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Electricity and ground question in home studio

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Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby Frank Rideau » Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:15 am

Hi,

I have the chance to plan properly the electrical system and power needs for my studio as we are completely renovating the basement in our house (where my studio is) involving the installation of a new service panel, reconfiguring the circuit breakers and the wiring and sockets disposition in all the basement.

It seems recommended to have all the audio gear connected to a separated circuit of anything else in the house, as well I guess on a separated circuit of the lights and non-audio devices that are in the same studio room (computer?). I have also read somewhere a recommendation to have this dedicated circuit on an isolated ground, which means having the electrician put in a separate ground bar behind the service panel.

What does this imply? Is this something common to ask to a licensed electrician? Will it make the cost of the new service panel installation raised a lot? Is it worth it?

Another question is, since I would have all gear on a dedicated circuit, can I use many sockets in the room that goes on that circuit to plug different gear? Or should I use only one socket and use some kind of "tree, trunk and limb" approach to plug everything to the same socket?

(I own some analog gear, Tascam and Soundcraft console, synthesizers, audio processing units, space echo, amps, tapes and what not to fill 2 power bars of 10 outlets each)

Thank you !
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby Arpangel » Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:54 am

Where are you based? From the terminology you use it sounds as though you’re not in the UK.
Work like this can be undertaken by any qualified electrician, and of course, the bigger the job, the more you have to pay.
It depends on the scale of your studio but it should be possible to run a separate "service panel" (Consumer Unit) with its own earth, this is usually an "earth spike" driven into the ground outside.But is this really necessary? as using a good existing earth shouldn’t give rise to any interference problems in a home studio.
It’s usual for earthing in a studio environment to be based on the star system, with one central earthing point, with connections radiating out from it, if you use more than one main outlet you risk earth loops. I have three 10 way plug boards in my studio, all plugged into one master socket, and all is fine. It really depends on the equipment being used, and the load being placed on the master socket, and I have things plugged into other sockets apart from my master socket with no ill effects, you just have to experiment and see how it goes.
It sounds like your plan might not be needed, but I’m sure someone will be along soon to give you a bit more advice on this.
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby ef37a » Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:38 am

Electrical installations HAVE to conform to local wiring regulations (they call it "code" over the pond) and so you are somewhat limited in doing what you would LIKE to do as against what you CAN do.

I would say you could consider the basement as you would a garage or other outbuilding? Fed from a single cable (4mm?) from the consumer unit. You then have a small consumer unit in the basement. Gilding the lilly, you could have a 4mm feed for 'tech' stuff and a 1.5mm for lighting and yet another for heating or other 'non-audio' gear?

Some say you should avoid a ring main if possible but I don't think there is much evidence that they cause anymore noise than spurs?

Earthing/grounding is a mantrap of regulation and you might only be able to have one, common earth back at the CU. In any case, I am sure I have read that multiple earth points can be a noise problem?
In UK, domestic supply is almost all earthed to the incoming armoured buried cable and I doubt you could get better than that.

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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby Arpangel » Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:55 am

ef37a wrote:I would say you could consider the basement as you would a garage or other outbuilding? Fed from a single cable (4mm?) from the consumer unit. You then have a small consumer unit in the basement. Gilding the lilly, you could have a 4mm feed for 'tech' stuff and a 1.5mm for lighting and yet another for heating or other 'non-audio' gear?

Dave.

Dave, I agree, that’s all that's needed surely?
4mm feed? I’ve always used 2.5 for these types of things, one small ring main, or spur, and one lighting circuit, no harm in using 4mm but not strictly necessary maybe?
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby ef37a » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:06 am

Arpangel wrote:
ef37a wrote:I would say you could consider the basement as you would a garage or other outbuilding? Fed from a single cable (4mm?) from the consumer unit. You then have a small consumer unit in the basement. Gilding the lilly, you could have a 4mm feed for 'tech' stuff and a 1.5mm for lighting and yet another for heating or other 'non-audio' gear?

Dave.

Dave, I agree, that’s all that's needed surely?
4mm feed? I’ve always used 2.5 for these types of things, one small ring main, or spur, and one lighting circuit, no harm in using 4mm but not strictly necessary maybe?

To 'ring' the basement you would have to run TWO 2.5mm cables back to the CU. The proper lekky I worked with at the network factory always ran 4mm to benches as spurs from an existing ring even though each bench would have no more load than maybe 6 50W solder stations and the odd tranny radio! Mind you, some of the girls hid the odd fan heater underneath!

If'n it were me I would put in plastic conduit and wire the whole lot in "Tri-rated conduit wire" Easier to manage than 2.5. and MUCH easy than wrestling with 4mm! Cheaper too.
But then I would not care if the studio looked like a factory! Some might.

If you wanted to be really fussy you could TWIST L&N!

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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby Arpangel » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:18 am

ef37a wrote:
Arpangel wrote:
ef37a wrote:I would say you could consider the basement as you would a garage or other outbuilding? Fed from a single cable (4mm?) from the consumer unit. You then have a small consumer unit in the basement. Gilding the lilly, you could have a 4mm feed for 'tech' stuff and a 1.5mm for lighting and yet another for heating or other 'non-audio' gear?

Dave.

Dave, I agree, that’s all that's needed surely?
4mm feed? I’ve always used 2.5 for these types of things, one small ring main, or spur, and one lighting circuit, no harm in using 4mm but not strictly necessary maybe?

To 'ring' the basement you would have to run TWO 2.5mm cables back to the CU. The proper lekky I worked with at the network factory always ran 4mm to benches as spurs from an existing ring even though each bench would have no more load than maybe 6 50W solder stations and the odd tranny radio! Mind you, some of the girls hid the odd fan heater underneath!

If'n it were me I would put in plastic conduit and wire the whole lot in "Tri-rated conduit wire" Easier to manage than 2.5. and MUCH easy than wrestling with 4mm! Cheaper too.
But then I would not care if the studio looked like a factory! Some might.

If you wanted to be really fussy you could TWIST L&N!

Dave.

I'm in an argument with a friend at the mo, we’re on the edge of rewiring our house, and we’re doing it together.
We have three floors, and he wants a consumer unit on each floor, I want one large consumer unit in the basement, less hardware, less heavy cable, one ring for each floor, one light circuit for each floor.
Sorry to change tack. Just got a PM, so I’ll stick to those.
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby ef37a » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:52 am

Well, I'm no electrician but CAN you wire three CUs back to the meter?
I would have thought two of them would have to be served from one CU at the meter?

In the case of the garage/basement studio perhaps a small CU with 16A breakers (32 A in the main CU) then if someone F.Us in there they don't plunge the whole house into darkness?

I also think an RCD in the CU is now mandatory (bloody good idea anyway!) so that is going to trip for any earth leakage anywhere.

H.E.L.P! SURELY we have a time served lekky on the strength?

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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby James Perrett » Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:29 pm

All this talk of ring mains and cable sizes is pretty meaningless.

The OP is in Canada where they don't use ring mains and they need thicker cables due to the lower voltage and higher currents. Wiring practices are going to be very different over there.

The best thing that I can suggest is that they find a local electrician who is experienced with studio installations. Maybe the local radio or TV stations would be worth asking.
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby ef37a » Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:48 pm

James Perrett wrote:All this talk of ring mains and cable sizes is pretty meaningless.

The OP is in Canada where they don't use ring mains and they need thicker cables due to the lower voltage and higher currents. Wiring practices are going to be very different over there.

The best thing that I can suggest is that they find a local electrician who is experienced with studio installations. Maybe the local radio or TV stations would be worth asking.

Well Arp' did ask Jim! If I had my way it would be a condition of posting that peeps put up where they are...Can't ALL be hiding from their ex!

Dave. (NN5 5P* U bloody K)
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby James Perrett » Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:58 pm

ef37a wrote:Well Arp' did ask Jim! If I had my way it would be a condition of posting that peeps put up where they are...Can't ALL be hiding from their ex!

Dave. (NN5 5P* U bloody K)

I checked the Soundcloud link in the signature to find the location. Yes, moderators have access to other information about posters but I'd never normally post information that wasn't available to all users.
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby ef37a » Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:05 pm

James Perrett wrote:
ef37a wrote:Well Arp' did ask Jim! If I had my way it would be a condition of posting that peeps put up where they are...Can't ALL be hiding from their ex!

Dave. (NN5 5P* U bloody K)

I checked the Soundcloud link in the signature to find the location. Yes, moderators have access to other information about posters but I'd never normally post information that wasn't available to all users.

Yes, that's how I found out you found out. Yes again, some posters might have good reason to keep their 10/20 off the page but that would surely be rather a rare event?

The problem is in trying to help someone when you don't know their supply voltage or local wonga. See, we are not all as smart as you James!

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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby Frank Rideau » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:48 pm

Hi Everyone

Yes, I am indeed from Montreal, Canada.

I understand the answer(s) to my questions will change regarding I am in Canada or in the UK.
I will try to ask to a local electrician who knows a bit about home studio.

Thanks!
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:12 pm

Frank Rideau wrote:It seems recommended to have all the audio gear connected to a separated circuit of anything else in the house

It's a good idea if you have that capability.

...as well I guess on a separated circuit of the lights and non-audio devices that are in the same studio room (computer?).

The computer needs to be on the same mains power supply as all the audio gear, but running the lights and other utilities (heating?) on separate circuits is a good idea.

I have also read somewhere a recommendation to have this dedicated circuit on an isolated ground, which means having the electrician put in a separate ground bar behind the service panel.

I don't know what the Canadian Code requires for local grounding arrangements... But the better the grounding, the fewer problems you'll have.

Is this something common to ask to a licensed electrician? Will it make the cost of the new service panel installation raised a lot? Is it worth it?

Yes, don't know, and possibly, in that order. You'll need to talk to your electrician.

since I would have all gear on a dedicated circuit, can I use many sockets in the room that goes on that circuit to plug different gear? Or should I use only one socket and use some kind of "tree, trunk and limb" approach to plug everything to the same socket?

The tree-trunk-limb or star-distribution arrangement inherently minimises ground loop currents. I don't know what the Canadian Code allows... But if all your 'audio' power sockets are wired as separate spurs back to the same circuit then you have the desirable star distribution. But if they are all sitting at different points on the same single spur then you have a (small) potential for ground loop noises -- although the length of the spur is likely to be short enough that it won't be an issue.
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby Frank Rideau » Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:26 am

Thank you Hugh, I see what you mean by having separate spurs with many sockets as a star distribution.
I'm surprised that I cannot find a single electrical schematic example for a home studio on the web that would show what Hugh is suggesting. I could at least handle that to the electrician to help the discussion. I can find any type of schematic about every electrical applications in the world but none for a typical home studio configuration.

That could do an interesting article for SOS.
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Re: Electricity and ground question in home studio

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:03 am

Frank Rideau wrote:That could do an interesting article for SOS.

The problem is that the optimum configuration changes depending upon the standards used in each country. In the UK the wiring regulations change every few years too and we're now up to the 18th edition. Doing your own wiring is very much discouraged in the UK as most wiring changes now have to be certified by a competent person.

So this might make a good article in an electrical trade magazine but probably wouldn't be appropriate for a general magazine like SOS.

In my previous studio the audio power was fed to a double socket connected to a spur so that I could choose how to wire things from there without having to get involved with certification. Lights and general power were on separate circuits.
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