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edmundaz

Rain and GFI's

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:( I am sure I am not the first person to experience ths. We had heavy rain in Arizona last night and my GFI tripped.

It dries out the next day and I can reset and be powered up again.

For those of you that live in wet climates, what do you do about this?

Ben

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Simply rainproof all plug connections. Wrap them in saran wrap, or put them under a plastic storage bin turned upside down. Put something under the connections (rock, brick, whatever) so they don't soak in puddles that may occur.

You can also use short lengths of cut PVC pipe in a pinch. Put the pipe over the wire, plug in the connection, and pull the plug into the middle of the PVC.

There's extension cord waterproof doohickeys that you can buy, but it gets expensive quickly.

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One more thing to remember. GFI faults occur because there is a path to ground other than the normal wire route (hot to neutral wire). This can only occur if your connections (plug to socket) are touching something electrically (via water in this case). So basically you could submerge a connection in a glass of water and the GFI would not blow (since it has no path to ground).

That's why I suggested getting the plug connections off the ground a bit if you can. What happens is that rain water soaks the plug, and a slight amount of electricity passes through the semi-conductive water and into the ground, instead of returning through your plug neutral. The GFI detects this and it blows.

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True, 'off' the ground is by far the best thing. I'm not sure how wrapping the plugs would cause a fault unless you left them on the ground soaking in the water. Of course, it only gets worse when the water gets dirty and thus more conductive.

I'll leave it at 'get them off the ground' and keep them clean. That should work every time.

One more reason to love the 'nearly sealed' design of LED's. Much less current leakage to happen due to moisture.

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Jeff:

Most of the problem I have seen with people wrapping plugs is from condensation. I have seen that on construction sites where the guys are running all kinds of temporary cords for equipment. They can waterproof them and keep the rain out. But when the sun hits it the condensation collects and gets in it.

That is why I built a geodesic dome over my house to prevent rain from bothering my display. :P

RW

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Hi edmundaz, I'm over in Mesa and also been having GFCI problems. I am actually doing two displays this year, mine and one for a friend. I have a problem with net lights on the ground tripping my GFCIs, even though I have the edges and plugs staked up, if enough rain comes down, it goes. Anyone have any experience with that? Fortunately I can unplug that one channel and the rest of the lights keep working in the rain.

My friend has 15 mini trees on 1 gfci that keep blowing his circuit, we are going to have to try and split the load or insulate them and see if that fixes it. Thanks for the tip on the mini-trees Jeff.

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So what do you do if it is the lights themselves tripping the gfci. I was troubleshooting the gfci iissue and found atleast 1 channel that was "sizzling" seemed to stay on and work until another "sizzling" channel would light up it'll blow.

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I use light stakes to keep connections off the ground and I dont have any issues when it rains. I dont tape plug ends either. As I put up icicle lights I always make sure to clip the plug ends under the eves. After a really good rain - ill turn off all breakers and do a quick walk thru and look at all connections... shake them off, remove any snow accumulations etc, etc. A little preventive maintenance helps.

The only issues Ive had is water seeping into the flood lights. I use nine 100W floods and last year one flood blew the fuse in my LOR , not the GFCI (which concerend me) on the last night of the show season. During teardown, i discovered water in the floodlight and holder.... so im really paranoid with that since we are having rain and ice right now.



But do definately put your connections up off the ground.

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TFancher wrote:

I use light stakes to keep connections off the ground and I dont have any issues


But do definately put your connections up off the ground.


I worked on them last night and I got the connections of the ground. I actually placed them inside PVC "Pipe" (it was actually PVC wood) and placed all the minis on wood planks. Seemed to get rid of 99% of the problems. (one tree still blows if it stays on for longer than 10 secs, but I do not have any lights that stay on that long.)

I do have 1 string of lights that have the plug inside the garage, that would blow the gfci, so I removed that string and I will replace it today.

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Jeff Millard wrote:

chuckd wrote:
Simply rainproof all plug connections. Wrap them in saran wrap...
This is exactly the thing that causes GFCI to trip. Wrapping connections causes water to get trapped in in the plastic. Then dirt and debris get in there and make the water conductive. The tracking is always sufficient to cause nuisance GFCI trips.




Well Jeff, I guess I'm going to disagree with this. I don't use Saran Wrap, but I use tiny sandwhich bags to put connections in the bag and then a rubber band to keep it closed. The trick is not to let the bag dangle so that water can get in the bag. The bag entrance should obviously face down. This is only my 3rd year using LOR, yet I'm been doing this with other equipment for 15 years. My first 2 years were nothing but trouble with GFCI trips and other issues of sockets rusting out. However, in the last 12 years of "bagging" connections, I can honestly say I've never had a single trip issue across the whole 80 channels. The difference might be plastic wrap. It's too easy for water to get trapped in there, which is probably what you are referring to

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Jeff Millard wrote:

Richard Hamilton wrote:
I don't use Saran Wrap, but I use tiny sandwhich bags to put connections in the bag and then a rubber band to keep it closed. The trick is not to let the bag dangle so that water can get in the bag.


I'm sticking to guns on this one. Oklahoma's ice storm blew into New Jersey today as a heavy steady rain with blowing wind. I have 80 amps of lights playing in driving rain, and not a single connection is covered. There are two intermissions that turn on every light in the display for a half hour each. So if ever there was a chance to demonstrate how to do it, this is it...

IMHO "Wrapping=Tripping"

Jeff


I've used bags/wrap in the past on lights and always had a problem. This year I did not and still had the problem UNTIL I moved all cords off the ground/hid them in PVC pipe and lifted all mini trees off the ground as well.

I had 16 channels of my display on my roof and they are not wrapped and I have not had a single trip from them. (they are not getting ground from earth)

Greg

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Well I will not have a show tonight but not because of GFI tripping. Right now the mini trees and about 125 extension cords are sitting in about 1 foot of water!!! Can't raise them up that high.

With 42 circuits I found it is just something that you have to live with. Tonight is not a good night to be driving let alone taking kids to look at lights.

On the bright side it is the first rain we have had in six weeks. Just a shame it is on the weekend.

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I don't have to worry about snow, but if you can keep the connections covered with a vent to allow for condensates to drain it should be okay. Unfortunately the lamp sockets will always be a potential problem for leakage.

Robin wrote:

On the bright side it is the first rain we have had in six weeks. Just a shame it is on the weekend.


Robin,

Maybe this is the rain that Gov. Perdue was praying for a few weeks back. We have to accept what we get, don't we?

-Steve

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Jeff Millard wrote:

Richard Hamilton wrote:
I don't use Saran Wrap, but I use tiny sandwhich bags to put connections in the bag and then a rubber band to keep it closed. The trick is not to let the bag dangle so that water can get in the bag.

Condensation can and will get into a bag regardless. There is a similar thread on PC about this subject right now, and Glenn (GS) discussed just this issue.

In the past I have tried all the suggestions about wrapping, including sandwich bags with rubber bands, and also with electrical tape. What I found after the bad weather was a bag full of water, with a bunch of dirt that was tracking and tripping.

I'm sticking to guns on this one. Oklahoma's ice storm blew into New Jersey today as a heavy steady rain with blowing wind. I have 80 amps of lights playing in driving rain, and not a single connection is covered. There are two intermissions that turn on every light in the display for a half hour each. So if ever there was a chance to demonstrate how to do it, this is it...

IMHO "Wrapping=Tripping"

Jeff


Hmmm, I guess I am a bit confused on why this works for me, so I'm going to stick with the technique. Maybe it is all the earthquakes that we have in California shakes all the water out of the bag ;-) (tongue in cheek comment)

It's probably just that I tie the bags to to the trees or cutters so that they never get inverted. When I open them up on January 2 to put everything away, there is never any evidence that water was inside.

I guess the message here for everyone is to just be careful about bagging or wrapping because it could cause problems if not done properly. Who knows, it might even be due to a difference in the climates. Thanks for the link

I'm glad you are having good luck with your technique.

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