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jshimmin
09-23-2010, 01:04 PM
Subdivision entrances always seem to have more issues with GFI's tripping than anywhere else. When it happens, it's always perceived as an issue with the lights.

Are there any suggestions on how to mitigate the problems associated with GFI's?

I've put in different models and all have the same reliability. Most of the systems are LED's with less than 100 watts of load on the transformer.

emby
09-23-2010, 03:12 PM
What kind of cover is on the GFCI? All outside GFCI's always fail due to moisture and corrosion on the internal circuit board. The GFCI is not moisture and water proof like our landscape lights so you must try to prevent the moisture from entering using a proper in use cover like this: http://www.levitonproducts.com/catalog/model_5996.htm?sid=EB37662110ED2CF36E1436E32374C037&pid=1208

Nuisance trips are very common on GFCI receptacles with the normal flap cover plate on them as when something is plugged into them obviously rain and moisture can get in.
I would start by replacing the GFCI and installing a new "in use cover" like the link above.

Ken

rlitman
09-23-2010, 03:49 PM
The code-keeper covers are a MUST if something is plugged in, but additionally, they now make "weather resistant" outlets and GFI's now (look for a blue "WR" on the front). Not a big difference, but they have plating to resist corrosion on the contacts. You could also squeeze dielectric grease in on the contacts and any openings, to keep moisture out, but its nasty sticky stuff, so some people might complain.

steveparrott
09-23-2010, 04:28 PM
You can also provide GFCI protection back at the breaker panel (example: Cutler Hammer CL120GF). You will, however, still need a waterproof cover for the standard receptacle at the transformer.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-23-2010, 05:35 PM
I prefer to use GFI breakers over GFI receptacles. they are more expensive but seem to cause fewer false trips and trouble calls.

Moisture in the branch circuits is often the culprit with trouble GFI calls. Either the outer jacket of the NMWU gets shaved or split or a poor connection is made with the Teck cable. In either case these are almost impossible to fix. In these cases a new circuit will need to be run = $$$

emby
09-23-2010, 07:11 PM
Just one other thought here and not too many of you would ever know this....You cannot have two GFCI devices on the same electrical circuit as this would cause the devices to trip.
Just lets say in this example that the outside plug is a GFCI receptacle and that 15AMP or 20AMP circuit is protected by a GFCI Breaker. This would most certainly cause one of the two devices to trip.

Ken

nikster78
09-23-2010, 07:23 PM
James i agree.. Breakers for the most part are in a more controlled environment. Moisture is hard to beat.

nikster78
09-23-2010, 07:23 PM
How about 2 gfci plugs?

RLI Electric
09-23-2010, 07:46 PM
Length from the breaker point is sometime an issue. Bear that in mind if you are running great distances it has been known to cause tripping.

nikster78
09-23-2010, 08:23 PM
How far do you guys run a lead...100' 250' what watts, what gauge? Not talking LED here that's a different forum?

rlitman
09-23-2010, 08:27 PM
Just one other thought here and not too many of you would ever know this....You cannot have two GFCI devices on the same electrical circuit as this would cause the devices to trip.
Just lets say in this example that the outside plug is a GFCI receptacle and that 15AMP or 20AMP circuit is protected by a GFCI Breaker. This would most certainly cause one of the two devices to trip.

Ken

Nooooo. You can cascade GFI's without causing tripping, BUT it can get confusing, because you don't know WHICH GFI will trip in the event of a ground fault (so when you have no power, and a GFI that looks good, you start scratching your chin).

If the wire downstream of a GFI is long enough, it can eventually have enough capacitance to trip the GFI too.

emby
09-23-2010, 09:06 PM
:canadaflag:

RLI Electric
09-23-2010, 09:11 PM
I agree Emby. I have always said do not gfi a gfi.

emby
09-23-2010, 09:31 PM
rlitman,

try connecting two or more GFCI's on one circuit and you will most certainly have nuisance trips. Spoke with a manufacturer about this many years ago.
A GFCI monitors the amperage between the hot and neutral wires on a 2 wire circuit. Any leak will cause the GFCI to trip. By having two on the same circuit the electronics in the GFCI's will cause nuisance tripping.
I love getting service calls on these. This should be well known in the electrical world.

Oh and to get back to the problem with the first post...you can special order a GFCI that is set up for 10mA instead of 5mA. That might do the trick for you if its not a cover issue.

:canadaflag:

jshimmin
09-24-2010, 05:59 AM
I'll try the tighter covers first. I wish I could find a simplex GFI receptacle.

Pro-Scapes
09-24-2010, 10:21 AM
best solution I have found is a GFI breaker and then hardwire the transformers. It has seriously cut back on our service calls do the false trips. If you have alot of GFI outlets mounted outside and a good storm comes you can expect a few service calls.

Check your manufactures warranties about hardwiring before you do it and you need an EC to do it since it is a 120v connection.

Another bonus is it is MUCH cleaner looking than cords hanging all over the place.

if you must use a GFI plug outside another idea is to mount it UNDER the trans so it is somewhat sheltered from rainfall.

rlitman
09-24-2010, 10:47 AM
rlitman,

try connecting two or more GFCI's on one circuit and you will most certainly have nuisance trips. Spoke with a manufacturer about this many years ago.
A GFCI monitors the amperage between the hot and neutral wires on a 2 wire circuit. Any leak will cause the GFCI to trip. By having two on the same circuit the electronics in the GFCI's will cause nuisance tripping.
I love getting service calls on these. This should be well known in the electrical world.

Oh and to get back to the problem with the first post...you can special order a GFCI that is set up for 10mA instead of 5mA. That might do the trick for you if its not a cover issue.

:canadaflag:

I've seen it many times. Never had an issue.
A GFCI monitors the imbalance in current between the hot and neutral. Its own circuitry does NOT cause any imbalance, so it will NOT trip an upstream GFCI. Just that simple.

It's still not good practice to run GFI's in parallel though. If you press the test button on the downstream one, you're likely to trip both.

Capacitance in long wiring runs, or inductive loads, can cause temporary current imbalances that may be enough to trip a gfi, without any ground leakage. Harmonic distortion can cause this as well (triplen harmonics in three phase systems add up on the neutral wire), again, without a ground leak.

Solve the problem (which is USUALLY a ground leak, but those other possibilities do exist, and can be difficult to diagnose), and you're good.
As said before. Corrosion and moisture are your enemy. Look there first.
Don't try to get a less sensitive GFI. It'll no longer be code compliant (those less sensitive GFI's are designed to protect equipment, not people).

drewguy
09-24-2010, 11:02 AM
Length from the breaker point is sometime an issue. Bear that in mind if you are running great distances it has been known to cause tripping.

What about using a "faceless" GFI inside the house feeding the outdoor (standard) outlet? Keeps the sensitive stuff inside and dry, but offers the required protection.

http://www.leviton.com/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?item=416264&section=11623&minisite=10026

David Gretzmier
09-24-2010, 12:33 PM
gfci breakers do seem to trip less. water, water everywhere- - the boxes the outlets are installed on must not only have the water proof covers or "in use" covers, but the outlet boxes need to be the painted water proof ones, and we seal the extra "holes" ( it is probably a 3 hole box) be they 1/2" or 3/4" with silicone on top of the plugs, and we seal the screws on the back of the outlet with silicone. also check and make sure it has the dark grey foam gasket around the rectangle plug.

RLDesign
10-01-2010, 09:17 AM
Hello All,

My experience is that I always install a GFI breaker if possible. Thanks James! I also always install a deep cover. If I have to install an outlet, I also always install the new WR (weather resistant) GFI outlets, as they have reduced our call backs quite a bit. If you still have problems, maybe there is a cut in your line or a breakdown somewhere else - another faulty outlet in series. Depending on the transformer and set-up, make sure the GFI circuit can handle the system powering up. I usually calculate double the amp rating when choosing my circuit size.

In New Jersey, we cannot hardwire outdoor low-voltage transformers. I am now required to pull an electrical permit for all my lighting jobs. It is a PITA, but our insurance will not cover our work unless completed with an electrician onsite or by an electrician. We always pulled a permit for the new outlet/receptacle, but now I have list the number of fixtures and transformer size. We are still doing our work, but my electrician is having to show-up, install the outlet, check our work, and be aware of the project (in case questioned). I think this is a good thing, because it creates a safer system for our homeowner and allows our insurance to be effective.... but it really is requiring so much of time in permitting and fees. The way I look at the AOLP and my COLD certification, it places me in a category of training and association that benefits myself, my company, and more so my client. The best thing about COLD is that it shows me what other contractors are doing from all over the country. They can see my work, like the 2 stories featured next. This first feature story includes an entire renovation of the interior and exterior space, located on Page 44 http://www.echoesoflbi.com/e-spring-42-80.pdf and the second feature story is about two best friends and their relationship in designing space that maximizes enjoyment at the shore for their families (one bayfront home and one oceanfront home – Haven Beach), located on Page 28 http://www.echoesoflbi.com/echoes-summer-2010.pdf. Both projects have lighting, and were permitted!!

Talk soon. Tanek - Reynolds Lighting

rlitman
10-01-2010, 11:17 AM
. . . I also always install the new WR (weather resistant) GFI outlets, as they have reduced our call backs quite a bit . . . .

Good to hear a real positive review of the WR outlets. Until now, I've only read the company literature on the differences.
I know they have corrosion resistant terminals, and potted circuitry now, but its still good to hear that those things actually work in real life.

Viewpoint
10-01-2010, 01:15 PM
I have been told (by the electrician on one of my installs) that a GFI is not needed if the outlet will be only used by the transformer...that is take out the duplex GFI, put in a single outlet, non-GFI. This way, the only thing plugged into that outlet is the transformer for the lighting, which does not actually need to be GFI protected. There would be no second outlet to plug something else into, thus you wouldn't need the GFI. Another way would be to add another outlet box with the single receptacle and bubble cover next to the GFI outlet (so they can still use the other outlets) but have it on the line, not load side of the GFI receptacle.

I haven't needed to do this, as replacing the GFI usually works, but I wanted to know if this is true, in case replacing the GFI doesn't work. Can anybody verify this? Or, is my information incorrect?

RLDesign
10-01-2010, 02:25 PM
Hello All,
My experience is that all electrical outlets must be on a GFI circuit within a flood or tidal area. We are located on an island and many of my issues are related to extreme corrosion by saltspray. GFI outlets take a beating where we are located.

Just my .02 cents.

Tanek

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-01-2010, 07:06 PM
It is my understanding that all outdoor receptacles (exposed to moisture) must be protected by a GFI device. No exceptions. Perhaps one of the contributing licensed ECs here could cite the NEC/CEC for us?

RLI Electric
10-01-2010, 08:10 PM
The only exception would be for receptacles not readily accessible and supplied by dedicated circuit for snow melting or deicing equipment 210.8 (3) Exception.

nikster78
10-01-2010, 08:38 PM
I agree with james and the NEC.

emby
10-02-2010, 12:10 AM
Ontario electrical safety code Rule 26-710n
except for automobile heater receptacles provided in conformance with Rule 8-400, all receptacles installed outdoors and within 2.5 m of finished grade shall be protected with a ground fault circuit interrupter of
the Class A type.

These would all be tamper proof receptacles too.

jshimmin
10-02-2010, 08:22 AM
I see new homes with a simplex outlet in the garage that is used for the irrigation controller frequently. Had an inspector tell me it was the builders way of saving $10 on a GFCI.
A GFCI was not required when only one device can plugged into it. Sems to only apply when in the garage though.