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We've had rain the past couple of days and the GFI outlets 2 of my boxes are plugged into are tripping immediately. One is my mega tree the other mini trees. What would be the danger of plugging them into non GFI outlets?

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Guest guest

Better that you work to solve your GFI tripping problem.

Are your plugs/cords/connections elevated a few inches off the ground? if not, they should be...that will help.

Wrapped tighting in saran wrap or plastic..or good old 3M "electrical tape"? If so, that is very likely your biggest culprit. Remove it all, dry things out.

Majority of the members on this forum would never recommend running without GFIs.

Search the topic, there is a wealth of good information in past posts.

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I have been running about 20-25 thousand lights on one controller with no GFI. I haven't had any problems yet except for the breaker tripping once. People on this forum are always saying to use GFIs though so that might be the best option. I would use regular outlets until everything dries out, but that's just my opinion.

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Caleb Linburg wrote:

I have been running about 20-25 thousand lights on one controller with no GFI. I haven't had any problems yet except for the breaker tripping once. People on this forum are always saying to use GFIs though so that might be the best option. I would use regular outlets until everything dries out, but that's just my opinion.

man that is kinda dangerous,electricity is nothing to take chances with. you may have been ok until now but the one time you have a problem it may kill someone

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Caleb Linburg wrote:

I have been running about 20-25 thousand lights on one controller with no GFI. I haven't had any problems yet except for the breaker tripping once. People on this forum are always saying to use GFIs though so that might be the best option. I would use regular outlets until everything dries out, but that's just my opinion.

GFCIs aren't to protect your equipment/lights, but instead to protect you and your visitors. If there is a little current leakage that somebody happens to touch, they will definitely receive more than just a buzz.

electrocution.jpg
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The GFI provides protection from someone getting shocked/electrocuted. Since you have moisture and what seems to be an obvious bleed of current to ground, the GFI will continue tripping until the current bleed is eliminated.

Some thoughts on helping with nuisance tripping:
1) Keep all of your cord connections off of the ground.
This will help in keeping water from running across and into a connection. It will also facilitate a faster drying time at the connection point.

2) Allow for drip loops where necessary.
If you have a vertical or near vertical run of wire terminating into a plug at the bottom, then provide a drip loop to avoid the water running into the connection.

3) Don't wrap your connections in a manor that isn't water tight.
Where your cords and extension cords meet, don't wrap these connection points with anything. Any water that enters (and it will) will be held and can accumulate. This can lead to bleed currents and also will also accelerate corrosion on your connection(s).

4) Use a GFI device for each side of your controller.
This will help in multiple ways. First, any bleed currents that trip a GFI device will only affect eight channels, thereby helping with locating the problem. It will also reduce the effects of tripping from accumulated bleed currents from multiple channels.

5) A GFI device can weaken over time.
If you find that you have one that trips frequently for the slightest reason, replace it and see if the tripping subsides.

While these tips won't cure all of the problems with GFI tripping issues, it hopefully will help curtail them to a point that is manageable.


So, why use a GFI on your display? Protection. From having someone get shocked with your display. From the financial and emotional expense of dealing with a trial because some kid fried himself playing with the Santa in your yard.

Think about being in the hot seat for a moment:

Attorney: "Mr. So & so, are you familiar with what a Ground Fault Protection Device is?"
Defendant: "Yes, I am."
Attorney: "Mr So & so, why would you place electrical cords across your lawn without GFI protection?"
Defendant: "Because the GFI trips too easily and makes managing the lighting display harder to deal with. Besides, they are expensive."
Attorney: "So what you are saying is my client's safety isn't as important as your convenience. Sir, how much money did you spend on your controllers?"
Defendant: "About $250 for each of ____ controllers."
Attorney: "And how much does a GFI protection device cost?"
Defendant: "About $10 each."
This scenario wouldn't work out too well for someone making a poor choice!

Utilize GFI protection for your display!! It is unwise not to.

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Guest Don Gillespie

Everyone has given you good advice, you might also want to check to make sure your extension cords are good, a bad cord can trip a GFI in a heartbeat, get your plugs up off the ground and point the female end toward the ground, so no water can seep in, obviously you have a problem and want to get it resolved you did not mention if you have checked your display with a Kill-o-watt meter to make sure you are not overloading your controllers again causing the GFI to trip or blow a fuse, keep us updated so we know you have this fixed :P

Remember saftey first display second.

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First time in five years that we had to not run our display due to rain in December. When the GFI outlets won't stay on there isn't a whole lot you can do as they are doing what they are supposed to do.

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Minitrees controller would be my immediate suspect.. metal frame, sitting on the wet ground.. unplug ALL the minitrees from that controller, apply power to that one, if it stays powered, plug in one tree at a time until it trips. Do the same for the megatree controller.. but NEVER power them without a GFI..

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De Trommelslager wrote:

The GFI provides protection from someone getting shocked/electrocuted. Since you have moisture and what seems to be an obvious bleed of current to ground, the GFI will continue tripping until the current bleed is eliminated.




The term Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) is somewhat of a misnomer. The presence, or lack of, a ground really has no bearing on the GFI operation. GFI circuits are built around comparing the current differential (leakage current) between the hot and neutral leads. Usually a 5ma differential will trip a GFI.

This makes sence considering that GFI works with our Christmas lights that usually dont have a ground to fault.

Every part of my display is on GFI. My yard grid is the most sensitive to GFI interrupts. Sandra asked me this morning on the way to work about why I didnt fix the problem last night. Well... it was raining ..

She laughed, said good point, then asked didnt I want a permanent? I replied there were really only two choices. A permanent and DEAD .. and the funny thing is .. DEAD is permanent .. and a permanent fades over time ... go figure ..

Anyway .. long story short (too late) ... Keep the GFI running, I would rather lose part of a show than to lose a friend.

Merry Christmas...

(GFI reference: http://personal.cha.bellsouth.net/j/o/johngd/files/rv/gfi.pdf )

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TJ Hvasta wrote:

Minitrees controller would be my immediate suspect.. metal frame, sitting on the wet ground.. unplug ALL the minitrees from that controller, apply power to that one, if it stays powered, plug in one tree at a time until it trips. Do the same for the megatree controller.. but NEVER power them without a GFI..


Ironically, mini trees are my most stable element this year.

All the frames have 3 1/4-20 nuts welded to the base ring. For each tree, there are 3 of the cheap walmart plastic tent stakes that are something like 8 for $3. Each stake has a 1/8th hole drilled through the top. A hanger bolt, where one end is 1/4 inch lag screw thread, and the other is 1/4-20 machine screw thread is grabbed in a pair of vice grips where the thread changes over. The lag screws threaded end is heated in a propane torch to the first hint of incandescence. The plastic tent stake is now screwed onto this thread. The heat melts the extra plastic out of the way, but into places where it generally reinforces the bond to the stake. After cooling for a little bit, the bolt is released, and you go on to the next one.

Since the ground in the park is usually bone dry, and resembling an unbaked brick during set up, we have a template showing where the legs are to go relative to the center mark that was sprayed on the ground earlier in the month long set up process. We then take a 1 foot long 3/4 inch masonry bit, and drill holes that will line up with all 3 nuts in the frames. Screw the tent stakes hanger bolts into the frame, and set the frame down with all 3 tent stakes in the holes. Push down until the tree is level, and the shortest exposed section of tent stake is about 2 inches.

If your cord ends are not tied up to the back of the mini tree, use plastic C9 stakes, or 3 inch long slices of 3 inch plastic PVC drain pipe as stands to ensure all connections are up above standing water.

On top of that, our mini trees are 4 color, so two trees to a half controller, or 4 trees to a single inlet controller, and we never have any cases where the same frame is fed from two separate GFCI sources.

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My mini's are either single or doubled cages, sitting on the ground, each wrapped with plastic chicken wire then the 3 runs of 200 (RGB) lights, so the metal frames are pretty much isolated from the lights. But with the rains we get in the winter, still tend to soak the ground. Most of the pigtails off the trees are short, wrapped at the very bottom of the cages, so btwn the metal cage, and plugs on the ground (I've been laying them on wood boards to get them off the ground), a couple would trip the GFI until I found the offending plug and dry it off. I stole the 100a supply lines to our spa (havent used spa in a couple yrs), run into 8 separate lines with GFI's outlets. 12 controllers, each one a dedicated color and no more than 3200 incands per. The 48ch, 4800light (RGB) MegaTree is the only item with more than one controller on a single line (24ch/outlet). Each of the mini's controllers (each mintree has 600 incands) are on single 15a dedicated lines, so 3200 incands per line. (just under 11a all on).

Two weeks ago, we had a big wind storm come thru Phoenix, blowing everything over, so I grabbed a handful of 10" metal rods, cut off from the tomato cage snowflakes we made, bent the end into hooks, and.. yes I did.. pinned the cages to the ground, no WAY they were gonna blow over!! Then I promptly left on a 4-day trip.. Wife kept calling/texting saying the GFI's keep tripping.. After the second day of half a show with no minitrees and arches (apparently on the same line, since fixed), I remembered abt the pinning rods.. Told her about them, she pulled them, reset the GFI's and everything worked again.. Good idea, just bad materials.. thats how I know to recommend abt troubleshooting GFI trips :D

I'm abt two more GFI trips away from running a 3/4" pvc into the ground for each minitree to be put over so it's held just off the ground.

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bob_moody wrote:

De Trommelslager wrote:

Anyway .. long story short (too late) ... Keep the GFI running, I would rather lose part of a show than to lose a friend.

Merry Christmas...


 

Very good point and well stated....

The life you save may be your own -

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Guest guest

I had a very strange issue with a GFCI this year, it kept tripping off after it had rained, but it tripped only when the show would be running from either the DC-MP3 Showtime Director or the computer. BUT, I could run the HW utility and turn each channel on one at a time on each controller to try and isolate and find the offender causing the GFCI to trip, turned on EVERY CHANNEL and EVERY CONTROLLER, damn GFCI NEVER, NOT ONCE tripped!

So I tell the computer to run the show, POP the GFCI trips. Reset GFCI AND the GFCI CB, start the show from the DC-MP3 Director, POP, GFCI trips off again.

Since it WOULD NOT TRIP just by turning on each controller one at a time and each channel one at a time, I never did figure out what was causing the issue. So I plugged the controllers into other receptacles, also GFCI types, never had an issue.

So I'm thinking maybe the GFCI I had them plugged into has finally bit the dust and time for replacement, even though it's only a year and half old!

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I think I would agree.. if it had been repeatedly tripped, then it might've just got weak.. other thing is.. the HU only runs one controller at a time but running a show, maybe "surrounding loads" put some other stress on the wiring that a single card under the HU doesnt.. Good you got it working, even if you had to rerun the cords.

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Orville wrote:

I had a very strange issue with a GFCI this year, it kept tripping off after it had rained, but it tripped only when the show would be running from either the DC-MP3 Showtime Director or the computer. BUT, I could run the HW utility and turn each channel on one at a time on each controller to try and isolate and find the offender causing the GFCI to trip, turned on EVERY CHANNEL and EVERY CONTROLLER, damn GFCI NEVER, NOT ONCE tripped!

So I tell the computer to run the show, POP the GFCI trips. Reset GFCI AND the GFCI CB, start the show from the DC-MP3 Director, POP, GFCI trips off again.

Since it WOULD NOT TRIP just by turning on each controller one at a time and each channel one at a time, I never did figure out what was causing the issue. So I plugged the controllers into other receptacles, also GFCI types, never had an issue.

So I'm thinking maybe the GFCI I had them plugged into has finally bit the dust and time for replacement, even though it's only a year and half old!

Means it is more than one channel that is leaking current. It has a cumulative effect and once it exceeds that amount, then the GFCI trips. One channel leaking alone apparently wasn't enough to trip it. So to do similar, you could turn one channel on and leave it on, and then turn on the next channel, and next, etc. until it trips. That would indicate that it is a combination of those channels. By trying different variations within those particular channels might allow you to narrow it down further.

The threshold for outlets tripping are different between outlets (both by design, or due to wear).

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Ironic this is a thread tonight.

I was outside, with Mom, so she could see the new show. Yep...click...left side went dark....Frap!

Liuckily it was only 1 side of the controller 9-16 channels.

Long story short, had a pretty good rainshower the other night. Noted that the red floodlight plugged in poped gfi.

After narrowing that dow, didn't think of it; as i thought I had it weatherproofed...Wrong!

Took LED floodlight out of socket. Poured approx. half a cup of water out of socket.

Drained, dried, hooked up...running fine again.

Best,
David

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We have an 8 channel by 8 channel yard grid (which is an open invitation to GFI mayhem.) Only when it has rained do I lose this controller. I found last night (to confirm what TJ and Surfing said) that I had 3 channels that were culprit (2 horz and 1 vert).

I'm on my hands and knees in the yard blowing into sockets wishing I had a can of compressed air and praying no one drives up. After a couple of attempts they all start working. No more pops.. just lights...

So, that brings me to a question. When I first put up the display I basically had the cords on the ground. After the 1st rain, I decided to cover all the open plugs with those child proof caps.

Good idea? or just a different version of the bad idea of wrapping or taping the plugs?

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bob_moody wrote:

After the 1st rain, I decided to cover all the open plugs with those child proof caps.

Good idea? or just a different version of the bad idea of wrapping or taping the plugs?


Good idea Bob, amazing how well the child proof caps help. Wrapping or taping the plugs is a bad idea since the water will still get in and then cant get out. In years past we have taught classes with this as a sub-topic at our mini - and our conclusion is two fold. First never wrap your connections, and secondly get your connection up off the grass and leaves by using either stone (bricks or rocks, not wood) and or plastic stakes. And sometimes cover the connections with something simple like another brick that will let air in and around it to let it dry out when it does get wet. Under my mega tree I have stacked gray PVC under the hoard of wires just to get them out of the grass - and that works. Funny you would think the snow on the connections would cause trouble, but it rarely does. Rain and grass/leaves will throw my breakers every time on a connection laying in the grass.

I have ten GFCI's that power my show - everything is protected - no trips this year.

We have been blessed this year with no moisture at all, go figure.

Hope this helps.

Semper Fi

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wilmesfamilylights wrote:

We've had rain the past couple of days and the GFI outlets 2 of my boxes are plugged into are tripping immediately. One is my mega tree the other mini trees. What would be the danger of plugging them into non GFI outlets?



About a week ago it was raining for about two days. 80% of my mega tree was out as was 25% of my house lights due to GFCI's tripping constantly. I was seriously thinking about removing all my GFI's so that my display could run without any components being out. Once the rain stopped I was able to get everything working again. A few nights later I looked out my window and saw a family with 3 or 4 small children watching my display from the sidewalk. The children walked up to my mega tree and mini trees and started touching the lights (not something I liked). It made me think about the GFCI's again, I was glad that I didn't remove them because if God forbid one of the children would have gotten zapped my GFCI's would have tripped. Bottom line, the life of a child is not worth a few hours of my display working in the rain. Just my two cents.

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Papa,

Thanks for the reply. I also have 10 GFI circuits running my show. The ONLY one that I have the difficulty with is the yard grid.

Funny thing is all of the other plugs lay on the ground just like the grid. I think I will take your suggestion and elevate the plugs on the 3 strings that I identified as the culprits. They may simply be laying in lower spots that get a little more water and the elevation may help.

Bob.

I'm not authorized to return the Semper Fi as I was Army. So... Doomsday tankers steel on steel.... hehe...

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Should be mentioned to those newbies reading the thread that it isn't usually the water that causes the problem (it in and of itself isn't that conductive) but it is the stuff that the water mixes with (dirt, fertilizer residue, leaf debris, etc.). The chemicals from those items are what tend to conduct and allow the voltage leak causing the GFCI to trip. That is why getting them off the ground works fairly well--they just get wet, not dirty. If they are dirty to begin with, and then get wet (even if elevated) you have the same problem. That is why it is important to be careful during display setup to not allow uninstalled strings sit on the ground if muddy. Now obviously if you insert plug covers into the strings, make sure they are clean to begin with or you won't solve much. I have even read of individuals spraying water (rather than compressed air) in them to solve the problem (haven't done myself).

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TJ Hvasta wrote:

Two weeks ago, we had a big wind storm come thru Phoenix, blowing everything over, so I grabbed a handful of 10" metal rods, cut off from the tomato cage snowflakes we made, bent the end into hooks, and.. yes I did.. pinned the cages to the ground, no WAY they were gonna blow over!! Then I promptly left on a 4-day trip.. Wife kept calling/texting saying the GFI's keep tripping.. After the second day of half a show with no minitrees and arches (apparently on the same line, since fixed), I remembered abt the pinning rods.. Told her about them, she pulled them, reset the GFI's and everything worked again.. Good idea, just bad materials.. thats how I know to recommend abt troubleshooting GFI trips :P

Alright, now I have a question... We've had 2 rainstorms this year. I have 2 controllers that run my minis. All minis are staked to the ground with a very sturdy (but metal) landscape stake. In both storms, I had exactly 2 of my controllers go out - the 2 that run my minis. I was attributing it to the fact that they're the only place in my show that I have incands and that the larger power draw overall was inviting a larger differential on the GFI and that was causing it to shut off.

If I read your post correctly, maybe I should be assigning the blame to my metal stakes holding the tress to the ground?

Thoughts?

Aaron

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Aaron Maue wrote:

TJ Hvasta wrote:
Two weeks ago, we had a big wind storm come thru Phoenix, blowing everything over, so I grabbed a handful of 10" metal rods, cut off from the tomato cage snowflakes we made, bent the end into hooks, and.. yes I did.. pinned the cages to  the ground, no WAY they were gonna blow over!! Then I promptly left on a 4-day trip.. Wife kept calling/texting saying the GFI's keep tripping.. After the second day of half a show with no minitrees and arches (apparently on the same line, since fixed), I remembered abt the pinning rods.. Told her about them, she pulled them, reset the GFI's and everything worked again.. Good idea, just bad materials.. thats how I know to recommend abt troubleshooting GFI trips :P

Alright, now I have a question...  We've had 2 rainstorms this year.  I have 2 controllers that run my minis.  All minis are staked to the ground with a very sturdy (but metal) landscape stake.  In both storms, I had exactly 2 of my controllers go out - the 2 that run my minis.  I was attributing it to the fact that they're the only place in my show that I have incands and that the larger power draw overall was inviting a larger differential on the GFI and that was causing it to shut off.

If I read your post correctly, maybe I should be assigning the blame to my metal stakes holding the tress to the ground?

Thoughts?

Aaron



I love it when folks that are learning figure out and answer their own questions - Good Job! :D:):)

One other thing there, mini trees on metal frames have a tenency to do what you just described. There are a number of different ideas on how to insulate the mini tree from the ground - rubber hose - elevated - etc. Do a search.

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TJ Hvasta wrote:

I think I would agree.. if it had been repeatedly tripped, then it might've just got weak.. other thing is.. the HU only runs one controller at a time but running a show, maybe "surrounding loads" put some other stress on the wiring that a single card under the HU doesnt.. Good you got it working, even if you had to rerun the cords.


Ah, but you can have ALL Controllers and ALL channels on via the HWU. What I did was select controller #1, turn on each channel in succession, then after all channels are on that controller, go to controller #2 and repeat the process to locate which channel on which controller is creating the problem. Had all 5 controllers and all 80 channels turned on at 100%. GFCI NEVER tripped, but as soon as I turned off all lights/channels and started the show from either the DC-MP3 Showtime Director or the laptop I use for testing out sequences and checking for GFCI tripping issues, the darn thing would trip. That's what puzzled me, I even tried the HWU with the channels being sequenced, which on that, the HWU will only do 1 controller at a time, which I did, still NO GFCI TRIP, only when the DC-MP3 Showtime Director or the computer was involved in running the show directly.

That's why I found it so strange. Most often when I'd do the test to find the controller/channel causing the issue, the GFCI would trip, but not in this case.

Going to replace the GFCI and see if a new one does the same thing, if so, going to have to try and figure out why that is going on.

My uncle, who is a licensed electrician will be coming over to check out that GFCI outlet. Asked him about converting the 240V outlet to a subpanel for lighting, but he says that wouldn't be very cost effective and he was telling me other options, which I'm not too sure I agree on.

Told him I want and would prefer the subpanel, sure it may cost more, but feel it would be the best thing for what I do.

He has no idea what an LOR Controller is or how we set up our displays with them, hopefully once I get him actually over here, he'll see what I want and add in what I'm requesting.

He's just trying to save me a lot of money by offering a different way of adding my outdoor outlets I want.

The subpanel route will cost me around $1,500-$2,500, the other way is to tap into existing outlets inside the house, drill a hole for the wire and add secondary(?) GFCI outlets outside through them at a cost of about $150.00-$200.00.

I know, big difference in cost, but I also plan on "growing" my display in time, so my opinion is even though the subpanel is quite a lot more expense, that is the route I'd rather go and feel it would be worth it in the long run.

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