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Electrical Issue/Question

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I have set up my lights the same as previous years, but for some reason, this year when they run they seem to be temporarily tripping the UPS on my entertainment center.  The breaker doesn't trip, but the power drops low enough that UPS switches to battery only for a second or two, then it's restored.  Strangely (at least to me), none of my lights are on the same circuit as the entertainment center.  They are all plugged in to largely unused circuits shared by unoccupied rooms.  This has never happened in the past, and the lights themselves never stop running and never lose power.  If I'm watching TV, the battery in the UPS will eventually drain to the point that the system just loses power.  I'm not even sure what else to check at this point.  This only happens when the show is running.  Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

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Does it trip at the same point in the show or in a particular sequence? It could have to do with a lot of lights being turned on at one point. Have you added more lights this year? Are you sure you don't have something on the same circuit with the entertainment center? A circuit in a house can have something like 15 receptacles on one it. 

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.

.

CAUTION........ (READ ALL OF IT)

 

 Generally NON related circuits  causing interaction between them.... usually required NOW attention, things like a loose neutral (generally the white wire in North America) (supply to panel OR from the pole....)

 

I would have an electrician inspect VERY SOON.....

 

here's what happens, if your house looses it's neutral it will cause a floating condition, GFI's will NOT be able to sense any faults, as the reference (white) no longer shows a potential.

 

AS well.... in effect what is starting to happen (IF it's a loose white IN the panel or entrance service), is that your house has become a 220v house, and loads on the red (or black) leg are hunting for the "other wire" (opposite black or red) to achieve a completed circuit (this is the reason the UPS is tripping, as the load changes from the circuits the LOR controllers are on,  this in turn causes a voltage offset  that the UPS is sensing as "low voltage".

 

IF you have an electric stove.....  220v  50a  turn one of the big elements on high, and throw a big pot of water on it.....  keep your UPS and computer running, and start your light show.

 

IF the UPS does NOT trigger to battery then I would assume I am CORRECT and you need an electrician NOW. (the stove will become a bridge that will supersede the UPS's ability to sence the voltage potential).

 

IF NOT..... then I have no idea.....

 

 

I COULD BE WRONG about this , IT'S YOUR DECISION as to go with it or call an electrician....

 

 

Greg

Edited by a31ford
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Gas stove, gas dryer.  I've used a circuit breaker finder to confirm all of the circuits are separate.  I was just hoping it was something electrical that I didn't know about instead of something I really didn't know about.  Guess I'll be calling an electrician.  Thanks for the help.

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Just remember... I could be wrong..... (lets hope I am)

 

Greg

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you said you've been using for years...

Your UPS itself could be going out.

They are not a "lifetime" purchase item.

What is the brand and model of the UPS?

If the battery is worn out, it sends signal to charge more often,

then the entire UPS is computing too much and eventually fails.

Are any of the alarm lights going off before it transfers to battery?

Or, have you added anything to that circuit that wasn't there before?

Like did Santa bring you a new sound system with a bigger sub ???

Before tonight's show, unplug everything from the UPS. Watch the UPS lights and see what goes on. My guess is totally unrelated to your show.

Edited by Mega Arch

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I'm with Greg on this one. Without having details, this sounds like an open neutral problem. If you're not qualified to test this, call an electrician ASAP.

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Greg and Jim are correct. Don't hesitate. Since I'm not an electrician, I'll give my thoughts. Prior to calling an electrician, swap out the UPS as Mega suggested. I've had several of these just stop working over the years.  If that stops the problem by replacing UPS, then you saved a ton of money. 

 

If it still does what you describe, call the pros ASAP. Don't take any chances.

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The UPS is just slightly over 2 years old.  It's a CyberPower CP1500AVR LCD Intelligent LCD UPS (1500VA 900W).  The load on it is 650W when everything is on.  I did recently replace both my subwoofer and AV receiver, but that load is with the new components.  The display is actually slightly smaller this year vs. prior years, but only by about 1,000 lights.  But again, since there isn't anything from the show on this circuit, and this only happens when the show is running, it seems like it's going to be something more expensive and complicated than just replacing the battery or even the UPS.  

 

Once again, thanks for all your help. 

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Ok -

First, those batteries are only designed for 2 years. Your model UPS comes with a battery self-diagnosis button. Run it and see if both batteries pass.

Second, I know you said lights not on circuit, but is your show computer plugged into this same UPS?

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What is the amperage of your show?  If you have a large draw and it is on the same phase as your entertainment center, your ups may be seeing a drop in input voltage.  Typically, the phases on your breaker panel alternate with each breaker (depending on your panel layout). If your show is on the same phase as your entertainment center, try changing it to the other phase and see it that relieves your problem.

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I'm still leaning towards your batteries. And if they fail the test, change both. If only change one - you'll be going through this again soon...

Your neutral is most likely fine. An "open neutral" situation isn't going to come and go. It's either open or it's not. If that was the issue, your UPS would be on battery mode all the time. You only have 11 minutes backup time, so you would know it was a problem long before your Christmas lights.

Newer panels - separate neutral spots in panel for each circuit. Older panels using 3 to 1, might have the issue, but again, you'd know it all the time, not just when it's Christmas.

Now, disclaimer- I'm not there and couldn't possibly know everything, but check your batteries.

Also, could be "noise" from computer if on same circuit.

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Open neutral to the panel may hide behind nearly balanced loads on the two legs. Out of typical loads may push the floating neutral further away from ground and make it more visible.

If it isn't an open/loose neutral, or UPS battery, the other option is that you may have more of your controllers on the same leg as the UPS this year than last.

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Ok -

First, those batteries are only designed for 2 years. Your model UPS comes with a battery self-diagnosis button. Run it and see if both batteries pass.

Second, I know you said lights not on circuit, but is your show computer plugged into this same UPS?

I'll run the diagnostic when I get home.  Thanks for reminding me.  I forgot about that.  The computer that runs the show is on a separate circuit.

 

 

What is the amperage of your show?  If you have a large draw and it is on the same phase as your entertainment center, your ups may be seeing a drop in input voltage.  Typically, the phases on your breaker panel alternate with each breaker (depending on your panel layout). If your show is on the same phase as your entertainment center, try changing it to the other phase and see it that relieves your problem.

I don't recall the total amperage.  Unfortunately, I'm still all incandescent.  This is a basic diagram of how things are going into the breaker:

 

 BreakerBox.jpg

 

Does this look like it might be a contributing factor?

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Sometimes when you loose your neutral, lights may go brighter in the house.   Are the lights changing brightness?  Going dimmer is OK but definitely NOT brighter.  I agree the UPS should be checked.  But do what you have to do to be safe.

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Sometimes when you loose your neutral, lights may go brighter in the house.   Are the lights changing brightness?  Going dimmer is OK but definitely NOT brighter.  I agree the UPS should be checked.  But do what you have to do to be safe.

No lights getting any brighter.  I've got some dimming in a couple of rooms, but mostly no changes in brightness either way.

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I agree with Grinch. If you neutral was open, you could possibly see brighter lights in some parts of the house. 

 

I also agree you could have ups issues, most likely a weak battery.  Your show's load may be activating your ups circuitry and the battery is not able to deal with it. 

 

It looks to me like circuits 9 & 18 are on the same phase a your entertainment center.  I would try turning off 9 and 18 and test your show to see if that stops your ups problem.

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It looks to me like circuits 9 & 18 are on the same phase a your entertainment center.  I would try turning off 9 and 18 and test your show to see if that stops your ups problem.

Forgive my ignorance, but how do you determine the phases?  I was just assuming that left and right are the phases, or possibly straight across would be phases.  None of those are opposite each other, and they're on both the left and right sides.  How were you able to determine that from my fairly crude diagram?

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It's not really phases. Residential panels are single phase. But, what they are referring to are the bus bars in the panel. You are correct that the left and right determine L1 and L2, unless it's a really old panel. The fact that you have drawn out 21 circuits all but rules old panel out.

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And as far as loosing your neutral, your model UPS has a wiring fault LED indicator that would be lit if you dropped your neutral.

Which lights come on and what audibles, if any, do you hear when it indicates it's in trouble / battery mode?

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Forgive my ignorance, but how do you determine the phases?  I was just assuming that left and right are the phases, or possibly straight across would be phases.  None of those are opposite each other, and they're on both the left and right sides.  How were you able to determine that from my fairly crude diagram?

 

 

Here is a crude drawing of the layout in a typical circuit breaker panel.

 

Breaker%20Layout.jpg?dl=0

 

A and B represent the 2 "phases" or 120 volt legs coming in from the transformer.  As you can see, they are separated by row.  So, this would mean that breakers 1 & 2 are on leg A, 2 & 4 on leg B and so on.  by following this, we can see that #9, 18 & 21 are on leg A and #12, 15 & 19 are on leg B.

 

Hope this helps.

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And as far as loosing your neutral, your model UPS has a wiring fault LED indicator that would be lit if you dropped your neutral.

Which lights come on and what audibles, if any, do you hear when it indicates it's in trouble / battery mode?

Just a beep and then the display switches from input monitoring to output monitoring.  As soon as the "trouble" stops, the beep stops, and the display switches back to input monitoring.  There is a meter that shows the remaining battery level, and as this happens through the night, predictably, the meter drops.  And again, this is only when the TV/Entertainment center is on.

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Here is a crude drawing of the layout in a typical circuit breaker panel.

 

Breaker%20Layout.jpg?dl=0

 

A and B represent the 2 "phases" or 120 volt legs coming in from the transformer.  As you can see, they are separated by row.  So, this would mean that breakers 1 & 2 are on leg A, 2 & 4 on leg B and so on.  by following this, we can see that #9, 18 & 21 are on leg A and #12, 15 & 19 are on leg B.

 

Hope this helps.

Had no idea that's how that would be set up.  I'll have to give that a try too.  Now I'll just how to figure out where to connect to a couple of those other circuits.  Thanks.

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It's not really phases. Residential panels are single phase. But, what they are referring to are the bus bars in the panel. You are correct that the left and right determine L1 and L2, unless it's a really old panel. The fact that you have drawn out 21 circuits all but rules old panel out.

If it was left and right, how would a double pole breaker supply 220v line to line instead of 0 volts?

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If it was left and right, how would a double pole breaker supply 220v line to line instead of 0 volts?

I'm used to looking at panels with their covers off - so I wasn't going into great details as it's really a mute point.

But, for clarification - left side 1 pole breaker could be on left bus or a bridge to the right bus. The drawing wasn't real clear on my phone and I was too vague - sorry..... But again, mute point.

Christmas lights are not going to cause a voltage drop to cause the theatre UPS to come on. Just not going to.

If lights are sucking that much juice, will be popping breakers.

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