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UER Forum > Rookie Forum > Tapping Electricity (Viewed 624 times)
Steed 


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Tapping Electricity
< on 10/12/2021 1:53 PM >
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Has anyone ever plugged an extension cord into an outdoor socket of an active building to get electricity in an exploring space?

I'm looking into the possibility of bringing electricity to an underground river.

Here is one such possible site.

447822.jpg (94 kb, 817x799)
click to view

Might be viewable here.
It's a distance of at least 10 meters from the wall socket to the drain. At this site, I would likely snake it around behind that white box thing, and send it to the fire hydrant or pole (just out of frame to the right) where I could anchor it, and then drop the lower end down the drain. I assume there's some kind of guard to place over the cord so that it's safer for people to walk over, as well as making it look less suspicious (help needed to find such a product). Incidentally some sidewalk work has been completed and it looks nicer now.


And from the grate it's another 10 meters down below, expected to drop into this tunnel, somewhere along the left. Sorry to those who only know imperial.



I've found an extension cord, apparently used for camping, that is available in 30m and 50m lengths.

There are a number of vents along the street, although this one is near our favourite central location which is most comfortable. Aboveground there are more commercial buildings, mostly older, as well as parking garages. I'll be doing some scouting for more sockets near the street.

This would be carried out on a holiday when the stores are closed, and the cable would be installed and uninstalled late at night.

Are there any obvious dangers I'm overlooking? Is there anything that should be known about using 30m-50m power cables, like would they get hot, or is there a risk of short circuit?



[last edit 10/12/2021 1:56 PM by Steed - edited 2 times]

fr00tCake 


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Re: Tapping Electricity
< Reply # 1 on 10/12/2021 3:23 PM >
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Search "Floor Cord Cover" on Amazon, you'll find plenty of options. If you chose one that comes rolled up, be sure and roll it out ahead of time so it relaxes and loses its "memory". In a pinch, you can get them to relax with a heat gun or a hair dryer. If you have a local music store that rents audio gear, they may also rent rigid, heavy duty cable covers that piece together in one long length as long as you need. It is possible a contractor center that rents generators has those too.

Search "Extension Cord Safety Cover Protectors" for a cover to protect where your cords plug together if they are exposed to rain. These covers also work well for keeping cords plugged together that hang vertically, better than a knot in the cord.

You should be good for 50m, but any more you could be looking at an issue with voltage drop. Probably not noticeable with incandescent lighting, but if you are looking at running a PC, it could be a problem. Run your gear at home through your entire cable lengths before dragging it all to your site. If you do experience voltage drop (PC acts frOOty, or doesn’t power up at all, LED lights flicker or don’t turn on) you can counter that by using a larger gauge wire. For 50m, I wouldn't run anything less than 10awg (metric for awg is mm2. 10awg = 6mm2). If you have extensive lighting, I would use only LED lights to keep the current draw down. If you experience trouble with a 6mm2, step up to 4mm2 (8awg) or even larger.

Also note the building’s outlet is likely only 15 amps, of which could be shared with other things on the circuit in that building i.e.; some of the recessed lighting under their overhang, so you may not even have the full 15a available to you. So if you are planning party, try your gear solo there beforehand. Depending on your current draw, your cord could get a bit warm which isn't necessarily a concern, but I would monitor it. If it is too hot to touch, I would shut it down to cool and try and reduce the load by unplugging some gear before plugging it back in. If your power source has adequate circuit protection, it would likely trip before the cable got hot enough to be a problem. That circuit trip is also a thought to consider - If you trip their breaker, I am assuming you won't be able to ask anyone to reset it. If they are aware of you “borrowing” power, they surely won’t want to keep resetting you all night….

If there isn't enough current available, or you have voltage drop issues, Honda makes some decent and more important to your venue, QUIET generators. You could run a genny down there provided you run a stove pipe of some sort to the drain grate in the street for the exhaust. The stove pipe should be larger than the exhaust, so the genny’s muffler fits completely inside it but allow room for the rising hot exhaust to pull air from around it as well. This will keep your stove pipe from getting too hot, and keep noise/vibrations down. As exhaust fumes cool, they will drop back down filling your venue with carbon monoxide. Depending on your ceiling height, you may need a fan in your stove pipe halfway up to ensure the exhaust makes it all the way out. Example: search "4 inch duct fan" on Amazon. Pick up a simple CO2 detector by the smoke alarms at your local hardware/big box store and mount it near the genny at a height lower than someone's face while they are sitting. This gives you an alarm before it is a danger to anyone, as CO2 is heavier than oxygen and will settle/accumulate at the floor.

I have a party once a year on some hunting land. I had power installed on the there, but literally nothing else. As a result power is fixed in one location on a power panel with the power company’s meter, a breaker box, and a bank of outlets. Over 35yrs, I have dragged more and more gear up there. I now run a 32" and 55"tv, a video projector, Xbox, laptop, desktop, near 12,000 watts of total audio power, a fan to keep the amps cools, some disco lights, and a few other low power lights. My power panel is approx 50m away from where I set my gear up. I run qty2 8awg (10mm2) cables, each fed from their own 30amp breaker. When first brought music up there I ran a simple 80w Sony home theater receiver and a laptop from a 15a breaker via a single 6mm2 cable without issue. A buddy of mine that pitches his camp near my AV gear runs a single 6mm2 cable to run the lights in his camper, an 18” fan, and a small dorm-type refrigerator. His cable is also approx. 50m, and is fed from a 15a circuit that at least one other camper would plugged into (although that camper is much closer, maybe a 15-20m cable and lacks a fridge). When I camp up there solo, I jam tunes from my Jeep’s 1400w system which requires a constant 15a charge to the Jeep’s battery.
That is approx 30m through 2 cables daisy chained. The first 20m is 6mm2, and the last 10m is 4mm2. In the winter that cable will also run a small 500w electric heater.

Hope this helps! Have fun, stay safe, and post pics!!




[last edit 10/12/2021 3:36 PM by fr00tCake - edited 1 times]

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Steed 


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Re: Tapping Electricity
< Reply # 2 on 10/12/2021 4:24 PM >
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Thanks, that was a pretty helpful post.

The big problem is, the underground area and the socket are over a kilometer of land apart, as the nearest entrance is about 700 meters away. So if there is any problem up top, the only way we'll know is if there's a malfunction underground.

And yeah, if we trip their breaker, there'll be nothing we can do but run. I imagine they'll be pretty pissed.

I have been against using a generator, because it would be pretty unwieldy to bring there, and the noise would be pretty bad since it's just a big cavern. I'm less worried about fumes because of how open it is, and we didn't have a problem lighting a campfire last time.

The plan is to provide electricity for some basic music equipment, presumably a small amp to power a single instrument or computer. Any singing will be acoustic, and any computer stuff will hopefully be on battery power, although I heard talk of bringing a projector down there and it might require surface-dwellers' electricity. My hope is to have only one thing plugged in at any one time.



[last edit 10/12/2021 4:25 PM by Steed - edited 1 times]

fr00tCake 


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Re: Tapping Electricity
< Reply # 3 on 10/12/2021 4:47 PM >
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Posted by Steed
Thanks, that was a pretty helpful post.

The big problem is, the underground area and the socket are over a kilometer of land apart, as the nearest entrance is about 700 meters away. So if there is any problem up top, the only way we'll know is if there's a malfunction underground.

And yeah, if we trip their breaker, there'll be nothing we can do but run. I imagine they'll be pretty pissed.

I have been against using a generator, because it would be pretty unwieldy to bring there, and the noise would be pretty bad since it's just a big cavern. I'm less worried about fumes because of how open it is, and we didn't have a problem lighting a campfire last time.

The plan is to provide electricity for some basic music equipment, presumably a small amp to power a single instrument or computer. Any singing will be acoustic, and any computer stuff will hopefully be on battery power, although I heard talk of bringing a projector down there and it might require surface-dwellers' electricity. My hope is to have only one thing plugged in at any one time.


That's going to be too far with just extension cords. 300m of 6mm2 cable is going to lose up to 20% to voltage drop. I'd be looking at generators - the right models are FAR quieter than you think. The Honda EU1000i is pretty reasonable and runs at only 50dB, which is quieter than a normal conversation. If you Google dB scales, you'll find 50dB is the about sound of a running refrigerator. It would easily run a "lunchbox" amp for a guitar/mic and a laptop. It is surprisingly small - it would fit through just about any hole you can squeeze into and weighs only about 14Kg...



[last edit 10/12/2021 4:53 PM by fr00tCake - edited 2 times]

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VAD 


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Re: Tapping Electricity
< Reply # 4 on 10/12/2021 5:24 PM >
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700m... that's pretty tough to pull off. And expensive to get thick-gauge cords for that length.

You might look seriously at using battery power for everything. You can get decent battery powered amps for not too expensive. There do exist battery powered projectors... they're more costly though.

See here for a good sense of whether what you're running will work -
https://www.calcul...op-calculator.html




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Steed 


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Re: Tapping Electricity
< Reply # 5 on 10/13/2021 2:48 AM >
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700 meters is the distance a human walks from the socket to the tunnel. Cables could go through the grate.




fr00tCake 


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Re: Tapping Electricity
< Reply # 6 on 10/13/2021 12:30 PM >
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Posted by Steed
700 meters is the distance a human walks from the socket to the tunnel. Cables could go through the grate.


You can likely go 50m with no issue. Any further I would run the gear at home through your cables and see how it runs. Every 15m of cable you'll see up to a 1% loss - this comes from the resistance of the cable, and the loss is in the form of heat (You may not necessarily feel the heat loss from resistance for it to be present). Eventually that loss will add up to an amount that you will see - PC won't start, laptop won't charge faster than the battery loss, LEDs could start to flicker or not light at all, incandescent lights will dim. I can attest to this based on US power, 120v @ 50Hz. I think you guys run 220v @ 60Hz, so in theory, you could go up to twice as far as me. Either way I'd run the gear at home first. Again, if you do see an issue at home you may be able to counter it by using a larger gauge cable. Start with a larger gauge for at least the first portion on the source side - I'd start with no less than 6mm2 (10awg).




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Steed 


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Re: Tapping Electricity
< Reply # 7 on 10/13/2021 2:36 PM >
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By the way, the plan is to use only one extension cord, not multiple ones stuck end to end, based on some safety warnings I saw online.




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