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Help! Everything blew last night


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Looking for help diagnosing and fixing my problem. We had medium rain last night. This morning when I got up I noticed everything blew last night! I am assuming that since my show did not run it must be an issue with the power from controller to outlet. Correct assumption? I opened all the controllers and all were dry inside. All connection points are well off the ground. An inspection of all the extension chords did not show any cuts, cracks, etc. I am 100% LED. After resetting everything this morning all the controllers came back up, were found in the hardware utility and nothing blew. I did not test the controllers to see if the lights worked. Details:

My mega tree has 3 controllers. 1 controller (both power cords) and one cord from another contrller go into a 3 way. Same with the other controller (both from one controller and one from the other). Each of the two 3 ways use an extension cord which goes into a final 3 way. An extension chord goes into a GFCI 20 A outlet. All extension chords are heavy duty outdoor. This morning both the GFCI was tripped as was the breaker.

The other 3 controllers go into two different outlets which are on the same circuit (15 A)but a different circuit from the mega tree. Two controllers each use a three way to an extension chord and go to both plugs in an outlet at the front of the house and one goes to an outlet in the back of the house. All use outdoor extension chords. This morning the GFCI was tripped but the breaker was not.

My question is this. What would cause the whole system to trip? Is having both the GFCI and the breaker trip of more concern? How do I go about diagnosing and fixing the problem? Could this have been a problem from the other end, power spike or dip of the power coming into the house? Short of plugging only one controller in, waiting for a rainstorm, checking results and repeating I'm at a loss. (we don't get that much rain to do that)

I'm still a newbie, last year I only had one controller and I know little to nothing about electricity other than when you plug stuff in it should work! I'm doing a pre-lighting party this weekend and thought (obviously wrongly) that I was 100% ready to go for the season.

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There are lots of folks here that struggle every year with GFCI breakers. So what your describing is pretty common. I'm not an electrician but I can tell you many here run there light shows without GFCI and avoid this issue all together. Others work through things and fix whats causing the GFCI to trip. Here is a recent thread where this being talked about: http://forums.planetchristmas.com/showthread.php/44584-electrical-problem?highlight=GFCI

-Pat

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GFCI's are shock protection for you. Wet weather will show a potenial shock issue on a give electrical cord. That is the purpose of a GFCI.

What would cause this is tieing your light string to tight around a wire frame, look at all the contact points the wire touches the frame and then inserting the frame into the ground. Cable ties over tightened will also give you problems. Add the rain the the CFCI will trip.

Insulate any wire frames or anything metal from ground and that will help eliminate the GFCI trips.

Now not using the GFCI's is another issue, If you have a possible accident and you or some one else gets a shock, are you prepared for a law suit? Don't even think your insurance company will be there to help you because you did not take all the reasonable percautions neccessary for protection.

Using indoor power cords or wire, or speaker wire is not a good idea either in the rain. Use only rated wire or cords for outdoor use.

Its up to you what level of grief you want to tolerate.

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If it blew in the rain, then the problem is the rain. You got water in a cord between your GFCI and your controllers. These connections always have power even if your display is off. If you’re not running your display due to adverse weather you may want to pull the plug. The fact that both a breaker and a GFCI tripped just means they did exactly what they're supposed to.

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Yep, agreed, it is definitely the rain in a plug somewhere. The only GFCI I have is on our pool pump and everytime it would rain, "click", off it would go. I moved it to a non GFCI and no more problems. That's the main reason I don't use GFCI's in my display. I don't allow anyone to walk inside the display area, so no need for shock protection. If I need to make changes, I unplug all the main plugs.

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It rained in our area (And the OP's area) last night. Your GFCI did it's job. The one that the GFCI tripped and the breaker tripped, the GFCI may now be bad and need to be replaced. Make sure all your fire connections are off the ground, or items that are tied to ground (Metal Megatree's)

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I'm amazed every year by the number of people that will put the lighting of a holiday display above the personal safety of familiy, friends and people who come by to watch your display. GFCI and breaker trips are an indication of a serious problem that needs to be corrected. Yes there are a multitude of reasons for these trips but the root cause is electrical leakage to ground.

What concerns me the most about this thread is that in the original post it was indicated that the breaker tripped, if the breaker actually tripped this indicates either a dead short to ground or a current overload. Based on your description I would be inclined to believe that this was a dead short rather than a current overload. Dead shorts are dangerous as they indicate more serious problem and the resultant arc flash can be more dangerous than a ground fault.

Tony

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I'm amazed every year by the number of people that will put the lighting of a holiday display above the personal safety of familiy, friends and people who come by to watch your display. GFCI and breaker trips are an indication of a serious problem that needs to be corrected. Yes there are a multitude of reasons for these trips but the root cause is electrical leakage to ground.

Thanks for saying that with tact Tony. I was struggling with the right wording :D

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