you are upgrading an outbuilding, what comes to the building on the main service? Used to be you got the one or 2 120v lines and the nuetral wire. The ground wire in your building went to a ground rod, as did the nuetral wire (again only tied together at this one location...).

    Today, we are supposed to run all 4 wires back to yuor main disconnect. You would have the 2 live wires (120v each) and the nuetral wire & the ground wire all going to the main box at your power pole. This is a safer way to do it, and makes GFI's work better..... (The short version of a complex explination.)

    You can probably go with what you have now as exsisting; however if you pull a new supply wire to your building you really need to upgrade to the 4 wire standard & _not_ use the grounded buss bar to tie the neutral & ground wires together at the remote building. And especially if you use GFI's, you would want the full 4 wire service.

    Clear as mud? Let us know where I lost you, I'm not the best at explaining things..... You do seem to have a good basic of what you are getting into.

    --->Paul
     
  13. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    As far as load calculations....I can do that for my little barn, but it seems I ought to do it for everything that comes off that meter. Grain bin, feeder, etc.

    I really don't want to climb all over that feeder to see what all the amps are on all the motors. Would it be ok to just look at the breakers that run all that stuff and add it all up? If the feed shed totals 50 amps, the grain bin 30 amps, one barn is 60 amps, then I'm over the top if everything is going at once, right?

    Then I'd have to look at what gets run at different times and I'd pretty well know when I'd be in the danger zone of flipping the main.

    The coop guy went out to look at the meters today to see if they were switchable or not. I asked him to check the loops as the one has a 100amp breaker, but hubby thinks the wire is larger than the wire in the 200amp loop. I'll see what he says tomorrow. 200 amps would probably work pretty well with little danger of shutting it down. Good thing the big shed doesn't even have power to it!

    Thanks and I'll let you know more questions as I go along. Sure is fun to learn how to do something new.

    Jena
     
  14. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Using the amperage of the breakers will not work for your calculation! You need to read the data plate or you need to know the voltage and the HP of the devices. Even knowing this will not accurately give you the amp draw. The only way to know the true amp draw is to measure the amperage with the device(s) working under load. Many times the HP of the motor will not be utilized. A good example is the way air compressors are marketed. People buy units advertised as say 5 hp and delivering maybe 8.2 cfm. In reality, this is a 2+hp draw as any decent air compressor will deliver close to 4 cfm per hp. In some cases on a farm the reverse does occur, though rarely. A motor with a service factor greater than 1 is capability of delivering more hp than the data plate hp. For you application, just get the data plate info. Run as much equipment as possible on 240 volts to save money on wire size and to improve efficiency.
     
  15. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Yup, that is right approach.

    First get the power feeds correct at the meter end. Plus you have to understand the ratings of the main cable into the meter. Even the feeds from the utility. If you burn up the step down transformer and their feed cable it is their problem tho. It does happen due to load growth.

    I would agree wire all the motors for 220 Volts if possible but would say pay extra and oversize the wire, you may need that little bit of help the bigger wire will offer. It is a one time hit in the pocketbook but treat it like an investment. Most motor > ~ 1/2 HP usually can be wired for either 120 or 220V. Planning out your wiring to locate many smaller disconnect / breaker units is a good practice instead of running longer smaller wire circuits from main or sub panels. Those disconnect units can also be used for good safety practices in totally isolating equipment without having to use the main panel. Usually locate them close to the equipment. Good practice to never fully depend on the On / Off switch when your hand is in the grinder. :no: You can lock those disconnect units too.

    Remember the one standard adage. A motor in the starting phase draws ~ 8 times its normal running current. That can bite you here with a lot of fairly hefty motors. You will trip out the main breaker on a heavy starting surge but may be ok if everything is running. So you can also influence things by good operating practices.

    Your starting current draw will be less if the motor is in as unloaded a state as possible. Applies to things like grinders, feeders, things with augers, etc where they can start under a loaded condition. Run them empty before shutdown if possible.

    You do need to figure your load calculations on the best data possible. Does mean nameplate data and factoring in any known situations where loads are running more heavy than what the standard calculations might anticipate.