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mwalz

GFI Troubles - HELP

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This year has been very rainy and have been having gfi problems. Replaced 2 of the 3 outlets since one isn't gfi. Funny enough it never gives problems.

One circuit is on the porch and the other on the side of the house. The porch has been working fine since replaced. No issues. 

However the other one I could not even get going. No matter what item on the one section of yard was plugged in, it always tripped. Except for the lights on the soaking wet ground. None of this makes sense.

I've heard taping connections traps in moisture. I always positions outlets where they are sideways or down to minimize water in connections. Mostly grounded extension cords. 

Ideas to remedy this? In the daylight I'm going to try to find the culprit and see what I come up with. This is getting very frustrating.

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Ahoy, same here in the first year. I have used di electric grease and the only problem I have had, just this year, where the 6 tomato cages...when it rains or drizzles.. I isolated them, simply by unplugging everything, one by one,until it pops. It took me 3 hrs to do this for the billion plugs,err..100+. I know the feeling of aggravation, looking out and seeing only a third of your stuff on?????

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I am assuming these GFCI are all installed on separate circuits.  The new "self testing" GFCIs can be problematic when you daisychain, or place one GFCI outlet downstream connected to the LOAD on another GFCI.  When the downstream GFCI performs its internal self-test the upstream GFCI detects this as a fault and will trip.  You just need one GFCI installed at the first outlet and all the other outlets downstream of that one connected to the LOAD terminals are protected.  Non GFCI outlets are connected to the LOAD terminals for added protection.

  GFCI.JPG.d8e1f5ce5fb857749444642343a168c6.JPG

I suffer a lot of issues in the rain and have come to the conclusion I simply have too many lights to prevent GFCI trips.  I just chased an issue for 2 days with the permanent lamp light on our mailbox post thinking it was the Christmas lights.  Come to find out the bulb socket had moisture in it....not sure how that is even possible as it is in an enclosed fixture....so it must have been condensation.  I found it when I had the fixture open, bulb removed and power applied... there was visible "steam" coming out of the socket (didn't trip the GFCI with no bulb in it).  I wiped it out and applied a lot of dielectric grease to the bulb and have had no more issues on that circuit.  I have a lot of strands with cheap removeable LEDs laying in the flowerbeds and yard and I am sure those are 99% of my issues and I am not greasing all those bulbs so it is something I just live with until I upgrade them to sealed LED strands.  Dielectric grease is a must on all my RGB connections to prevent issues, I use a lot of it on my power strips and heavy duty extension cords outside, and I use it on my CAT5 connections in both RGB controllers and LOR boxes.  

Another thing I did this year was split the GFCI circuit on my house outside outlets.  I had 1x GFCI that protected all my outside outlets that tripped a lot over the last 11 years, so I figured I would replace it this year when it started tripping again.  The RGB power supplies like to play havoc on the GFCIs too and I had added another one to this circuit bringing it up to 4x 350W power supplies.   In the past, 4x of these power supplies created issues on another GFCI circuit of mine.  Replacing the GFCI with another brand solved that one, so I tried that first.  But all the new GFCIs in the stores are the newer "self testing" models and after trying 3 different ones they all were worse (or better if you look at it from a protection aspect :) ) and would trip powering up the LOR units even before I got the RGBs on.  My house wiring had this GFCI in the garage with the LOAD splitting to the front outside outlet and the back/side outlets.  Because it split out from this outlet box, I removed the single box and put in a double box with 2x GFCIs (one now protects the front outlet and the second protects the back/side outlets).  They are not daisychained as I split the LINE wire coming in to go to both GFCIs.  Has been an outstanding upgrade and I have had no more issues on those circuits this year.

 

Edited by qberg

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Would putting dielectric grease on already wet connections solve anything?

What's ironic to me is that all my LEDs are cheap non sealed lights. And most the display was still working in the pouring rain, including the lights directly on the ground.

Qberg,

The gfi outlets are not on their own circuit but they are the only gfi on those circuits. 

Do you think it's possible I got a bad gfi when I replaced it? 

My big rgb strip frosty had problems in the past with gfi until I covered the box that housed the power supply with a bag.

The couple areas with a loft of plugs I have already covered with a bag and left the bottom open to allow airflow. So far where I've done that it's never failed me.

Is it possible there is voltage leak through the very thin light wires? On my mega trees at the top the lights are watched to metal hooks and that may cause an issue.

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I have put grease on already ,wet plugs. The grease will displace the water, when the plug is inserted. I use compressed air ,to blow out the plugs then,  inject grease into the female end of the plug(s). 

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1 hour ago, Big J Illinois said:

I have put grease on already ,wet plugs. The grease will displace the water, when the plug is inserted. I use compressed air ,to blow out the plugs then,  inject grease into the female end of the plug(s). 

Ok good to know. Going to test things today still and it's been misting all day with no sun. Should be perfect to test things out.

Picked up some grease.

Do you put it on connections of light strands when they are plugged end to end, likewise if the connections are stacked? Or just the main connections?

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Like Big J stated in his first reply you need to plug in one thing at a time to isolate the problem. GFCI's can sometimes be quirky, here are a few other things that may cause certain brands to nuisance trip.

-switching power supplies (either small ones with moisture ingress or larger ones containing capacitive noise suppression that leaks to ground).

-long runs of wire or the buildup effect of many multiple runs that acts as a capacitor leaking current to ground, especially if the wire is wrapped around grounded conductive metal.

-the internal ballasts in some LED light bulbs ( I had a large santa blowmold with a 60 watt equivalent philips LED

dimmable bulb in it that would nuisance trip one of my GFCI receptacles after a few minutes.)

-heavy inductive loads such as larger size AC electric motors or transformers

Hopes this helps solve the mystery.

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1 minute ago, Mikeymatic said:

need to plug in one thing at a time to isolate the problem

Usually true....but with the GFCIs a lot of small leaks add up to trip em too.  Easiest way to find issues is using the LOR hardware utility and turn 1 unit on at a time until you find the one....then go out and start pulling plugs to find the one causing the problems.  

With my last foray, it wasn't a single unit that tripped them....just every time I turned on my 5th LOR unit, no matter which order I did it in.

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-long runs of wire or the buildup effect of many multiple runs that acts as a capacitor leaking current to ground, especially if the wire is wrapped around grounded conductive metal.

Quote: but with the GFCIs a lot of small leaks add up to trip em too.

If you split the leakage across several separate GFCI receptacle circuits you may be able to eliminate the nuisance trips...

It would be really neat if some smart electronics engineer could design a plug in meter something like those kill-a-watt meters that would actually give you a digital readout of the milliamps of leakage to ground of whatever is plugged into it for troubleshooting purposes. Maybe they could come up with a DIY circuit that would use the "guts" of a GFCI receptacle somehow coupled to a digital readout?

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8 minutes ago, Big J Illinois said:

I have used ,a ferrous magnet( Rf Choke) around the smaller cords,closest to the GFCI, this will help, reduce, not eliminate Rf and false trips. 

Is that like the ones like you find on old computer monitor cords, the ferrite "tube" lump in the cord that is covered with heatshrink or molded plastic?

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2 hours ago, Mikeymatic said:

-long runs of wire or the buildup effect of many multiple runs that acts as a capacitor leaking current to ground, especially if the wire is wrapped around grounded conductive metal.

Quote: but with the GFCIs a lot of small leaks add up to trip em too.

If you split the leakage across several separate GFCI receptacle circuits you may be able to eliminate the nuisance trips...

It would be really neat if some smart electronics engineer could design a plug in meter something like those kill-a-watt meters that would actually give you a digital readout of the milliamps of leakage to ground of whatever is plugged into it for troubleshooting purposes. Maybe they could come up with a DIY circuit that would use the "guts" of a GFCI receptacle somehow coupled to a digital readout?

I  agree. I have found a long run over 500ft the GFCI will trip with very little load on it. At my old house I added a camper 30A -120V plug/box. I had a run about around 600ft long cable (3C#10) to a outdoor coved box with 2 GFCI outlets in it. It worked great. At my new house I had them put all outdoor outlets on GFCI breakers. It has been doing great. But it cost a lot more up front. The dielectric grease in the outdoor plugs is a great way to keep water out of the outlets. 

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I'm still working on how the capacitance makes electrons leak out of long pieces of wire.  Never was a problem when I was an Electrician in the Navy, we had MILES of cable next to the hull. 

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I have never worked as a marine electrician but i do have a copy of one of the US Navy training manuals.

I have attached an excerpt from  Electrician's Mate NAVEDTRA 14344 which may help answer Shawn's question.

LEAKAGE CURRENTS
The ungrounded electrical distribution system used
aboard ship differs from the grounded system used in
shore installations. Never touch one conductor of the
ungrounded shipboard system, because each
conductor and the electrical equipment connected to
it have an effective capacitance to ground. If you
touch the conductor, you will be the electrical current
path between the conductor and the ship’s hull. The
higher the capacitance, the greater the current flow will
be for your fixed body resistance. This situation occurs
when one conductor of the ungrounded system is
touched while your body is in contact with the ship’s
hull or other metal enclosures. If your hands are wet or
sweaty, your body resistance is low. When your body
resistance is low, the inherent capacitance is enough to
cause a FATAL electrical current to pass through your
body.
 

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On 12/17/2018 at 5:27 PM, Big J Illinois said:

Shawn,was that AC or DC ? And was it in SOOW cable by chance? 

Both AC and DC.

 

As to the EM 3&2 I still have mine also,  I managed to survive touching grounds and cables all the time when we had to clean the wire-ways.  still don't see capacitance being a problem in this application.  It's really not worth debating, since this groups also thinks you can "inject" power.  Never did I inject power when I was running a power plant. :)  

 

 

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13 hours ago, Shawn M. said:

since this groups also thinks you can "inject" power.

?  where did someone say anything like this ?

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21 hours ago, slankard said:

Leave it to electricity and Christmas lights to start a ruckus!

???

  • Like 1

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Here's a tip some people use that I've read about here in the forums.  You can raise the connection where 2 cords plug together using either a plastic or wood stake.  Then take a plastic cup or plastic bottle with the top cut off and put it over the stake.  If you spray paint the cup or bottle flat black it won't show at night.  This will help keep the connection dry without trapping water in the plug.

TED

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On 12/22/2018 at 11:16 AM, qberg said:

?  where did someone say anything like this ?

This group = this forum in general.   It's a term someone came up with who didn't know electrical theory very well and it stuck :( 

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