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Circuit breaker tripping


BamaFlum
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I have a GFCI breaker that keeps tripping on one side of a PC controller. I changed plugs and it trips the new plug so the breaker isn't the problem. I can't reproduce the problem using the hardware utility. I made sure all the plugs are off the ground and dry. Last year, I ran it no problems and this year we added a spiral tree using vampire plugs and SPT2 wire. Half the tree is on a controller that has never tripped while the other half is on the "trippy" controller. I'm thinking that I have a vampire plug that has a short, but how do I figure that out?

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It's humid and a bit damp. It only happens intermediately. The show ran fine from 5:30 to around 7:30. Once I push the breaker back, the show will run for a while, but never the same amount of time. Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes almost an hour before the circuit trips.

You did jog my memory. I do have some lights touching the ground on the spiral tree. The are wrapped on the bottom to keep them in place.

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I'm going to try tomorrow. The bad thing is that I can't reproduce the trip using the hardware utility. So, I will try to lift the lights tomorrow and hope that does it for the show tomorrow night. I hope it works since I have compary tomorrow night.

I didn't think about the lights being on the ground.

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It seems to me that you should be able to duplicate it with the H/U. What about running the show with one element disconnected at a time. If the spiral tree is the possible culprit the show show run fine. I know that I was having an issue in one section that is really wet (frozen now!). The gfci would only trip at 100%. My static is at 50%.

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Dave Batzdorf wrote:

It seems to me that you should be able to duplicate it with the H/U. What about running the show with one element disconnected at a time. If the spiral tree is the possible culprit the show show run fine. I know that I was having an issue in one section that is really wet (frozen now!). The gfci would only trip at 100%. My static is at 50%.


The problem in trying to do this is the randomness of the trip. Sometimes it will trip within a few minutes and other times it takes an hour or two. It's misty this morning in SA, so I will try fixing it once the mist lets up a bit. No sense in getting wet trying to fix it.

Ultimately, I may have to uplug the spiral tree and see if that works.
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I've had that problem when I had too many lights on the controller. When the sequence turns them all on at once or some such surge it blows the cfci. We had a giant Merry Christmas on a fence with 2 trees on either side all on one channel. We unplugged the trees and the tripping stopped. We plugged in 2 trees and it was still good. Plugged 2 more trees in and it trips.

We found or lets say suspect that 20-amp cfci's are less sensitive than 15's.

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I did have some lights wet under some leaves in contact with the ground. I even had one that was covered in some muddy debris from a critter that made a little hole near the tree. I've lifted all the lights and plugs and hope that everything dries out by tonight.

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I've occasionally experienced misty nights where it seems like water is condensing on everything, where I have had even well lifted lights trip GFCI just from the current flowing out the gaps in the bases of the mini light sockets, through the bark, and down the trunk of the tree... Thankfully that has never been more than a couple of nights a season for us. We will be changing those to sealed base LED lights next year. Hopefully that will remove enough potential leakage path to allow us to get away with a lot more strings per GFCI.

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We are having another humid, moist night and the tripping seems to be worse even with the lights raised. When no one was in front of the house, I shut down the show and ran the H/U. I ran the lights on the trippy controller with all on, chase, twinkle, just the spiral tree...nothing tripped it. The show will run for a while and then just trip. I hope the controller is not going out on me.:D

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I just hooked up a kill a watt to each side. One side is at around 12 amps while the other is around 10 amps. I disconnected the channels from the spiral tree that are running on that controller (looks strange to have only a 3 channel spiral tree that should be 8 ) to see if it will trip without the spiral tree. I'm suspecting that maybe a vampire plug is the culprit, but I can't be sure since I can't reproduce it using the H/U.

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Make sure all your cord ends are up off the ground.. If so, and you are using incandescent bulbs, I have an idea what may be going on. I think it is fact that the hole in the base of the socket is big enough for 3 wires, and only have two coming out with no sealant. This creates a place for water to condense, and in combination with dissolved copper and anything that gets in there from the tree trunk forms 100 places for current to flow out on each string. Thankfully I have not had the issue this year, but last year, the same trees were fine in the rain, but the misty condensing weather would trip them out..

As for vampire plugs, unless they are in a position to create a circuit to ground, or some other circuit, they won't be your problem.

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klb,

Thanks. I uplugged the spiral tree from that controller and fired up the show. EVerything is fine. So I'm going to wait 15-20 minutes to make sure and then plug in the spiral tree one channel at a time waiting 15-20 minutes between each channel to see if it trips. Hopefully, I can isolate the offending strand. Next year, I'm going all LED's on the spiral and, if my budget isn't too tight, another element all LED.

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Unfortunately, it may not be any one strand... Or you might have one damage strand that is only an issue when it blows one direction in the wind.. It can be so tough to track some of these down..

If it is the open bases on the mini light sockets, you may find that it is not any single one, but rather several of them in combination that is your issue...

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I finished the test this morning. I plugged in 3 out of five strands with no problems. Once I added the 4th (#2 strand for the spiral), it tripped. I disconnected it and reran it minus that channel plus the one I hadn't attached. It ran fine. I skipped that one and it ran fine. This afternoon, I plugged in everything, and it ran fine. Either it has completely dried out, or I have a gremlin/grinch in #2.

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I ran the show without #2 and it tripped it last night. So I unplugged #1 and #2 from the spiral tree and it worked. With the wet weather we're getting here, I'll just keep them off until we get the cold dry weather in tomorrow.

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Glad things are expected to dry out for you. But you didn't have to send the rain our way. We were fine without it. So far, our biggest issue with rain this year is that it will take out half of the city show parking lot. We'll find out what elements it takes out tonight.

We will see what trips, and see what we can put up on stakes to improve the situation for following days.

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Hey B.F.

I was assigned to Kelly AFB between 83 to 86. I think it was the winter of what 85 that you all got that couple of inches of snow. Killed the palm trees and jap gold fishes down on the river walk. I remember hearing of 500 reported accidents in 30 minutes. Our NCO sent us all home early. Do not pass GO and do not collect 200 bucks. Just go straight home which I did. They used blades to clear the roads and they pulled up all of the bumps between lanes. So, be glad your getting rain. Cause all of you southerners cant drive in a wee bit of snow.

But sorry that you all are having troubles with your GFIs. Hope you get it all worked out, wet or dry.

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Max-Paul wrote:

Hey B.F.

I was assigned to Kelly AFB between 83 to 86. I think it was the winter of what 85 that you all got that couple of inches of snow. Killed the palm trees and jap gold fishes down on the river walk. I remember hearing of 500 reported accidents in 30 minutes. Our NCO sent us all home early. Do not pass GO and do not collect 200 bucks. Just go straight home which I did. They used blades to clear the roads and they pulled up all of the bumps between lanes. So, be glad your getting rain. Cause all of you southerners cant drive in a wee bit of snow.

But sorry that you all are having troubles with your GFIs. Hope you get it all worked out, wet or dry.


My wife grew up here and remembers that vididly.

Looks like the cold dry weather has dried everything up and everything is working well for the first time in several days.
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In Hardware Utility, use the Console and from inside you can turn on-off each channel. We go one at a time and usually we'll get a trip with bad one. Run 15 channels for a while and see what happens, etc. Avoids having to go outside and plug-unplug until you find the bad one(s).

If you suspect overload, change the feeds and see what trips.

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Well, we got a rain all day with a mist following. Every circuit breaker hooked to Christmas lights tripped. I called it a dark night and hope erverything dries out for a few more nights. Before the rain, we had a few flawless nights.

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