View Full Version : Electrical Distribution

03-09-2009, 08:40 PM
This question mostly for those that setup tempory haunts. What do you use for you electrical distribution. And a follow on is how specific about circuit loads are you. Pics would be grea

The Parker House
03-09-2009, 11:23 PM
I use a 125 amp electrical panel mounted in a roll around wooden box that we built. We have a #6 4 conductor double shielded cable (just like a very large extinction cord) that runs to the generator. Under the panel we mounted (6) 30 amp plugs. Under that we mounted a row of (6) 20 amp plugs. Then under that we mounted a row of (6) 15 amp plugs. All the plugs are wired directly to the appropriate breakers in the panel. We also made up (6) extinction cords that have a double gang box every 20 ft out of 100' 10 gage extinction cords. This plugs into the (6) 30 amp plugs and allows us to run the cords in any direction from the box and have 4 plus every 20 ft that can carry up to 30 amps out of them. Then anything smaller that’s close to the box you can just plug into the other plugs.
We also wired our alarm panel into the side of the wood box and tied it into a couple of the circuits so that when the alarm is tripped it cuts the power to them. We plug things into these circuits that we would want turned off in case of emergencies. Like ambient sounds and music. etc. etc.....
I hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions if needed,

Boo Crew Production
03-10-2009, 04:51 PM

That sounds like a great set-up. That is about the same set-up I would do for a haunt, although our fire marshal wants every circuit in the haunt to shut down in case of an emergency, and emergency lights to come on and effectively light the path to an emergency exit. So we would have to do a circuit dedicated to the emergency lighting.

Again great system.

03-10-2009, 05:37 PM
That does sound pretty sweat! I like the alarm sytem wired in with the sounds circuits thats pretty smart. Heinsight is always 20/20. Anywho just wondering little side question. Does anyone know why you wouldn't make every ciruit 30 amps? Why go down to 20 and 15? Vincent This Time!

The Parker House
03-10-2009, 06:15 PM
That does sound pretty sweat! I like the alarm sytem wired in with the sounds circuits thats pretty smart. Heinsight is always 20/20. Anywho just wondering little side question. Does anyone know why you wouldn't make every ciruit 30 amps? Why go down to 20 and 15? Vincent This Time!

You do this for 2 reasons really.
1st - of all it allows you more circuits out of a particular panel. I.e. if you had all 30 amp circuits out of a 100 amp panel, you would only be able to run about 10 circuits (or so. The math on that isnít exactly right but there is a formula)

2nd - if youíre running a 30 amp circuit, you canít just plug a light weight extinction cord in to it and get the benefit of the 30 amps. I.e. plugging 1 strobe light into a 30 amp circuit is not only a waste, but it provides little protection from overheating the wires and short circuiting.

There is more to it. But for the most part this is the reasons we donít.

Hope this helps. We all learn more every day. Itís a blast!!!

03-10-2009, 06:22 PM
Thanks for that! See now that was very very helpful! I wish you lots of success your next season dude! Vincent This Time!

03-11-2009, 05:22 AM
Thanks for the detail.....Wat is an extinction cord?

03-11-2009, 05:25 AM
Ok nevermind...I reread your post....I guess you explained that already. That sounds like a great setup. How big is the generator you are running. I assume this setup is for an outdoor Haunt? Also, where did you get the Wire. My local Home depot and Lowes don't carry the heavy duty flexible cable for this type of application

Does anyone have detail on thier setup for temporary indoor Haunt using the buildings power.

The Parker House
03-11-2009, 08:02 AM
The gen we have is a 45K watt diesel gen. (the big ones you pull behind a truck) We use it on a indoor or outdoor haunts whenever we can b/c most power companies want to charge $5-10 thousand for a deposit on the electricity in a building the size we get. (20-25,000 sq ft) So we politely give them the finger and plug into our own power.

But you can wire the same cable that we connect to the gen; you can connect to the house box. You would connect it into a breaker that is rated at whatever the size panel is in your box. This is called a sub panel. This is very EZ to do but there are a couple things that must be checked out. Like if the house panel has room for a new 240 volt 125 amp sub panel breaker. And the house panel will need to be at least 200 amp panels. But its not there are still ways to do it. Just more complicated. The best thing is to have your electrician check out your location and tell you what rough you should take.

And BTW, the cord that big has to come from an electrical supply house.

03-11-2009, 09:03 AM
We have a combination of temporary and permanent electric. We handle the temporary stuff by making "extension cords" out of "SO" type heavy-duty rubberized electrical cable (6Ga thru 12Ga, depending on load). We added large 70A and 100A sockets at our main panel (400A 3ph) where we plug in these "extension cords". The cords run underground thru 4" drain pipe to our central haunt control panels [primary run], and from there they branch out to 7 power clusters [secondary runs] to each of the main areas. These secondary clusters are just steel boxes with outlets in 'em. From each secondary cluster, we drop down to "tertiary" runs which are essentially smaller extension cords we made out of 12ga SO cable and steel outlet boxes too, tho every year some orange home depot cords find their way into the mix.

Because we have to do the haunt power vs emergency power thing too, we actually run three secondary runs to each of the seven clusters:
* haunt power - for props, controllers, amps, etc
* heavy power - for foggers, pumps, motors - high amp stuff
* emergency power - emergency lighting, PA system, r/y/g code system

It sounds like a lot but it really wasn't that hard to do, and it was much cheaper than the alternatives. It's been inspected and meets all current codes, and our fire marshal is actually very happy with it - he doesn't see it as a hack at all.

03-11-2009, 09:15 AM
Oh, and back in 2005 we did another haunt that was all indoors, in one of those family fun centers.

We wired five of these multi-outlet boxes called "Frogs" into the main panel, using heavy shielded cable. We installed the frogs in each of the main areas of the haunt. We then plugged our lighting, props, etc into the nearest frog.

All the frogs were wired thru a thing called a "contactor", which is a big relay switch that is triggered by one button. That's how we flipped between emergency lighting and haunt power. We actually had a big red button labeled "Press in Emergency" :-)

You can make frogs yourself, and them use them year after year.

03-11-2009, 08:56 PM
Oh dude if you could get some specs on here for how to make them frogs that would be awesome! Vincent This Time!

RJ Productions
03-11-2009, 09:39 PM
Check with local requirements. While the specialized electrical box sounds cool. It would be useless if your local FM or Electrical inspectpr requires that it be designed and assembled by a local electrical contractor! We just used what's commonly called a "spider box" it is a temp power distribution box designed for temporary application such as construction sites and stuff like ours. They are UL approved.

03-12-2009, 08:13 AM
The electrical frog boxes are nothing special - they're probably the same thing as the spider boxes mentioned above, with a different name. I googled spider boxes, and found this link - www.hubbellnet.com/max_htm/PDF_Literature_Library/h4624.pdf and yes, they're basically the same thing. Ours were meant for indoor use and not as rugged as those spider boxes.

Think of them as a heavy duty extension cord with a bunch of outlets at the end in a solid, safe, sturdy box. The extension cord itself plugged into a male locking-adapter on the box so we could change cords. But build it however you want. Make sure you use wire size appropriate to the total loads you can plan for the box, and make sure that each box is wired into its OWN circuit breaker. Also don't make your own enclosure; use NEMA approved steel or rigid plastic boxes, use proper fittings and bushings, etc. A visit to a well stocked home depot should get you what you need.

03-12-2009, 08:37 AM
Thats really helpful thanks! The spider boxes would save me a whole lot of money with the permits for electrical and what not... So thanks. Vincent This Time!

03-16-2009, 03:27 PM
A very common move for electrical distribution is to run a 220 twistlock plug extension cord to a quad box that is split into 2 separate 110 circuits. There are many slang terms for these guys. Then you can start daisy chaining them until you get near your load capacity, then add another run.

But the real point is to get someone who knows what they are doing. Lighting guys are really good at this kind of stuff, better than most electricians actually. So if you can find a house lighting guy at a local club or something he will have seen all this kind of crap before.

Just don't try and do this stuff yourself if you have no knowledge of it, it'll just turn into a bad bad situation really quick.

03-18-2009, 08:52 AM
Take it from someone who spent a couple hundred building a power distro for a lighting rig that never got used...ALWAYS check with your local FM/electrical inspector. Codes differ, and it really depends on what type of classification they give to your haunt. They might consider you a carnival, they might consider you a theatrical attraction, or who knows what. The code differs for each one, and could make a distro you built completely useless. I've been doing stage lighting for years and the electrical issue is one that never goes away. Even if it seems perfectly legal and logical to you, the electrical inspector might say something else. I had one inspector decide I couldn't run cables to the stage in front of a doorway, since it'd be a trip hazard. Then a year later a different one decides I can't hang them over the doorway. Fortunately there was a third option.

Of even greater importance is the fact that electricity is not something you want to just "figure out". If you do something wrong, people can die. And that's no exaggeration. When you're dealing with making your own distro and doing a tie-in to a generator or the house panel, you're dealing with some very dangerous stuff. By your questions right now, I'd say you shouldn't even bother doing it. Hire someone to build it, hire someone to do the tie-in. Your insurance company most likely would not be happy about you doing it yourself, and if anything ever went wrong you'd be liable. Hire an electrician, and learn from them. Make sure you do get someone knowledgeable with temporary installs because there are indeed some electricians out there who don't know anything about this. Do your own homework finding out what the codes are. Geckofx made a good point, a lighting guy will usually know a lot about this stuff. It seems to be mandatory learning. But I would only use a lighting guy as a source of advice. You need to think about what will happen if something goes wrong. Sure the lighting guy will face a lot of heat for a mistake, but so will you for hiring an unlicensed person to do your electrical. And the insurance could flat out refuse to cover you.

That being said, it sounds like there's a wealth of knowledge on here about this so keep on asking questions here. These people know what they're talking about.