GFCI Outlets - We should all have one! - Page 3 - Equipment - Aquatic Plant Central

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Old 07-31-2006, 10:06 PM   #21 (permalink)
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There are five kinds of circuit protection.
1. Circuit Breakers/Fuses protect against short circuit and excessive circuit i.e. hair dryer and microwave. This keeps the wires from melting and starting fires.

2. Arc fault circuit interrupt: protects against arcing. Arcs may not be excessive, like a spark, but can still cause fires. AFCI is usually incorporated with the circuit breaker, esp on new homes.

3. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt. GFCI: Protects against electrocution by ensuring that the current entering an outlet is the same as the current leaving the outlet. If they are different, it means that the current is taking a different path than expected, like your arm. This is a ground fault, and the circuit trips. GFCI outlets are required in the kitchen, bathroom, and anywhere else water is present.

4. Surge protectors. Protects you appliances against power surges from the Energy co. Usually used with computers. Not really applicable to an aquarium, except that surge protectors come with these handy dandy outlet strips that you can plug lots of stuff into. Many power strips also include circuit breaker protection as well.

5. UPS Power backup. Protect against power droops/brownouts from the energy company. You can hook up a computer UPS to your aquarium to use during power outages, but wont last very long if you're lights are hooked up to it. Really good for saltwater/reefs, not totally necessary for planted tanks.

The only ones really useful in aquariums are GFCI and breaker protected power strips. I installed a GFCI outlet at the wall and have a power strip in my stand. UPS might be useful, but expensive. I've never really considered it before.

I've never seen GFCI that stays off when power goes out. You can't run power tools off of GFCI because the outlet can't compensate for large motors. Plug your refrigerator into an GFCI outlet and see what happens when the compressor turns on. THe GFCI will trip almost every time. For this reason, there is a specific exemption for GFCI on large appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, and garbage disposals. Many power outages are accompanied by a surge or brownout, which is why surge protectors often trip on power outage. Artemis' point about failing in the off position makes sense, but I haven't seen that behavior in practice. I've never had to reset the GFCI in my kitchen after a power failure.
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:41 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Great info! Thanks for this detailed description...

I guess maybe I wasn't looking at the right thing in the stores. I'll do another tour...
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Old 08-01-2006, 03:30 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I only have my pump connected to the UPS. Lights are not needed to keep fish alive and the water temp will not drop enough to kill the fish without heaters. My UPS can run my MagDrive pump for hours but connect my 800 watts of heaters and it drains in minutes, haven't tried the lighting it is another 440 watts. If I lose power for more than several hours, I fire up the generator....DC
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Old 08-01-2006, 06:30 AM   #24 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JERP
I've never seen GFCI that stays off when power goes out. You can't run power tools off of GFCI because the outlet can't compensate for large motors. Plug your refrigerator into an GFCI outlet and see what happens when the compressor turns on. THe GFCI will trip almost every time. For this reason, there is a specific exemption for GFCI on large appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, and garbage disposals. Many power outages are accompanied by a surge or brownout, which is why surge protectors often trip on power outage. Artemis' point about failing in the off position makes sense, but I haven't seen that behavior in practice. I've never had to reset the GFCI in my kitchen after a power failure.
You can't run large motors off a GFCI-protected circuit, but small ones like electric circular saws and drills are another matter. They usually don't cause enough of an induction surge to trip the GFCI. Extension cords and plugs used on construction sites are required by OSHA to use GFCI, and those units do indeed trip when a power failure occurs and stay off (unlike the GFCI wall outlets and breaker circuits normally seen in homes). But that's an easy problem to avoid: just have an electrician wire GFCI to the circuit in your breaker box that handles the aquarium, or swap out the regular wall outlet for a GFCI wall outlet, or use a GFCI plug-in unit that is not OSHA compliant (like the one Premium Aquatics sells), and you'll be fine.
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:23 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Just a little tip: make sure your GFCI outlets are installed correctly if you're doing it yourself. I just figured out that one of mine was backwards (line/load wires reversed.) The outlet would trip, but current was still flowing. I didn't electrocute myself, but certainly could have.
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Old 10-13-2006, 12:59 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Oooh. How much is one of these suckers from a hardware store or something?
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Old 10-13-2006, 01:50 PM   #27 (permalink)
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epicfish - not sure if you were talking about the replacement wall outlets or the ones that just plug in to existing outlets, but just yesterday I bought a single outlet "Shock Buster" plug in thing from Lowe's for $10. I don't know about the replacement wall outlets.
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Old 10-13-2006, 02:01 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Can I get a "Shock Buster" and then plug a surge protector into it and will it work?
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Old 10-13-2006, 02:46 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I paid about C$10 for a GFCI wall outlet.
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Old 10-13-2006, 02:51 PM   #30 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfish View Post
Can I get a "Shock Buster" and then plug a surge protector into it and will it work?
That's what I do. I have the portable plug in GFCI outlet and then plugged in to the surge protector. When I had my mini aqualight fall into the aquarium, it triggered the safety off switch near instantly. I got mine from Orchard Hardware Supply (OSH) for about $30.

This thread reminds me that I should get another one with my upcoming tank.

-John N.
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