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GFCI + Snow = Problem

Discussion in 'General Electronics' started by Chris Cooper, Dec 10, 2003.

  1. Chris Cooper

    Chris Cooper Guest

    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
     
  2. scada

    scada Guest

    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.
    That won't help. The current will return through the earth!
     
  3. 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
     
  4. Mark Jones

    Mark Jones Guest

    In news: (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.
     
  5. ....and likely you have some leakage from L1 to Neutral ("ground"). See
    other posts about keeping connections dry.
     
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