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#189774 - 10/24/09 11:56 PM Are these "portable load centers" legal to code?
zorinlynx Offline

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 14
Loc: Miami
Hello folks.

I was at a video game convention recently and came across these portable "mega power strips", for lack of a better term. It looks like a subpanel with a bunch of outlet boxes attached, connected to a three-phase 120/208 outlet.

I'm just wondering if these things are legal. I've seen many photos of "home-made power strips" that use outlet boxes derided in the violation forum, and got curious when I saw these being used to provide power at the convention center.

The photo is attached; hopefully it comes through okay.


Edited by zorinlynx (10/24/09 11:58 PM)

Tools for Electricians:
#189775 - 10/25/09 12:30 AM Re: Are these "portable load centers" legal to code? [Re: zorinlynx]
noderaser Offline

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 405
Loc: Portland, Oregon, United State...
Looks pretty dodgy; most production/expo companies would use spider-boxes or other purpose-built, UL-listed distro equipment. Boxes like that are subjected to a lot of physical abuse.

#189777 - 10/25/09 07:46 AM Re: Are these "portable load centers" legal to code? [Re: noderaser]
LarryC Offline

Registered: 07/05/04
Posts: 776
Loc: Winchester, NH, US
Since these things are by default used in temporary power aplications, does the NEC even apply?

#189778 - 10/25/09 08:19 AM Re: Are these "portable load centers" legal to code? [Re: LarryC]
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5305
Loc: Blue Collar Country
"Seems pretty dodgy."

Sure, and I've seen the rants against the extension cords with boxes mounted on the ends of them, with (at the minimum) the assertion that pendant rules apply.

Another maven of the seminar crowd recently crowed that 'changes' to OSHA rules pertty much ban the use of anything home-built where there is a listed product manufacturered. (Alas, he used the entire CFR as his citation, so I have yet to find the 'change' he was referencing.)

Balderdash! Since when did we make individual effort illegal? Maybe stick-built homes will be banned next, as there are many fine 'manufactured and UL-listed" homes available!

Just because something is site-made does not mean it's automatically wrong.

I applaud the guy's effort at making his own 'spider box.' Please note that most 'factory' boxes have far fewer receptacles, and use twist-lock types instead. This guy has the bases covered: support, over-current protection, strain relief, etc.

While I might have done it differently, those are differences in design only.

Let's face it: despite the tremendous range of products available commercially, there are still situations where the factory-,ade products are lacking. Perhaps the most obvious is the lack of space; plug in one 'wall wart,' and you've taken several receptacles out of service. That just might be why there are so many receptacles on this board.

If - and it's a big if - one were to find fault with this product, it would be the lack of GFCI protection. That is an issue that can be readily addressed just by replacing a few receptacles.

#189779 - 10/25/09 08:30 AM Re: Are these "portable load centers" legal to code? [Re: renosteinke]
leland Offline

Registered: 08/20/07
Posts: 856
Loc: Lowell area, Ma. USA
At the college where i used to work we made several of these,a bit more professional looking.

We used 100A main breaker 3 ph. mounted to 2 wheel dollies. used them at all the various functions around campus,all GFI.
We had various spots with 100 pin/sleeve rec to power them.

This made function set up a snap.

#189780 - 10/25/09 08:42 AM Re: Are these "portable load centers" legal to cod [Re: LarryC]
Tom Offline

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 1069
Loc: Shinnston, WV USA
The NEC does cover temporary installations. From what I can see in the picture, there is only one fairly minor violation, disconnecting means are not labeled as to what receptacles they serve.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.

#189784 - 10/25/09 10:06 AM Re: Are these "portable load centers" legal to cod [Re: Tom]
Obsaleet Offline

Registered: 04/05/03
Posts: 361
Loc: Pa
I have one of these in my garage. I use for a disaster restoration company I work for. I use all the time as temp power after fires. Most fires do not damage the service so we are able to plug into the range with it and give them the power they need. Many time 5 or 6 dryers and fans. I have set it up so it can be madified to be used as a temp service. Have not had an inspector fail it yet.
Choose your customers, don't let them choose you.

#189785 - 10/25/09 10:30 AM Re: Are these "portable load centers" legal to cod [Re: Obsaleet]
gfretwell Offline


Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9026
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
I think I would pull out 590 and 525 to see which applied to the subject installation ... if I was actually in a position to inspect it at all. Usually these things are just the source of some interesting pictures for a "building" inspector. The life safety officers or fire marshals may be able to step in but the building department is not involved unless there is a permit pulled.

Maybe 525.22? 23?
Greg Fretwell

#189787 - 10/25/09 11:46 AM Re: Are these "portable load centers" legal to cod [Re: gfretwell]
waymag Offline

Registered: 01/13/02
Posts: 68
Loc: dallas, texas, USA
Not one GFCI. That is the problem I am having. Is it just sitting on the floor??? What is wrong with these folks?

#189790 - 10/25/09 01:52 PM Re: Are these "portable load centers" legal to cod [Re: waymag]
n1ist Offline

Registered: 02/13/02
Posts: 176
Loc: Malden MA
I'm wondering how they ran the wire between the boxes and the panel... I'm betting they are just going thru open KOs. At least they cater to both the ground up and ground down (and sideways) people :-)

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