GFCIs and surge protectors

I just wanted to pass on something I learned this week. After installing the Sanyo mini-split that Dave Sparks recommended, the Magnum 2800 inverter wasn't enough to power it AND our other big loads (microwave, dryer) IF the Sanyo was running at it's max... which it usually doesn't do, but during some 110 degree days, it did. While gone on a hunting trip, the Magnum tripped off on a hot afternoon when DW used the microwave. She got one of our mechanic friends to come up and figure out that the Magnum remote WASN'T a radio and he got it reset! (I've since printed a manual for operating our power and water systems that anyone could understand).

Because that Sanyo gently increases its power demand I decided to move it to my "lights and entertainment" circuit. Since that circuit had only a Xantrex Prosine1000W inverter, I got a 2000W ProWatt (Xantrex). The ProWatt has a GFCI for the output. This L&E circuit has run troublefree for decades on a few different inverters (and generators).

Whenever I powered up, the GFCI would trip.

Trial, error, speculation, guesses.... we've all been there.

I had a Monster brand surge protector for the entertainment center (from back when generators were powering everything).

Removed the Monster and the GFCI no longer trips. And all is good (before I leave on another trip in the morning).

I guess the surge protector allowed enough "leakage" between the power legs to trip the GFCI?

Phil

Comments

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,769 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: GFCIs and surge protectors

    Sorry Phil,
    The SW's and XW's don't do that for me and my "people"
    To be fair to history, I reccomended the 3/4 Ton heat pump and not the 1 ton that you used. I know where you can get a deal on an XW............
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: GFCIs and surge protectors
    Sorry Phil,
    The SW's and XW's don't do that for me and my "people"
    To be fair to history, I reccomended the 3/4 Ton heat pump and not the 1 ton that you used. I know where you can get a deal on an XW............

    No reason to be sorry Dave. We LOVE this thing. As you know, it's been a little cool after dark this week and we haven't started a fire yet.... just use the Sanyo. It's been keeping us comfortable (70) and using about 200 watts or less! There have been 4 nights where we would've had to burn some wood.

    I anticipated needing some power improvements before I put the unit in... we were on the borderline before with a 2KW array (now have 3KW). But I wouldn't have thought A/C would even work on our lights and entertainment circuit because of the surges and spikes when it cycled on and off. As you know, this one slowly ramps up and back down as temp requirements dictate. No surges, no flickering TV or lights. The extra $350 for a new inverter was no problem.

    I thought hard about the 3/4 ton vs this 1 ton. It was a big job and I knew how disappointed I'd be if later on the 3/4 ton wasn't sufficient. Ours is an older mobilehome and I wanted to keep the front 600sf cool. As it turns out, it kept the whole house cool. And now it's keeping the whole house warm. The ONLY down side to the 1 ton is that it doesn't qualify for the energy rebate and the 3/4 ton does... but I still think I'd have gone for the bigger unit.

    And I am SOOOOOOOO glad that you recommended the heat option. I wouldn't have gotten it otherwise.

    Phil
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,637 admin
    Re: GFCIs and surge protectors

    Surge suppressors do have capacitors (and/or MOVs) between hot, neutral, and ground.... And if the device also has some AC input RFI filters--there maybe a few capacitors there between hot/neutral and ground.

    The GFI will trip somewhere around 0.005 amps (5 mAmps) of leakage current to earth ground. If I recall correctly, UL allows ~2.5 mAmps (0.0025 amps) of leakage current to safety ground without any special warning/marking on the equipment... So, if you have a few devices with small/legal amounts of ground leakage--it can false trip a GFI.

    You really only need to put a GFI on stuff that is near water (sinks,tubs, outdoor outlets, etc.) where a person can get shocked to earth ground.

    You don't need to put GFI's on other circuits as they really will never trip as there is no wet person to earth ground contact possible in the rest of the home--unless it is a false trip from many devices adding up to the leakage current trip level (like you are probably seeing).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: GFCIs and surge protectors
    BB. wrote: »
    Surge suppressors do have capacitors (and/or MOVs) between hot, neutral, and ground.... And if the device also has some AC input RFI filters--there maybe a few capacitors there between hot/neutral and ground.

    The GFI will trip somewhere around 0.005 amps (5 mAmps) of leakage current to earth ground. If I recall correctly, UL allows ~2.5 mAmps (0.0025 amps) of leakage current to safety ground without any special warning/marking on the equipment... So, if you have a few devices with small/legal amounts of ground leakage--it can false trip a GFI.

    You really only need to put a GFI on stuff that is near water (sinks,tubs, outdoor outlets, etc.) where a person can get shocked to earth ground.

    You don't need to put GFI's on other circuits as they really will never trip as there is no wet person to earth ground contact possible in the rest of the home--unless it is a false trip from many devices adding up to the leakage current trip level (like you are probably seeing).

    -Bill

    Thanks, Bill, for the reinforcement. I first suspected the two inverter neutral lines that were tied together in the breaker box to be the problem. Isolated them. Nope.

    Further thought suggested the circuits in the suppressor, and last night I removed it. Problem solved.

    Figgered I oughta pass this on to our collective knowledge bank.

    Phil

    (on edit) the next thing I was going to do was replace the GFI with a standard socket. Like I said, this circuit has been doing great for decades, and after moving the Sanyo to the circuit, it still had no problem when it was powered by the Magnum. I don't need a GFI for that circuit but only wanted to do that as a last resort just in case there are any warranty problems.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,769 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: GFCIs and surge protectors

    Really feeling too lazy to read the first post again but did you replace the GFCI?
    They go bad all the time and fail on the side of safety.

    Yes the Sanyo mini split is awesome and we have been heating with it as several nights have dipped to the mid 40's. I really like the programming algorithm that Sanyo uses. You can set it to shut down near sunset and it is Dave proof......

    If you still have some money left Phil, you should check-out the energy star 3.0 big screen LCD's. They allow you to ramp down the backlight power on the remote in 3 or 4 levels. The 42 and 47 inch screen LG's can run on less than 75 watts. They look good like that in anything but full sunlight. You can even turn the display off and listen at around 35 watts. A nice power save with the winter solstice 2 months away for people on their own grid!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: GFCIs and surge protectors
    Really feeling too lazy to read the first post again but did you replace the GFCI?
    They go bad all the time and fail on the side of safety.

    Yes the Sanyo mini split is awesome and we have been heating with it as several nights have dipped to the mid 40's. I really like the programming algorithm that Sanyo uses. You can set it to shut down near sunset and it is Dave proof......

    If you still have some money left Phil, you should check-out the energy star 3.0 big screen LCD's. They allow you to ramp down the backlight power on the remote in 3 or 4 levels. The 42 and 47 inch screen LG's can run on less than 75 watts. They look good like that in anything but full sunlight. You can even turn the display off and listen at around 35 watts. A nice power save with the winter solstice 2 months away for people on their own grid!

    Nope, Dave, didn't replace the GFI. Once I removed the Monster surge protector, everything was just fine.

    Hopefully by the time we need a new TV, there'll be even MORE efficient models for sale. Our Toshiba projection uses about 100 watts but it has a great picture and it's paid for. I lost the blue convergence IC a couple of years ago (they typically last 5 - 6 years) and it took me three trys to find the right part to replace: three possible causes, it was the third one I changed. Murphy again.

    Phil
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,769 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: GFCIs and surge protectors

    The reason I asked about the GFI is it is easy to buy the 15A model and you definately need a 20A GFI with these kind of loads.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: GFCIs and surge protectors
    The reason I asked about the GFI is it is easy to buy the 15A model and you definately need a 20A GFI with these kind of loads.


    Thanks Dave. If I'd replaced it, I'd have just put in a duplex receptacle. Don't need GFI since that TV is too big for me to watch in the bathtub.

    LESS than a week until November and we haven't fired up the woodstove even once this season! Love that Sanyo!

    Phil
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