GFCI issue

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Old 05-23-15, 11:36 AM
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GFCI issue

I have a T5HO fluorescent fixture that I use to grow aquarium plants. When I plug this fixture into the basement GFCI outlet, the GFCI immediately trips. When I plug the same fixture into the kitchen GFCI outlet, the fixture functions flawlessly. This occurs when the fixture is the only device plugged into either outlet.

Why?
 
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Old 05-23-15, 11:56 AM
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Pull the GFCI that is tripping out of the box, mahe sure no wires are touching and try with the GFCI pulled out. If it still trips replace the GFCI. (When replacing if more then one cable be sure to mark which is line.)
 
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Old 05-23-15, 11:59 AM
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Thank you for the reply. I actually replaced the GFCI today before I posted to the forum. The weird behavior persists with the new GFCI.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 11:59 AM
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Hi Brian Waldbaum,

I have a few questions:

Is this occurring when you plug the Fluorescent Fixture at the Basement GFCI Outlet but NOT when plugging any other devices to the same GFCI Outlet at the basement, or it is always happening with any plugged device?

Did you tried to TEST and RESET your GFCI Outlet and the Basement before plugging in the Fluorescent Fixture to it? If not, try this first to determine if the GFCI Outlet is working properly with its own test and reset feature.

If the problem persist after TEST and RESET and after plugging in another device, then there is definitely a problem with your basement GFCI Outlet that may consist of improper wiring (more likely) that the neutral and ground are not correctly wired, or that the outlet is faulty due to unknown reasons.

Is this GFCI Outlet at the basement on a dedicated circuit? And how many if other Outlets, Switches, etc. are before and after this GFCI Outlet in the same circuit?


Thanks.


Jos
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:02 PM
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Update: While I was typing you replied this:

I actually replaced the GFCI today before I posted to the forum. The weird behavior persists with the new GFCI.
May you take and upload a picture of how the GFCI Outlet is currently wired?
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:11 PM
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The basement outlet is just a normal outlet that is an extension of the garage GFCI. The garage GFCI is labeled as “exterior GFI” in the breaker box. There’s nothing plugged into the garage outlet.

All other aquarium gear—filters, T8 fluorescent lights, heaters— running on the basement outlet doesn’t trip it. The T5HO fixture, in combination with the other gear or alone, trips it.

Yes, the GFCI tests normally.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:12 PM
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Is this the only GFCI receptacle on the circuit?
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:20 PM
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Yes, I think it's the only GFCI. Throwing the breaker labeled "exterior GFI" cuts off power only to that garage outlet and the basement outlet.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:25 PM
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Images of the outlets:

1) Garage

Name:  IMG_0019.jpg
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Size:  23.0 KB

2) Basement

Name:  IMG_0020.jpg
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Size:  29.3 KB

The yellow cable runs up to the garage.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:25 PM
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All other aquarium gear—filters, T8 fluorescent lights, heaters— running on the basement outlet doesn’t trip it. The T5HO fixture, in combination with the other gear or alone, trips it.

Yes, the GFCI tests normally.
With all respect, then the problem is not the GFCI Outlet at the basement but the T5HO fixture itself. If a GFCI Outlet TESTS NORMALLY, and doesn't trip with other devices plugged into it; then that GFCI Outlet is clearly working fine.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:32 PM
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Seems pretty clear to me that there is a ground fault problem with that lighting fixture.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:33 PM
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I assumed it was the T5HO, but why doesn't it trip the kitchen GFCI?

Also, I made a mistake in my previous reply. There is a 3rd outlet on this circuit, an external backyard outlet. It's a normal outlet (not GFCI) and there's nothing plugged into it. Apologies for the misinformation.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:40 PM
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I know this question is pretty obvious but:

Does the Kitchen GFCI Outlet was also Tested to confirm that the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter functions of that Outlet in the Kitchen is also working properly???

And:

Is that GFCI Outlet in the Kitchen an actual GFCI Outlet or it is another non gfci receptacle that is protected by another GFCI outlet or GFCI breaker before it?
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:43 PM
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The kitchen GFCI tests OK. It's an actual GFCI, I assume, since it has the indicator light and test/reset buttons.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 12:56 PM
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Sorry for keep asking you too much, but:

Are you able to plug the T5HO fixture at the actual GFCI Outlet located in the GARAGE?

Due that the Garage's GFCI and the Basement Outlet that is protected by the Garage's GFCI are part of the same circuit, it will be more convenient to additionally test the fixture in that specific GFCI Outlet at the garage; despite that you have tested it already at the Kitchen's GFCI.
 

Last edited by JosiQDIY2015; 05-23-15 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 05-23-15, 01:17 PM
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Please, ask anything.

I tried plugging the fixture into the garage outlet. Instead of tripping the GFCI immediately, the fixture operated for approximately 2 minutes before tripping it.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 01:34 PM
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Try plugging the fixture into the kitchen GFCI receptacle and flexing the cord from one end to the other. With the added information I am guessing that you have a problem with the cord/plug or else something that fails with a little bit of heat such as the ballast. If it is a new fixture I would suggest returning it for a replacement.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 02:03 PM
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Brian Waldbaum, Thanks for testing it at the Garage. That behavior of tripping the GFCI after some minutes is definitely weird.

Now another question: Can you leave the T5HO fixture plug in the GFCI's Kitchen again, but this time let it plugged in for several minutes, like for up to 30 minutes? To see if after several minutes plugged in it will trip like happened in the Garage or if it will not trip no matter how much time is plugged in there??? If it trips after several minutes of being plugged to the GFCI Kitchen then the problem is definitely the fixture...

... BUT if it doesn't trip no matter how much time remains plugged in the Kitchen, then the problem is at some point of your Garage's GFCI protected circuit.

IMPORTAT: So last thing it needs to be confirmed is if plugging the T5HO fixture at the Kitchen's GFCI it doesn't trip not matter how much time remains plugged in there or if it will trip after several minutes.



///

Additionally, let's review the information we have in this particular case:

You have a GFCI Outlet at the Garage that protects two non GFCI Outlets, one GFCI protected outlet is at the Basement and another at an external backyard (I'm assuming this outlet is also protected by the Garage's GFCI) these three outlets are in the same circuit.

When you plugged your T5HO Fixture in the protected outlet at the Basement it immediately trips, BUT that ONLY happens if you plug the T5HO fixture combined or not, but never when you plug in other devices in the same outlet without having the T5HO plugged in. To this point we can suspect that the problem is in the T5HO fixture... but...

...mystery is, that you have tested the T5HO fixture at another GFCI Outlet in the Kitchen and it doesn't trip. Now, you have tested the T5HO at the Garage's GFCI Outlet and while it doesn't trip immediately, it still trips after around two minutes.

However, at this point it's very strange to say that there is a problem with your Garage's GFCI protected Circuit, because only the T5HO fixture trips the Garage's GFCI while other devices don't... that's really weird...


IMPORTANT:

Therefore, I will still suggest that you again completely revise your entire Garage's GFCI protected Circuit from the Breaker Panel all the way to the last protected Outlet in that circuit located in the Basement.

Somewhere, at some point of that particular circuit, there could be something wrong that have been missed and not identified. Revise every single thing on that circuit, there must be something wrong on that particular GFCI protected circuit.



Thanks.


Jos
 

Last edited by JosiQDIY2015; 05-23-15 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 05-23-15, 03:32 PM
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To test Furd's theory, I folded the power cord of the fixture into a bowtie shape, wrapped a rubber band around it, and plugged it into the kitchen GFCI. It ran flawlessly for over an hour, until I decided to unplug it. I plugged the still warm fixture into the garage outlet; it tripped in about a minute.

In keeping with Josi's advice, I'm going to call in an electrician.

Thank you, everyone.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 03:49 PM
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Brian Waldbaum,

You are welcome!

Definitely the entire Garage's GFCI protected Circuit needs to be revised.

Please let us know what your electrician determined once he revised the circuit; keep us updated. Your particular GFCI Issue have intrigued me.


Thanks a lot!


Jos
 
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Old 05-23-15, 08:57 PM
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Lightbulb

Additional information that may be helpful in this particular case:


I continued researching information and specs about the T5HO, and it appears that this Fluorescent Light is a High Output Multi-Volt Light.

According to a Hardware Store website some of its specs are:

''A multi-Volt ballast (120-277 Volt) insures instant-on and no humming or flickering while high output operation ensures maximum light output.''

''•Multi-volt (120 - 277-Volt) high output ballast
•For use with non-dimmable switches only''


I wonder if any of that can be related or not in any way to this particular problem of tripping a GFCI Outlet when the T5HO is plugged in?

So far I have not found anything specific yet; BUT found some interesting statements made in an old Post at another Forum where a similar issue was happening with a Fluorescent Light Fixture tripping a GFCI Outlet, and one member answered:

''The problem could be caused by Electromagnetic interference, or an attempt to filter the interference. Older Ground-fault circuit interrupting (GFCI) devices may be more susceptible to EMI related nuisance tripping. If you have an older GFCI device, you should first try replacing the GFCI device. Some fluorescent fixtures have an EMI/RFI filter built into the device, to try and prevent any interference produced by the fixture (ballast or bulbs) from leaving the fixture. In most cases the interference is bled off through the equipment grounding conductor (EGC), which can lead to an imbalance of current between the ungrounded (hot) conductor and the grounded (neutral). This current imbalance may be large enough, and long enough to trip a GFCI device.'' - by Tester101

Now, I wonder about if anything of this information can explain or at least be somehow related with the issue that Brian is experimenting with his T5HO High Output Multi-Volt fluorescent light tripping a specific GFCI Outlet when plugged in?

However; even if any of this information can be related to his particular issue, it's clear that this question: Why the T5HO doesn't trips the GFCI at the Kitchen, but only trips the GFCI at the Garage or at the Basement's Outlet that is protected by the same Garage's GFCI Outlet??? It's a question that still remains unanswered; therefore, in my opinion the entire Garage's GFCI protected Circuit needs to be fully inspected in order to determine if something is wrong in that specific circuit.

What do you guys think about that information of High Output Multi-Volt ballast? And about the possible Electromagnetic Interference that in some Fluorescent Lights will cause a GFCI Outlet to trip?

Thanks a lot.


Jos
 
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Old 05-24-15, 06:24 PM
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When T5HO first became popular for growing corals in aquariums, a lot of hobbyists were posting on reef keeping forums about nuisance GFCI tripping. As T5HO became more established in the hobby, those kinds of posts dwindled. I don't know why.
 
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Old 05-24-15, 10:18 PM
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Hi Brian Waldbaum,

When T5HO first became popular for growing corals in aquariums, a lot of hobbyists were posting on reef keeping forums about nuisance GFCI tripping.
Then, that was not a mere coincidence. Then something with the T5HO High Output Multi-Volt Fluorescent Lights make them more prompt to cause GFCI outlets to trip. Maybe the reports dwindled after people stop buying them or after they replaced their GFCI outlets with newer ones like it was suggested by the quoted answer in my previous reply.

I know that in your previous replies you said:
I actually replaced the GFCI today before I posted to the forum. The weird behavior persists with the new GFCI.
But I noticed something... Did you replace the actual Garage's GFCI outlet or the non GFCI outlet at the Basement??? Remember that replacing the non GFCI outlet at the Basement will not going to do any difference as that outlet is actually protected by the Garage's GFCI, so if there is a specific problem with your Garage's GFCI all the LOAD protected devices by that Garage's GFCI will present the same persistent behavior.

THEREFORE, in case that you did not replace the GARAGE'S ACTUAL GFCI, then the best way to proceed in this case is to replace it.


IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have done basic electrical work before like installing, changing and properly wiring an Outlet, Switch, etc., and know how to do it safely, then I will recommend you to perform the following procedure.

Change your Garage's GFCI outlet for a New GFCI outlet. Or, if you want to test if installing another GFCI Outlet will work or not before buying a new one, then follow the next procedure:

1. Go to your Main Service Panel, and Turn off the Breaker that supplies power to the circuit of your Kitchen's GFCI outlet. Go to the Kitchen's GFCI outlet and use a Non contact Volt Detector, etc. to be sure that the electrical power is turned off on that circuit.

2. Remove that GFCI outlet (the specific GFCI outlet where you previously tested the T5HO and it worked perfectly for around an hour.)

3. Go to the Main Service Panel again, and Turn OFF the Breaker that supplies power to the circuit of your Garage's GFCI Outlet. Go to the Garage's GFCI Outlet and use a Non contact Volt Detector, etc. to be sure that the electrical power is turned off on that circuit.

4. Remove that GFCI outlet, the one at the Garage where you previously tested the T5HO and it tripped after a minute or two of being plugged in.

5. Install the GFCI outlet that you removed from the Kitchen in place of your Garage's GFCI outlet. Because this GFCI outlet is the first one in that circuit but also protects the non GFCI outlet at the Basement, you will have to wire the GFCI specifically in this way:

Connect Black (Hot) wire from Power Source to LINE terminals Black wire to Brass Screw or at one of the Back Holes identified as HOT at LINE. Connect White (Neutral) wire from Power Source to LINE terminals, White wire to Silver Screw or at one of the Back Holes identified as WHITE at LINE. Then, because this GFCI outlet protects the non GFCI outlet at your Basement, you will connect the Black wire that continues the circuit to LOAD terminals Black wire to brass screw or back hole identified as HOT at LOAD. And the White wire to the silver screw or back hole identified as WHITE at LOAD. Then, use 6'' of bare or white wire (of proper gauge) to make a Pigtail for the Grounds, you will have to use a Wire Nut/Connector to connect the ground wires together, and then connect the 6'' pigtail ground wire to the Green Screw or to the Back Hole identified as Ground (however some GFCI outlets don't have a back hole for ground, and most will only accept 14 AWG wire for the back hole ground).

6. Secure the GFCI outlet to the electrical box (in case your electrical box is made of metal you will have to make an additional pigtail and screw it to the box. If is made of plastic you just need the ground to be pigtailed to the GFCI outlet ground screw.

WARNING: DO NOT TURN ON THE BREAKER THAT SUPPLIES THE KITCHEN CIRCUIT WHILE THE GFCI OUTLET IS REMOVED!!! YOU HAVE TO RE-INSTALL A GFCI OUTLET OR KEEP THE POWER OFF IN THAT CIRCUIT WHILE THE WIRES REMAIN UNCONNECTED AT THE BOX!!!

7. Turn ON the breaker that supplies power to the GARAGE's circuit and TEST the GFCI outlet; if the test was ok, then proceed to plug in the T5HO once again... If the GFCI outlet trips just like it was happening before, then definitely there is a problem at some point of that specific circuit. But if this time the GFCI outlet doesn't trip with the T5HO plugged in for several minutes, then the problem was your Garage's GFCI outlet, in last case that will explain the tripping at your Basement's outlet because it was protected by the Garage's GFCI outlet that could be faulty. While it doesn't tripped at your Kitchen because the Kitchen's GFCI outlet was not faulty.

After completing the procedure, remember that you removed the GFCI outlet from the Kitchen and that the wires are still unconnected in the electrical box, therefore, DO NOT TURN ON THE BREAKER THAT SUPPLIES THAT KITCHEN OUTLET UNTIL YOU PROPERLY RE-INSTALL ANOTHER GFCI OUTLET. LEAVING THE WIRES UNCONNECTED AT THE BOX AND TURNING THE POWER ON WILL PROBLABY CAUSE AN ARC OR SHORT CIRCUIT, AND IT WILL REPRESENT AN ELECTRIC SHOCK AND ELECTRIC FIRE HAZARD.


If you change the Garage's GFCI outlet for a new one OR if you decide to remove the Kitchen's GFCI outlet and install it in place of the Garage's GFCI outlet in order to test the T5HO with another GFCI outlet on the Garage's circuit before buying a new one. Please let me know what happened in either case. And remember changing your Basement's non GFCI outlet will have zero effect on determining why your T5HO is tripping the GFCI protection on that circuit... you have to change the Garage's GFCI outlet in order to properly test the T5HO once again on that specific circuit.



Thanks a lot.


Jos
 

Last edited by JosiQDIY2015; 05-24-15 at 10:47 PM.
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Old 05-25-15, 09:37 AM
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I replaced the garage GFCI (not the basement outlet) with a new one that I purchased from Home Depot. I've also tested the T5HO fixture on a bathroom GFCI. As with the kitchen GFCI, the fixture operated flawlessly for 30 minutes until I unplugged it. I suspect your original conjecture may be correct: there's probably something wrong with the garage circuit.
 
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Old 05-25-15, 10:12 AM
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Hi Brian Waldbaum,

I replaced the garage GFCI (not the basement outlet) with a new one that I purchased from Home Depot.
Excellent. Please, excuse me for assuming the contrary.

I've also tested the T5HO fixture on a bathroom GFCI. As with the kitchen GFCI, the fixture operated flawlessly for 30 minutes until I unplugged it.
Now that all the information has been clarified and all other possible scenarios properly tested and discarded...

I suspect your original conjecture may be correct: there's probably something wrong with the garage circuit.
Yes, it can now be fully confirmed, no doubt that there is something wrong on the Garage's circuit.


I hope that you can solve your Garage's GFCI issue soon.


Thank you a lot.


Jos
 
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