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13amp plugs, 16amp plugs on stage


Newguy

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Hi there,

 

Forgive me for the simple question...

 

So I have Martin Mac 250's for example, various UK voltage sound and lighting, all on 13amp plugs and cable.

 

If I go to a venue with 16amp or 32 amp connectors on the stage for where you plug into for power supply, can I have just buy convertors to a 13amp board and then use as normal?

 

Is there a power difference that with cause damage or will it be all 13amp supply behind it?

 

How does it work?

 

Maybe the most basic question ever so I thank you for your advice :)

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Perfectly sensible question. The simplest solution being to buy a decent quality 6 way 13A lead, chop the 13A connector off and put on a 16A. If you go anywhere with a 16A outlet, and your gear doesn't go over the 13A rating of the multi-socket - job done! You could even make up a 32A male to 16A female to give you access to 32A. In my cable trunk I have a 13A male to single female. About 40cm from the 13A plug is a 16A female, then a 16A male - so this gets used all the time, for all sorts of things.
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Adaptors will work just fine.

 

The reason professional don't use 13A plugs is the fuse. It's OK if a fuse blows in a plug that's easy to get to but when it happens 40 feet in the air it's a lot less fun. Hence the preference for unfused plugs.

 

About 40cm from the 13A plug is a 16A female, then a 16A male...

 

 

!!!So two male connectors and one female? Widow-maker?

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In general, equipment fitted with 13 amp plugs may be used from 16 amp sockets by use of a suitable adaptor, a simple one consists of a 13 amp trailing socket connected via suitable 1.5mm flex to a 16 amp plug. A SINGLE 13A socket will limit the load to 13 amps due to the 13 amp fuse in plug. A MULTIWAY 13A socket must incorporate a fuse to prevent overloading.

 

For a 32 amp socket, as above but that will limit the total capacity to only 13 amps. To fully utilise the 32 amp socket, you need several metalclad twin 13 amp sockets screwed to a piece of board and connected via suitable 6mm cable to a 32 amp plug.

 

This presumes EITHER blue 240 volt sockets, OR red 3 phase, 5 pin sockets. Extra care is required if three phase. You can not get single phase 230/240 from a red 4 pin socket.

 

Either of the above can be home made, subject to usual caveats about appropriate competence and experience. If in the slightest doubt consult someone more experienced.

 

 

 

 

Adaptors will work just fine.

 

The reason professional don't use 13A plugs is the fuse. It's OK if a fuse blows in a plug that's easy to get to but when it happens 40 feet in the air it's a lot less fun. Hence the preference for unfused plugs.

 

About 40cm from the 13A plug is a 16A female, then a 16A male...

 

 

!!!So two male connectors and one female? Widow-maker?

 

I think that what the O/P meant was a single 32 amp plug to a single 16 amp socket, and then plugged into that another lead with a 16 amp plug connected to a 13 amp socket. I doubt that a 32 amp plug connected to a 16 amp plug was suggested, that would indeed be very dangerous.

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Adaptors will work just fine.

 

The reason professional don't use 13A plugs is the fuse. It's OK if a fuse blows in a plug that's easy to get to but when it happens 40 feet in the air it's a lot less fun. Hence the preference for unfused plugs.

 

About 40cm from the 13A plug is a 16A female, then a 16A male...

 

 

!!!So two male connectors and one female? Widow-maker?

No - Maybe I confused it goes 13M to 16F then 16M to 13F, or the other way around to go 16 to 16, if you see what I mean. A step up and down.

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Wow, you guys are incredible!

 

What a fast and amazing supply of responses, I am now totally up to speed with this thank to all for your help!

 

Seriously I am blown away with this and all your advice and support!

 

Thank you so so so much! :)

Edited by Newguy
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I am now totally up to speed with this

No, no you're not. You're over this hurdle, but do take care you don't start running before you can walk.

 

 

Also, beware "what some bloke on the web said when I asked if this was safe..." Those posting above DO know what they are talking about, many others don't!

 

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You could even make up a 32A male to 16A female to give you access to 32A.

 

Please don't do this. You could potentially end up with 32A being fed through a 16A cable and causing overheating issues. It's possible to justify if a competent person is in charge of the power system, but at best it's marginal when you should just use a distro.

 

You need to use a distro of some kind. As suggested above, you can make your own with some metal clad sockets and suitable cable; or you can buy suitable ones. 32A - 13A is a bit of an exception to the rule that whenever you step down current, you need to use a distro; given that 13A plugs are designed to be used on ring mains breakered at 32A. However, you need to ensure that the sockets you use are suitable - metal clad are best; please don't just stick a 32A plug on a 4 way.

If you do buy, look at something like this.

 

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While I see the advice as sensible for circumstances where one current could be an issue - like perhaps a 32A feed to a 15A unfused socket where you could find somebody plugging in a Grelco and two 2.5K Fresnels - droppers can be found in almost everyone's kit. A 4 way 13A board has an internal 13A fuse, so with sensibly sized cable, I see no real world issues connecting to even a 63A outlet with a series of current step down cables. Carrying a distro sized for higher currents when you don't actually ever need more than 13A is not really practical. We always have too have the "if you're not competent, don't do it" caveat, but if you regularly go around to new venues, some kind of solution is needed, and this seems to do the job?
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You could even make up a 32A male to 16A female to give you access to 32A.

 

Maybe I'm being a bit over-sensitive but I have to say I am nervous about this one. In fact, I don't allow this in my own venue. In this configuration, there would be nothing to stop you overloading the 16A connector up to 32A, before the upstream protective device (which you'd have to assume would be 32A) comes into play. Any connected cabling etc which would all be specified for 16A could also be similarly overloaded. It's one of those scenarios where if used only with your own gear, in a known scenario, it would be fine, but someone utilising this adapter in a different setting becomes potentially dangerous.

 

At one time, 32A plug to 15A socket adapters were quite common in corporate land as a way of sending hot-power from a distro into a multicore plug-spider for moving lights (with the other circuits being plugged into a betapack dimmer for generics), and I disliked these for the same reason. I'd be happy with 32A plug to 13A trailing SINGLE socket, because the fuse in any 13A plug would limit the load to (nominal) 13A. The short length of, say, 1.5mm cable from the 32A plug to the 13A socket could not possibly be overloaded, and the unlikely event of a L-N or L-E fault would cause a much larger upstream device to trip anyway (same argument as used in various install scenarios such as 2.5mm unfused spurs from 32A ring mains, or cabling from busbar chambers to switch fuse units) so I'd risk-assess that and argue it's okay. Alternatively 32A to multiple 13A sockets but using 6mm cable would be fine. If you need 16A sockets, there needs to be a protective device of 16A or less in the line - a cheap option is to put a 13A fused spur unit on a board, or just use a 13A plug to 16A socket adaptor.

 

I also don't especially like the (admittedly commonplace) 13A 4-gang fitted with a 16A plug. When these first appeared, they tended to have a good quality (Duraplug etc) rewirable 4-gang incorporating a 13A fuse in a carrier. These days I see them made using pound-shop quality 4-gangs which I wouldn't trust with 13A never mind 16A going through them... the only saving grace being that a decent 16A circuit breaker or RCBO would almost certainly provide better overload protection than the intended 13A BS1362 fuse in reality. If I see one with a 32A plug fitted (and I have!) they get confiscated!

 

E2A, in light of Paul's reply which he must have been typing at the same time as I was, just to clarify any adapter which involves either 13A plug or 13A single socket will be okay as the (maximum) 13A fuse protects it. 125A plug to 13A socket would be absolutely fine, for example.

Edited by Biskit
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I agree that a 32 amp plug direct to one or more 16 amp sockets should be avoided for general use due to the potential for overloading a 16 amp connector and flex to 32 amps. There is also the concern that a low loading appliance with 0.75mm flex and a 16 amp plug could be connected to a 32 amp circuit. The 0.75mm flex could become dangerously hot before a 32 amp MCB operates. There some circumstances under which use of such leads is acceptable under skilled supervision, but for general use, best avoided. Marquee companies and caterers use them all the time, but that is NOT a recommendation !

 

A 32 amp plug connected via 1.5mm flex to a multi-way trailing 13 amp socket is IMHO OK provided that the trailing socket incorporates a 13 amp fuse. The 13 amp fuse will prevent sustained overload of the trailing socket or of the 1.5mm flex thereto. The 1.5mm flex will be protected against short circuit by the 32 amp MCB that supplies the socket.

 

Likewise a single trailing 13 amp socket may be connected via 1.5mm flex to a 32 amp plug. The 13 amp fuse in the plug protects against overload of the trailing socket or of the flex thereto, and the 32 amp MCB in the fixed installation will protect against short circuits.

 

Alternatively, use metalclad 13 amp sockets on apiece of board and 6mm flex. This will permit of the 32 amp socket being fully utilised.

 

 

 

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A 4 way 13A board has an internal 13A fuse.......

 

Not all of them by any means. In fact fuses seem to be less common now than they used to be*.

 

My preferred method, if not using a distro, is a 16A(m) > single13A(f). There's no fuse in that, but only one (13A fused) circuit can be plugged into it.

 

 

 

* I came across one in which access to the fuse was by removing the cover to the terminals - OK in a 13A plug I guess as you can't do this with it plugged in, but a very bad idea on a 4 way......

Edited by MarkPAman
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A 32A male to a 13A socket meets my idea of "use with care" because the only way of getting power out is through a 13A plug which should be fused. Probably the cable should suit 32A but this probably wouldn't fit into the 13a socket.

Cable which is good for 13A is fine in this scenario (so ideally 1.5mm but 1.25mm would just about be ok) as the cable is protected from overload by the 13A fuse in any connected plug, and fault protection (ie. L-N or L-E short) is provided by the upstream 32A device. This assumes a single 13A socket, of course.

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