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RCD Problem

Ben Brickwood

Apr 11, 2016
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Please can someone advise me? I have no electronics knowledge whatsoever.

My 10 year-old son has an incubator. he needs need it to run day and night for 3 weeks. When we went on holiday, I put it on a shop-bought RCD (residual current device) for peace of mind. When we returned from holiday, the RCD had tripped and the incubator was off, all the chicks in his eggs were dead.

There had been no major power cut. The incubator and power lead were PAT tested recently. I don’t know why the RCD tripped.

How can I protect myself from electrical fires when I’m out of the house, but avoid the RCD tripping unnecessarily?

I don't think I can afford a UPS

Can I use an RCD plugged into a surge protector, or is that stupid?

PAT http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm
RCD http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/electrical-items/rcds-explained/
 

(*steve*)

¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
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Jan 21, 2010
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An rcd doesn't really protect you from fire.

Its role is to detect current flow between active and ground. This is typical for accidental personal contact -- I.e. Electric shock.

with the benefit of hindsight perhaps using the RCD was an error.
 

Ben Brickwood

Apr 11, 2016
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An rcd doesn't really protect you from fire.

Its role is to detect current flow between active and ground. This is typical for accidental personal contact -- I.e. Electric shock.

with the benefit of hindsight perhaps using the RCD was an error.

Thank you! What would you use instead please?
 

Kiwi

Jan 28, 2013
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Why use an RCD if the incubator and lead have passed a recent PAT?

Does the incubator have a fan, or is it just heating elements?

Is the rest of the house protected by RCD's?
 

Ben Brickwood

Apr 11, 2016
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Why use an RCD if the incubator and lead have passed a recent PAT?

Does the incubator have a fan, or is it just heating elements?

Is the rest of the house protected by RCD's?

Hi, thanks for your response. The incubator has both a fan and a heating element, plus a thermostat and LCD display. The house is served by a regular domestic distribution board with MCBs (miniature circuit breakers) and a main big red breaker that covers them all. I guess that's an RCD although it isn't labelled as such.
 

Kiwi

Jan 28, 2013
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The "big red breaker" is probably just a main breaker to cut all the power.

Motors can cause nuisance tripping of RCD's, especially on starts. My guess is that this would be your problem.
 

Ben Brickwood

Apr 11, 2016
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The "big red breaker" is probably just a main breaker to cut all the power.

Motors can cause nuisance tripping of RCD's, especially on starts. My guess is that this would be your problem.
That's very helpful, thank you. I'm still nervous about leaving this chinese-made electric incubator on when I'm out. Is there anything I can use to avoid a problem, or should I just trust my distribution board?
 

(*steve*)

¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
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hmmmm. Chinese.

Make sure it's appropriately fused

get someone appropriately quallified to assess the construction and wiring.

have the absolute minimum of flammable material in and around the device.

consider installing a smoke detector

be comfortable that it operates correctly for some time before leaving it alone.

if you can get some internet connected temperature sensor you'll be able to remotely monitor it and call someone in if required.
 

hevans1944

Hop - AC8NS
Jun 21, 2012
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I would find a three week period when you are NOT on holiday, or otherwise not available to check on the incubator, and charge your child with the task of daily checking the condition of the incubator during that time interval. At the end, if the eggs were fertile, you should be rewarded with a bunch of baby chicks. But that's another problem.
 

Ben Brickwood

Apr 11, 2016
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I would find a three week period when you are NOT on holiday, or otherwise not available to check on the incubator, and charge your child with the task of daily checking the condition of the incubator during that time interval. At the end, if the eggs were fertile, you should be rewarded with a bunch of baby chicks. But that's another problem.

That's sound advice, thank you, but my son is hiring the equipment out to help pay for it, and so he needs to run it at times which are convenient to the hirers.
 

Ben Brickwood

Apr 11, 2016
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hmmmm. Chinese.

Make sure it's appropriately fused

get someone appropriately quallified to assess the construction and wiring.

have the absolute minimum of flammable material in and around the device.

consider installing a smoke detector

be comfortable that it operates correctly for some time before leaving it alone.

if you can get some internet connected temperature sensor you'll be able to remotely monitor it and call someone in if required.

Thank you. Would a surge protector or any other off-the-shelf item be of any use do you think?
 

(*steve*)

¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
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a surge protector probably wouldn't hurt.
 
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