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Old 10-27-2009, 06:26 PM   #1
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


Is there such thing as an adapter of some sort that goes into a single gang box that allows you to put a breaker in it? Or other safe ways to hookup a breaker individually? Sounds crazy, but what I'm thinking of doing is building myself a nice PDU from gang boxes, plugs, and a wooden frame to make it look decent. I was thinking I could go the extra mile and put an AFCI breaker on the PDU itself.

Also, how would I go about surge protecting a custom PDU? Is a surge protector just a breaker/fuse, or is there more to it then that?

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Old 10-27-2009, 06:40 PM   #2
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


A PDU for what appliances?

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Old 10-27-2009, 07:40 PM   #3
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


Red, What you describe to me seems to be included in a moderate priced Surge Protector:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JE9LD4/...SIN=B000JE9LD4

or
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Protector.html
.
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:55 PM   #4
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Squirrel
Is a surge protector just a breaker/fuse, or is there more to it then that?
Yes at the least, the cheap (~ $20 or less) will have a MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor) while the better units add a Pi filter for RF suppression.
.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:13 PM   #5
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


Quote:
Originally Posted by trosenda View Post
A PDU for what appliances?
Mostly computer equipment. I just want to make things neater and safer. Instead of having a bunch of power bars dangling all over I want to built one big unit that has like 40 plugs on it. For my workstation I'd separate into two "circuits" - one UPS protected, and the other not. For when I setup my servers properly I'll probably make a even bigger one and have it use like 4 real circuits so I can balance across multiple UPSes and breakers.

I suppose the other option is to just AFCI protect at the panel, too. It's not so much tons of power being drawn, but the number of things that plug in, and with all the wires etc there's probably a slightly bigger chance of an arc fault so may as well be protected. Thought of GFCI protecting too, but that would be easier, I can just make the first plug a GFCI one and branch the rest on it. I'd probably use heavy duty 12/2 extension cord cable for the plug, and to join all the precepts I'd use 12/2 romex.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:23 PM   #6
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


Quote:
Originally Posted by PaliBob View Post
Red, What you describe to me seems to be included in a moderate priced Surge Protector:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JE9LD4/...SIN=B000JE9LD4

or
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Protector.html
.
Pali! And what about REd's idea of building his own "Mini"-distribution panel. First of all. the dimensions of a switch box are not the same as that of a breaker. So it won't fit. Secondly. There are small, UL listed panels on the market. (No matter what) Don't Drink and Drive, Ever!!!
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Old 10-28-2009, 07:18 AM   #7
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


I thought of a small panel too. Might go with that idea. I could just build it right under the desk and have the PDU's plug into it.
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Old 10-28-2009, 07:47 AM   #8
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


What is a PDU?

If you are building a small rollabout cabinet to hold a bank of receptacles, switches, etc. -- probably better to put a subpanel on it to hold the breaker(s) you wanted to install away from the main panel.

You would definitely need the subpanel if you are plugging this "thing" into a 30 or 40 amp. circuit but not if you used a 20 amp. 120/240 volt (aka multiwire branch circuit) dedicated line you ran to your computer room.

If you need lots of extension cords to plug all of your equipment along the walls into a bank of receptacles all in one place, you are essentially back to square one, similar to individual power strips dangling from various receptacles about the room.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-29-2009 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:41 AM   #9
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


I assume PDU means "power distribution unit"?
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:59 AM   #10
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


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I assume PDU means "power distribution unit"?
That makes Two (or 200,000) of us! Here, every topic is discussed, sometimes by segway. Except Law and Medicine. Did you ever hear of a Do-it-yourself Doctor or Lawyer???!!! (No matter what) Don't Drink and Drive, Ever!!!
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Old 10-28-2009, 11:41 AM   #11
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


Yes PDU = power distribution unit.

Normally they are used in server racks and are vertical so that there are plugs all along both sides of the cabinet. Though they are normally very expensive for nothing. If I custom build then I can do exactly how I want.

Think I'll go with the panel idea. I'll build the PDU right into my desk. All I need is like a 6 circuit panel or even smaller but think that's the smallest you can get.
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:23 PM   #12
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


If you've got that much "stuff" ... open racks, shelves, and rack mounted power strips will make your life a lot simpler. Not to mention it looks better.

Typical 1U rack strip, and usually you can pick them up on ebay for less
http://www.cyberguys.com/product-det...roductid=24382#

If you still want a "breaker in a box", you can get a push button circuit breaker like on a power strip. Drill a hole in a blank plate.
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:46 PM   #13
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


Quote:
Originally Posted by zpm View Post
If you've got that much "stuff" ... open racks, shelves, and rack mounted power strips will make your life a lot simpler. Not to mention it looks better.

Typical 1U rack strip, and usually you can pick them up on ebay for less
http://www.cyberguys.com/product-det...roductid=24382#

If you still want a "breaker in a box", you can get a push button circuit breaker like on a power strip. Drill a hole in a blank plate.
You're right about the power strips (instead of the extension cords). But, IMHO you missed on the OP's plan of circuit breakers. Those pushbutton circuit breakers at the edge of a (plug-in) power strip don't take their power from a distribution panel to feed heavier loads. They share their power with other receptacles on the same branch circuit! Eliminate confusion Through Education; Don't Drink and Drive,Ever!!!

Last edited by spark plug; 10-28-2009 at 09:48 PM. Reason: Missing letter/word (to enhance clarification)
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Old 10-29-2009, 10:13 AM   #14
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


Quote:
Originally Posted by spark plug View Post
You're right about the power strips (instead of the extension cords). But, IMHO you missed on the OP's plan of circuit breakers.
Maybe. He said in post #3 "I'd probably use heavy duty 12/2 extension cord cable for the plug". plug--cord--breaker--gfi--recep--recep--recep--etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spark plug View Post
Those pushbutton circuit breakers at the edge of a (plug-in) power strip don't take their power from a distribution panel to feed heavier loads. They share their power with other receptacles on the same branch circuit!
Not relevant if the power strip is the only thing plugged into the circuit. What is relevant is that the push button breakers are only for secondary protection. Push button breakers come in all sizes. How about 90A?
http://www.minute-man.com/acatalog/P..._Breakers.html

I think the OP is overestimating his power needs. I've got 4 servers, a workstation, and related stuff (routers, switch, KVM, UPSs, etc) running all the time. My racks only use 750W.
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Old 10-29-2009, 11:46 AM   #15
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Put a breaker into a switchbox?


Quote:
Originally Posted by zpm View Post
Maybe. He said in post #3 "I'd probably use heavy duty 12/2 extension cord cable for the plug". plug--cord--breaker--gfi--recep--recep--recep--etc.

Not relevant if the power strip is the only thing plugged into the circuit. What is relevant is that the push button breakers are only for secondary protection. Push button breakers come in all sizes. How about 90A?
http://www.minute-man.com/acatalog/P..._Breakers.html

I think the OP is overestimating his power needs. I've got 4 servers, a workstation, and related stuff (routers, switch, KVM, UPSs, etc) running all the time. My racks only use 750W.
You're right. He probably makes the same mistake a lot of folks do when calculating their power needs. There's Demand and Capacity. That is one of the reasons when calculating for a "Service" you don't take all the appliances that you'll ever use and simply add up their sum. There's a whole process of Watts per Sq. ft. and other factors. (No matter what)Don't Drink and Drive, Ever!!!

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