Major Electrical Emergency - Please help

Discussion in 'Growing Marijuana Indoors' started by bigslick7878, Feb 8, 2014.

  1. Shit dude that sucks! Microwaves suck up a lot of amps. Should be on its own circuit or flat out get rid of it. Nothing but trouble. Not sure why when you flipped them it didn't fire back up. May have blown breaker for good. Not sure.

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  2. Take a picture of your main and all subpanels. Give me the make and specifications. I can help you figure this out and help you possibly upgrade really easy so this doesnt happen again.. pm me or post it here...

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  3. #4 bigslick7878, Feb 8, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2014
    Here is the main and the sub panel...

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  4. mark the bad breaker. turn off the main and take a screw driver and pop out the dud breaker go buy a new one like it for $6 replace and power up.
    So what you got can be fixed with a screw driver and $6
    Breakers do get old and go bad.
  5. Power company just got here. He is going to the top of the pole now to test it there and at the meter.
  6. Update us with what they say.

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  7. Well there is the culprit. Look at top right plug, it is burnt out.

    Thank GOD.

    Guy is gonna try to fix it now, if not coming back tomorrow to replace the guts.

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  8. I cant really tell from that picture, but i hope thats all it is for ya!!!

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  9. Back at full power! If you look at the color of the 4 prongs in that pic, you will notice that the 3 on the bottom and top left are silver, and the top right one is black and burnt out. The second he pulled the meter off he saw what it was. Said it just got too hot and even started to melt the wire cover a tiny bit.
    Guy was cool as hell I was trying to ask as many questions as possible while he was fixing it. He basically said shit happens. So relieved right now it isn't even funny. When I set up all my lights I had them spread out on different circuits and have had no issues in 14 months, would still like to figure out how to use the empty breakers and run a line because I got 3 more 600's coming soon.
  10. Dude. Be careful. He may be cool, but he ain't stupid.
    You might want to hold off on expansion, or find another grow house. I'm being Cereal. DON'T GET GREEDY. Unless of course, you're growing legally...then by all means, LIGHT 'EM UP!
  11. I'm not sure what your level of electrical knowledge is, or if you are running your lights on 110 or 220 but if there is any way you can run 220 I would do it to keep the balance of the panel.

    You may have "spread out the load over several circuits" but if all those circuits are on the same "leg" (like the one that got fried) then you need to move a couple of the wires from one breaker to another. If you are not comfortable sticking a screwdriver into a live box or don't understand what I am talking about then you need to get a profession electrician in there to balance your panel.
  12. You have a severely over-amped leg. Can you give any details on how your lighting is broken up per circuit? If they are all 110 V or 220 V? If this isn't taken care of properly, you may end up a statistic of grows burnt down. Are you by chance in the Denver Metro? Who took care of your immediate issue/repair, utility or an electrician? I have seen this issue many times, it is a major one that extends into the branch circuits.
    I have 6 circuits on the top two floors and all the lights are spread out over those. I am adding new lights soon and made a spreadsheet that lists everything in the entire house and the approximate draw. When I install the new lights I am going to mark the circuits, see where I have some extra amps ( a few of the circuits are 20's) and make sure everything is nice and even. Right now I just have the outlets labeled as to which go with which other ones, the box is labeled wrong so I have to redo the whole thing.
    Utility fixed it. Not in Denver.
  14. From the what I can see in your meter cabinet, it looks like #2 aluminum wire. If it is, you barely have a total of 100 Amps for your entire house. It is highly advisably to not have more than 2 (1000W) 110 Volt lights per 1 30 Amp circuit or 4 (1000W) 220 Volt per 30 Amp 2 Pole circuit. You can utilize 30 Amp breakers for lighting only, exception is for dedicated equipment that requires the rating of 30 or higher (pumps, heaters, A/C). You are already having over-amping issues alongside an imbalanced panel, I would have an electrician upgrade your service before you add any more of anything. In my area, I do service upgrades for less than 1,800.00 for a 200 Amp overhead services. You could probably find someone cheaper or around the same. Many electrical contractors will also do the work sans permit, to avoid inspectors poking around. They usually have to check the cold water bonding and that it is done properly. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you have a serious issue on hand. At the very least have an electrician come by to do an amp-probe while you are using your highest typical load, so you can see how imbalanced it is and how high you are on your amps. You may be able to rearrange the panel some to ease the loads. If you have that done, make sure he checks all three legs coming in from the meter. (HOT-HOT-NUETRAL) . Hope this helps man!
    I have estimated that I am only running about 42 amps right now with all the current equipment I have. I have been running this stuff for a year with no issues at all(other than recent one). I am pretty sure yes it is 100 amp service. The issue might be that I am also running space heaters 24/7 this winter for the downstairs, which is another 50 amps alone right there. 30 amps of this is on the circuits I am using for the grow room on my second floor in my bedroom/bathroom (2 1500 watt heaters). So basically right now I have 72 amps or so on those 6 circuits upstairs, that is probably pushing it right now. I would bet that is the leg that burnt out and why.
    I have been running that since I had(and when it happened) this problem, and planned on my new lights supplanting the heaters when they aren't needed anymore in spring. When summer hits and I need to run the A/C's I plan on dialing all the ballasts back to bring the total amp draw back down in the house (and I use window AC not central air, so I can spread that load out as well). It also should be noted that it is me and me only in the house. I rarely use much of anything else that draws power, especially recently after this issue. Couple cable boxes, TV, fridge, freezer (that is going to get unplugged when new lights get installed, 7 amp draw that I don't really need) microwave a few times a day...and the room lights which are nothing. This winter has been absolutely brutal around here, we are finally coming out of it so the second the space heaters can go they will.
    I shouldn't be anywhere even remotely close to 100 amps, even when I add the new lights. I only plan on adding about 30 more amps total (3-1000's/fans). That should take my grow usage up to around say 75 total, with another 25 left over for the rest of the house if it is 100 amp. I also have switched to night time flower room operation, so that if I happen to use anything like microwave or other high draw things it is when flower lights are off usually.(that is where the large majority of my power is used obv).
    So basically what I am saying is that I am aware of pretty much everything in this house, how much I am drawing now, and what I will be drawing constantly. I can't see any possible way I will be close to 100 amps once these damn heaters get shut off. Problem is the oil is so expensive these days I just run the space heaters in selected areas of the house to get by.
    One question I have and forgive me if this is a newb question...but if there is only 100 amp service how come between my 2 boxes there is double that in breakers? I mean there is no way I am only running on 7 15 amp breakers, so how is that possible that it is only 100 amps?? The breaker has to match the capacity of the power coming into the house from the pole right? I mean you can't have 8 15's, 4 20's and some other ones with one 100 amp service right? It could be 200 amp, this house has an addition on it that the sub panel covers by itself (kitchen and washer/dryer 220v included).
    I have to get down there and start mapping some stuff out a little better. If I spread the load out more I don't see why I should have any issues. It isn't like I am running 12,000 watts here just with the grow stuff and a house full of people using all types of power. Quite the opposite (by design)
    But anyway thanks for all the advice, can't tell you how much I appreciate it!
  16. Yeah those space heaters are a bane to the electrical world. I know you say you haven't had a problem before, I hear that all the time though. The biggest issue that I get concerned about is the fact that you have already heated up the feeders enough to cause damage inside your meter cabinet. That also means that the insulation is by all intensive purposes, compromised.
    A sub-panel most definitely does not mean that you have more power. When we size a service, we take into account that everything will not be running at the same time, we do what is called a "Demand Factor" calculation. So you may see 20 20 Amp breakers in a 150 Amp service, but because the calculations take into consideration that everything will not be on at the same time for extended periods of time. With grow lights, however, typically running 12+ hours a day, we actually have to increase their amperage rating by an additional 25% of the rated load. So in actuality a  110 V 9.5 Amp (1000W) HPS  is rated at 11.875 Amps. With that tidbit of info, we can easily see that 2 110 V 1000W HPS lights will not safely work on a 20 Amp #12 Copper circuit. Unless you had the circuits installed, it can be very difficult to tell if that circuit feeds elsewhere into the house. So there we run into the problem of unknowingly over-amping a particular circuit. Usually in that case, it will only effect the one circuit, unless it is so over amped that the breaker fails to work properly i.e. trip. Just to give you an idea of how quickly those amps can add up:
    Microwave- 8.3 Amps (1000W)
    10 Cup Coffee Maker- 10 Amps (1200W)
    Computer- 5 Amps (600W)
    Freezer- 6.6 Amps (800W)
    refrigerator- 5 Amps (600W)
    vacuum-  6.6 - 12 Amps (800W-1440W)
    Space Heater- 8.3 - 12.5 Amps (1000W-1500W)
    1/3 hp furnace fan- 10 Amps (1200W)
    Washing Machine- 7.6 Amps
    Dryer 220V- 20 Amps X 2 (4400W)
    Dishwasher- 10 Amps (1200W)
    ^ This is just a small list of the things inside of a house and with only 1 space heater, we are at 90 Amps. This is without a single HPS, or including regular lighting, TV's, consoles, other kitchen appliances, additional pumps or fans, radios, or other equipment and devices. While this all may not be running at the same time, I am merely providing you with this so you can visualize how quickly those amps add up. Even if you dedicated 100 Amps to 110 V 1000W HPS, you only safely can run 8 at any given moment.
    It is not my goal to spook you, but I do want to have you aware that it is really easy to over-amp a panel when you are growing, and thankfully you have a decent panel brand, if it were Federal Pacific or Zinsco, I would be highly alarmed. Those panels are notorious for not tripping and burning down houses.
    My advice:
    Invest in a mid-grade Ammeter- Fluke is a good brand (should be able to find one for less than $150). If you happen to do that, I can walk you through or guide you to videos that would show how to measure the current flow. And then I can walk you through balancing your panel and how to run some #10/2 Copper NM and MC to have 220 Volt lighting circuits on 30 Amp breakers. I appreciate you taking the time to address this, and I would like to help you get to a safe grow op.
    Great stuff!! I totally see what you are saying now about the power draws not running constantly when designing and rating the system, and taking that into account. That makes a lot more sense now as to why the breaker numbers are way higher. I didn't realize the 25% rule, that definitely makes a difference.
    I am rather broke right now but I will get the ammmeter and really get specific as to what is drawing exactly per circuit when I get the new lights to spread it out more. Will definitely update on that, I plan on doing that in a few weeks.
    Like I said have every single device listed on a spreadsheet in this house (by room), and don't use much of anything around here that normal people would (no coffee maker, furnace, desktop computer, dishwasher...w/d once a month at most). After the failure I started taking note of everything down to how much the cable boxes draw.
    Basically what I need to do is map out every single circuit in the entire house, and spread the load accordingly. I will probably have to run some heavy duty cords downstairs but I wilI do that if I got to. I will 100% do it with the help of the ammeter thanks to you explaining all this to me. Trust me I want to be able to sleep at night, and always want to be safe. I have done a fine job of keeping anyone and everyone away from this house and I plan to keep it that way. The previous outage scared me straight believe that...I was sweating there for a minute.
  18. Awesome. The ammeter will allow you to check at any time as well, after set up. Keep me posted on how that all goes. Happy growing and toking man!

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