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don't know where to start...but seems like a simple project

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bbqinthecity

New Member
I just started a small bbq catering company. We are serving BBQ at several festivals this summer. Some of these festivals charge us a flat rate for electricity, while some charge per 2 110V Outlets. I have 4 food warmers I need to plug in, all 110V - 10A - 1200 Watts. I also have a chest freezer to plug in that is 110V.

I am quite handy, I have just never had a reason to get into electronics until now. My question is, assuming the festival organizers just run the 2 outlet box to my booth space, can I get away with plugging these items into a power strip, or box, and get away with using only two 110V outputs? I pay per 2 110V outputs, so I was thinking I could mask the (wires of) 4 warmers by leading them into a box (using a wire loom to group the 4 wires), and then it would be 1 output - and the freezer can be plugged in on its own.

Are there dangers associated with this? Are there fuses I should use? Will this hinder their system if they are expecting 2 plugged in items, and there are 5 (that may seem like a silly question, I don't know)? The power they use is not from a generator, but drawn locally, and then brought to each vendor via extension cord/power box via 2 110V socket output boxes.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

dranobob

New Member
are you saying the food warmers total 10amps? cause if they are 10amps a piece, you will melt extension cords at that amperage with 4 of them. throw in the fridge and you'll definitely break something.
 

Chippie

Member
They are 10 amps each.....nearly 5kw of power!!! That'll need some beeeffyy extension lead!!

You need a small power station matey...:)

I think you got no choice but to pay....
 
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Pommie

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Just pay the going rate. You make your money by selling food. They make there's by selling energy. Just play the game and make money. Trying to rip them off will get you out of the game.

You did your business plan didn't you?

Mike.
 

tcmtech

Banned
Most Helpful Member
Standard outlet strips can only support about 15 amps peak. Most will have a melt down before you even get to that. The commercial ones are 20 amp and can hold 20 amps load but then the outlets supplying you are probably 20 amp too!
If your getting two outlets are they 20 amps each or 20 amps total?

Realistically for your 5+ kw load you should look at getting set up for a 120/240 volt feed. Public places are usually set up with 120/240 single phase sockets just for higher load applications now. The smaller 120/240 circuits are 30 amp but most are bigger.The standard 240 volt outlets I have seen are typically 50 amp. Around here any food vendor is set up with their own distribution box or portable circuit breaker and outlet system.
I have made a number of them for people around here. They take a 120/240 50 amp input and divide it out to usually eight 20 amp lines feeding 8 duplex outlets. 16 total spaces to plug into.

with a 50 amp 120/240 volt feed you have 12 kw peak capacity. Get one of those and then sub divide your excess power out to others and get a few dollars for it!
do it right and you may get your whole connection fee paid for by others!
 

Pommie

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
If halving your energy cost makes your venture viable then you either have very low expectations of profit or you are doomed to fail. Put together a business plan that works rather than trying to rip off another business.

Mike.
 

ericgibbs

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
hi bbq,
If you bought 4, 10Amp timers, you could set them in sequence to switch ON a warmer say every 15mins or so.

I know that you wouldnt get the full 5KW, but I suspect when one only one is running normally its not on more that 25% of the time anyway.

Ensure there is good thermal insulation on the warmers.

EDIT:
You can/could get electricity/gas combo units.
 
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tcmtech

Banned
Most Helpful Member
Being 120 volt cookers I would say hes likely American. therefor ripping off another business is a standard business plan!

The actual making of food and what not is just a side effect. Every traveling food business I know makes loads of cash! If you cant make a profit selling 8 cent hot dogs at a $1 each with a 2 cent soda for another $1 your really need to sit down and do some serious cash flow analysis!
 

Pommie

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Sorry, I'm going to push a point. If you're running some sort of catering business then energy cost should not be a priority. Think, you can run it from home and have real low energy costs. You can run it in some dark place and pay slightly more. Or, you can get a really good place where you sell lots and pay double for energy cost. If you're serious about your business you will choose the place that has the highest energy cost because that is where you will sell the most.

Mike.
 

dranobob

New Member
I just joined this site, and maybe i was wrong, but I thought this was site for electrical problems/projects, not a business analyst site. Guy asked a simple question because he's obviously not an electrician, and has gotten attacked for it. Can't fault a guy for trying to run his business as cheap as possible....and he was obviously smart enough to ask before he did it, could have just plugged it up and watched everything go up in flames.
 

Pommie

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I just joined this site, and maybe i was wrong, but I thought this was site for electrical problems/projects, not a business analyst site. Guy asked a simple question because he's obviously not an electrician, and has gotten attacked for it. Can't fault a guy for trying to run his business as cheap as possible....and he was obviously smart enough to ask before he did it, could have just plugged it up and watched everything go up in flames.
I don't see any attack. I do see good advice. When people try to "max out" their electrical situation it invariably causes them more problems than they envisaged. Any business that cannot afford the basic commodities that make it viable is .... well, not viable.

I hope you keep Reading this site and contributing. It's a good site but if you ask a question you may not always get the answer you hoped for.

Mike.
 

BrownOut

Banned
Great Idea!

hi bbq,
If you bought 4, 10Amp timers, you could set them in sequence to switch ON a warmer say every 15mins or so.

I know that you wouldnt get the full 5KW, but I suspect when one only one is running normally its not on more that 25% of the time anyway.

Ensure there is good thermal insulation on the warmers.

EDIT:
You can/could get electricity/gas combo units.
I'm makig my first post after lurking for several days. This solution to the poster's problem....Brilliant!!! This is just the kind of creative problem-solving that I seek in forums like this. Not only does it solve the problem of running a bunch of power-hungry appliances on limited power supplies, but it does it in an honest way, and eliminates the need to be sneaky and unethical! This solution also gives me ideas about how to run my own power appliances in a mobile setting.

I would only suggest that anyone who uses this method should try it at home to determine the optimal switching times and fine-tune the process. With some creativity and careful management of the processes, he can have his cake and eat it too.
 

Triode

Active Member
If its that expensive is there a reason you aren't using portable gas heaters rather than electric? But anyway, that timer thing does sound pretty clever. You said theyre warmers right? Not high temperature burners?
 
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tcmtech

Banned
Most Helpful Member
So How do you warm everything up in the first place? And what do you do if you restock one of the warmers? Its going to need more than 50% duty cycle power until it back up to operating temp.
What about two warmers running during an extended reheat?

From the engineering stand point they will reach operating temperature with the cycling method just slower.
However from the hungry customer with cash stand point, as a paying customer I will happily take my money the food place that paid for enough electrical power and has hot food ready for me. No questions asked.

As you can see there is a real likely hood that the system is going to still need far more power at some point than the supply can deliver for any period with just two lines. And that will cause a situation were your going to loose business because, well people dont like to wait and dont usually care if your saving power costs.

I am hungry, my family's hungry, my friends are hungry and I am buying. Your food is not ready because a cooker restock and lengthened reheat time slowed you down. So you just lost a $100 in sales in less than one minute.

How many times in one day can you pass that possibility up? And justify it as you saved $50 on your electrical hookup costs?

Not trying to argue but just point out realistic financial loss scenarios caused from customer demand Vs availability issues that can arise from having anything less than full output capacity.
 

Triode

Active Member
you're right. But it depends on if he needs to heat things up there. BBQ is a slow cooked thing and is often premade, so its quite possible he brings it already hot and just keeps it hot all day.
 

BrownOut

Banned
Fair point, but from the original post, he only seems to need to keep food warm that has already been cooked. It's like back in the Army, when they would cook chow in the kitchen, then truck it out into the field in those mobile steel steam warmers. If you get the chance to eat chow before the steam cooled, you got a hot meal.

The engineering trick is to identify the requirements, and then formulate the solution around them. If he wants to use the warmers to cook with, this won't work. But if he only wants to keep already cooked food warm, then it could work.

BTW, I might try this trick at the next family reunion :)
 

tcmtech

Banned
Most Helpful Member
Until he posts With the cost of the electrical service per outlet or however they charge for hookup capacity and also says what he is actually cooking we can only speculate. ;)

I'm just a power guy with an apatite. I dont want to wait for five more minutes because you saved $20 on your hookup fee's. In fact knowing that will make me walk an extra block just to make sure you dont get my money! :eek:
You cheap jerk with no food ready! :rolleyes:
 

BrownOut

Banned
I can hear your advise to Orville and Wilber Wright...."Just walk you lazy jerks!"
 
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