Bedroom/Office Breaker Keeps Tripping

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  #1  
Old 08-25-14, 11:40 PM
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Bedroom/Office Breaker Keeps Tripping

Hello guys,

I am new to the forum and in need of some help.

I have set up a home office in the 2nd bedroom of our apartment. Ever since setting this up I have been having issues tripping the breaker. First it was occasionally (once a week with both fans running) but just tonight it happened three times in 20 minutes (once with no fans running). Here is the setup (keep in mind I'm a noob so not sure what all you need):

Circuit

15a breaker with a test button

Load

CyberPowerPC Gaming Computer
Two 22" ASUS 1080p monitors
Verizon/Motorola Modem Router
APC Back-UPS 1500va

50" Sony 1080p HDTV
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 3
Hauppagge HD PVR 2 Game Capture Device
Verizon/Motorola HDTV Box
Logitech Computer Speakers (1 sub, 2 satellite speakers)
Monster 775G Surge Protector

Overhead ceiling fan with 3 lights
18" floor fan (occasionally)

The PS3 is never on but is plugged in. I've tried this with the Logitech speakers off and both fans off (but lights on) and the breaker still tripped. The weird thing is, I have used this same set up for several days without issue. All of the sudden tonight it doesn't like it. The only thing that is different is that the AC is running cooler but that is on a completely separate breaker (obviously).

Before getting the PC and monitors a couple of weeks ago I had everything listed on the Monster outlet running plus my laptop and a printer. The APC UPS says there's only like 150-200 W running through it. From what I've read a 15a circuit should be able to hold 1500w ok. I can't see how I'm exceeding that and why tonight is so much worse than the others. Also, living in an apartment (3 years old, higher end) probably doesn't give me many options to fix this I assume...

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance!
 
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  #2  
Old 08-26-14, 02:25 AM
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Welcome to the forums! You have an arc fault breaker, most likely, and they are very sensitive. As a matter of experimentation, eliminate the UPS and see if that helps. You may also find the surge protector is a villain, so eliminate that. Once you find out where you are getting a fault, action can be taken to replace items or eliminate them permanently. Since it is an apartment, you can't mess with the circuitry.
 
  #3  
Old 08-26-14, 04:48 AM
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what kind of a printer................what is the load
 
  #4  
Old 08-26-14, 06:45 AM
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If the load indicated by the UPS is correct the problem is tripping the arc fault component of the breaker and not the overload portion.

Follow the advice about removing items until the source of the fault is found.
 
  #5  
Old 08-26-14, 07:53 AM
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Ok, so before I read this last night I unplugged the PS3 and tried playing and was able to play the PS4 just fine. I still think it may be an overload issue bc the issue was happening with the PS3 plugged in (100W supposedly) and I was also using broadcast software to stream my games online. According to the UPS, I was using at lease 100W less without the programs I use to broadcast running. So, in essence, I was putting (at least) 200W less on the circuit.

So, I wonder if A. All of the stuff plugged into the surge protector is using more energy than I think or B. The UPS isn't giving me an accurate read out. I'm thinking it may be B as when building the PC it was estimated to use 500W. If that's true, the PS4 could use up to 400. That would leave roughly 600W for the PS3, PVR, TV, monitors, speakers, modem and cable box.

How can I tell if the UPS is reading correctly? Also, I read that the UPS actually processes the power better to create less of a load. Would replacing the surge protector with another UPS help?

For now, I can keep the PS3 unplugged as I'll never need both systems running at the same time. I really need to fans going to keep it cool in there so hopefully I can do that. I guess we'll find out lol. One thing that may or may not be related is that one of the bulbs in the ceiling fan lighting fixture keeps flickering. I've checked that it is screwed in securely but it keeps doing it fairly regularly. I thought it was just the bulb getting ready to go out but it's been doing this for at least a week, maybe two..
 
  #6  
Old 08-26-14, 08:07 AM
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An amp meter could be used to determine the load on the circuit. A plug in unit like a Kil-a-watt could be used.

The flicker could be an indication of a loose connection starting to fail from the high loads.
 
  #7  
Old 08-26-14, 10:19 AM
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Remember that the APC wattage reading is just the load on the battery side and not the surge outlets on the unit. Something like a Kil-a-watt meter would be the easiest and safest way to determine the load on the circuit.
 
  #8  
Old 08-26-14, 11:17 AM
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OK, so I picked up a Kill-a-watt and here is what I got:

Socket with APC, PC, 2 monitors and modem = 210 watts max
Socket with Monster, TV, PS4, PS3, cable box and speakers plugged in = 250 watts max
Socket with floor fan = 67 watts max

So this doesn't make any sense. According to this, I'm running a max of 530 watts through the circuit. Yet, it tripped three consecutive times last night. The only thing different is that I did not have all of them running at the same time. Would that make a difference? Also, the bulb from the ceiling fan also has not been flickering today either (yet).

So where do we go from here?
 
  #9  
Old 08-26-14, 11:27 AM
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Assuming an AFCI breaker it doesn't just trip from overload. It can trip from what it perceives to be an arc or even depending on the breaker a ground fault. That is why you must start with nothing plugged in and keep adding til something trips it.

If this wasn't an apartment you would: If it is not an AFCI breaker swap wires with another breaker of the same size. If it is an AFCI and you have another AFCI same size swap out the wires. Since this is an apartment though your only option other then having management send someone who may not even be an electrician is to hire an electrician on your own dime.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-26-14 at 12:25 PM.
  #10  
Old 08-26-14, 12:14 PM
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well, i just added in everything that I had last night and it didn't trip the breaker.

Two thing that I haven't mentioned yet:

A. I have had a faint burning/metallic smell since I installed the PC. I figured it was normal "breaking in". I still smell it today but cannot figure out where it is coming from. I've put my nose to both front and back of PC tower and don't smell it. Also done that with the APC. So, I'm wondering is, as mentioned earlier, the flickering light is a bad ground or something and the extra load is causing it to burn/heat up? Could that be something that is occasional, meaning won't trip the breaker every time?

B. I have the PC and APC sitting on foam about 3-6" off of the floor. The Monster is also mounted on the wall. However, almost all of the power cords are on the carpet. I didn't think of that until now but could static electricity build up cause this? I also have kind of a metallic taste in my mouth. Not sure if that is just in my head or not, lol

I figure I should call the apartment maintenance and have them investigate at least. Not sure they are the most skilled around so if you guys think of anything I would appreciate the insight. Thanks!
 
  #11  
Old 08-26-14, 12:22 PM
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I'm wondering is, as mentioned earlier, the flickering light is a bad ground
Grounds are safety only. Function is not dependent on there being a ground so that can't be a cause. Static electricity can cause odd things but I doubt that is it.
 
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