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Safety Reminder


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I have a static display that has just shy of 20,000 incandescent minis. Been running this display for several years. I'm running a 50amp double pole breaker from the main panel to a 60 amp rated magnetic relay. The relay is controlled through a cheap digital timer. The relay in turn feeds my "Christmas" panel that feeds 8 GFI protected breakers. It has worked great.

This morning they came on at the regular time, and then went off fairly quickly. Upon further investigation I discovered what could have been a serious problem. Evidently over the past year one of the connections had worked loose and this cause the wire to overheat and eventually led to a short. The 50 amp breaker tripped, and no harm was done.

It had not occurred to me to check the relay as I have used this system for a couple years with no issues.

I will be adding a new item to my preseason check list. Inspect all electrical feeds before turning on the lights! Needless to say I running a little paranoid right now!

I attached a photo of the damage and the temporary repair. I'll be making a more permanent repair tomorrow after I get to the store! I also checked both legs with my amp meter just to be sure I didn't miscalculate anything, and I solid there!

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I used to run a 100KW genset in the Army, powering temp forward camps. One of the safety checks was to check the toque on the relay pole nuts. Seems the slight vibration and solid thunk when engaging and disengaging can make the connector nuts work loose over time. So the 100 hour PM check included checking the connectors.

You might think about 'star' lock washers to help prevent this.

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And this can also happen on your controllers if you are using the type that have a smilar, screw based connection. I check my LOR controllers each year to make sure they are still snug. The temperature changes cause expansion and contraction that can loosen them.

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