PDA

View Full Version : I hate GFCI's


David Gretzmier
12-17-2008, 02:08 AM
I think I reset my 100th gfci plug tonight ( this year mind you, probably over 1000 in my lifetime ) and I have at least a dozen to do tomorrow. I know that water causes a connection to the ground and that is fed back into the ground of the building, and that causes the button to pop. I hate it. This single thing probably costs me in the neighborhood of 1-2 grand a year in labor for service calls. The more it rains, the more money out of my pocket.

yet I have many jobs, with different name brands of GFCI outlets, that never pop, no matter how much it rains. I know that newer outlets sometimes pop less than old, but not always. and GFCI breakers seem to pop less than GFCI outlets. further, experience tells me that heavy loaded outlets pop more than less loaded ones. but AGAIN, not always.

I wonder where these things came from and who decided these things help protect homes or people. were folks getting shocked from water and electricity outside so they made all outside outlets and garage outlets shut off if any water is present? then why do all of them not work, or only 1/4 of them or so?

I have some jobs that have dozens of cords with open outlets on 3 ways in gutters and they never pop. and I have some jobs with one cord from on wreath to an inside garage outlet, no open pugs that pops all the time.

OK, enough of a rant, now you guys tell me your experience with GFCI's.

turf hokie
12-17-2008, 08:29 AM
I will agree to all you said Dave

I have one house that we switched to all LED's hoping to reduce the load on the lines, use less cords and hopefully reduce tripped GFI's. Not the case. We have been there just as much this year as last year.

Of course we also have had more rain than normal as well.

How many of you tape the ends of mini lights and connections between extension cords and splitters? Does this help? Does it make it worse if water does make its way behind the tape?

Reason I ask, is we have not found any difference in tripped GFI with tape or no tape. BUT, we have complaints from customers because the perception is we should tape everything.

hotrod1965
12-17-2008, 10:32 AM
I will agree to all you said Dave

I have one house that we switched to all LED's hoping to reduce the load on the lines, use less cords and hopefully reduce tripped GFI's. Not the case. We have been there just as much this year as last year.

Of course we also have had more rain than normal as well.

How many of you tape the ends of mini lights and connections between extension cords and splitters? Does this help? Does it make it worse if water does make its way behind the tape?

Reason I ask, is we have not found any difference in tripped GFI with tape or no tape. BUT, we have complaints from customers because the perception is we should tape everything.


Hmmm. I have had one GFI pop this year (well that I know about) it was after a big rain fall.

We are very carefull about where we leave our plugs. If they are on the ground we squirt in a little greese. Seems to be working so far....

Toy2
12-17-2008, 05:23 PM
I had one, guy forgot to turn off the sprinklers, all yard displays were soaking wet, he keep messing with it until I showed up, unplugged the yard art, fired up just the house lights.....told him wait until it dried out, unplugged the sprinklers....


It happened all the time with icicles lights blowing back into gutters filled with water.....I hate those lights;;;;LOL!!!

christmas79
12-17-2008, 08:01 PM
I have the same problem here in Chicago! The weather here is cold now and the outlets are good no problems now.

David Gretzmier
12-17-2008, 09:00 PM
we have taped jobs and no tape jobs. no difference. The jobs that have a minimum of cords, especially those that we just plug into the soffit outlets have much less popping.

hotrod1965
12-17-2008, 10:14 PM
we have taped jobs and no tape jobs. no difference. The jobs that have a minimum of cords, especially those that we just plug into the soffit outlets have much less popping.


Makes sense. Less cords = less chance for issues. See Dave, you'll be switching to LED's in no time to save on cords :)

David Gretzmier
12-18-2008, 01:31 AM
less cords = good

vibrating LED's = dain bramage.

Led's that look exactly like incandecant, last 10 times longer and use 10% of the power = priceless

hotrod1965
12-18-2008, 10:13 AM
Hey, did you use any of the HBL full wave LED's this year? I never got a chance to order some to test out and wanted to know if they are any good?

M&N Maintenance
12-18-2008, 11:54 AM
I have the same problem with gfi not with snow but with rain. The other issue is the client that does not understand that it is not the installer but the moisture.

Dreams To Designs
12-18-2008, 12:17 PM
We have found that most of the GFI trips are coming from where the lamps are inserted into the sockets on mini lights and not as much to do with the cords, even though fewer cords is much better. Having changed one client over from mini lights to LED's, the GFI's no longer trip on those circuits, but will on their plastic lighted displays.

Kirk

Jason Rose
12-18-2008, 07:07 PM
I just flipped ON my home display to hear the GFI's trip within a couple seconds. We had snow here 3 days ago and they worked fine with that, but today has been foggy, drizzily, and above freezing. Everything is saturated...

I won't post this on PC because I'd get flamed and most likely have my post deleted, but I just unplugged the cords from the GFCI plugs and re-plugged them into non-GFCI plugs that were right next to them. Yep, they work again.

I've always had my display lit, rain, snow, or dry, and never had an issue. Yes, I'm obviously "leaking" power in places, most likely all the tomato cage mini trees and wireframes, or all the cords and connections I have laying directly on the ground. (just too many to try to elevate all of them).

If I were to abide by the tripped GFCI plugs I'd likely have no more display for this season! There's just no way I could unplug everything on the ground, that's 3/4 my display!

David Gretzmier
12-18-2008, 11:26 PM
I have several non-gfci outlets I use at homes, no issues.

The HBL LED light sets they sold that were warm white were top notch and I have a couple sets. The LED links they sell are not my thing, The ones I saw at convention are kinda dim and have a slightly green hue, and the older ones like the colossal flakes are bluish white. I also have a fear of not being able to repair them as I have no experience using a light testing unit with them.

The ones I saw also have the replacable LED, which depending on which side of the fence you are on is a good or bad thing. Good- probably fixable, bad- tin led leads rust like crazy.

I like the idea of the flex plug to go to DC.

If I know HBL they will be using the warm white concave lens with the brighter LED, and a better warm white color in the next few years.

cbass139
12-19-2008, 12:33 AM
You should seriously investigate what a GFCI does and why outdoor connections have to be GFCI protected under the nec. Technicians servicing the lights and homeowners will appreciate it. You could save a house and someones life. I am no expert on holiday lighting but I do know quite a bit about electrical. there are steps you can take to prevent nuisance tripping.

tjwalkingon
12-19-2008, 08:52 AM
I'm so glad ya'll started this. My lights are on my house and I have a ton, using home depot lights, will be to expensive to change to LEDs. I've had 10 plugs with 3 breakers put in, and I still overload, got that part fixed. But the rain will flip the breaker or I have to do the reset button on the plug thing. I start out with heavy gauge cord then use a 3 plug thing and keep running off until I overload or need to move to other area.
Am I on the right track?
Today I'm going to get the cord plugs off the ground a couple of inches and see if that will help.
Glad to know the Pro's have the same problems, thought it was just me.

David Gretzmier
12-22-2008, 06:23 AM
I probably have done more serious research on GFCI protection than anyone I've met. I've read at length how it works and why. it protects folks from shock by interupting the flow of electricity before it reaches a a danger zone. old 120 volt breaker protection would protect you, but your gonna get a jolt. 240 breakers can cause damage or death before they trip. GFCI's do not protect the home. they are not designed to do that. your breakers in the panel do that. breakers trip because of shorts, overloading, heated lines, or fire.

GFCI's trip because of an imbalance between the neutral and the line loads. this is caused by resistance because of moisture or when someone touches one or both of the bare wires of a system. The degree of imbalance between the neutral and line loads before the button pops is extremely variable based on the individual plug itself. although the human body can't even feel a 12-14 volt AC "leak" because of a wet cord, the GFCI detects it and usually trips. older GFCI's that have tripped multiple times, thus have weaker springs tend to trip with a 3 volt imablance or less. newer 20 amp plugs will trip less and can usually withstand more moisture and can handle 6-8 volt imbalance or so.

If you read any article on the internet out there, it talks about tripping gfci's and how many efforts to reduce it are useless. taping plugs can help until the water gets past the tape. then it won't dry out. elevating plugs off the ground helps until the rain makes a continuous run to the ground.

turf hokie
12-13-2009, 08:37 PM
I am bringing this back because I am up to my ears with tripped GFCI calls.

Customers all seem to think it is my fault and they spent $xxx.xx and all the neighbors are still working and I need to fix and it better not happen again.... friggin sh.....

ANYBODY have a system that works to stop this from happening. I even have the problem at my house. Had an article in todays paper, it rained, no lights for everyone to come by and look at....

Most of the problems are at LED houses, granted these houses have a bunch of lights, but this is rediculous, I have breakers with 4 amps on them tripping.

We made sure the cords were off the ground and anything else obvious....

am I just at a point where houses with 100-200 strand of 50's minis just end up with so many connections that it is the sum of a little bit of water in each spot causing a big problem??

Do we need to run less strands end to end? Split the power up more as if they were incandescents so that maybe the problems get spread over more circuits and no longer trip?

I have never, ever been so frustrated, nor have I never been unable to tell a customer "dont worry we wont have this problem again"

Any help.....if it rains again even my wife may fire me....

Bryan

Toy2
12-13-2009, 09:00 PM
I am bringing this back because I am up to my ears with tripped GFCI calls.

Customers all seem to think it is my fault and they spent $xxx.xx and all the neighbors are still working and I need to fix and it better not happen again.... friggin sh.....

ANYBODY have a system that works to stop this from happening. I even have the problem at my house. Had an article in todays paper, it rained, no lights for everyone to come by and look at....

Most of the problems are at LED houses, granted these houses have a bunch of lights, but this is rediculous, I have breakers with 4 amps on them tripping.

We made sure the cords were off the ground and anything else obvious....

am I just at a point where houses with 100-200 strand of 50's minis just end up with so many connections that it is the sum of a little bit of water in each spot causing a big problem??

Do we need to run less strands end to end? Split the power up more as if they were incandescents so that maybe the problems get spread over more circuits and no longer trip?

I have never, ever been so frustrated, nor have I never been unable to tell a customer "dont worry we wont have this problem again"

Any help.....if it rains again even my wife may fire me....

BryanI've been to the same house 6 times since the install, I even went as far as using liquid tape on all connections.....and still called back, plus the GFCI is in the homeowners garage in a cabinet and he has a broken arm and is a senior.........anyway, I finally pulled one of his displays and so far everything has worked......I'm planning on getting a GFCI cords at all points of power, this way the homeowner can push the button instead of me wasting my time........

christmas79
12-13-2009, 09:49 PM
I have the same problem on some house's when it rains! What we do is change the outlet don't use a outlet with GFCI. Than when we take down the lights I put back the customers GFCI outlet back.

hotrod1965
12-13-2009, 11:25 PM
If you are using the flexchange style lights... I am wondering if water is seeping in the bulb sockets... I've never had this issue with them, but I only have maybe 20 sets installed. The rest of my LED sets are sealed...


I am bringing this back because I am up to my ears with tripped GFCI calls.

Customers all seem to think it is my fault and they spent $xxx.xx and all the neighbors are still working and I need to fix and it better not happen again.... friggin sh.....

ANYBODY have a system that works to stop this from happening. I even have the problem at my house. Had an article in todays paper, it rained, no lights for everyone to come by and look at....

Most of the problems are at LED houses, granted these houses have a bunch of lights, but this is rediculous, I have breakers with 4 amps on them tripping.

We made sure the cords were off the ground and anything else obvious....

am I just at a point where houses with 100-200 strand of 50's minis just end up with so many connections that it is the sum of a little bit of water in each spot causing a big problem??

Do we need to run less strands end to end? Split the power up more as if they were incandescents so that maybe the problems get spread over more circuits and no longer trip?

I have never, ever been so frustrated, nor have I never been unable to tell a customer "dont worry we wont have this problem again"

Any help.....if it rains again even my wife may fire me....

Bryan

britelights
12-14-2009, 12:48 AM
It's so nice to know we're not alone with GFCI problems!! While we don't have a ton of customers calling with GFCI problems -- we seem to have 1 or 2 problem children every year. And we also keep cords off the ground, use silicone, etc. My husband went to one of the problem houses last night and sat in front of the house. It was a rainy evening and he had a hunch the pesky GFCI would pop again. Sure enough it did. He was able to track it down to the mini-lights on their small trees -- incandescents. We unplugged those and will be switching them to LED. That particular customer also has blue LED minis on different trees -- no problem. My suggestion -- try to be at one of these problem houses when the GFCI trips...then immediately start tracking it down. You should hopefully be able to narrow it down to one particular product, one tree, etc. Try to keep the house lights on a completely different circuit so at least if the ground stuff trips, the customer can still have the house lights on. That makes 'em feel a little better. We only have this problem at houses where there's stuff on the ground...the houses with just lights on the house and/or starbursts in trees...no GFCI problems.

Like someone else suggested...I'm dying to switch out GFCI outlets to non-GFCI outlets at problem houses. Is that legal? Do you open yourself to any liability? I would think you would want to get the customer's permission in writing.

turf hokie
12-14-2009, 07:35 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, and fast too everyone.

Hotrod they are NOT the flexchange, that is what has me, I just figured water was getting into the connections because there are so many on some of these houses.

We dont tape because it did not help any of the problems in the past and just wasted time.

britelights, I have done that way too many times, customers appreciate it but dont think it is anything that is beyond the call of duty, unbelievable to be out on a Sunday in a rain storm to figure out a GFCI problem and the customer thinks that I SHOULD be there.
Anyway, we do the same thing, unplug everything and slowly plug all back in until you find the spot tripping. Then isolate it and fix later, we also try to split the display into sections so that if/when something goes they still have most of their display and dont flip out....

As far as switching out an GFCI for a NON-GFCI I would NEVER do that for a number of reasons. Building codes require them, I need a seperate town/county license to mess with the electric, and last but not least, heaven forbid somthing happens, even unrelated, I am in a world of hurt because the finger will get pointed at me for changing out the receptacle.

Today should be our last day of new installs, 11 days til Christmas, let's hope we dont get anymore rain until the 26th. Pray we dont get rain on the 24th or 25th, those are the worst calls EVER....

AI Inc
12-14-2009, 08:11 AM
How old are these GFI,s you guys are dealing with? Most seem to only have a lifespan of about 5 yrs.

MarcSmith
12-14-2009, 08:48 AM
I can understand if the light go out as a result of a faulty string, broken bulbs, ect. but at what point do you put the responsibility on the customer to check this stuff. Ie Customer calls, my lights are not working. you respond No problem I'll come take a look, but there will be a service charge is its something simple like a tripped GFI/breaker.


FWIW I do a lot of RC boating. and water and electronics really don't mix. but I use a Chemical called corrosion X, I have been able to run servos, receivers, batteries under water with no loss of connection or shorts..

I've also been using Fluid film on new applications and getting good results.

might be something worth looking into..

AI Inc
12-14-2009, 08:54 AM
Dilectric greese?

David Gretzmier
12-14-2009, 08:26 PM
I hate GFCI issues. I have several properties, that have an old, cracked dangerous looking old plug hidden in a shed somewhere. Those things are awesome ! they never trip. but I have hundreds of brand new state of the art 20 amp GFCI outlets out there that pop all the time. It kills me that it is plenty legal to plug into an old outlet, but not legal to change them out. I have had customers wrap bags around timers, cord connections, taping, siliconing, etc, in an effort to keep them from tripping. I have customers that run a cord into a spare unused bedroom window, and then block the window draft with newspaper. They hate not having their lights on. I actually do the lights at the electric company. and they have 10 GFCI outlets that are worthless in the rain. but they have one old non-gfci plug on the end of the building...

I will tell you that changing out a GFCI does not endanger the home in any way because of overload or fire, etc. , but it does endanger someone of getting a shock. they are designed for that purpose, keeping someone from even feeling a shock, specifically around water. I have gotten a shock that trips a breaker on a non gfci circuit, and man, that wakes you up.

You could try switching them out with new 20 amp new gfci's. The new ones seem to be WAY better at not tripping until they trip that first time. after that, not so much. once a GFCI has been reset 10-20 times, spend the 10-15 bucks to replace it. It should be done by a master electrician, but any website in the world will tell you to put the black wire on the "hot" side, the white on the "white" side, and the green on the green ground screw. every GFCI outlet I have seen is labeled.

again, probably illegal, but those light socket to plug adapters can usually handle 3-500 watts and might just be on a non gfci circuit. for LED jobs, might help...

but I am not advising anyone to do anything illegal....

britelights
12-14-2009, 09:46 PM
David...so have you switched out GFCIs to brand new GFCIs and then experienced less problems? I'm more than willing to spend the $15-20 if it will help the problem. Even if I have to replace it every year...that's better than service calls!

I'm in the process of researching brands of GFCIs....is there one better than another? I saw something briefly about a GFCI Panel designed just for hot tubs that is supposed to greatly reduce false tripping. There has to be something we can do!

David Gretzmier
12-15-2009, 12:35 AM
I know the new ones trip less. I know the ones that have the rounded buttons seem to trip more. fultron and red dot seem to trip less, but it is hit and miss. maybe it is just me, but the grey 20 amp may just look more industrial, but I hardly ever reset those. The 20 amp ones are the ones with the sideways "T" on one side of the plug.

luckily it looks like only one day between now and Christmas Eve with a 30% chance of rain.

rlitman
12-15-2009, 11:36 AM
Do the GFI's giving you trouble have the correct rain-resistant cover, which stays dry, even with a plug in?

You should try water repellent dielectric grease on everything. Tape can hold moisture in. Grease will keep it out. I've heard of using WD-40 to dry out electrical connections. That might work for you too.

Toy2
12-15-2009, 10:48 PM
Do the GFI's giving you trouble have the correct rain-resistant cover, which stays dry, even with a plug in?

You should try water repellent dielectric grease on everything. Tape can hold moisture in. Grease will keep it out. I've heard of using WD-40 to dry out electrical connections. That might work for you too.My problem GFCI's are located in the garage, I'm going to talk to the homeowner about updating his GFCI's.
:usflag:

rlitman
12-16-2009, 03:29 PM
Oh well. GFCI indoors is another story.
It could be water intrusion in your connections, it could be bad cords (I've had cords with just enough internal leakage to set off GFI's, but it could be that the GFI is just getting too old. They tend to get lazier over time, and trip more easily.

bike5200
12-16-2009, 08:44 PM
GFI's go bad in two ways. I had one GFI that never tripped it was great, found out it was bad, got shocked, and was not working. GFI wear out and will trip real easy, found this out on a construction job, after electrician changed it was not as bad. Have you guys checked your extension cords to make sure they have the right polarity. They make a plug that will plug in to a cord or socket and it lights up a certain way if everything is right. Check the plug that you plug into first, if it is not right the cord will not be right. I have found new cords that had a lose/open ground.

David Gretzmier
12-17-2009, 02:28 AM
also, sometimes GFCI's are wired off another GFCI's. Those do pop more. and circuit breaker GFCI with regular plugs outside do tend to pop less.

NY Landscape Lighting
12-06-2011, 10:09 PM
Rain this week, had to bring back the GFCI hatred. Wish I had an answer.

addictedtolandscaping
12-07-2011, 06:51 AM
Me too Chris.

Off to check on the problem child display. Every time it rains something happens to it. I know the GFCI is worn, client has yet to replace it.

turf hokie
12-07-2011, 07:51 AM
There has to be an answer to this, even going all LED does not help, was out last nite trying to move cords and isolate problems, rain all day yesterday and all day today.....

worst part is the customers blaming us and cant understand how their neighbor does it themselves and their lites are on, I hired a pro and mine are out.

They fail to notice the neighbor has 1000 lights and they have 10x that therefore 10x the chance of an issue.

So far it looks like we are sitting on about 15 service calls directly related to GFI issues.

I'd rather have a foot of snow than rain.......

addictedtolandscaping
12-07-2011, 01:46 PM
Got up there this am, plugged it in and everything lit up great.

I took a pic with the phone, sent it to him. Next thing I know another phone call from him, the entire thing is out. Told him, it has to be the rain, doesn;t want to hear it.

Then the next thing I know, he calls back, changed outlets now only the bottom half of the tree is out. Sounds to me like he blew a fuse. Absolutely pouring here, so guess what this guy is not doing today, something about 120 volts and water, ah nope.

Supposed to change to snow tonight, so God only knows what is going to happen.

Another huge issue there is the frigging squirrels. I know he shot one last week that he saw come out of the tree. SO now, once the snow issue is resolved tomorrow, up I go again, isolate each set, kicker is, all of them are dressed with dielectric grease. Frigging mini incandescent. All done with them, no more, to many damn headaches.

The CDI 5mm are amazing, so they are going to be my new mini lights. The warm white literally matches HBL mini incandescent. I can not for the life of me understand how everyone in a warmer climate does it, or maybe it is the temp change that screws everything up when moisture gets added.

Thank God this is the last season on those sets, I do probably 18-24 service calls on that particular tree a season, nothing I do seems to stop it.

turf hokie
12-07-2011, 08:44 PM
IT'S STILL FRIGGIN RAINING....AND THE SAME PEOPLE ARE CALLING....AND I TRIED, I REALLY, REALLY TRIED...BUT THEY WONT STAY ON...AND MOST CLIENTS DON'T WANT TO HEAR ITS THE RAIN....

It is officially the time of year I begin to hate this business.....and the sad thing is it is really only 5% of my customers but they account for 80% of my headaches....

NY Landscape Lighting
12-07-2011, 09:36 PM
Agreed. Had one customers electrician tell him it was my fault.

addictedtolandscaping
12-07-2011, 10:23 PM
Bryan I understand exactly where you are with that. I have gone over and over this one tree in my head I don't know how many times. I started to think ot as the load on the fuses, so I went and checked on the larger projects I have out that I know I am pulling 2.7 on and no issue there. It is just the frigging tree, I swear to God it has to be possessed.

If I find another area that a frigging squirrel chewed again, I swear I am going to sit in the parking lot with my 06 and shoot every frigging one of them!!

Out of all of my projects, this one is a guaranteed pain in the a$$ each year for the exact same thing.

addictedtolandscaping
12-07-2011, 10:25 PM
these incandescent are a huge reason I am doing away with them. I got a few cases of pro series LED in from CDI, they look exactly like incandescent believe it or not. Sealed bulbs, so once they go they go, but unless the lens is cracked through the diode I am told they will stay lit. They are a little bit more than the contractor series from HBL, but less headaches, that is worth more.

David Gretzmier
12-07-2011, 11:57 PM
we used to do 13 commercial buildings for this ownership group here locally. All the buildings were at one exit. everytime it would rain we would have to go up on the roofs and reset the gfci's. I am talking dozens of outlets. I noticed one building that never had to be reset. why? the GFCI was wired improperly. I loved that building.

The real kicker is when you plug into an outlet that also controls something important inside. we moved a cord to another circuit today for a client that had a fridge inside the garage. when that one pops, the food can spoil. luckily we discovered that before we were on the hook for food replacement.

And some houses and buildings never pop. I don't know why, other than other homes may be better or worse "grounded".

true story- we do a building for one of the local electric companies. it is LED, probably around 4-500 and we had 6 GFCI outlets to choose from, and ran several timers to those outlets. what a mess it was the first year resetting all those every time it rained. then the maintenance guy tells me they always used to plug into this old outlet under the stairs outside. we ran all the power to that plug, one timer, and have had no problems with it other than massive bulb replacement in the last 3 years.
and yes, we have lost customers over gfci's.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-08-2011, 01:40 AM
I'm glad this thread came back from the dead. Lots of good info. I had my first GFI call back this year from an old outlet. Then I had my second and third call from a second house. Finding the reset point on installs will be a must from now on. Plus making customers aware of this potential problem in advance can help.

David Gretzmier
12-08-2011, 09:32 AM
we will be including GFCI info on our new 3 tab cut flyer that goes into our bid packets. If consumers are aware of the water issue and why it exists, they are much less likely to fire you.

greenbaylawns
12-08-2011, 05:57 PM
Amen... I thought I was doing something wrong.. You East coast guys are getting what we got Sat night...I just finished fixing all our problems...Fingers crossed!

NY Landscape Lighting
12-09-2012, 11:16 PM
More rain last few days. More gfi problems

PlantscapeSolutions
12-09-2012, 11:35 PM
Pretty much not a drop this season here in central Texas. Less then 1" since Early October.

turf hokie
12-10-2012, 07:51 AM
More rain last few days. More gfi problems

Yep, driving me nuts....doesnt start raining until the timers kick on....nice and dry all day when the lights are off

Birchwood
12-10-2012, 08:27 AM
I have found that a GFCi that is at 90% is much more likley to trip than one at say 50% the extra load is already super sensetive.

Another thought older home with out GFCI's do just fine without them.

Kiril
12-10-2012, 12:20 PM
I hate GFCI issues. I have several properties, that have an old, cracked dangerous looking old plug hidden in a shed somewhere. Those things are awesome ! they never trip. but I have hundreds of brand new state of the art 20 amp GFCI outlets out there that pop all the time. It kills me that it is plenty legal to plug into an old outlet, but not legal to change them out. I have had customers wrap bags around timers, cord connections, taping, siliconing, etc, in an effort to keep them from tripping. I have customers that run a cord into a spare unused bedroom window, and then block the window draft with newspaper. They hate not having their lights on. I actually do the lights at the electric company. and they have 10 GFCI outlets that are worthless in the rain. but they have one old non-gfci plug on the end of the building...

I will tell you that changing out a GFCI does not endanger the home in any way because of overload or fire, etc. , but it does endanger someone of getting a shock. they are designed for that purpose, keeping someone from even feeling a shock, specifically around water. I have gotten a shock that trips a breaker on a non gfci circuit, and man, that wakes you up.

You could try switching them out with new 20 amp new gfci's. The new ones seem to be WAY better at not tripping until they trip that first time. after that, not so much. once a GFCI has been reset 10-20 times, spend the 10-15 bucks to replace it. It should be done by a master electrician, but any website in the world will tell you to put the black wire on the "hot" side, the white on the "white" side, and the green on the green ground screw. every GFCI outlet I have seen is labeled.

again, probably illegal, but those light socket to plug adapters can usually handle 3-500 watts and might just be on a non gfci circuit. for LED jobs, might help...

but I am not advising anyone to do anything illegal....


Dave, just so everyone is clear, the GFCI trips on load (amp) imbalance between the hot and neutral. Amperage is what kills you. They are designed for personnel protection only and their primary function is to prevent a person from becoming a grounding rod. There are many reasons that can cause a GFCI to trip, water is not the only one even if it is probably the most common one with christmas lights. If a GFCI is tripping find the problem and fix it, once you have ruled out a bad GFCI.

Also you have suggested here to replace GFCI's with new 20 amp versions, however it is a code violation to use a 20 amp receptacle of any type on a 15 amp circuit.

turf hokie
12-10-2012, 01:37 PM
I have found that a GFCi that is at 90% is much more likley to trip than one at say 50% the extra load is already super sensetive.

Another thought older home with out GFCI's do just fine without them.

I pulled the gfi at my house, but I dont dare do it on a clients home.

We have cut our gfi calls significantly this year, instead of the usual dozen or so calls, we have it down to 3 or 4 and of those 2 have had the issues found and corrected.

We split the load, even with LED's, to lessen the chance of tripping in the rain and also have come up with a few tricks that seem to have worked extremely well!!!

NY Landscape Lighting
12-10-2012, 06:02 PM
Care to share your tricks

turf hokie
12-10-2012, 07:14 PM
Care to share your tricks

For a dollar.....

Nothing like reinventing the wheel, but some of these things may help, it seems to have helped in all but one situation.

Split the power up to different outlets even if you are using LED's, it seems to take some of the load off and less likely to trip.

We use cube splitters and I made sure the guys were not putting them on the ground.

When setting power in trees/shrubs we made sure that the cord/splitter was about 2 feet off the ground to avoid as much water as possible.

had the guys pay attention to tree/shrub lighting and try to make sure the open ends of the mini lights were not facing straight up in the air to catch the water.

And perhaps the most effective thing we did was use baby safety covers for the open ends of all mini lights. (we get them bulk) They act like an umbrella, better than taping because if water does get in, they will dry out.

We had a couple of houses that we had issues to the point of wanting to cancel last year, this year we have them under control (knock on wood) and it was been raining for days here.

Not sure if one of the ideas worked or a combination of all of them. But we made a point of doing all of them and it seems to have worked.

I assume some of these things are being taught to your guys already, but they are easy to get lazy with doing, espcially the baby covers as it does add some time to the job but having a happy customer and no service calls saves much more in the long run.

Good luck.

TimNNJ
12-12-2012, 11:01 PM
Amen. I've had a couple calls gfci related. I need to add an info page with contract.

David Gretzmier
12-15-2012, 01:47 AM
I rarely see 15 amp breakers. I can't remember the last one. in nearly every instance of a gfci popping issue it was water in a plug somewhere, or a bad plug somewhere.

after being reset 20-40 times, then a popping gfci can be more of a load issue.

we try to keep all cord connections out of the gutters, off the ground and hanging in bushes or trees. while I like the idea of the safety caps, I know for a fact my guys will not do it.

I still hate gfci's.

TexasFire221
12-20-2012, 02:23 PM
Last week it was GFIs this week it's wind. The wind is blowing steady 40mph with gusts up to god knows what. Have many calls today chasing strands that have come loose, I'm guessing near trees that have snatched to the lights. Rain for Christmas Day yay GFIs.
Posted via Mobile Device

CL&T
12-20-2012, 11:38 PM
I rarely scroll down the board this far so it's the first time I'm looking at this forum. I really can't believe why you guys still want to do this with all the aggrevation.

As an electrician I can tell you where your problem is and that's squarely with the lighting manufacturers not making their outdoor products waterproof. There should be no reason for water entering the LED or bulb sockets. All plugs should be waterproof and mate with waterproof extension cords, adapters and taps that the lighting manufacturer also needs to make so that they will fit their products. Thing is good luck with that because I have never seen any of this junk that wasn't made in China.

It always amazes me to see all this indoor electrical stuff lying on the ground in the rain and buried in snow. Would you want to stick the end of a hot extension cord into a bucket of water? How is what you do any different? You really can't blame the GFI receptacles or breakers, they are just doing their job.

Just for the heck of it, does anybody want to do a Google search for people being electrocuted by outdoor holiday lights?

David Gretzmier
12-21-2012, 01:55 AM
It is always nice to have folks comment on his forum that have absolutely no experience with Christmas lights and feel free to tell us everything we are doing wrong. I appreciate the references to putting a cord in a bucket. that was so helpful and informative. This may come as a shock to you, but guess what, we do temporary lighting and use products made for such. how about I join you on your jobsites and share with you what you are doing wrong with your electrical installs? I mean really, why do you use all those plastic boxes for switches and outlets anyway? Don't you know all that crap is made in china? by the way, all your outlets, breakers, switches, boxes, most of all those ARE made in china. look on the box.

while you may know how to run spools of 12-2 wire all day long and how many outlets on a 20 amp circuit, and can install a breaker box in your sleep, perhaps you are not aware that 100's of millions of feet of open socket c9s have been installed over the last 70 years. And while you may wish for us to use "waterproof" cords, I am not so sure those exist. and despite your request for a search, up until 20 years ago, all those old lights got plugged into the old style outlets with no gfci buttons. and there were not a rash of 1000's of folks getting elecricuted back then.

Birchwood
12-21-2012, 03:53 AM
100% agree Dave.

There is not a single set of Christmas lights that has that 3rd grounding wire so what is the point. We use plenty of 2 wire indoor cords for wreaths, garland, and to drop down from a tree to the ground. I will switch over to a 3 wire cord for the large loads.

Maybe when you visit it him on his job you can point out that homes should have dedicated outlets for the exterior and not tied into the dinning room light fixtures or the refrigerator, or half of the first floor. or all of the above.

addictedtolandscaping
12-21-2012, 05:59 AM
I have a few tricks I use that aren't mentioned here, anyone who is interested shoot me a pm, but I am fortunate enough to have experienced no GFCI issues this year. THANK GOD HIMSELF!!!! I spent enough time dealing with it the past few.

With regard to this guy, dont bother. He just doesn't get it. What I mean by "it", why we do, how we do, and the 30-500k we make right before winter when all else is slowing and nature isn't snowing. Not worth the time guys.

wurkn with amish
12-21-2012, 11:28 AM
commercial LED does have those waterproof connects and hubs. Problem is, the strands are only 9' long haha. Cant get anything done.

CL&T
12-21-2012, 11:58 AM
The ignorance here is absolutely astounding. Bad enough that homeowners do this sort of thing but you guys hold yourselves out as "professionals" and take money for it. What I'm trying to say is if you had any knowledge you would recognize that the problem isn't the GFIs but with the crap equipment that is made in a third world country for the cheapest price. I realize that's all that is available but that's not an excuse.

He just doesn't get it. What I mean by "it", why we do, how we do, and the 30-500k we make right before winter when all else is slowing and nature isn't snowing.

Another of my points. If you guys are such heavy hitters with that kind of profit how about forming a national organization that would push for the manufacture of the proper commercial equipment. Or would you rather sit out in your trucks on a cold rainy night waiting for your customer's lights to go out like a** h****.

addictedtolandscaping
12-21-2012, 02:12 PM
The ignorance here is absolutely astounding. Bad enough that homeowners do this sort of thing but you guys hold yourselves out as "professionals" and take money for it. What I'm trying to say is if you had any knowledge you would recognize that the problem isn't the GFIs but with the crap equipment that is made in a third world country for the cheapest price. I realize that's all that is available but that's not an excuse.



Another of my points. If you guys are such heavy hitters with that kind of profit how about forming a national organization that would push for the manufacture of the proper commercial equipment. Or would you rather sit out in your trucks on a cold rainy night waiting for your customer's lights to go out like a** h****.

You talk of ignorance, yet you choose to carry on in such a way. As I said, just not worth it.

CL&T
12-21-2012, 03:02 PM
Carry on you say? Apparently you are just incapable of understanding the advice of someone who knows what he is talking about. If it's just not worth it consider this- Watch what happens when the laws are changed to make it necessary for all line voltage seasonal lighting displays to be installed by licensed electrical contractors and all equipment UL approved for wet locations.

turf hokie
12-21-2012, 03:13 PM
Carry on you say? Apparently you are just incapable of understanding the advice of someone who knows what he is talking about. If it's just not worth it consider this- Watch what happens when the laws are changed to make it necessary for all line voltage seasonal lighting displays to be installed by licensed electrical contractors and all equipment UL approved for wet locations.

I wanted to stay out of this but I want to ask.

Why would a licensed electrician be needed to plug an extension cord into an electrical outlet? Would this law extend to me as a homeowner the next time I needed to plug in my sump pump?

What would you say if I told you the equipment we currently use is UL rated?

CL&T
12-21-2012, 03:59 PM
I wanted to stay out of this but I want to ask.

Why would a licensed electrician be needed to plug an extension cord into an electrical outlet? Would this law extend to me as a homeowner the next time I needed to plug in my sump pump?

In the interest of protecting life and property an AHJ has the power to enact any requirement that it feels is necessary and can ammend the NEC in their jurisdiction to make it law. What a HO does is one thing, but a third party doing this for a fee is quite another. You are held to a higher standard and from what I've read here it sounds like none of you have a clue. You are dealing with 120 volts here and that could easily kill. Could be you or it could be someone else who comes in contact with your work. If GFIs are tripping there is dangerious leakage someplace.

You wouldn't want to get a letter from THESE GUYS. (http://www.lakegenevapersonalinjurylawyer.com/articles/holiday-lights-and-electrocution-hazards/)


What would you say if I told you the equipment we currently use is UL rated?

I would take the UL number off the tag then I would go to the UL data base and look it up. Betcha it's lifted off something else (counterfeit) or its indoor- not listed for wet locations.

turf hokie
12-21-2012, 05:49 PM
Wow, you like to paint with broad strokes and assumptions.

None of us know what we are doing? counterfeit UL tags?

I guess when you are a union electrician on furlough you have nothing better to do than troll. And typical of union workers you feel that anyone doing work that is not a card carrying member, cant possibly know what they are doing and must be stealing work from you.

I knew I should have stayed out of the conversation, figured I would ask legitimate questions and I get a link to an ambulance chasing law firm in Wisconsin.....

Have a Merry Christmas.

CL&T
12-21-2012, 06:40 PM
Nope. Not union. Just retired from my own business and doing landscaping now. That doesn't mean that I have forgotten what I know.

Birchwood
12-21-2012, 06:55 PM
Once again my question was what is the harm in using a two wire (indoor cord) when every set of Christmas lights is only a two wire set up. If there is a problem with the strand of lights if the neutral/ground is faulty, even if it is plugged into a grounded 3 wire cord, you will still get zapped. The third ground wire will not come into play.

CL&T
12-21-2012, 08:13 PM
Once again there is a lack of understanding. I don't think anybody was talking about grounding or two wire vs three wire cords but since you ask- There are no metal parts on a light string that would need to be grounded. It has a two prong plug and there is no reason to use a grounded extension cord unless you want to. Nobody is saying that you should. A two wire cord is fine. The only thing I am saying is that the light string, the plug and the extension cord ends should be made to be water tight which an indoor extension cord is not. Then you have no shock or leakage problems and no problems with GFIs. There are extension cords made for construction sites that have booted plugs and ends as well as the power distros that go with them.

The only things I can think of that would need a grounded connection is a display that has metal parts. Once again they should be listed for wet locations as well as the three wire cords connecting them.

addictedtolandscaping
12-22-2012, 06:51 AM
If you were offering advice and suggestions and came across that way, you would be viewed differently. You make assumptions, and accusations and expect to be viewed as valuable. You may be a retired electrician, and that is wonderful. As most can easily comprehend, this thread is about lending advice to people of how to do things the right way, not ridicule and criticize.

Most all of us, and I say most as I can not speak for all, are trained, are certified, carry a specific electrical policy for what we re doing as well as GL and WC. We use UL certified products, secure our connections off the ground regardless of grounded or not, as well as dress the connections appropriately. I will agree that the GFCI's are doing their job when they trip, no argument there. I for one test all my lines running for amp draw, prior to securing as well.

Since you choose to spout your retirement as an electrician, I am a retired paramedic, and if you are going to make a statement back it up. Here's the truth regarding electrical shock and electrocution, the amps is the largest concern, hence the reason medical treatment is measured in joules and miliamps - It takes both amperage (current) and voltage. 8 mA of current conducted through the body is considered a maximum safe limit. Ground fault interrupter devices for personnel protection usually have a 5 mA trip rating for this reason.
Resistance of dry skin is generally about 100 kilohms or greater, so in dry conditions, it would require about 1,500 volts to conduct the 15 mA or greater current that is likely to kill you.
If the skin is wet or damaged, the resistance through the body will be greatly reduced, and a much lower voltage may be lethal.
Direct contact with 100 volts or less, though not considered safe, is not likely to harm you because it is not of sufficient potential to conduct a fatal magnitude of current through the body.

With that being said, if you want to be constructive, and helpful to answer questions or make suggestions please continue to monitor the thread and make helpful and constructive suggestions. If you just want to be a troll and criticize, kindly go to a grass chopping thread as that is what you are doing now, and pursue them.

Kiril
12-22-2012, 09:12 AM
Direct contact with 100 volts or less, though not considered safe, is not likely to harm you because it is not of sufficient potential to conduct a fatal magnitude of current through the body.

You can exceed the let go threshold with almost no voltage if your resistance to ground is low. The let go threshold varies for each person, as does dry skin resistance, but generally ranges in the 10 - 20 mA range and 1000 to 100,000 ohms respectively. With that in mind ......

I = 120 volts / 1000 ohms = 120 mA ----> if sustained will likely kill you.

David Gretzmier
12-23-2012, 02:18 AM
I have very little patience or the time to educate electrical contractors on how to install Christmas lights properly and safely.

you want broad strokes, here are broad strokes- electricians as a group have very little or no respect for anyone who does anything with electricity, unless they are a master electrician. that includes heating and cooling contractors, handymen, low voltage lighting contractors, irrigation installers, low voltage dog fence folks, security system and audio video installers. and Christmas light guys. just take your pick. in their world, we are all untrained, uneducated folk who have no business with any wires that have any voltage in them. Rarely have I ever heard an electrician happy about anyone other than electricians legally doing anything with electricity. So yes, in their world, the government or code should step in and stop all 3rd party folks from charging anyone to do anything with electricity. unless you have the education and certification of an "electrician" of course.

I have a master electrician on my staff that installs our outlets,hard wired digital timers, sub panels, breakers, etc. he is an awesome guy and does great work.

But this is what kills me- he, like most electricians over 40, never went to college or trade school to learn how to be an electrician. never took tech classes in high school or nights. he worked under an electrician for a period of time, and took a test, then worked long enough to take another test. he learned how to do what he needed to do on the job. this should begin a theme here.

here's another secret-don't tell anyone- most all the guys that work for the electric company are not electricians. you know, the guys that handle the gigantic transformers, substations, and those wrist sized wires that carry 10's of 1000's of volts AND lots and lots of amps. how can this be you ask? How can they NOT be electricians? shouldn't those guys have all kinds of certifications and years of training and education? and guess what, yes they do. but... surprise! They learn most of it on the job. just like we do, to do exactly what we do. and guess what, the guys at the nuclear, coal, or natural gas plant where that electricity comes from... are not electricians either. They learn on the job and are trained to do what they do.

while someone may be an awesome 30 year experience electrician, that does not even begin to make them be a novice Christmas light guy. That makes about as much sense as a guy that works at the electric company would be an expert at wiring a home. or the guy that works at the nuclear plant would know how to run the substation or the wires on the pole. please, learn THIS -stick to giving advice in the area you HAVE experience with and leave the other guys that are upline or downline from the wires you know alone.

And as an aside, who retires from being an electrician to become a landscaper? in my mind and what I have seen, electricians for the most part have higher wages, cleaner work environments, nicer trucks, less range and scope of work, can work inside, and have a much higher level of respect as a professional among homeowners than landscapers.