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GFCI + Snow = Problem

C

Chris Cooper

Jan 1, 1970
0
So I thought I would be extra-safe this year, and plugged my outdoor Xmas
lights into some GFCI-protected outlets. All was well until the snow came
(6") and now somewhere in the system (I've probably got 30 different
extension cords out there) is a leak that the GFCI is "protecting" me
against.

I can certainly see how snow could potentially produce enough conductivity
to generate the small amount of ground current that GFCI's are designed to
sense.

I am planning (by next Xmas) to run some underground conduit and have some
outlets "popping up" at various places in the yard, so I don't have to be
running extension cords quite so far. My question is, should I _not_ use
GFCI outlets in the yard? Will I encounter this problem every time there is
snow?

Should I make sure to _not_ use grounded cords for this? I mean, none of
the Xmas lights have ground connections, so they only thing the ground
connection is doing, is providing a means for the GFCI to complain?

Thanks!
Chris
 
S

scada

Jan 1, 1970
0
Chris Cooper said:
So I thought I would be extra-safe this year, and plugged my outdoor Xmas
lights into some GFCI-protected outlets. All was well until the snow came
(6") and now somewhere in the system (I've probably got 30 different
extension cords out there) is a leak that the GFCI is "protecting" me
against.

I can certainly see how snow could potentially produce enough conductivity
to generate the small amount of ground current that GFCI's are designed to
sense.

I am planning (by next Xmas) to run some underground conduit and have some
outlets "popping up" at various places in the yard, so I don't have to be
running extension cords quite so far. My question is, should I _not_ use
GFCI outlets in the yard? Will I encounter this problem every time there is
snow?
DO NOT BYPASS THE GFCI. It is your only protection with the decorations!
Just be carefull with the plug-recepticle connections, don't let them lie on
the ground. You can wrap the Plug-Recepticles with plastic food wrap and
tape that up, or buy a comercialy avail product that keeps the connection
dry.
Should I make sure to _not_ use grounded cords for this? I mean, none of
the Xmas lights have ground connections, so they only thing the ground
connection is doing, is providing a means for the GFCI to complain?

That won't help. The current will return through the earth!
 
J

Jerry Greenberg

Jan 1, 1970
0
You are much safer to use grounded extension cords. This is the best,
even though your lights themselves do not use the true ground from the
outlit.

I would suggest to clean off all the cords, so that they are dry.
This means unstringing them and bringing them in to clean and dry out.
After they are dry, you can put them back together. Wrap the joints
with several layers of plastic bags, like the ones that you get with
your shopping order. On the edges, wrap a few turns of electrical
tape to seal them, so moisture cannot get in where the joints are.

This way of insulating the connecton points, will prevent water from
getting in. You should not have any ground fault problems this way.

Jerry Greenberg
http://www.zoom-one.com
 
M

Mark Jones

Jan 1, 1970
0
In news:[email protected] (Jerry Greenberg):
You are much safer to use grounded extension cords. This is the best,
even though your lights themselves do not use the true ground from the
outlit.

I would suggest to clean off all the cords, so that they are dry.
This means unstringing them and bringing them in to clean and dry out.
After they are dry, you can put them back together. Wrap the joints
with several layers of plastic bags, like the ones that you get with
your shopping order. On the edges, wrap a few turns of electrical
tape to seal them, so moisture cannot get in where the joints are.

This way of insulating the connecton points, will prevent water from
getting in. You should not have any ground fault problems this way.

Jerry Greenberg
http://www.zoom-one.com

Eliminating the ground leading out of a GFCI outlet will not "fix" the
problem. The GFCI detects a diversion in current from hot --> neutral to
hot --> ground. The ground lead is superficial past the GFCI for the
purposes of tripping it.
 
B

Bryan Swadener

Jan 1, 1970
0
Mark Jones said:
In (Jerry Greenberg):

Eliminating the ground leading out of a GFCI outlet will not "fix" the
problem. The GFCI detects a diversion in current from hot --> neutral to
hot --> ground. The ground lead is superficial past the GFCI for the
purposes of tripping it.
....and likely you have some leakage from L1 to Neutral ("ground"). See
other posts about keeping connections dry.
 
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