Power strip and/or surge suppressor question

Discussion in 'Power Electronics' started by fordo, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. fordo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 20, 2015
    13
    0
    I’m in the process of reorganizing my office/workspace/benchtop and wish to consolidate many of my small low power electronic devices into a single “power strip”. I have at least 17 different items, many of which are the uncorded, direct plug-in power supply type devices (“AC adapters”) and which consequently do not lend themselves well for use on most surge protector strips. This is especially true as some of them are older power supplies and are too large (without covering up multiple adjacent sockets) for any strips currently available. Further complicating this is that the orientation of the male plugs varies from device to device.

    Additionally, I’d like the ability to switch each device on and off independently of the others, i.e.; each socket would have its own switch.

    It seems to me that the most practical and economic way to accomplish this without having to use numerous power strips/surge protectors and the accompanying tangle of cords would be to simply build my own custom rack with sufficiently spaced and oriented sockets and switches to accommodate all 17 devices. Digikey has some sockets and illuminated rocker switches that would put the cost between $2 -3 per outlet plus the cost of the housing (free for me). However, I’d still like to incorporate surge protection. I’d hardwire all the sockets and switches together and terminate the circuit with a single, standard, 3-prong (grounded) male plug. I would then plug that into a quality surge suppressor. The total current draw of all 17 devices fully loaded is less than 7 amperes @ 120 Vac.

    I talked with a few of the big sellers of surge protectors and they seem to equate what I’m trying to accomplish as something similar to “daisy chaining” power strips and/or surge protectors and claim this is an extremely bad thing to do. However, no one has given me a reasonable explanation why it’s so terrible. Overloading is NOT an issue in my case.

    Anybody have any thoughts on this?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. ScottWang

    Moderator

    Aug 23, 2012
    5,285
    818
    If you could draw a block diagram then it will help our members to help you.
    Make the block diagram as a clear 800x600 jpg or gif file, or maybe bigger as 1024x768.
     
  3. Sensacell

    Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2012
    1,329
    328
    Don't overthink it.

    The amount of time and money you will invest in the DIY solution is totally out of proportion with the problem.
    The main problem is managing the clutter, and making sure the damn plugs don't fall out! That's the real issue here.

    Get some good quality power strips- Wiremold makes nice ones - with enough clearance between sockets to fit any wall wart PSU.
    These have good tight sockets that snugly hold the prongs.

    Don't bother with "surge suppressors" - I never buy them, I think they are mostly a marketing scam.

    IMG_5429.JPG IMG_5430.JPG
     
  4. fordo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 20, 2015
    13
    0
    Some people hunt, some people fish, some people drink beer... I like to build things.

    The Wiremold stuff looked interesting at first glance but at roughly $8 per outlet that's about 4 times the cost of what Digikey has to offer. And Digikey's cost includes a switch with indicator light with each outlet, something I want and didn't see on Wiremold's website. Also, I want this all to fit in a 2' x 3' area. Most of the Wiremold solutions appeared to be 4'+.

    Regarding surge suppressors, I have had a different experience than you. I live in an open rural setting where lightning strikes and related power surges are not uncommon. I've lost a laptop, a modem, and an answering machine, all on different occasions from surges and lightning strikes. Since I've started using surge suppressors, I've blown out 4 of them but suffered no further equipment damage. Switches add an additional layer of protection.
     
  5. fordo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 20, 2015
    13
    0
    I'll see if I can find some sort of drawing software. In the meantime, just picture 17 120 Vac receptacles, each having their own SPST on/off switch, all in parallel wired to a single NEMA 5 male plug. In other words, a 17 receptacle power strip with 17 on/off switches.

    My question is: why are the surge suppression folks saying plugging this in to their surge suppressor is a bad idea when loading isn't the issue?
     
  6. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
    17,301
    8,150
    Because they are sales people, not engineers. Their world view ends at their catalog.

    This is my opinion of a surge protector:
    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...-1-Surge-Protective-Device-SDSA1175/100209321

    I live in, "The Lightening Capital of America" and I have a lot less problems after installing one of those.

    One on the circuit breaker box, and another on the 17 outlet display you are building should do a world of good.
    The idea is that the first surge protector on the circuit breaker box does a good job of diminishing spikes. Then the impedance of the house wiring combines with the impedance of the second surge protector to make a 2 stage filter.

    Nobody can stop lightening, but a double filter with an impedance between the two filters is as good as anything I know of.
     
  7. tranzz4md

    Member

    Apr 10, 2015
    172
    31
    Wiremold has long had the market for UL listed, metaliic, auxiliary wireway, and makes lots of things that would work well for you. I've used lots of 2000 series and 6000 series "systems", but you will indeed spend money to build what you describe. Without doing the online research you should do, I can point out that you will be able to place conventional NEMA style single-gang wiring devices side-by-side or end to end and use ordinary trim plates for covers using the correct series of wireway. You can use single pole switch /single receptacle duplex combination devices and wire them for a switch per receptacle with adequate spacing for most "wall warts". You can use individual surge protected receptacles in these assemblies built with the Wiremold parts. This is, or used to be, very common for test benches and labs in various industrial environments and research type facilities. I can't find any pics of my last home's garage and my workbench, but the Wiremold catalog will certainly have pics and illustrations.

    Of course, you can also use 4x4" steel device boxes (52151) nippled together, and the correct device trim cover and whatever NEMA devices you'd like, and wire them however you'd like.

    Look up Wiremold, Hubble, Leviton, Raco, or actually go to a professional Electrical construction supply house such as Graybar, Crescent Electrical Supply, Platt, GESCO, WESCO,.......
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
    MaxHeadRoom likes this.
  8. ScottWang

    Moderator

    Aug 23, 2012
    5,285
    818
    @#12.
    The linked showed as : Access Denied
     
  9. djsfantasi

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
    3,383
    1,168
    If you have a few power supplies that cover up multiple outlets, here is a solution. I am in computers, and used these in that case.
    They are 1 foot extension cords that bring the oversized power supply plug out from the power strip. I am not recommending the product in the link, but present it as an example.
     
  10. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
    17,301
    8,150
    It works for me.
    It's a Square D whole house surge protector from Home Depot at $33.26[​IMG]
     
    ScottWang likes this.
  11. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
    12,958
    3,775
    Back in the day you could buy a power box for a computer system that was in a pizza-box format. It was basically a power strip at the back but had a row of switches and indicator lights on the front, one for each labelled output on the back. I do like this device, since you can toggle power to your router or printer without bothering any plugs or any other components. And because they're labelled on the front, no tracing of cords tangles behind a desk. I just wish it had about 10 outlets instead of only 5 or 6.
     
    #12 likes this.
  12. fordo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 20, 2015
    13
    0
    These are (were) great!! I am currently using one of these now and is the inspiration for the my current project. Mine is an oldie made by Tripplite. Saved my bacon a couple of times (no equipment damage, but blown out mov's or whatever inside the surge protector) and Tripplite made good on sending out replacement parts. I haven't been able to find these anymore. In any event, like you said, they only have 6 outlets (along with 4 illuminated rocker switches). The one I'm building now will have 20 outlets with various spacings and orientations so no outlets are covered by adjacent devices and all cords end up in an appropriate direction. Each outlet will have its own illuminated rocker switch to indicate whether the device is powered or not.

    BUT, while I appreciate all the suggestions for doing what I want to do, I'm satisfied with the solution I came up with. Maybe I didn't make my original question clear enough. I'm am trying to find out if there is an actual (electrical) reason of why you can't plug multiple devices into a single outlet of a surge protector like I would like to do. That is, I'll hardwire all my sockets/switches together and terminate them on a single NEMA 5 male plug and then plug that into a surge protector (again, loading is not an issue in my case) It would be the equivalent of plugging several generic powers strip into a surge protector. I suspect that sellers of surge protectors have two reasons for advising against that: 1.) Many consumers may not have the forethought or ability to grasp the concept of dealing with overloading when connecting a gillion (10^??) devices simply because there are empty outlets available. 2) They want you to buy more ($$$) surge suppressors instead "expanding" existing suppressors with cheaper power strips.

    #12's solution of a Type 1 Surge Protective Device (SPD) would be a concept similar to what I want to do: an upstream SPD protecting numerous loads (receptacles in a house). In my case, the upstream SPD would be an existing surge protector protecting all the receptacles wired to my single plug.

    Maybe there IS a valid electrical reason for not "daisy chaining" outlets off of a surge suppressor, I'm just trying to find out what that reason is.
     
  13. fordo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 20, 2015
    13
    0
    I read the instructions for this device and see that it's connected across the line (i.e., in parallel to the circuit being protected). Any chance you know what's inside? I ask because if I recall correctly, the Tripplite's I've had to fix had MOV's across the three lines (L,N,G) along with series chokes in the Line and Neutral lines. I kind of like the idea of those series chokes, thinking they present some "bigly" impedance to an incoming spike or maybe they facilitate the operation of the MOV's, but confess I'm wayyy out of my league here...
     
  14. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
    17,301
    8,150
    No. People and Electric Utility Corporations regularly install a surge protector and then plug the whole house into it.
    I believe that Square D surge protector is full of giant MOV's.
     
  15. fordo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 20, 2015
    13
    0
    Thanks!
     
Loading...