What’s the difference?
We started to develop a new generation of power distribution units because we realized that the entertainment industry technology has changed a lot over the last couple of years. The move to LED and video fixtures creates a lot of new possibilities but also new challenges.
Power distribution to a large number of complex loads such as switch-mode power-supplies, quickly altering loads and rapidly changing conditions for dynamic setups creates the need for new solutions and technology.
Why should you get a power-distro from Stage Smarts? Here we try to answer that question and explain why we do the things we do.
Loss of neutral protection
A disconnected or failing neutral connection in a 3-phase system will almost always lead to catastrophic failure, damaged equipment and as a consequence a lost or crippled show.
The neutral acts as a balancing point for the phases and keeps the voltages stable under all load conditions. If the neutral fails, overvoltage on some of the phases will likely destroy the connected equipment very quickly. The importance of a good and reliable neutral connection can’t bet overstated, but in reality, many people just assume it will work as expected. In the world of entertainment and events were large amounts of electric power often are arranged as a temporary solution the risks of a bad neutral are a very real threat.
The consequences of a lost or weak neutral connection in a 3-phase system can be a bit difficult to understand so please have a look at the sequence below.
Under normal conditions the neutral conductor balances the phases so that the voltages stay stable even if the load is unevenly dispersed between the different phases.
If the neutral connection is lost due to a poor connection or a faulty conductor a floating neutral point is created between the phases, as long as the load on each phase is equal the voltages will remain the same as the system is in balance. A 3-phase electrical motor for example doesn’t need a neutral connection since the load on all phases always stays the same.
When the load starts to differ between the phases the floating neutral point compensates by drifting towards the phase with the lowest load. This results in a voltage drop on that phase and a voltage increase on the other phases, the phase with the lowest load will receive the highest voltage and the phase with the highest load will receive the lowest voltage.
If the voltages raise high enough the connected equipment will start to fail and severe damages to internal components will occur. As the connected equipment breaks, they no longer present a load to the phase resulting in an even bigger difference between the phases which drives the voltages even higher. The resulting avalanche of damaged gear will drive the floating neutral all the way to one phase that now becomes the “neutral” of the system and the other phases will receive massive overvoltage that few connected things will survive
Protect your equipment
We design our products with maximum safety in mind and we believe that the protecting your gear from catastrophic overvoltage is a big part of that. Stage Smarts has developed a proprietary loss of neutral protection that disconnects the unit from the main supply in an instant if the voltages reach critical values. The system constantly monitors the voltage and has zero start-up time, so your connected equipment is protected from the moment you turn the distribution unit on.
As no system is 100% fail proof, we strongly recommended that you check your power supply BEFORE turning everything on if there is any uncertainty about the quality of the connections. The main meters on all our products are connected before the main breaker so that you can get a reading on all voltages and the frequency without putting the connected equipment at risk. The main meters in our products are protected against overvoltage and will survive even if the power supply is failing.
Remember to always:
- Keep your gear in order.
- Open and inspect crucial wires and connectors at regular intervals.
- Check supply voltages before connecting loads.
- Protect your cables from getting run over.
- Use proper gauge supply cables, especially for the neutral.
All Stage Smarts power distribution units with exception of the C-quad can have the ability to be monitored remotely over a standard ethernet network on any device with a standard web browser.
We have developed a solution that utilizes a Linux micro-computer to collect and distribute data from each unit. The internal computer communicates with all load sensors in the unit and also with the main meter to collect all relevant data about loads, voltages and so on. Furthermore, the status of the main breaker, emergency stop, neutral-protection and the internal temperature are collected and processed by the system. The integrated webserver displays the collected data in real time on a webpage that can be accessed by typing in the unique serial-number or the IP-address for each unit. All units can be connected to a standard network with other traffic being managed at the same time so there’s no need for a proprietary network.
Multiple units can be connected to a single network and you only need to access one of the units to gain access to the entire system. The connected units on a shared network will discover each other and share their data automatically. For the units to work together they need an external router to manage the network.
The Linux system is equipped with a battery back-up system that runs for approximately 10 minutes to enable you to get crucial information about the status of the unit even if your setup has lost all power.
The data collected from all connected units is presented on a web page to the client connected to the network, multiple clients can view the data simultaneously on different browsers, the page is fully responsive and adapts to the client’s device.
All connected units are fixed to the top of the viewport and the status bars shows if everything is operating under normal conditions or if there is something needing your attention. Selecting any unit will display the full status in the viewport while maintaining the overview of all connected units.
The exact current for each channel can be monitored on screen in real time and the combined current for each cable (6-channel block) are also displayed.
A supervision range can be set as a minimum and maximum value for the supply and the channel data to enable you to get a warning if the measured data goes above or below the range you are expecting it to operate in. Status indicators for each channel and the main current and voltage clearly show any overloads or supervision range violations.
Overloads and violations will also be displayed in the right-hand notification window to enable you to catch temporary problems and fluctuations. Notificatios will stack up in a scrollable list that can be dismissed as a whole or on a separate basis.
The settings made to a power distribution unit are stored automatically in each unit which ensures that you always are looking at the correct data even of you have to change the device you are using to connect with.
All system settings can be imported and exported in standard XLS format for easy integration with already prepared prep-sheets. The import / export function also enables easy migration of data between units.
- Unit name.
- Channel name.
- Cable name.
- Cable color-codes.
- Supply current L1, L2, L3, N supervision.
- Supply voltage L1-L2, L2-L3, L1-L2 supervision.
- Channel current supervision.
We take our commitment to quality and durability very seriously when we design our products at Stage Smarts. Our goal is to create high quality products that can live with you for a long time and always perform as they were intended to.
We use state of the art CAD / CAM systems to design and manufacture the mechanical parts that compromise the framework that holds everything together. The front panels are precision-routed in flat-bed CNC routers to ensure very tight tolerances and a high surface finish. The aluminum front panels are anodized to create a durable and esthetically pleasing surface and then laser-engraved in-house for a very durable and flexible marking.
The steel chassis are punched, laser-cut and bent in a CNC-controlled workflow that enables tolerances down to 2/10 of a mm for a good final fit. All steel parts are made out of corrosive resistant Aluzinc to ensure a long lifespan even for uncoated details. External and visible parts are powder-coated for a nice surface finish and even higher resistance against corrosion.
Durability, functionality, serviceability and good design are the core of what we strive for in our aim to produce a product that are greater than the sum of its parts.