Ohio Reef

Reef Discussion => Equipment => Topic started by: Lazylivin on May 03, 2009, 10:27:36

Title: Electrical Safety
Post by: Lazylivin 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


(http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/surge-protector-quality.jpg)

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

(http://a1272.g.akamai.net/7/1272/1121/20070803151321/www.drsfostersmith.com/images/Categoryimages/larger/lg_25786_34582.jpg)
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: METZCOOL 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: slandis3 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: Wall_Tank on May 03, 2009, 11:13:50
I would also recommend that you test the devices regularly too.

Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: Logzor 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: rayviv on May 03, 2009, 13:07:50
GOOD POST! Tanks.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: Wall_Tank 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: Lazylivin 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: slandis3 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
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: verper on May 03, 2009, 17:18:43
And there are also receptical GFCI's like in your bathrooms.

Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: Logzor 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: verper 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: slandis3 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: verper on May 03, 2009, 21:10:28
I've not seen them.  Only the circiut breaker ones.  Maybe Grainger would carry something like that?
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: jjw2121 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. 
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: rmstevensiii 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. 

(http://lh5.ggpht.com/_9QWptZBItf0/Rw5Wk04rydI/AAAAAAAABPU/G3pKpvQyg_Q/s640/2007-10%20-%20Misc%20Pics%20067.jpg)

(http://lh5.ggpht.com/_9QWptZBItf0/Rw5Wt04ryiI/AAAAAAAABQA/oRa-5Gk3_Q8/s640/2007-10%20-%20Misc%20Pics%20074.jpg)

(http://lh5.ggpht.com/_9QWptZBItf0/Rw5Wy04rylI/AAAAAAAABQY/UWjUGv1xyDM/s512/2007-10%20-%20Misc%20Pics%20077.jpg)
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: TechGuy on May 06, 2009, 10:22:25
Alright, enough said. All three of my tanks are getting new outlets this weekend.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: rayviv on May 06, 2009, 10:39:55
Thanks 4 sharing pics. I think I'm going to gfci breaker and all cords.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: ohioreef 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: Logzor 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?
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: ohioreef 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: Lazylivin 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.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: verper on May 06, 2009, 17:01:53
yep, black wire under the brass screw, white wire under the silver screw.
Title: Re: Your life depends on it
Post by: Wall_Tank 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.
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: TechGuy 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!
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: Midwest Express 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
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: slandis3 on August 25, 2010, 15:58:14
I run gfci breakers on all my aquarium outlets.
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: Midwest Express 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.
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: Midwest Express 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.
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: cyberwollf 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
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: Midwest Express 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!
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: HUNGER 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
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: Lazylivin on September 25, 2012, 00:32:29
:sSig_bump:
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: rayviv on September 25, 2012, 11:08:09
Good Bump! and dont forget to REexamine often. ;D
Title: Re: Electrical Safety
Post by: bbtm64 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/ (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.