GFCI Outlets - We should all have one!
This isn't discussed much, but I think it should be revisited for those that don't know.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) can potentially save your life, and truely is something that every aquarium tank should have. How GFCI Works. For $30-40 from online stores, or Hardware stores like OSH (Orchard), you can have one protecting your wet hands and body from electrical shocks.
Portable GFCI extention cord
Are your aquariums and you protected from those sudden power surges, and accidental falling lights in the tank? If not, I suggest you get one ASAP. ;)
Definitely will add that to the to-do list.
Generally, you have to be a bit unlucky to die from a shock from a fish tank. Probably would have to complete a path across your heart.
So, if the circuit to ground is not completed until you touch the tank, I assume that the GFCI would stop you from being shocked for too long. The time delay for the GFCI to open would be good to know. I guess that if it is complies with Underwriters Laboratories it is good-to-go.
Anyone ever shocked with a GFCI in the system.
Side note: IME, shocks hurt much more and are more likely with saltwater.
I had my mini coralife fall into my nano with my hand in it, and the portable GFCI killed the power within a second of it touching the water. I felt a little zip, but not enough to make my hair stand. I went and got more GFCI extensions for all the other tanks in my house. No more sudden adreneline rushes for me! ;)
Also of course, if you're comfortable with electricity and capable of changing out an outlet, you can replace an existing outlet with a GFCI such as this:
One benefit is that everything "downstream" will be protected as well (if it's put inline and not pigtailed anyway.) And also, although most people would probably want an electrician to do it, you can protect an entire circuit with a GFCI circuit breaker:
In fact, if I'm not mistaken, dedicated circuits for water features and aquariums are supposed to be on a GFCI circuit according to most codes.
Hah, I guess i take for granted sometimes that my dad has been in construction for almost 57+ years.
As said above GFCI are truly great innovations. We have all of our fish equipment on a specific GFCI circuit from the breaker panel. And each piece of equipment is plugged into a 50K joule surge protector.
I know some people are going to say that the GFCI does this also but it can be over run.
If possible opt to go with the wall mounted GFCI. These tend to be the most effecient. And you can plug in a timed surge proctector for those CF lights! lol.
Good advise John, There is another item on the scene now that I want to test out for aquarium use, I came across it building my new house. I wired the house on a homeowner permit (Dads a retired electrician) and our state inspectors seemed to think homeowner permits are there for their entertainment. we had two different inspectors correcting each others corrections, it was rather annoying at the time but its kinda humorous now. anyway back on topic. they made me install Arc Fault Circiut Breakers. these can supposedly sense a loose connection that is having a minor arc. after reading about the coralife powercenter fires and other fires started at aquarium locations, I started thinking that these ACFI's supposedly should be able to detect the minor arc in the plug strip if it gets wet. I have had a couple over the years start to sizzle fortunately I caught them before they ignited. so if someone out there has a powerstrip that is sizzling from water or saltwater damage, don't throw it away send it my way and I will try to duplicate the sizzle and test to see if the ACFI can catch it.
These things are about $45.00 each (I had to put in 4). I will split the shipping as I think this could save some damage in the future.
I did a web search and found them considerably cheaper, but lost the link.
I also got some of these on clearance at Wal-Mart for $2.99:
They work well for me....DC
Definitely a good idea to use these.
My problem is that all the GFCI outlets I can find around here do not automatically re-establish the circuit. And as far as I understand, a powercut will also trigger the GFCI. So if you get a powercut while you're away, the GFCI will cut the electricity to all your equipment and leave it that way even when the power comes back on.
So I'm still searching for GFCIs that can re-establish circuits automatically. :)
When I redid my family room I selected a spot for the tank and installed GFIC outlets on a new dedicated service line/breaker. I have no problems with power outages. You can install these in place of your standard outlet/recepticle. I also use a grounding probe which is something most hobbists overlook. It helps prevent lateral line disease, too.
I just had an inspection in my shop, and I had to have an electricion come in and put in several new outlets. I also had to replace all the timers I had because they did not have a ground, a three prong plug outlet. The fire marshall did not say anything about GFCI outlets, plugs or circuits. How do they work, and what do they do exactly? I am more concerned about fire protection than anything else.
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