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I hate GFCI's

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,406

    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.

  2. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,858

    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!
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    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.
  4. cbass139

    cbass139 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 51

    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.
  5. tjwalkingon

    tjwalkingon LawnSite Member
    Posts: 52

    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.
  6. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    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.
  7. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,744

    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....

  8. Toy2

    Toy2 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,924

    I'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........
  9. christmas79

    christmas79 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 208

    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.
  10. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 582

    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...


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