Latest Discussions : Electrical & Lighting

jtpeter

06:08PM | 11/25/07
Member Since: 11/24/07
2 lifetime posts
This year and last year I started having problems when it rains, causing my Christmas lights to go out, tripping the GFCI.

The GFCI plug is located in the garage, and has all the outdoor covered outlets running through it. The circuit is 20 amps, and I'm running 14 amps of minature outdoor rated lights. There are no frays in the wire and every wire receptable/connection is wrapped with weather proof electrical tape and plastic. I'm using all outdoor extension cords and everything is controlled from 3 heavy duty outdoor timer outlets with covers. I additionally covered the timers with plastic bagging. The timers are connected to the outdoor receptacles on the house, which have plastic bubble cover plates.

I'm stumped as to why everytime it rains, the GFCI trips. Should I lower the amps going to this circuit and divert to another plug on another circuit?

I do have one set of lighting on the left side of the house (about 4 amps worth) that runs to GFCI plug in the house that is on a different circuit breaker. This seems to have no problem when it rains. I'm wondering if I should take about 4 amps off the larger load and add on to this other circuit.

Any suggestions?

Tom O

11:24AM | 11/26/07
Member Since: 09/17/02
476 lifetime posts
Lowering the load should not affect the GFI receptacle trip other than you might be removing whatever piece of wiring that is causing the problem.

You might try spraying some WD-40 into the ends of the extension cords and on the plug end of each light stringer. Or, wait until it rains again and unplug 1/2 of the lights, this will narrow down your search. Once you determine which 1/2 is causing the trouble, divide that bunch in 1/2 again until you finally find the culprit.

Finding GFI problems can be a frustrating experience.

jtpeter

02:47PM | 11/26/07
Member Since: 11/24/07
2 lifetime posts
Thanks for the information! I'll see if I can figure out. They are all new light sets.

I did reduce the load so I have about 8 amps on two different circuits and GFCIs. Could it also be that the one GFCI receptacle is bad? The other seems to work fine with the lights int the rain. Of course, this only one half of the lighting. I guess the problem could be with some light set or cord on the other receptacle.

TimBonham

12:36PM | 11/27/07
Member Since: 01/09/07
199 lifetime posts
"Could it also be that the one GFCI receptacle is bad? The other seems to work fine with the lights int the rain."

Easy way to tell is to switch the receptacles those loads are plugged into. If then the other GFCI receptacle starts tripping, then the problem is somewhere in that set of lights & extension cords. If the same GFCI receptacle still trips with a different load on it, the problem is indeed likely in that receptacle. (But it may just be that this one GFCI is more sensitive to a ground fault and trips faster. That's not really a 'problem'; we want GFCI's to trip fast, before a human can sense the shock.)

BV002502

10:18PM | 11/06/13
reducing the amount of light sets on that gfci will reduce gfci trips. Each year I've had this issue and each year I have to pull cables all over the place to reduce loads in order to keep them on. Each year I think I'll wrap things more carefully and each year I think I'll avoid trips - and don't.

I believe , and no one I've read so far has mentioned this, but I believe that the trips occur because water receeds into the sockets of each light. The more lights the more leaks. That leakage leads to trips. Sometimes it will ran just a bit and all my lights stay on. Many times it will rain very hard, and my lights will stay on because the rain was brief. A long soaking is what trips my lights everytime. Not until things dry up will my lights work again.

I may try to switch out my GFCI's with newer ones. I'm also going to switch another outlet in my garage to a GFCI and use this to lessen the load overall.

Could it be a bad connection or faulty wire? yes. But if you are like me and have a newer or new sets of lights and keep the extension cord connecting parts off the ground and covered, and tape up the ends of the exposed strings of lights and still have an issue - then I'll bet this is the issue (too many lights on one gfci. Sure you probably arent overloading the circuit in dry conditions but when harsh conditions are presented, it's probably safe to cut things to 1/4 the total load.
1850 watts / 4 = 462. My lights use I believe 40 watts each string. So keeping it down to under 11 sets would probably suffice.

BV018066

10:31PM | 11/26/18
Okay, just have to say THANK YOU. My lights were fine under dry conditions, it starts raining, and then all of a sudden the GFCI trips. I (like a lot of other places) assumed it was a short in the system. If so the short "wanders" all over the place.

I essentially have three main set areas and the I would unplug each one and plug them back in and no matter what order the last plug would trip the GFCI. It was driving me crazy as the amount of amps should be totally fine for the circuit (again when dry there was never a problem).

Following this advice, I split onto two different circuits and lights are staying on.

BV018107

10:45AM | 12/02/18
Has anyone found that taping the receptacles while stringing them together with electrical or duct tape works. I have heard pros and cons....Mine are on the room edge, and as soon as I got a rain, the GFCI tripped. The outlet is good as I have another light set running on it. Any suggestions would be helpful..R

BV018166

09:10AM | 12/09/18
You’re gfci is tripping in the rain because water is making its way to an electrical contact point. Water and electricity don’t mix. I personally never keep my Christmas lights on during rain. But if you insist on doing so, then you need to at least make sure plugs are covered or taped to seal them from water and every light bulb cover is fully screwed in. Water is seeping into plug connections or into the bulb itself causing a short and tripping the gfci.

BV018192

05:49PM | 12/12/18
I've had the same issue. But I have Christmas wire décor that has multiple light sets on it and many have exposed, open plugs. I had an electrician tell me to use 100% outdoor silicone over these. To smear over the plugs and any place I think water could get in with my finger. He said it should seal it from water and if need be I can always peel it off if I need to use one of the plugs later. What do you all think of that option? Trying it out today.

BV018206

12:23PM | 12/15/18
I have same issue with Christmas lights and rain. I know it is not the lights because my GFCI trips when it rains and there is NOTHING
plugged in. I called an electrician, and he replaced and sealed up all my outside outlets and replaced the GFCI which is located in my bathroom. The new one still trips every time it rains. The electrician and I are out of ideas. If someone has solved this problem, please let me know.


BV018209

05:03PM | 12/15/18
If your problem goes beyond sealing the sockets, the problem could be water infiltrating a bulb socket while also being in direct contact with landscape or ground cover. After I sealed all my plug connections with electrical tape I was still plagued with GFCI faults during rain. My troubleshooting approach was to pinpoint the problem by simply watering my Christmas lights with a hose one string at a time on a dry day until the GFCI would trip. What I discovered was that not all sockets are waterproof. I could isolate and repeat the problem on a few strings that looked and performed like a normal strings but were clearly had one socket that was not waterproof. I could isolate the problem this way: When I held the suspect string in the air and watered it over the same socket the GFCI would not trip. If I then lay that string down on the ground one socket at a time then the GFCI would trip every time once the specific socket touched ground. I have taken these strings out of the display and no longer have GFCI issues. Maybe I need to perform this test on every string before I add it to the display.
To me it also seemed that certain brands/quality of string lights have a higher incidence of this problem. Most of my strings were water-resistant, but a few were causing problems for my entire display and they were from the same season. I probably have 3000 lights in my display.


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