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GFCI trips.. "leakage to ground"? HUH?

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I have 2 controllers. 

 

1 is a bunch of small elements... walls, bushes, eves.. all LED.

 

the other uses 1 channell to run one mini tree each. 16 mini trees with around 1200 mini LED's on each one.  call it 60 W per tree.  The trees are made of welded rod. 

 

I tested the display using the LOR HU. ran through each circuit... when we have rain, any time the sequence hits the mini trees in a spot where most or all are going... POP!  ARGH!!!

 

I can run the HU through the controller on chase, run half, run 2/3... even run ALL... it doesnt go every time... but when it does... especially in fast action, the GFCI pops in relation to the mini trees.  I have each side of the controller on a different GFCI on a different circuit.  (ran half into the hall bathroom to make sure, wife pissed)..  I have read a lot of threads, talks about metal elements leaking current to the ground.  mini trees especially.

 

What are my options?  this GFCI is about 3 years old.. I can swap it for new... see if that helps.. I know they wear out... buy a $$ one...   I have seen people isolate the trees from the ground with vinyl sheets, rubber, wood... does this help?  I am looking for solutions!!! Thanks guys!

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Insulate your mini trees from the ground. Get them up off of the grass a bit.

You can use small blocks of wood or small bits of pvc pipe. That should solve your problem.

I made my mini trees out of pvc pipe for just that reason. Hope this helps.

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Im having the exact same problem but with my candy cane spinners if they are chasing or spinning they stay on but as soon as the whole wheel lights up it kicks the gfci but i do have some canes full of water so ill see if it gets any better with seep holes in them to drain, and mine are also on a wooden structure so no grounding issues and all the plugs are up off the ground

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Insulate your mini trees from the ground. Get them up off of the grass a bit.

You can use small blocks of wood or small bits of pvc pipe. That should solve your problem.

I made my mini trees out of pvc pipe for just that reason. Hope this helps.

I put small sections of 1" gray conduit between ours and the ground. No GFCI tripping once this was done. Good luck!

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I made my mini-trees out of 1/2" PVC pipe to avoid this issue altogether.  They look good, and no GFCI trips.

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Had the same problem with my tomato cage trees...every time it rained it was a guaranteed trip.  I tried raising them with PVC, but I found it hard to balance and secure them on the PVC (I was probably doing something wrong).  That helped, but didn't cure the problem.  I then realized I had 8' long strips of what was once an industrial size conveyor belt laying in my garage.  Thick rubber.  I secured them to the strips and voila...no problems even in heavy rain. 

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I put wood strips under each tree, the GFCI still popped.  So i replaced the plug as my next check... and so far no pops, ran through the sequence a couple times.  best $20 I have ever spent.  I think it having popped so many ntimes just wore it out... who knows.  we will see what happens at show time,.

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Gentlemen,

 

Wood is a fair to good insulation, so long as it remains dry. Otherwise the wood will suck up the water and conduct current to ground. Now I feel that I must remind you we are not talking amps here. Just about 10mA, that is .01 amp. Wet wood is going to be able to carry that little amount of current with no problem. That is why I will always suggest PVC pipes. But if you can find another material that works then by all means use it. But dont use wood and expect it to work.

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i know... I am working on some rubber, was thinking truck tire intertubes cut to squares.. but had 90 minutes today while kid was at Kindergarten to try and fix.  honestly, I think the plug was bad.  it popped with the wood installed...swapped it, and nothing.   this electrical stuff is not my forte... I can wire stuff ok, but the science of it escapes me, so I appreciate your advice a lot!  have a good one!

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I wrap the ends of my tomato cages that stick into the ground with black electrical tape. Stop the GFCI from popping in wet conditions.

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Made pvc for my mini trees and dried then bagged the plugs on my candy cane spinners and bam no more gfci trips!!

Edit**

Ran all night & still on with no issues and has been a down pour of rain all week!!

Edited by bhunt240

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My GFIs don't trip because I don't have any. 32 dedicated 15amp circuits for close to 100k incandescent lights. I silicone and tape every connection... No issues in 8 years. GFIs are a pain with lights... Especially 63 mini trees/tomato cages.

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I run a portable power distribution panel in my display with 12 circuits each connected to a GFCI plug.

I run a 16 channel incan yard grid (directly on the ground) and 28 incan mini trees along with a number of other props.

My trees are made on metal floral easels (sp?) and just stuck in the ground.

I occasionally have GFCI issues with the yard grid and thats after a good rain when the plugs and sockets get wet.

 

They really screwed up in my opinion when they named GFCI devices becasue they really dont have anything to do with ground (technically, operationally)

The GFCI device compares the current leaving the hot side against the current returning to the neutral side and if its greater than 5ma (according to OSHA) the device is designed to trip within 1/40th of a second.

 

So isolating props is effectively circumventing the purpose of the device. Mini-Trees for example, what is happening is the prop (circuit) is leaking current from somewhere and the current leak is, in this case is most likely to the metal frame then to ground ( i nkow what I said about ground .. but in this case it is the path with no one touching it ) , and it trips. So you isolate the prop and your GFCI doesnt trip, but then what happens when you or someone else touches the prop. You have now defeated your isolation technique and you become the leakage point that causes an imbalance in the returning current which then HOPEFULLY trips the GFCI and keeps you from becoming a lighted yard prop...

 

Regardless of lights on a bush, lights on a PVC pole, a rubber pad or a wire frame if the circuit is leaking current through a bad socket, a vampire plug or any other possibility, I recommend finding, fixing and replacing the fault.

A GFCI tripping is trying to tell us something and we should listen intently.

 

We all have pulled a bulb out of a incan mini-light and seen the "High Quality" work that goes in to crimping those little spades on to the wire and then cramming them into a socket. ... right?

 

I keep my mini-trees and my yard grid on thier own GFCI so that if there is a fault (usually moisture in my case) that I can leave the circuit tripped and still run the rest of the display.

 

I am not an electrician, electrical engineer or an expert on this subject, but a little reseach and common sense has kept me, my family, my display and my guests safe for 10 years now.

If I have mistated, misunderstood or I am just flat out wrong .. please let me know as I dont want to perpetuate bad and potentially dangerous information.

 

Happy Lights...

 

Bob

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thanks Bob... no, I dont think you are wrong... but I dont think I have a bad connection... I dont get trips with any channel, combination of channels, until IN show, they all go at once, or in fast action...  when its wet.  So it could be a combination of wet connections, wet metal trees on ground... who knows...

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Sounds exactly like what trips mine...stay safe and Merry Christmas

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What is the most common cause of this wires,sockets, bulbs, plugs?

Mine tripped after a heavy rain yesterday. I dont really have any metal props in the ground.

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In my experience, its moisture getting into the light sockets themselves. Plugs... yeah .. it happens if they are submersed but if they are not in water, then the blades are usually far enough apart that its not really a major issue. What I've seen is a little moisture will accumulate in the base of the socket (mostly on minis that plug in ... LED or Incan) and there is just enough there that it will bridge the two contacts ... ie. submersed... this creates a "water short" of sorts which goes to enforce my point about GFCI not really being a grounding issue since there isnt any "ground" in these lights. A path is created that changes the differential of current being tested and trips the circuit.

 

Bob

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Hmmm i dont know how id be able to fix that, im going to see if can cause it to trip today by lighting one channel/controller at a time to narrow it down.

I got home at 9pm last night to a dark yard, i just hope nobody made the trip to see the show and were let down.

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Well i went outside and looked around only thing i found was some water in my candy cane spinners so i drilled some holes in those. All plugs are off the ground, only thing metal that touches the lights is the mega tree base and its also off the ground.

I went in hu and turned everything on and no trips, ive also had a show running for about an hour with no problems, so i guess its fixed.

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That stinks. Thought the candy canes had to be it. Sorry.

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Yeah i unplugged them completely and it still happened.

In hu if i turn controller 2 all on it trips one channel at a time doesnt do it, controller 5 seems to be doing the same thing.

Unit 2 is running strands on the oak trees, and inflatables lights.

Unit 5 is running the arches and candy canes.

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Bob Moody,

 

I usually have to agree with most of the post you make. But in this case, well I think you dont fully understand GFCI and how they work and what happens in the real world. First lets set the stage so they say. G & F is Ground Fault, there is a certain amount of current that is not returning on the neutral lead. So if not going back on the neutral lead, where did it go? Why to earth ground of course. And this is considered a fault. Now there are two ways to get current to earth ground. It is either by a clear current path such as a bare wire that touches ground. Maybe via the metal frame of a washing machine. And part of that circuit might be via a persons body. But A.C. is a tricky beast, and when we are talking about such low current levels. Well there is a electronic device called a capacitor. That now get this, allows an A.C. current pass through it. But will block D.C. current. Now a capacitor has two elements. There are two plates with leads attached to each plate. Now think of a metal tomato cage as one plate and each time a hot wire from your lights making contact with the cage as another plate. Oh I forgot to mention earlier, 3 element of a cap. is an insulator between the two plates. This would be the plastic jacket on the wire of your lights. So, we have what is called capacitive coupling leaking a very small amount of current. More mini treas or wire frames, more leakage. When you get to critical mass, POP!  Bob there have been enough people who have listened to my ranting about this that it has helped them solve their tripping GFCIs that I must be on to something. Not always, but enough times you cant discount this capacitive coupling.

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Please refresh my memory. How are the candy canes held in place? IF metal mesh, is the mesh isolated from earth ground? And you mention the metal ring on the mega tree as the base of the tree. How is the metal ring held in place so that it does not blow around? You just posted saying that your show was running ok. But seems that once it started to rain you popped the GFCI. Fairly clear that something is getting wet and providing a path to ground.

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