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Author Topic: Electrical Safety  (Read 12365 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. 

 

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