Power strip and surge protection for tons of gear
September 8, 2007 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I need a power strip/surge protector that in to which I can plug 15 components.

After being warned against plugging one power strip in to another, I decided I need a proper power set up for my home studio/office.

I have approximately 15, possibly more, things I need plugged in and surge protected, including a PC with external components, keyboard, mixing board, monitors, etc.

Does anyone make a product with this many inputs, including space for wall warts, and adequate surge protection w/a gear replacement guarantee? Battery backup would be nice, but I'm mainly concerned with power surges or fluctuations in power that could damage my gear.

posted by 4midori to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You definitely don't want to run 15 items off of one electrical outlet; that's why power strips don't have space for that many items.

Just get 2 or more regular power strips and run them off of separate outlets. If you try to run that many things off of one plug, you will trip the circuit breaker at the very least.
posted by DMan at 9:35 AM on September 8, 2007

If you're setting up a studio, you will want to make sure you're using as many different circuits as necessary. You will also want to make sure that the critical audio gear is run through a line conditioner.
posted by Jairus at 10:22 AM on September 8, 2007

You can get them, I used my dads as a kid. It wasn't a strip though it was an orange metal box about the size of a phone book. It had 10 or so... outlets? Running along 2 of the vertical sides. Each point had it's own on/off switch and a main kill switch for the entire box also a cord that plugged into any old outlet. It would've been from an industrial job site. I don't know does that sound like what you're after?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 11:13 AM on September 8, 2007

If you can get an electrician to run a dedicated line (208 20 amp or 30amp) you can get something like this:


It's fused, not with a breaker. We use similar products for server cabinets in commercial datacenters, however they generally are on conditioned power and have diverse feeds (A+B).

Do not! Do not! Do not! run these things off a standard 10 or 15 amp circuit. If you want to run this many systems, get an electrician to run the proper guage cable and get a 30amp circuit dropped to the location.
posted by iamabot at 11:58 AM on September 8, 2007

You can also get a surge protector at the mains these days, but here's an alternative to my suggestion above:

An alternative is to the above is to insure you have separate circuits run to two or three outlet boxes in the office space, standard 15 amp branches direct from the breaker box and buy two or three of these, which is what I use in my home office where we have separate branch circuits each on their own 15 amp breaker at the box:

1500 watt APC UPS - 8 Outlet

You can find them cheaper, but they will do the job you describe... The unit above accommodates power bricks/etc.

You want a UPS with battery because it will to some extent, condition the power. The nice thing about modern APC products is they can be plugged in to your computer and you can monitor them and the power coming in and going out.
posted by iamabot at 12:05 PM on September 8, 2007

Rack strips have high outlet counts like that. 12 outlet model. Another. And another.

Wiremold makes products like this as well. Residential up to 10 outlets and Commercial[PDF] in sizes from 4 outlets up to 16 (UL402BC/UL402BD) or 24 outlets (UL2063BC/UL2063BD).

20, 500mA wall warts will only pull ten amps so depending on what you are plugging in you might be fine with this many outlets. I've got an 8 gang metal box I've filled with duplex receptacles (16 outlets all together) and a 15A cord that I use to plug assorted cell phone/camera/video camera/FRS radio/flash light/etc. chargers into.
posted by Mitheral at 12:07 PM on September 8, 2007

Best answer: The keyboard, mixing board, and all that crap probably don't draw much power at all. As a rule of thumb, wall-warts are usually in the 5-10 watt range, almost never exceeding 20. Get a Kill-A-Watt meter and measure the power draw of all your gear. Write down the amps and VA that each piece draws. Make sure the total amps for everything don't exceed 10, which should leave a comfortable margin on a 15-amp circuit.

Mentally divide the gear into two groups: That which needs battery backup (the computer!), and that which only needs surge protection (midi devices, printers, everything else). Now, get a decent-sized UPS, rated for more than the total VA of all the stuff that needs backup.

Note that the UPS has two sets of outlets on the back, corresponding to those two groups. Plug the main (highest-draw) devices directly into the UPS if you can, and use plugstrips as needed to get all the minor devices connected.

This is safe, because you've measured the draw of everything, and it's well within the circuit's rating. The UPS's outlets will also tell you how much you're allowed to draw from them, and you can verify from your kill-a-watt measurements that you're comfortably under that spec. Since all your plugstrips plug straight into the UPS and aren't daisy-chained from each other, you've limited the number of series connections, and since you've placed the high-load devices directly on the UPS's own outlets, voltage drop should be minimal.

A note about UPS sizing: Oversize if you can afford it. Say you've got 320 VA worth of critical load, between the PC and its external drives, the USB hub that those drives connect through, and the monitor. (After all, during a power failure, you need to *see* to perform an orderly shutdown.) You could get a 350VA UPS, but during a power failure, the UPS will be pushing its battery pretty hard. Because batteries get less efficient the harder you run them, you'll only get a few minutes of runtime, and the battery will take a bit of damage from each such incident. Expect to only get a year or two of service before replacing the battery, less if power failures are frequent.

Suppose you spring for a 700VA UPS instead. With a larger inverter and battery, it can handle your load without breaking a sweat, and because of the efficiency factor (Peukert's law) it'll provide way more than twice the runtime during a power failure. But here's the kicker: Because the battery's being treated much more gently, it'll last several years before wearing out, saving you money in the long run, and reducing the hassle of shipping, replacing, and disposing of a big block of lead.

If your total load exceeds 10 or 12 amps, consult an electrician. Because of ground loop concerns with audio gear, you want to run it all from the same circuit if at all possible.
posted by Myself at 12:13 PM on September 8, 2007 [3 favorites]

I don't know enough about this to answer in the kind of detail above, but I use and like this cool, concealable Belkin 11-plug strip.
posted by The Bellman at 12:16 PM on September 8, 2007

As for having room for wall warts, get a Power Strip Liberator set or two.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:47 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all, great info. I think I'll get a whole-house surge protector, and some kind of humungo power strip, and perhaps a kill-a-watt meter to see how much power I'm drawing.
posted by 4midori at 2:41 PM on September 9, 2007

« Older Where do I get foam for my cans?   |   How can I trap my wayward kitty? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.