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Gounding Probes & GFI Sockets DO YOU HAVE THEM?

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Gounding Probes & GFI Sockets DO YOU HAVE THEM?

Post by Cookieman888 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:50 pm

A couple of the most overlooked items for new comers (and old hands) to the hobby are grounding probes and GFI sockets! THESE 2 ITEMS CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE!
A bit of history. Early last year I noted a significant increase in my tank temperature. Unknown to me a seal had let loose in one of my heaters causing a fault/voltage leak. I reached into my sump to check my heater and WHAM - an electrical shock that curled my toes and luckily tripped the breaker in my electrical panel. When I stuck my hand into the sump I completed the circuit allowing electricity leaking from my heater to travel through me to ground. Had I been using a GFI recepticle and grounding probe this would never have happened. When the electricity leak developed the energy would have travelled to the grounding probe and tripped the GFI. I knew better but never seemed to find the time to install the recepticle and grounding probe - until I got zapped and then the job was completed the same afternoon!
A handy person with a basic knowledge of electicity can complete the task within about 1/2 hour. If you are unsure, bring in an electrician to complete the task. Ya, I know...thats expensive, but be honest, which is preferable...a $100 bill from an electrician or being DEAD?
Please note a GFI or a grounding probe alone are useless - YOU MUST HAVE BOTH!

Debates do rage on the value of grounding probes and the effect on tank inhabitants (HLLE head and lateral line erosion, etc). Here is a link to an article on stray voltage I found useful:
http://article.discusnews.com/cat-02/strayvoltages.shtml
From my point of view the only question is How much do you value your life?

Matt
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Dead Link

Post by Madd Monty on Thu May 07, 2009 8:39 pm

Interesting but your link is dead do you have other reference material?


Cheers
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Re: Gounding Probes & GFI Sockets DO YOU HAVE THEM?

Post by Cookieman888 on Thu May 07, 2009 9:15 pm

Ashame that link is dead as the article was fairly good. Here are a couple more links. Not nearly as good but still informative.
http://angel-strike.com/aquarium/GFI&TechnicalDetails.html
http://joejaworski.wordpress.com/2007/09/06/aquarist-found-dead/
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Re: Gounding Probes & GFI Sockets DO YOU HAVE THEM?

Post by Madd Monty on Fri May 08, 2009 3:04 pm

Being an electrical engineer I agree, both GFI and ground probes need to be used.

Also the consideration of eliminating the electrical contact from the water is possible. For example the use of mag drive pumps instead of power heads.

However common sense trumps all other forms of protection schemes, just shut the power off to all electronics before sticking your hands in the tank!

Razz
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Re: Gounding Probes & GFI Sockets DO YOU HAVE THEM?

Post by 2Frosty4u on Tue May 12, 2009 10:52 pm

Madd Monty wrote:Being an electrical engineer I agree, both GFI and ground probes need to be used. Razz
I had an issue earlier this year with a faulty connection in an endcap for my 110w VHO's which resulted in a fire that was easy to put out due to the fact I was home when it started. It could have been disasterous. The lamps where still working and the endcap was engulfed in flames due to arcing at the contacts causing large amounts of heat.
Now, since you're an Electrical Engineer I have a question about the fact that the GFI did nothing for this type of scenerio, What are you're thoughts on the need or use of an Arc Fault Interupter which was the suggested course of action to protect against a similar incident? Any advice or comments would be appreciated Monty. Question
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Re: Gounding Probes & GFI Sockets DO YOU HAVE THEM?

Post by Madd Monty on Sun May 17, 2009 11:49 pm

Frosty,

The problem you are encountering is obviously not solved with a ground-fault circuit interrupter, as this isn’t the function of a GFCI. A GFCI monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral. If there is any imbalance, it trips the circuit. It is able to sense a mismatch as small as 4 or 5 milliamps, and it can react as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second. This is important to protect people from electrical shock as the imbalance would be caused from electricity flowing through a person to ground.

Here is one potential solution: use a fuse.
If the hot wire were to accidentally touch the neutral wire for some reason, like your malfunctioning end cap, an incredible amount of current will flow through the circuit and start heating it up like one of the coils in a toaster. The solution for this issue is a fuse, as the fuse heats up faster than the wire and burns out before the wire can start a fire.

More to the point, the issue you need to address is why the end cap was faulty. What was the underlying issue, salt creep, moisture, and/or faulty manufacturing.

Cheers
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Re: Gounding Probes & GFI Sockets DO YOU HAVE THEM?

Post by Madd Monty on Sun May 17, 2009 11:49 pm

Did you examine the end cap post fire?
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Re: Gounding Probes & GFI Sockets DO YOU HAVE THEM?

Post by 2Frosty4u on Mon May 18, 2009 8:16 am

It seems that the cause of the endcap catching fire was an improperly seated bulb in the endcap. The bulb that was attached to the endcap in question was apparently bumped by myself hard enough to dislodge it in the cap causing an arc between the prongs of the bulb and the metal clips of the endcap. As you may be aware the arcing in an electrical circuit can reach temperatures as high as 1000 degrees and therefore hot enough to ignite the endcap. The biggest cause of this issue I feel is that I did not do as good a job as I thought I did when I mounted the endcaps in my canopy and that allowed it to shift just enough to cause the arcing at the contact point when I bumped the bulb. I have since fixed this by removing and completely reinstalling the VHO lighting system and making sure there is no way for the endcaps to loosen up again. Thanks for your input Monty.
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Number of posts : 110
Location : Hamilton, Ont.
Tank Size- Gallons : 120g Reef, 35g fuge, 35g sump, 2X250W MH, 2X110W VHO actinic, Euroreef CS8-4 Skimmer, Blueline 100HD return pump, OM squirt 4 way closed loop.
75g Fowlr tied into reef system.
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Re: Gounding Probes & GFI Sockets DO YOU HAVE THEM?

Post by Madd Monty on Mon May 18, 2009 11:29 am

Happy to help
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