Home theater voltage drop affecting neighbors

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Old 01-22-17, 02:15 PM
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Home theater voltage drop affecting neighbors

Hi all,
We recently converted our outdoor shed to a home theater. It is approx 100ft from the house.
We installed a 60amp subpanel via 6gauge thwn in conduit (2hot neutral and ground) with ground rod for panel outside.
It is connected to our 200amp main panel in the house. Which is approx 130ft from the pole transformer that feeds our house and 3 of my neighbors.

We have 123/124v on the main legs in the house.
121/123v on the main legs of the sub panel in the shed. It also has a panel surge protector installed.
Running as general load is a small 240v 2000w in wall heater/or 5000btu ac in summer,
Led ceiling lighting consuming no more than 50w total.
Mini fridge and occasional use of microwave, and a few led outdoor lights.
Home theater consists of a led projector, av receiver, 2 qsc usa850 amplifiers, and audio processing equipment, along with roku, blu ray, etc connected to a rack mount power conditioner. The power amps draw 10amps at full load, and are each connected to their own 15amp circuit from the subpanel.

Issue:
When watching a movie or playing music, or when the Ac unit kicks in, the power draw from bass does not affect our power, or our house, but our neighbors instead. All 3 complain that the lights dim/brighten when we use the system or our window ac units kick on.
We had the poco come out and check the connections and neutral on the pole, and said that everything is fine. But the transformer is slightly undersized during peak usage as it being original from 1974. They will not upgrade it. But the neighbors are getting annoyed, not from our decibel level, but the amount of power we pull.

Any realistic solutions to this on my end? Or will they have to just suck it up until the tranny on the pole blows and we get an upgrade?
I should add, our 200a service drop is fed by 250 triplex. Neighbors are 100a service each. Their service drops are much much smaller.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-22-17, 02:42 PM
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But the transformer is slightly undersized during peak usage as it being original from 1974.
Odd problem and I will ask an odd question. Have you had a problem with dead grass under the pole the transformer is on. That can be a sign of PCBs leaking from a transformer. They were still using PCBs in some transformers up until 1977.

If the transformer does contain PCBs that may be why they are reluctant to change it out. The swap could be involved and expensive. They will have to pay extra to handle and dispose of the transformer as it is an environmental hazard. If there is any suspicion of leakage the dirt under the transformer will need to be removed under the rules for hazardous waste.

Had a customer that had been having trouble with lights dimming and the electric company said nothing wrong on their side for a couple of years. She came home from work one day to find workers in hazmat suits removing the transformer and replacing the dirt under it. One of the workers admitted the electric company knew there was a problem with the transformer for years but they hadn't had the money for replacement because of the hazardous waste handling requirements.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 02:50 PM
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I don't have any answers, but small loads like that should not even affect your house, let alone your neighbors.

The utility will run transformers over 100% on a regular basis.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 03:22 PM
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It is possible it does have pcbs. I didn't think of that. There is some dead grass around it. Mostly dirt. And the bottom of the pole is black. It has overheated at one point it looks like. Prob this past season when we did our Christmas display. We had a display of 900,000 lights (100amp subpanel just for it). We blew the fuse up on the pole during the first night and they had to come replace it.

Why they didn't consider it a danger that it burnt up at one time or in need of replacement I'm not sure. You would think they would replace it now while it's contained instead of when it blows/spills it's guts all over.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 03:28 PM
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This is the transformer.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 04:18 PM
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At this point in time I would doubt any utility would close their eyes to a transformer containing PCB's. They stand to be issued mega fines if the BPU got wind of it.

Looks like you're on a GPU/JCP&L system.
JCP&L has never been known to be proactive with transformer upgrades.

Are you directly connected to that pole ?
Looks some very small wiring between the service and other houses further accentuating a drop.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 04:26 PM
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May be time to complain to the PUC or a TV station. Maybe even the EPA since the dead grass could indicate contamination.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 05:58 PM
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Pcb manufacture and use was banned in 1979. I would find it strange than a transformer still in use contained pcbs. If is does not there is typically a sticker saying No PCBs.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 07:56 PM
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900,00 lights - glad I'm not across the street.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 08:23 PM
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I hope I haven't steered this off course with my PCB comments. It sounds like the transformer needs replacing and that is what counts not why they haven't.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 07:32 AM
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From the sounds of it, you're using power in a normal and customary way within the bounds of your electrical service. The problems in power quality your neighbors experience should be between them and the power company. They need to keep calling and complaining or escalate the issue to a higher level if they have to.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 01:06 PM
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Sounds like a technology gap. You have LED's and power conditioners, etc. Neighbors still using ice boxes and kerosene lighting.
But seriously, THEIR reefers should be dimming their lights as well.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 02:20 PM
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Thanks for the comments everyone!

Yes the service drops to our neighbors are original. From 1985-1989 when their houses were built. We were first built in 1974 and had the power and trans ran for us. And the poco has added them to that over the years.
We originally had a 100a also. But upgraded to 200a and a larger feed in 2009 to overcome the voltage drop as we also have electric heating baseboard, electric range and hot water also.

The neighbors and us have contacted the poco (JCPL) and put in some forms earlier today.
According to the guy they sent out that came back out today today look at it, he said the transformer has been damaged and they also replaced the fuse way higher then what is allowed for safety concerns, plus is severely undersized for our service itself, without the addition of the rest and the seasonal holiday usage we add.

We have a 5kva crispy transformer.
We are getting an upgrade to 50kva next week!
No pcbs he said.
Just overboiled mineral oil. The heavier drop you see in the photo goes across the street to us, and splices to the 250 heading to our house. They are replace that smaller jump feed across the roadway also and bringing the 250 right to the connections.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 02:30 PM
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That explains it -- 5kVA is absurdly small to power three houses. With all the oil boiling out I'm surprised it hasn't caught fire.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 02:33 PM
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Good news! Thanks for letting us know.
 
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Old 01-23-17, 05:01 PM
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Five kVA is insane! At 240 volts 5 kVA is only 20.8 amperes.Even if each house was only drawing 30 amperes nominally it would have been running at almost 600% capacity.
 
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Old 01-30-17, 07:56 PM
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Could we get a photo of the new transformer?

I've heard of power companies not upgrading the service wires when upgrading the service but this is ridiculous. Poor transformer. It had a long and painful life.
 
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Old 01-31-17, 07:31 PM
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That is crazy. Most homes are served by at least a 15 kva transformer. They got their money out of that sucker! Glad you stayed on them about this.
 
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Old 01-31-17, 08:11 PM
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I've heard of power companies not upgrading the service wires when upgrading the service but this is ridiculous.
Most power companies size the service lateral or drop by the customer's calculated load and not by service size. This is why it is so important for the customer to always inform the utility when a significant load is being added and this requirement is usually spelled out in the service manual. In the OP's case, that transformer was undersized and then additional houses were added to it making it drastically undersized. It's no wonder there were voltage problems.
 
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Old 02-01-17, 09:02 AM
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I'm seeing more and more of INCOMPETENCE by employees lately. They can't fix cars, they can't read instruction manuals, they don't know how to do things which employees in the past were expected to learn and know all about!

So here again we have a simple issue here. Anyone who knows basic electricity would know the problem was with the electric company feed.

FYI - I recently called my electric company to report a burned out street light. I had the pole number handy and told the girl on the phone I could give it to her... She said "She had the number and did not need it."

So the electrician comes out, then calls me to ask which pole it was! (She gave him my phone number as the pole number!)

Idiots! Argggg!
 
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