KISS - Simple Electrical Tips for Powering New 911 Workstations

Posted by Ken Carson on Feb 14, 2019 3:54:09 PM
Ken Carson

Valentines Day Love GIF by Evan M CohenA question we often hear is, "do we have enough power for the new workstations?".  This question can actually be split into two categories:  Live cut over and new building.

New buildings are pretty easy as the architect and the electrical engineer should have already specified enough power after consulting with the radio vendor, phone, and used best practices.   

A Live Cut Over is usually pretty simple but some knowledge base of what works will make the installation of your new furniture workstations go better. Here is some simple electrical information that you'll find helpful.

Voltage: In the U.S. we use 120 voltage for our power system. This can vary from 110 to 120 when people are talking about it, so do not worry if you hear anything in that range. This voltage is run on Alternating Current or AC, which was decided upon in the late 1800's in a battle between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison who preferred Direct Current or DC.  

Circuit: A circuit is a dedicated line of power (120v) coming into the workstation from the building power. Each dispatch console should have two separate circuits coming into the furniture. One of these circuits will provide power for the critical items like CAD, phone, and radio. The other circuit is for non-critical items such as; height-adjustment, personal cooling fans, phone chargers, etc.. It wouldn't hurt to run 3 circuits if available. Ask your Electrical Engineer or a good electrician what would work best.   

Amps: Amperage is basically the amount of power that is coming through the line. This is critical! If you do not have enough amps the line will get over-powered and blow a fuse.  We all know that is not what you want in a 911 Comm Center. 20 amp circuits are the most common in a 911 center.   

Electrical whip: This is a generic term for a hard-wire hook-up to the building power.  This requires an electrician to hook it up. Watch out for office furniture whips as they do not have a dedicated neutral, so the wires share a neutral. Your equipment needs dedicated lines with their own neutral.   

Flex conduit: This is a flexible metal armored cable in which the wires run through. You can have more than one circuit in each line of flex conduit. This will start at the building power and can be run to each work station. Ask your electrician about the local laws and how far they can run flex conduit. In some parts of the country they must run it in regular conduit which is hard pipe.   

Duplex and Quad box: These are basically the same outlets you see in your house.  Either two plugs or four. These will be at the end of the flex conduit and can be placed under the floor and run up into the workstation. Your tech will then plug in the necessary equipment; computers, radio, phone, monitors, etc..   

A line of flex conduit to a quad box is the easiest way to get power to the work station and computer equipment. It also has the fewest points of failure.  The philosophy of Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) is a great starting point for power in the 911 center.   

Always ask your furniture vendor how much power they need. The height-adjustment and personal heaters alone can pull up to 8 amps of power.  Just be smart and ask questions.  We are here to help no matter what the project is.  

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Topics: Electric Requirements