Construction sites, outdoor concerts and fairgrounds all require temporary power for a variety of applications. Construction sites are often in areas where the utility power has not been connected yet and require temporary power for tools and lighting. Outdoor concerts and fairgrounds are designed for portability and fast set up and tear down, and often require significant power for sound, lighting and concessions. Since new construction, concerts and fairgrounds are typically outdoor, they pose safety challenges since outdoor elements don’t go well with electrical applications, this creates a need for the beetle box!
Because of the speed at which these sites are assembled, some contractors are tempted to build their own electrical power distribution boxes in the field. This is not usually a good idea since the contractor does not carry the certifications to make the equipment as safe as it should be.
One of the products that is commonly found on these sites is a portable power box containing a single 50 Amp input and several output receptacles that accept the common cord connections found on the plugs of most power cords. Power Assemblies has developed a product that safely and effectively allows someone with little to no electrical training to connect common temporary power loads. They call it the Beetle Box.
Metal, Water and Electricity are a Bad Combination
Two of the best conductors of electricity are water and metal. Have you ever watched one of those movies where someone takes revenge on some poor soul in a bathtub by throwing an appliance in, instantly electrocuting them? This graphically illustrates why people should be careful handling electrical equipment while wet or standing in water. Electrical conductors are made from copper or aluminum because they are such good conductors of electricity. Electricity will always take the path of least resistance, and since there is no easier path for electricity than water or metal, it will seek these paths out first. That is why the Beetle Box, unlike it’s metal predecessor the Spider Box, is made from rubber which is a natural insulator. Electrical conductors that are accessible to people, are always insulated by some type of non-metallic material with rubber being one of the best. As portable distribution boxes are carried to the site and moved around the site, often while energized, it is critical for safety to have a non-metallic box and handle.
Ground Fault Protection is Further Protection
When Electricity follows the path of least resistance, the path often leads to the earth. This is called a ground fault. The National Electric Code, or NEC, defines a ground fault as “an electrically conducted path from the place where a ground fault occurs in an electrical system to the electrical source”. In plain terms, it is when electricity follows a path to the ground rather than to the load it was intended to power. The Beetle Box uses a device called a ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, to instantly disconnect power in the case electricity finds the path to ground to be the path of least resistance instead of through the cable conductors. The GFCI’s in the Beetle Box are designed for people protection, which is 6 milliamps. A milliamp is 1 /1000 of an amp. For reference, a standard 75 watt light bulb is power by approximately ½ an amp. So, if by chance electricity did take a path away from the intended conductor to ground, the power would be disconnected before it would become harmful.
In addition to being non-metallic and containing ground fault protection, the Beetle Box also protects each circuit with individual circuit breakers similar to the ones found in a home. The biggest danger of exceeding the electrical capacity of a circuit is fire, specifically for the cable carrying the electricity. The breakers in the Beetle Box will trip if the current exceeds the amount that would cause harm to the cables that are conducting the electricity to power the tools, lights, etc.
When dealing with electricity, safety should always be a primary concern. Electricity can kill in an instant and the dangers should always be taken seriously. Proper equipment built for safety is one of the best ways to protect yourself, and your equipment.