Subpanel/Isolation Transformer/Dedicated Lines


I know this may seem like deja vu all over again, but we’ve finally relocated to Texas (from New York) and will be having an electrical contractor visit in the next week or so to begin plotting out the electrical plans for the "new" house (which is actually an 1880’s house that has been thoroughly restored, including all new mechanicals/infrastructure). I am still planning on building a separate outbuilding for the music system and record collection, but in the interim, I plan to install the system on the second floor of the house.
The house has 200 amps of service, all equipment is circa 2004. I would like to have the electrician install a separate sub panel for the system-- probably Square D (I used this box the last time in NY, but will specify a copper bus bar). The question relates to how a free standing isolation transformer gets wired in. (Caveat: I will make sure the electrician I use is knowledgeable in code compliance here so my questions are not a substitute for that but meant to enhance my understanding and discussion- the local electrical inspectors are accessible and informative too, and I will get anything we do, now or in the future, permitted). First:
Location of Sub panel and Isolation Transformer-
Unlike the East, where the service terminates and main panel are located in the basement, there is no basement here, but a pier and beam with the main panel mounted to the outside of the house. (In all the houses of this type I’ve seen here, nobody seems to lock these boxes- seems kind of obvious to do so). So, I’m thinking the sub panel ought to go in a closet on the second floor, in a room removed from the listening room. I don’t know if it is permissible to locate the isolation transformer there- I’m not talking about a "black box" with a plug, but a large --7kVa or 10kVa transformer hard wired to isolate the lines attached to the sub panel from the rest of the household electrical. I gather in reading an earlier thread here, that paralleling the windings on the transformer rather than wiring in series is necessary to get the full capacity of the transformer.
Multiple Dedicated Lines-
This set up would power several dedicated lines for my audio only system which would be located in a large open space on the second floor. I learned from past experience that bundling the in wall/in conduit electrical cable was bad- electrical noise from my air compressor motor would transmit across the cabling. So, each line would be separated and run to hospital grade 20 amp outlets. (I used Porter Ports in the past- thanks, Albert! and am not inclined to buy the high priced outlets for now, since this is an interim set up). The air compressor is always an issue- it pulls some juice and has mechanical as well as electrical noise when in operation. I’m currently thinking of locating it in the same closet as the sub panel. I am assuming that if the dedicated lines are run separately, and not bundled, I won’t have the electrical interference I experienced in the last system which was only solved by using a stand-alone isolation transformer--’black box’ type for medical purposes--just for the air compressor. I still have a couple of these, but it seems like stacking one isolation transformer on another is just wrong, and ought to be unnecessary, i.e. using a medical grade smaller "black box" transformer for the air compressor that would be plugged into a dedicated line/receptacle from the sub panel that is already isolated by the bigger transformer for the sub panel mentioned above.
I still have to figure out the best layout for the receptacles, and also need to get a line downstairs, to the front parlor, where I will have a second "vintage" system installed. (That system is worthy of a second thread- I got my old Quads restored and will be using some fun pieces in that system, all from back in the day. That system will remain in the main house, even after I build the outbuilding and move the main system there). It seems a little crazy to feed this first floor small system from the second floor sub panel I’m contemplating, but the alternative is to feed the downstairs "parlor" system directly from the main panel. I haven’t figured this out yet-- I would like that to be isolated by a transformer and run from dedicated lines- but this would probably mean feeding the ’parlor system’ from the main panel via ancillaries that would be mounted to the outside of the house, or in the large crawl space beneath the house-- not as good as air conditioned closet space on the second floor closet for the main system. Plus I have no idea how one would install an isolation transformer that is in effect outside of the air conditioned space of the house interior--seems like that would pose code problems as well as heat, rodent and other issues-ugh!

As mentioned, much of this work would be for an interim set up until my outbuilding is approved and constructed. Apparently, I can get separate service to the planned outbuilding (yay!). but even though main house set up I’m currently comtemplating is a stop gap, I want to do it right. Jea48 has been enormously helpful on some of these questions in the past, as have a few others, including Almarg.

I’m pretty excited to get all this moving--the house is gorgeous, and located right in town (which has great benefits in terms of walking to things, but it is quite dense, as is typical of an urban neighborhood, with apartment buildings and the like, nearby).

Any input from the denizens and wizards of electrical would be greatly appreciated.

bill hart


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It sounds like you have things pretty well in hand. Though fellow Agoner's will have opinions/recommendations, perhaps you should consult a local high end dealer or installer. So much of this has to pass local codes, so someone knowledgeable about local codes would be the best source of information.
Just my 2 cents.
B
Congratulations on the house Bill! If you can find a pair of the original Quad II power amps, they are great with the Quad 57. A contemporary amp that’s even better with them is the Music Reference RM-10, a beauty of an amp---Eric.
Thanks, both.
gdnrbob- There are a couple Austinites here who have done systems- I’ll try to reach out to them as well. Thanks.

Eric- already have Quad IIs that were part of my personal "museum" (e.g. non-working display items) that are in the capable hands of Bill Thalmann at Music Technology who is going to restore them, along with an McI MX110 preamp/tuner I bought and is now doing the Krebs update to my old SP-10 turntable for the "vintage" system.

I suspect an isolation transfer that large will make a lot of noise -  you probably want it far from your listening room.
Domestic isolation transformers are a little noisy (I use a Torus WM-75BAL which is a 9000VA transformer) but not too bad. Mine is in an adjacent storage room but the door to that room is double thickness and soundproofed. The main fuse box is in the next room (the garage) thus all runs are kept short. The Torus product is one I can highly recommend.

I also recommend the dealer I worked with - Nyal Mellor at Acoustic Frontiers, he is very knowledgeable and able to source anything you need for this sort of project
 http://store.acousticfrontiers.com/Power-Conditioners/Whole-Room/torus-power-wm-bal-series.html 
lloyd- yes, aware of that. I had soundproofed the last closet where my air compressor and a stand alone isolation transformer were located, but point is taken. If the electrical/inspector allowed the transformer/panel to be located in un-air conditioned attic space, it would be further removed, not so hard to work in, but the Texas heat can’t be good for it.
Folk- indeed. I already have a big Equi=Tech balanced power wall cabinet sitting in storage, I was planning to see if I could use that in the separate building. What I need to bore down on is basically a naked isolation transformer that would be installed in an appropriate generic cabinet as part of this in-house set up. I’m trying to avoid going full on crazy, but still within code and a reasonable budget, since it is an interim step to a separate building, where I will install either the Equi=Tech I have or something along the lines of what you linked to----
Every time we’ve bought a new home, there are expenses that are ongoing and considerable to get the place to the level we want it. I eventually go numb, and get to a point where I refer to the cost in "units" rather than dollars. It makes it easier.... :)
Hi Bill,

Echoing the above, seems like you have a really good start.  Regarding the dedicated lines and interference, running the lines seprately and not bundled is of course a good thing to do.  You may also want to consider running shielded 10g Romex - I had pretty good success with it (had it cryo treated by Audio Excellnce as well).  I have also had success with Cardas in wall cabling as well.

Also, something to consider - the best step I have ever made in reducing noise via the electrical setup is using a 10' chemical grounding rod buried in bentonite clay - massive improvement for a reasonable cost in view of high end audio.  There may be some hassle in rewiring it to you new audio outbuilding when completed, but I would suggest it is worth it.

Best of luck.
+1 on the serious grounding array there Rzado, and thanks.
Oh, and if you have any interest in Hard Country, Western Swing, etc. music Bill, I heartily recommend Austin’s The Cornell Hurd Band. Cornell is an old friend of mine who has been playing in the Austin Honky Tonks since moving there in the late 70’s. He’s a great songwriter, having tunes of his recorded by Junior Brown and The Skeletons (the fantastic band from Springfield Missouri, whose fans include Nick Lowe) amongst others.
I will look for Cornell after the madness of SX, Eric. Hard country = real country? Love western swing. 

Yup Bill, Country/Hillbilly without any trace of Pop, Rock, or other derivatives mixed in to make it more palatable to those who distain the "nasal twang" of the real stuff. You know, Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, Bob Wills, Moon Mullican, Pee Wee King, Red Foley, Hank Thompson, Johnny Bond, The Delmore Brothers, Don Gibson, Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Johnny Horton, Sonny James, Slim Whitman, Marty Robbins, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Stonewall Jackson, Ferkin Husky, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson, and hundreds of others.

Cornell really knows his stuff, writes great songs, and always has a top-notch band featuring fiddle, pedal steel, piano, Telecaster guitar, bass, and drums. Plus, he’s a heck of an entertainer, with a wit the equal of Dan Hicks.

whart-

sounds like a cool project. You will enjoy Austin TX. It is a party town for sure. There are a few high-end Audio sops as well. Keep me posted on your project and post pics here in Virtual Systems.

Happy Listening!