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Author Topic: Electrical Safety  (Read 23288 times)

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Offline Lazylivin

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Electrical Safety
« on: May 03, 2009, 10:27:36 »
Over the past several months as I have visited many Ohio Reef members’ houses, I have seen quite a few reef tanks that are not connected to a GFCI outlet. A GFCI outlet is different from the surge protector or power distribution block you get from any store. Those devices function are to protect the equipment from a power surge and do nothing to protect you or your reef tank inhabitants from a fatal shock. There are two types of GFCI outlets. Those that are hardwired in the wall, you can see them in your bathroom and they have the reset and test button on them. There are also portable ones (last picture).

A GFCI outlet measures the current leaving the plug and coming back. If there is a small difference in current returning it will shut off in the blink of an eye. You may still get a small shock button it will not be fatal. So if you don’t have one "Please" get one. We don’t want to here we lost a Ohio Reef member or worse a child due to a fatal electrical shock or a fire.

This below is not a GFCI. You can still use these but needs to be plugged into a GFCI




This is a GFCI and can be purchased for 10$ - 15$ at Lowes or Homedepot or maybe the sponsors have them.

« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 01:53:01 by Lazylivin »

Offline METZCOOL

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2009, 10:32:21 »
You can also install a GFCI circuit breaker in your breaker box that feed the outlets you use.

slandis3

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2009, 10:58:22 »
You can also install a GFCI circuit breaker in your breaker box that feed the outlets you use.
  Yep thats what all my tank stuff is on. I also run ground probes in the tank and in the sump.

Offline Wall_Tank

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2009, 11:13:50 »
I would also recommend that you test the devices regularly too.


Offline Logzor

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2009, 12:57:57 »
I have been shocked before. I decided to not have coffee that morning after that....

I thought you had to completely replace the unit in the wall to install one of these. Is this a unit that you simply plug into the wall? Since I live in an apartment I cant exactly start tearing up stuff so this would be a great option!

I have heard that some units like this will click off when running MH's or anything that consumes a lot of power and that other type will only click off if there is stray current. It has a similar acronym.

Thank you for posting this. On reef central there was someone whose tank exploded and burnt his house down. It was some electrical issue that could have been prevented by one of these.

Offline rayviv

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2009, 13:07:50 »
GOOD POST! Tanks.
The mind is a wonderful servant but a dangerous master!

Offline Wall_Tank

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2009, 15:17:41 »
I thought you had to completely replace the unit in the wall to install one of these. Is this a unit that you simply plug into the wall? Since I live in an apartment I cant exactly start tearing up stuff so this would be a great option!

Both the wall outlets and these plug in devices work the same.  Current flows from the hot leg to the neutral leg of an outlet.  These devices monitor for current imbalance between these legs.... anything else must be going to ground, and they trip.   If anyone has done your own wiring for lights and such, make sure you know which leg is the hot leg.

I have heard that some units like this will click off when running MH's or anything that consumes a lot of power and that other type will only click off if there is stray current. It has a similar acronym.

Excess power draw would trip a circuit breaker, or blow a fuse.  Most power strips have circuit breakers in them. 

When a MH bulb starts, almost any other ballast too, there is a very high current draw.  These normally only last a split second.  But they can cause false trips on circuit breakers and GFCI's

Thank you for posting this. On reef central there was someone whose tank exploded and burnt his house down. It was some electrical issue that could have been prevented by one of these.

I've had a powerhead or two fail and cause GFCI trips.  Broken heaters are another good source for electrical problems.  I won't run a glass heater, I've seen too many crack.

There is a third type of circuit protection out there called arc flash.  Current Electrical code only calls for these to be installed in bedrooms.  These devices are suppose to protect against arcs that could catch things like curtains on fire.   But I run these on my tank circuits as well.   Currently these devices are only available to be installed in your main electrical panel.

I also keep a CO2 fire extinguisher.  If there is a fire, hopefully it could be put out without getting the chemical everywhere.  Sure there would be a PH drop, but hopefully not too bad or long.

Offline Lazylivin

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2009, 16:05:21 »

I have heard that some units like this will click off when running MH's or anything that consumes a lot of power and that other type will only click off if there is stray current. It has a similar acronym.

I have not expericend the issue with mine however, I to have heard that could occur. In fact Hello Lights as well as some other manufactures actually publish that they dont recommend running MH ballasts on GFCI. Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Regardless I use it just for a peace of mind.

slandis3

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2009, 16:34:33 »
I have not expericend the issue with mine however, I to have heard that could occur. In fact Hello Lights as well as some other manufactures actually publish that they dont recommend running MH ballasts on GFCI. Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Regardless I use it just for a peace of mind.

well unless the light falls in the water it shouldn't be a problem. If it does thats what a gfic breaker is good for when used with a gorund probe

Offline verper

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2009, 17:18:43 »
And there are also receptical GFCI's like in your bathrooms.


Offline Logzor

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2009, 19:24:43 »
I just tested an outlet. It says on the reader "Hot / Neu. Reverse". Could this reading be false if I have stuff plugged in?

If not, what does this reading mean and is there any easy way I can fix it.

Offline verper

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2009, 21:00:54 »
No, it just means the Hot and Neutral legs are reversed on the outlet.  The smaller sized slot in the outlet is supposed to be the hot side.  Most stuff will work with it switched the wrong way like yours, but its better when they are correctly wired.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2009, 21:04:30 by verper »

slandis3

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2009, 21:05:51 »
Scott do you knoe if you can get  an Arc Fault circiut breaker that plugs into an outlet? I forgot all about those. My lights are on my gfci breakers. So far i haven't had any problems with it.

Offline verper

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2009, 21:10:28 »
I've not seen them.  Only the circiut breaker ones.  Maybe Grainger would carry something like that?

Offline jjw2121

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2009, 08:07:45 »
I don't know why I didn't think about this before.  I never had my tank on GFI.  I got the Shock Buster 5 outlet yesterday at Lowes for 16 bucks.  Thanks for the safety tip Lazy. 

Offline rmstevensiii

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2009, 09:53:15 »
When it comes to GFI, I'm an official member of the "scared straight" club! 

This is great info for those new to the forum, and a great reminder for the rest of us.  Thanks for posting. 





Dayton - 45459

Offline TechGuy

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2009, 10:22:25 »
Alright, enough said. All three of my tanks are getting new outlets this weekend.

Offline rayviv

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2009, 10:39:55 »
Thanks 4 sharing pics. I think I'm going to gfci breaker and all cords.
The mind is a wonderful servant but a dangerous master!

Offline ohioreef

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2009, 10:44:16 »
I credit my GFI outlet for me not losing more than what I did when my tank developed a leak a couple years ago. Once the collecting water hit the power strip the GFI killed everything.

Offline Logzor

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2009, 10:46:01 »
No, it just means the Hot and Neutral legs are reversed on the outlet.  The smaller sized slot in the outlet is supposed to be the hot side.  Most stuff will work with it switched the wrong way like yours, but its better when they are correctly wired.

What can I do in my situation? Should I buy one of those outlet adapters?

Offline ohioreef

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2009, 12:55:30 »
What can I do in my situation? Should I buy one of those outlet adapters?

The wires need to be switched on the back of the outlet.

Offline Lazylivin

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2009, 16:52:49 »
What can I do in my situation? Should I buy one of those outlet adapters?

As Gary said just swap the wires. To do that- shutoff the circut at the breaker box. Then unscrew the wall plug that is reversed and switch your white and black wires. Screw it back in, flip the breaker on and retest.

Offline verper

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2009, 17:01:53 »
yep, black wire under the brass screw, white wire under the silver screw.

Offline Wall_Tank

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Re: Your life depends on it
« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2009, 20:00:05 »
Those photos are a good reminder to install drip loops on everything too.  My tank is in the basement, so all outlets are high above the tank.   Those with tanks in living areas need to avoid putting things on the floor behind the tank.  Under the tank, or off the side.

Offline TechGuy

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2010, 00:07:49 »
I just want to say thanks for this thread. GFCI's have saved my rear on several occasions!

Offline Midwest Express

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2010, 15:00:34 »
I run multiple GFCI's on my setup.  My recirc pump is on the first GFCI as well as one heater and a power head.  The other daisy chained sockets are on another GFCI that have my power heads, fans, lights, and other stuff.  That way if my lights pop or something, I still have my recirc running.  No power strips for me... that is if I can help it!

I did have a friend catch his wall on fire cause he was using a power strip that shorted and lit his place up!  They also found out that they tank was on the same circuit of their window air conditioner on the other side of the house.

Gotta love old home's wiring! :o
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slandis3

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2010, 15:58:14 »
I run gfci breakers on all my aquarium outlets.

Offline Midwest Express

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2010, 15:59:18 »
I run gfci breakers on all my aquarium outlets.

That is how it should be done!

I would actually like to see how they do it at the aquariums.  She how they handle their power.
"The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play."
Capt. James T. Kirk

Offline Midwest Express

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #28 on: August 25, 2010, 16:26:52 »
I had the same prob when I first moved into my house.  I called Ohio Edison and they came out and ran a power test on the transformer on the pole outside.  Come to find they had a prob they didn't realize (or care to fix until I complained) with their transformer.  They fixed it and magically I didn't have anymore power dips or power issues.  I got tired of my servers and PC equipment dipping out ever so often.

Doesn't work when you are hosting web space and trying to run a web server!  Let alone my fish tanks.
"The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play."
Capt. James T. Kirk

Offline cyberwollf

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2010, 16:30:22 »
Doesn't work when you are hosting web space and trying to run a web server!  Let alone my fish tanks.

Nobody really cares about uptime anyways
75G Mixed Reef w/ 30G sump/refuge

Electrical Engineers do it on impulse, with faster rise times, with more power, and less resistance at higher frequencies, without shorts, until it Hertz


Offline Midwest Express

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #30 on: August 25, 2010, 16:33:52 »
Nobody really cares about uptime anyways

Haha... yeah, thankfully it was just my site at the time, so not that big of a deal. It was my resume site I had for job huntin. The email server I was miffed about though!
"The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play."
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Offline HUNGER

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2010, 17:10:29 »
I had the same prob when I first moved into my house.  I called Ohio Edison and they came out and ran a power test on the transformer on the pole outside.  Come to find they had a prob they didn't realize (or care to fix until I complained) with their transformer.  They fixed it and magically I didn't have anymore power dips or power issues. 
got to love that
SIZE DOES MATTER

Offline Lazylivin

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2012, 00:32:29 »
:sSig_bump:

Offline rayviv

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2012, 11:08:09 »
Good Bump! and dont forget to REexamine often. ;D
The mind is a wonderful servant but a dangerous master!

Offline bbtm64

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #34 on: March 05, 2013, 19:46:09 »
Slandis, SquareD makes a breaker like that. Here's a link to their website. http://products.schneider-electric.us/products-services/products/circuit-breakers/miniature-circuit-breakers/arcfault-circuit-interrupters/

I'm an electrician, by trade. So if anyone has any specific questions, I'll be happy to answer them.
Brent McCloskey

Offline eslatts11

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #35 on: February 06, 2019, 15:17:42 »
Sorry to dig up an old thread, but just wanted to get some fellow reefers opinions.

I have heard a very wide range of opinions on this topic. When to use a GFCI breaker or a receptical GFCI? Plug in all fish tank room equipment  to GCFI or on only certain things? I have heard others who don't use them at all as the possibility of them tripping when nothing is actually wrong is too much of a risk? :hmmmm:

I am currently wiring in my 20 amp breaker and multiple outlets for my fish tank room which is why I ask, thanks!
-Slatts

Offline jjoos99

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #36 on: February 06, 2019, 15:31:37 »
I believe any wiring in a basement should be gfi protected.  You can put a gfi in the very first outlet and wire it to protect all wiring outlets that follow it then all outlets will also be protected.  If I remember right there are instructions with the gfi that tells you how to wire it that way.  Or you can buy a gfi circuit breaker for the entire circuit.  As much water as we are exposed to in this hobby I dont think I would run without a gfi.
Jeff

Offline dbjonesjr

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #37 on: February 06, 2019, 15:32:56 »
I think I have a reasonable answer for you. The difference is close to NONE. They all just shut off the circuit when there is a short circuit (I.E. water creates a circuit with essentially no resistance therefore an overload of current). You only need to have ONE on each circuit as a single receptacle would shut down the entire circuit (in theory). In your case if it is a dedicated fish room circuit I would see nothing wrong with putting a GFCI breaker in and possibly running some wavemakers to an emergency outlet running on a differenct circuit (to continue circulation in case of a power outage). Not sure if that will help answer your question but I hope!
EDIT: Got beat to the punch!

Offline cbell56

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #38 on: February 07, 2019, 06:50:25 »
the choice is simple and required by code. If the outlet is an area with water it must be gfci. The choice between a gfci outlet or breaker is also simple. if you will have more than one gfci outlet on the circuit then cost would dictate a gfci breaker. if you only have one outlet in a wet application on that circuit then it is cheaper to use the gfci outlet

Offline eslatts11

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #39 on: February 07, 2019, 18:30:44 »
Thanks for all the great input guys, much appreciated! I believe I will go with putting a 20amp GFCI breaker in! I have a couple outlets near the tank that are on the existing 15amp basement breaker with no GFCI, so I can plug a power head or two into that for the possible emergency where the GFCI trips but nothing is actually wrong.
-Slatts

Offline Lazylivin

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #40 on: February 07, 2019, 23:54:07 »
If an item is plugged into a gfci outlet and the outlet trips then it is a bad device. I see online, folks that say we shouldnt use gfci because they falsely trip. However that is extremely rare. I have never in my hobby history had a gfci falsely trip. If it trips something is wrong. There was a guy on R2R not long ago that had a gfci that kept triping. He removed the gfci and than almost died. He has a permanent heart valve issue now. Never go without a gfci, even for things like lights that are not in the water but around it. Good choice with adding it to the panel. That is best but for those that cant do that sort of thing I plead you use a plug in gfci.

For those that dont know. This below is not a gfci and will provide no protection to you or your livestock from a electrical shock


Offline dbjonesjr

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #41 on: February 08, 2019, 06:08:11 »
That protects the equipment not the person! :)

Offline Lazylivin

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #42 on: February 08, 2019, 14:33:48 »
 :th_ShowLetter:

That protects the equipment not the person! :)

Offline Miles

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Re: Electrical Safety
« Reply #43 on: February 08, 2019, 15:35:25 »
So, I can tell you that I have a GFCI outlet in my house that randomly trips. I installed a GFCI outlet when I first setup a tank and it ended up tripping when I was out of town, wiped out most of my fish. I have since upgraded aquariums and moved to a different location in the house with a new GFCI outlet. I let the old one in place and it randomly trips with nothing plugged into it, and as far as I know the only other thing on the circuit is the light and ceiling fan in the living and a couple other outlets that also have nothing plugged into it.  I'll come home maybe once a month to the living room light not working due to the GFCI tripping. Maybe the light has a problem... or maybe its just a really crappy GFCI outlet.....

That being said, I have taken measures to make sure that an accidental trip doesn't crash my tank again. I have one powerhead on a battery backup in the main tank, and in my basement I have an airpump that is on a UPS that will run if I lose power down there.   

I have had equipment that has gone bad over the years that has tripped the GFCI. I've had a few pumps that started tripping GFCI and they immediately got tossed in the trash.

Having said all of that... I believe that GFCI is important, but be prepared if it does trip.
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