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scottd431

Weather causing GFIs to trip out

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I usually cover every end up with tap to protect against weather (rain) from causing the GFI to trip but this year I have 3 controllers that keep tripping my GFI outlets. My controllers are kept dry and covered so it is obviously coming from somewhere on the lights. Any suggestion that you all may use to help me with the rain/weather problem. Once it drys out I have no problem and have not in the past. this is the first time I have run into this. thanks

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I would look again at the obvious to see if you missed anything...

* All connections up off the ground

* All female ends pointed down.

* any little critters chew on your cords?

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The general rule of thumb is not to tape up connectors as water will eventually get in and get trapped. Keep connectors off the ground. One person a while back suggested cutting the top off 2 liter soda bottles and using the bottle upside down as a cover on connections. I like that suggestion although I don't need to use it since all of my lighting is permanently installed and 12V DC.

One of the more common GFI issues seems to be mini trees.

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Jim has some great suggestions. Adding to that, any lights attached to conductive framework that has a conductive path to ground can be a source of trouble. Mini trees are prime for this scenario as Jim (II) stated. An extension cord with a pin hole laying on the ground can cause grief. Taped up cord ends isn't the way to weather proof things. That only traps moisture and creates the problems you are trying to solve.

Without further info, the best I can offer you is to go through systematic troubleshooting to find the issue(s). You know the controller(s) that are tripping the GFCIs, figure out which bank (if not done already), identify/isolate the channel(s), and then put them under the proverbial microscope to locate the source of the problem. You'll obviously have to do this under the conditions that are causing the trips.

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Agree with "De T", use the hardware utility to isolate the offender. Start with the wire frames. It could also be a combined leakage issue. I have three deer and two tomato cage trees in a very wet area. The minis are the worst as the have 3 strings on them. Its something we all live with. I dread the rainy forecasts. I do have a bad weather voice over that has my sign and most of the house lights on. This way the folks know why thingsmay be dark.

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Admin, we really need some stickies that we can move some of these post into (the answers that is). Then we can just direct the ops of some of these recurring post to. Frankly I am tired of answering the same o same o.

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Admin, we really need some stickies that we can move some of these post into (the answers that is). Then we can just direct the ops of some of these recurring post to. Frankly I am tired of answering the same o same o.

I've been thinking the same thing Max.

Others could be for -- Number of lights can be connected to a controller, Dimming problems with LED strings and snubbers, and probably others the keep coming up.

Trouble is -- would anyone bother to look at it before posting their question.

Jerry

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What about a FAQ forum with stickies dedicated to these types of recurring questions?

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I agree with all of the above.... "* All female ends pointed down." as stated can't hurt, but isn't necessary. Mine are frequently full of water with no GFI issues.

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thank you all sorry to offend you all that think I did not look at previous POST but I did, found and used some of those but was hoping I might find something else and I did so I thank you all that took the time to help and for the ones that were offended by my post you all have a Merry Christmas!

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Scott,

You first did not offend anyone. Sorry to tell you, but you are not the first nor the last to ask this question this year. Sorry did you state that you searched and did not find anything that help you? Not that it matters. I am just trying to get the admin to help make this forum better.

I suppose you will just have to try harder to offend, piker. :P

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Me too...last night it was raining here and my gfci kept tripping. Things would run for a couple of minutes then trip again. Finally gave up and shut it down for the night. Didn't think many people would be out driving around in the rain anyway looking at lights. I thought I had taken the proper precautions and so on but apparently not. No rain today so I'll be out there trying to find the offending circuit(s).

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Scott this year has been really bad for me with that same problem because of rain and the heavy fog that we have been experiencing. You will have to go thru every one of your light sets and cover any non-used female outlet and every cord connection and cover them with tape and be very thorough because any little moisture will trip those GFCI's. The best way to figure out where your problem is is to disconnect all your cords from the controler and and reset the GFCI and start fresh. If the controller pluged on its own stays on then you can start working your way one cord at a time and leave them plugged in for at least a minute or so before you plug the next one in to see where your problem lies. Of course the one with the moisture will trip your outlet again but then you will have narrowed your search a little easier than going thru your whole display. Good luck with that and Merry Christmas.

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Start with plugging in the empty ext cord with nothing plugged into it. Then add one controller, then another until it trips.

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I agree with everyone on their suggestions, including any attempts to make the forum better. Tape is the worst thing you can do, next to laying connectors directly on the ground. All of mine hang off the ground. Unused ends hang down for better drainage. I do not use GFCI's for xmas lights, never have, so I do not have the problems everyone else seems to have. I am not going to be troubleshooting in wet or moist conditions anyway. Safety first. However thats not to say that I dont ever use GFCI's. They have their purposes.

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I agree with everyone on their suggestions, including any attempts to make the forum better. Tape is the worst thing you can do, next to laying connectors directly on the ground. All of mine hang off the ground. Unused ends hang down for better drainage. I do not use GFCI's for xmas lights, never have, so I do not have the problems everyone else seems to have. I am not going to be troubleshooting in wet or moist conditions anyway. Safety first. However thats not to say that I dont ever use GFCI's. They have their purposes.

that is the worst thing you can do, do you run your lights when it is raining? not very responsible when you may have young ones touching things in your display like wire frames. I have all gfis and they do trip(but for a reason) so looks like saftey is last. btw I am being nice
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I'll make this simple... water in the female end alone will NOT trip your GFI... unless you have other issues... If GFIs are tripping the wet connection is on the ground, laying in a puddle, or against a wire-frame in one or both of the previous conditions. Water in a female end cannot trip anything unless the 2 are crossed such as laying on water. I never turn off my display and rarely have GFIs trip - however last year I nearly had a river flowing through my front lawn - GFIs did what they are suppose to do and tripped. I raised the wet connections above the flowing water and all was good.

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that is the worst thing you can do, do you run your lights when it is raining? not very responsible when you may have young ones touching things in your display like wire frames. I have all gfis and they do trip(but for a reason) so looks like saftey is last. btw I am being nice

Dont run show when it's raining and dont have people problems in the display either.

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28 Mini-tress and never a GFI Trip.

8x8 (strings not feet)... yard grid and I usually lose the vertical component to a GFI trip.

I can raise the plugs, I can go blow them out with air.. sometimes it works and sometimes I keep pressing the reset only to hear it click back ... at which point I look at the plug like Buzz Lightyear and say .... "You're mocking me..."

Besides the plugs, there are 4,000 lights in the grid. Each one with a potential to trip the GFI...

By all means, the suggestions given are all valid. However, even with all the protection, there are a lot of lights with a lot of potential points to trip the GFI...

Bob

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I don't know if this is true or not but it appears to me that GFCI trips can be additive, that is, a little loss here and a little loss there adds up to enough to trip the GFCI. I had taken all the precautions with my connections and open ends and would still get GFCI trips in the rain. Being 100% LED I had all my controllers running on one circuit.

Three years ago I put every controller on its own GFCI circuit and haven't had a trip since. The moral of my sorry little story is that you may not find a standout offender in your search for what trips your GFCI, it could just be a lot of little loss adding up to enough to trip it. At least, that was the case for me. So my suggestion going forward would be to make sure each controller is on a separate, GFCI protected circuit.

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Dont run show when it's raining and dont have people problems in the display either.

That's why I would NEVER run my show without GFCIs. If a person’s body starts to receive a shock, the GFCI senses this and cuts off the power before he/she can get injured. Think static shock.

Nuisance tripping: It takes only 5 mA (0.005 A) of current leakage from the hot wire to the ground to cause a GFCI to trip. Long runs with a lot of connections (typical Christmas Light display), or motors can easily cause this small amount of leakage.

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To each their own. All are valid points. Maybe I need to clear up a statement. Not that I should have to defend myself here. But just to clear up something I said earlier so we can move on. All of my outdoor outlets around my house that I use, are GFCI's (had a senior moment), so the protection is there. I guess having been in this house so long you forget things like built in GFCI's. However,

I dont install individual GFCI's off of each AC channel out.

Sorry if I miss lead anyone. I never said they were not useful. Never will I operate a portable power tool outside w/o one.

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One exception to my "show must go on" pledge..... A thunderstorm is moving in this evening and I'll unplug all of my controllers and cat5 cables until it passes. I think we all heard the horror story of a fellow decorator a couple weeks ago. http://forums.lightorama.com/index.php?/topic/25178-well-i-just-lost-everything/page__hl__lightning

Edited by Liberty-Laser

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I don't know if this is true or not but it appears to me that GFCI trips can be additive, that is, a little loss here and a little loss there adds up to enough to trip the GFCI. I had taken all the precautions with my connections and open ends and would still get GFCI trips in the rain. Being 100% LED I had all my controllers running on one circuit.

Yes, current leaked does add up. And in the case of multple small current leaks, it can be tough to locate and correct all. Even if your whole display is able to be powered by a single circuit, it is a good idea to break up the controllers on individual GFCI devices to avoid the current build ups as well as help in troubleshooting. If the whole display goes dark, where do you start? A single controller out and you already have it down to a number of channels.

As for running the show in the rain... Not the smartest idea for numerous reasons. Foremost is safety; even though the circuits are (should be!) protected by a GFCI device it isn't worth the gamble for getting someone hurt. I'm not betting my life, nor anyone elses on a <$20 mass produced device by who knows! Besides, how many are really going to watch a light show in the rain? Yes, I realize that common sense is not so common anymore and there are people that would watch in the rain, tornado, hurricane, etc. There's always another day, and I personally don't want my equipment throwing power out to wet light strings.

Edited by De Trommelslager

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