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Author Topic: Gut renovation, new wiring--- recommendations?  (Read 2059 times)
KK4OPX
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« on: January 01, 2019, 01:14:01 PM »

As part of a gut renovation, I will be completely rewiring my house, to include a service upgrade from the electric company.  Short of building Faraday cages into the walls, what are some things I should consider when designing the layout and specifying the materials?  Surely, some of you have a mental list of things you wish were different and/or extra features you wish you had in your homes to make them more radio-friendly.

Some of my big-picture concerns are:
1. Implementing equipotential grounding
2. Lightning protection (I am in the FL panhandle-- lightning ground zero)
3. Issues associated with CACI (combined AFI/GFI) circuit protectors
4. Issues associated with LED lighting (entire house is to be relit completely with LED fixtures, not just screw-in bulbs)
5. Pros and cons of having a central AC-to-DC rectifier feeding a DC distribution bus for my electronics room (to take advantage the of efficiency and power quality of a industrial/laboratory-grade power supply)
6. Issues associated with PV power generation (I'm considering keeping the PV electrons on the proposed DC bus and not feeding into the AC side at all)

Looking forward to some suggestions and points for consideration.  Cheers!
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K5LXP
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2019, 09:11:56 PM »


Having done this a few months ago, my suggestion is to do whatever will easily pass inspection.  Start doing "custom" stuff and you'll have some 'splainin' to do.

My shack upgrades were to add two 20A circuits (one already there) and a 220 circuit for future (maybe) amplifier.  This was called the "window air conditioner" circuit.  Lights on a separate circuit.  AFCI's installed on new circuits as required, but I haven't operated yet to see if they're RFI problems.  I have grand plans to install a generator transfer and solar supplemented battery backup but that's all "someday" and would be installed at the load center, not wired to the shack.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
 
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W9FIB
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2019, 02:30:13 AM »

Having to gut my house after a fire in 2015, I agree with Mark on the heavy circuits. I went as far as to have my own sub panel in my new shack/office. I fed it with a 60A feeder circuit from the main panel.

I also had the problem of my shack being on the opposite side of the house from my antenna farm. While everything was open, I put in a 6" PVC pipe through the ceiling to allow running coax, rotor wiring, etc. easily after everything was finished off. I keep extra pull ropes in it if I need to pull in a new lead. But also put a new pull rope with the new lead so I always have a pull rope.

In the shack, I terminated to a patch bay made of aluminum and tied the plate to my grounding system. On the outside, I picked up a used PVC electrical box that had industrial controls in it, and put my terminations and lightning protection inside. The 6" PVC pipe fed into the back of the box. I also put in MOV protection on my 12VDC supply, and my rotor control cabling inside this box. The 12VDC went to a 6 fuse block and can be tapped for any 12V needs there. I also ran a separate 3/4" PVC conduit that has a 30A 240VAC feed to this box. Plenty of 120/240VAC power right handy close to the antenna farm.

Some of this may be overkill, but it is not everyday you have the ability to install easy pulling ability into a house.
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73, Stan
Wisdom is knowledge you gain after you know it all.
KK4OPX
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2019, 04:06:14 PM »

Having done this a few months ago, my suggestion is to do whatever will easily pass inspection.  Start doing "custom" stuff and you'll have some 'splainin' to do.

I anticipated that my questions would solicit responses from advocates of simplicity/convenience.  Alas, I am more or less incapable of that.  It is a guilty pleasure of mine to chase the asymptote of perfection well beyond the point at which most people begin to roll their eyes at my hypercomplexity and obsession with details.  As such, my renovation is intended to achieve LEED Platinum and several other net-zero certifications.  It will take advantage of methods and materials normally used only in industrial/medical/laboratory facilities (I used to manage a biomedical research lab), which will be acceptable for a residential structure.  I am prepared to fight the city inspectors, if necessary.  I actually derive pleasure and fulfillment from what most people call "overkill".
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K5LXP
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2019, 05:18:29 PM »

advocates of simplicity/convenience.

Driven primarily by economy.  At $100/hr for an electrician it cost enough just for the service upgrade and permits even with me doing all the interior wiring and fixtures.  

Quote
I am prepared to fight the city inspectors, if necessary.

"Good luck with that."  You can be right, and cite chapter and verse and if your inspector sees things differently, you lose.    With my home torn up and bleeding money like mad every week that went by, the last thing I needed was reinspections or worse a tear out and start over caused by electric or framing outside the norm.  My electrician dude had me change a few things as I went with the oft repeated comment, "the inspectors like to see it that way".  So yeah, I took the "simple" way out.  If this was simple, I'd hate to go through "overkill".

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
 
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AA4PB
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2019, 05:50:19 PM »

Years ago I was involved in building a gymnasium. The main structure was concrete block and there was a wood frame structure wrapped around the outside. The electrical inspector reviewing the drawings said it would be okay to use romex cable and plastic boxes in the wood frame part as long as we had BX or conduit in the concrete block. The electrician got all the boxes mounted and the wires pulled and called for the first inspection. A different inspector showed up and he failed it because he wanted BX cable and metal boxes in the wood frame part. His thought was that if any part of the building required BX cable and metal boxes then the whole structure required that. The electrician had to remove all the romex wiring and plastic boxes and re-do it at his expense (since it was a fixed price contract). I asked why he couldn't complain to the supervisor who told him wrong in the first place. His response was that he could, and he might win, but he'd be delayed and nit-picked in that county for the rest of his life so in the long run it would cost him more than just tearing it out and re-doing it to keep the inspector happy. The moral is: don't argue with the inspectors.

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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
KK4OPX
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2019, 03:09:10 PM »

 Roll Eyes
...Still waiting for some useful replies to my original questions.  Not interested in off-topic lectures about the merits of rolling over in the face of a challenge.
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KB5UZB
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2019, 04:32:46 PM »

If you truly want as near perfect as possible, go DC for all the LED wiring too. It seems that might be a bit more efficient, but also remove RFI. It might limit you to Auto/RV/Boat fixtures.
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I need cheaper hobbies...
KL7CW
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Posts: 604




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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2019, 06:16:28 PM »

If you are going to put in CO and smoke alarms I would do some research on your options.  I had occasional tripping of the CO alarms whenever I operated on 160 meters with 100 watts and an antenna about an average of 50 feet away.  I replaced all of my 7 year old Kidde smoke and CO detectors with First Alert units a few days ago.  So far no indications of false tripping, although I have no way of knowing if they are OK with QRO RF power levels. So do your own research.  At the least I would use large electrical boxes 4x4x? to mount the detectors so if you needed or wanted to add ferrite cores this would be possible, however I am not an electrician, so check this out yourself, some inspector may not like this either !.  I decided to try the First Alert units since they were recommended on e ham as RF "proof" and were available at my local Lowes  here in semi remote Alaska.  Perhaps newer models of the Kidde detectors are more RF protected.  Good luck,             Rick  KL7CW
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KK4OPX
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2019, 12:54:56 AM »

If you truly want as near perfect as possible, go DC for all the LED wiring too. It seems that might be a bit more efficient, but also remove RFI. It might limit you to Auto/RV/Boat fixtures.

This is an interesting option I haven't really considered.  It may not be feasible under the constraint that all luminaires must be EnergyStar listed as a prereq for the green building certifications I am seeking.  What about low-voltage AC (24V and such)?  There may be more options for me in that realm.
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KK4OPX
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2019, 01:02:46 AM »

If you are going to put in CO and smoke alarms I would do some research on your options.  I had occasional tripping of the CO alarms whenever I operated on 160 meters with 100 watts and an antenna about an average of 50 feet away.  I replaced all of my 7 year old Kidde smoke and CO detectors with First Alert units a few days ago.  So far no indications of false tripping, although I have no way of knowing if they are OK with QRO RF power levels. So do your own research.  At the least I would use large electrical boxes 4x4x? to mount the detectors so if you needed or wanted to add ferrite cores this would be possible, however I am not an electrician, so check this out yourself, some inspector may not like this either !.  I decided to try the First Alert units since they were recommended on e ham as RF "proof" and were available at my local Lowes  here in semi remote Alaska.  Perhaps newer models of the Kidde detectors are more RF protected.  Good luck,             Rick  KL7CW

My smoke/CO detectors will be integrated into a building management system, and thus must be capable of communicating via MODBUS/BACnet/RS422/etc.  I will have to source them from industrial sensor suppliers, not box stores.  Fortunately, such suppliers provide much more detailed technical data than a consumer-oriented product line, such as conformance to various CISPR and IEC standards.
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K4JPN
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2019, 03:07:19 AM »

I put in a 110VAC/20A separate line with GFIs for the ham equipment and test equipment.  No need for 220VAC as no desire for a amp.   A separate line for the overhead lights, this way if a piece of gear or test equipment pops a breaker, I still have lights.   I also wired a overhead light at the station desk at one end of the room and put 2 way switches for the overhead light one at my desk to turn it off and on, and the other 2 way switch at the door.  That way I could light up my desk/station as I went into the room and then turn it off, when I was at my desk/station and use my desk lamp when operating.  When I leave the desk/station I turn on the overhead light to see my way out of the room and then turn it off at the door.
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KI4ENS
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« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2019, 01:56:22 PM »

for #2, Consider a ring ground for the entire house if possible.  This is what cell sites and radio stations use.
for #4, Make sure that wiring boxes are large enough that you can add ferrites or chokes in case the LEDs are conducting noise on the AC lines.
for #5, A single DC supply has its advantages but it is putting all your "eggs" in one basket.

for #6, I have considered this myself.  I would wait until after the electrical inspection, especially if it is a large array.  If not,  they might want you to go ahead and ground the array as if it was connected to the AC grid.  Around here, that is with an uninterrupted #6 wire to the main service panel.  Anyway, research your charge controller, some are way noisier than others.  There are several threads here on eHam on the issue.  One person suggested sticking with a PWM charge controller instead of the more efficient MPPT controllers.  The PWM controllers are apparently quieter.
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