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jeff

Electrical shock

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I want to know why I received such a big shock the other day while testing. The test program had ran its coarse and finished (no lights on). As I took hold of the light string to unplug it from the LOR board output (triac side of the board) electricity went from my hands to my bare feet which of coarse was standing on damp lawn. My question: why did I receive such a huge shock? Board was powered up, but I only touched the output not the power feeding the board.

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Remember that a triac is an electronic switch rather than a form "C" contact and when off there is current leakage through the triac. You were barefoot and standing on damp ground and provided a really low resistance pathway to ground when that happened you got bit. Consider yourself very lucky it only takes 6 ma to stop your heart and depending on which hand you used you could have sent that current right across your heart.

Question for you, was your board powered through a GFCI?

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I want to know why I received such a big shock the other day while testing. The test program had ran its coarse and finished (no lights on). As I took hold of the light string to unplug it from the LOR board output (triac side of the board) electricity went from my hands to my bare feet which of coarse was standing on damp lawn. My question: why did I receive such a huge shock? Board was powered up, but I only touched the output not the power feeding the board.

Holy smokes!!!!!!!!!!! You are lucky to be posting this question. Bare feet, damp grass and electricity are a recipie for disaster. A controler board with power plugged into it is LIVE all the time. There is no safe side. One side of the triac is hot all the time, hence one prong on the plug is live all the time. If it happens to be the hot, which it appears to be, it will seek ground, which in this case was you. GFCI probably would not stop this shock, however it might trip the breaker doing it.

Unplug the controller from the power, wear shoes and if unsure, trip the breaker before messing with the power.

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Actually a GFCI would stop this type of shock, the GFCI will trip with as little as 6 ma current imbalance and in as fast as 1/30th of a second. This is why GFCI's save lives.

Tony

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Nope. no GFI.

I understand what you are saying about the difference beween form c contact and a triac. I had actually thought of this but couldnt explain it to myself as good as you did. The only thing that bothers me is this type of shock should have lit my lights don't you think? Its hard to believe there is enough leakage through a triac to cause this. Let me add that this was no wimpy trickle shock. This was enough to cause my hand to clench down on the conductor and made it hard to let go. But yet I had no lights.

BTW, it was my left hand.

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Jeff,

Most likely you felt a shock in excess of the 6 ma threshold for a GFCI but at some voltage less than 120. Remember it's not the voltage that kills but the current.

So has this convinced you to install GFCI receptacles? Also do you mind if I keep your story and use it in my class on electricity?

Tony

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Jeff,

Most likely you felt a shock in excess of the 6 ma threshold for a GFCI but at some voltage less than 120.

At some voltage less than 120? If the triac is off why would I be getting anything close to 120?

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If the triac is off why would I be getting anything close to 120?
A TRIAC acts like a couple of diodes that can be turn on/off electronically. They

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I'm glad you're ok.

A few things things to learn from this (for all of us):

1) Never work with electricity outside without shoes on, particularly in wet/damp conditions.

2) Never work in an energized LOR box (or any other electrical box with exposed electrical contacts) I won't even change a unit ID or connect/disconnect a com cable without pulling the plug.

2b) This follows from the above, but just to amplify: NEVER touch an electrical contact unless the device is either unplugged or the circuit breaker is off. Don't rely on switches, much less triacs. Even a switch might be wired to switch the neutral, not the hot, and you'll still get zapped. I go one step further: Even after turning off a circuit at the panel, I refuse to touch it until I've confirmed it dead with a meter or neon tester -- even if I 'know' what circuit it's on. Mistakes happen

3) Always use GFCI's.

I know some folks refuse to do #3, but at the very least do the others...

Not trying to be preachy -- just don't want to hear anymore funeral announcements...

-Tim

Edited by tfischer
clarify

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Don't worry Tim, I have the preaching covered:

You my friend are the exact reason why GFCIs were invented and should ALWAYS be in use for outdoor outlets.

Let this be a lesson to ALL of you who remove GFCIs or boast that they work smart and won't be shocked. They are called ACCIDENTS, not 'ON PURPOSES'. A GFCI is a REAL LIFE SAVING DEVICE.

I'm thankful that you are not hurt. Now that you have been given a second chance, when are you going to install those GFCIs???

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Actually a GFCI would stop this type of shock, the GFCI will trip with as little as 6 ma current imbalance and in as fast as 1/30th of a second. This is why GFCI's save lives.

Tony

I always plug every lor controler into gfci!

http://www.aquatichouse.com/Maintenance_files/shockbuster.asp

Thats a $10 plugin device that works, I reached up to move one of my strands on a rainny night, (stupid me, my lights were on) And water made a connection somewhere, I dont know if it was me that made the connection or moving the strand in the rain, but "CLICK!" my gfci instantly truned that curcuit off. I was glad I invested those $10.

Its at lowes for $10.87 (I cant find it on the lowes site)

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Which side of the line do the triacs switch on a LOR controller? Should be the hot, the neutral is the common right. If he had the thing wired backwards, the triacs switching the neutral and the common as hot, he would have hot at the plug all the time, and that could go to ground and give him a shock. Or am I wrong about this? On a DIY controler The neutral is common and the hot is switched, so there would be no current (except leakage) on the plug, but there is to hot to one leg of the triac all the time. They will work just fine if you reverse the hot/neutral but you can test voltage from the "hot" plug to ground.

He might want to check out to make sure his supply wires are not crossed.

I double checked my supply wires. neutral (ribbed wire) going to neutral on board. Polarized plug.

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LOR controllers are wired the same as the DIY ones. Jeff, you bring up a good point though. Because the AC power comes in on a connector, it is easy to swap the neutral and hot. I feel though in this case, if the AC lines were swapped, he would not be posting.

With a GFCI in place, it would trip in either case.

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I had a PC Power Supply that had energized heat sinks. This may be a similar issue. I found this out the hard way as well. These stories run shivers up my spine.

Another tool that's important is a multi-meter.

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Allright, It doesn't get any easier than this. Home Depot. Skew #024098902657. Brand name ShockShield from Smart Products. A GFCI plug rated at 15 amps. You plug it into the outlet, plug the extension cord into it and walla. A GFCI circut.

$12.97.

No reason for us to EVER hear of somebody getting killed from cordsin the yard.

Sorry, no time for a picture. But it is about the size of a duplex outlet.

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Allright, It doesn't get any easier than this. Home Depot. Skew #024098902657. Brand name ShockShield from Smart Products. A GFCI plug rated at 15 amps. You plug it into the outlet, plug the extension cord into it and walla. A GFCI circut.

$12.97.

No reason for us to EVER hear of somebody getting killed from cordsin the yard.

Sorry, no time for a picture. But it is about the size of a duplex outlet.

Yep. I keep a couple of those on hand for temporary circuits. All of our permanent Christmas light circuits are GFCI protected already, but every now & then you need to run a cord somewhere that wasn't in the original plan...

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Ouch, I'd say you got lucky

I've re-wired my house to make sure that all lights outside are powered by GFCI. Usually it's cold enough by the tiem I'm decorating that I'm always wearing shoes. But have to keep this in mind for warm weather testing.

My basement is all GFCI, as is my sunroom & from 3 season porch.

So the only way I can have non-gfci power outside is thru a window or door.

Ah!! Or plugging into one of my outside lights!!

Which I'll need to fix/adjust I think

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I use these, very simular to the one posted, from homedepot, Mine is from lowes, its slightly bigger. Same price, Since I have no dedicated outlets to LOR yet, this is my best GFCI solution.

post-3980-129571063859_thumb.jpg

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I use these, very simular to the one posted, from homedepot, Mine is from lowes, its slightly bigger. Same price, Since I have no dedicated outlets to LOR yet, this is my best GFCI solution.

Lowes also has a multi outlet GFCI plug in (5 outlets I think). With the static display, I use the Yellow ones from Home Depot in most outlets (to a photocell timer, then a multi outlet block if needed)) but for my 'main' outlet (to use those old self sequenced controllers) I use the multi outlet one. Of course, with LOR this year, it will all have to be redesigned...

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