Just like Vince Lombardi would introduce a football to his players at the start of every season we are going to start with the most basic of basic lighting related topics. Plugs! or Connectors. Stagepin, Edison, Powercon,
Since we are dealing with electricity please make sure you call in an electrician if you are uncomfortable with this topic.
Each type of connector has very specific uses and limitations which you should consider before using. As we will see in a moment there is not one connector or plug you can use in all applications. But by using the correct plugs you will greatly reduce the risk of shock. Let us look at each type.
The good old Edison plugs. Everyone in the United States has used one of these. It is the most common plug we have in this country. And I assume the most widely thought of power source at any church. The Edison plug is fine for a lot of things, but one thing to watch out for is the amp rating. 9 times out of 10 the Edison connector for sale it will be a 15 amp variety. I tried to find one to link to on Amazon but I don’t see any that are 20amp.
This is ok except for building jumpers or stingers. (extension cords) The power rating of most breakers is 20 amps, it is important to keep everything in line rated at 20 amps. That means all cable and connectors need to be fully rated at 20 amps. Also, Edison plugs get really loose over time and have a tendency to disconnect easily.
The next most common power connector in the lighting world is the Stage Pin. Loved and used by most theaters around the world. This comes in a few sizes, 20, 60, and 100 amp varieties. 60 and 100 amp versions are used on TV and film sets. These connectors rated correctly for the power and hard to break. The flat style makes it easy to write on for keeping track of which circuit is which. The pin’s on the Stage Pin connectors are split down the middle allowing them to be pushed part. This helps create a tighter connection and keep the connectors from pulling apart. You can buy these connectors for about $6 each if you know where to look. Amazon sells them here. https://amzn.to/2VjgwfD
If you need to keep connectors together the locking twist lock is a great connector. These come in several varieties and it is important to make sure that you are buying the correct model for the amperage and voltage required for the circuit. These are very common with touring lighting companies that don’t want to deal with cables coming apart in the truss. The most common types are L620 and L520. These are used for 120
Powercon and True1
Powercon and True1 are both very common connectors. They are both made by Neutrik who is a leader in the connector industry. The True1 connector was developed as a replacement to the Powercon connector. Powercon is very popular. Powercon does have a small problem with what is called breaking capacity. Which means that technically you should not plug or unplug a Powercon under load. You are required to turn the power off at the other end before you can disconnect the Powercon from the fixture. This is actually really dangerous and bad for the fixtures. Which is why the True1 connector was created. True1 is a replacement for the Powercon but it does have breaking capacity which it needs to be a safe connector.
Socopex is a great connector which is very widely used when multiple circuits are needed. Soco can run 6 circuits of power or dimming. Each end can be fitted with a fan out or into a panel mount. Great way to send lots of power.
In summary, there is not one plug you can use in all situations. But keeping things consistent will help greatly whenever you go to change your design. Planning in advance to keep everything to one or two connectors is really helpful in those pressure cooker weeks right before Easter and Christmas. Knowing what connectors you use and having extras on hand going into these weeks is really helpful.