GFCI Question - Christmas Lights

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Old 11-28-11, 01:59 PM
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Question GFCI Question - Christmas Lights

Good afternoon!

First of all, let me explain the GFCI circuit in question. In my garage, I have a GFCI outlet, which is tied to the exterior outlet on my front porch. I recently had an electrician come in and tie a non-GFCI outlet to the GFCI outlet in my garage so I could have my outdoor refrigerator plugged into it and will stay on at all times.

Last night, I was in the process of putting Christmas lights out. I had 4 strands of C-9 lights (non-LED) plugged into the outlet on my front porch. With four strands (and my fridge), the GFCI pops. When I unplug one of the strands, it works fine and does not pop. I still have many more lights to plug in and this has never been an issue until after the fridge was tied into this circuit.

Is there anything I can do to help this? Would a new GFCI outlet in my garage help (maybe this one is wearing out)?

I am also toying around with the idea of adding a GFCI circuit to my circuit breaker panel and then installing a brand new GFCI outlet. That way, the only thing on this circuit would be Christmas lights.

Your opinions and advice are much appreciated!!

Thank you in advance!
 
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Old 11-28-11, 02:14 PM
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I'd suggest a new circuit for the refrigerator and use the existing circuit for the lights. Note current code requires all garage and outdoor receptacles must be GFCI protected so the refrigerator receptacle must be GFCI.
 
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Old 11-28-11, 03:02 PM
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Does the GFCI trip when only that one string of lights is plugged in? It's possible there is a short in that string.

GFCI's can go bad so you can try replacing it to see if the condition improves. While you're replacing the outlet I'd GFCI protect all your outlets, including the one for the fridge. I have to fridges running on GFCI circuits without problem (except when I forget to check them after a big thunderstorm).
 
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Old 11-28-11, 03:43 PM
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Question

Thanks to both of you for your prompt replies.

@Pilot Dane: When I get home later tonight, my task will be to try and see if it is a specific strand of lights that is causing the GFCI to trip, thanks for the suggestion!

One more thing I forgot to mention... all four of the strands were plugged in and on (I managed to get the GFCI to stay on), but when I pressed the button to close my garage door, the GFCI popped. As far as I can tell, the garage doors are not on the GFCI circuit because they remain functional when the GFCI trips. So, I am guessing the garage doors (like my fridge) are on the same circuit as the outside outlet, fridge, and garage GFCI outlet, but not part of the GFCI itself. I hope that all makes sense... I am wondering if all of those things together is too much of a load on that one circuit.

@ray2047: Is adding a new circuit to the panel a huge task? Since I am in the garage, I would use external conduits to route the wiring, I will not be running wire behind drywall.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 11-28-11, 03:53 PM
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Is adding a new circuit to the panel a huge task?
No, assuming you have open spaces. Is this an attached garage? From what you wrote I'm guessing it is and the panel is in or near the garage. Is that correct? First though rule out a bad string of lights.
 
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Old 11-28-11, 03:58 PM
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Yes, it is an attached garage and the panel is in the garage. I do have several open spaces on the panel. It is a Cutler-Hammer panel with 15 amp breakers for most of the circuits. I will definitely be ruling out a bad light strand first and then will work on this, should it be necessary.
 
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Old 11-28-11, 04:46 PM
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Also look for broken bulbs, and a nick in the wire. Both of these touching a grouned surface will cause trips.

As another note, don't connect more than 3 C9 strings together or you'll blow the 5A fuse. They use 175W/set.
 
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Old 11-28-11, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Justin Smith View Post
Also look for broken bulbs, and a nick in the wire. Both of these touching a grouned surface will cause trips.

As another note, don't connect more than 3 C9 strings together or you'll blow the 5A fuse. They use 175W/set.
I will check for those too, thanks! I have three C9 strands one one side of my yard and an additional C9 on the other side (separate from the other three), all four plugged into the external outlet on my front porch.
 
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