Constant GFCI tripping due to Tek ballast??

techreef

Premium Member
Anyone else here running a Sunlight Supply T5 2-bulb 54W retro kit? I am, and the darn ballast keeps tripping my Shockbuster plugin GFCI. I'm running all my electrical equipment through a ReefKeeper II controller, and have gone one by one, unplugging things from the RKII. It is definitely the Tek ballast.

At first, I thought that the three wires that plug into the ballast were arcing across each other due to the braided copper wire coming unbraided a little. So I spliced some solid copper wire onto each braided wire, and plugged the solid wire into the ballast. But 12 hours after that fix, my GFCI tripped again due to the Tek ballast.

Could it be moisture on/near those the Tek wires that is tripping the GFCI? The ballast is mounted in my stand, and I have a 30G sump in there with it. I also have an IceCap ballast in there, and it's not giving me any problems, but it has a much nicer plug ending on all the wiring that does not expose the individual wires to the air inside the stand. Could I set up a fan to blow at the Tek ballast, to prevent this shorting? I'd really like some suggestions, because currently I'm running without any actinic lighting in my tank due to the Tek lights being unplugged. I'd like to get my dawn/dusk process back up and running for my tank.
 

jdieck

New member
It could be just electrical noise. Some ballast introduce so much distortion specially when turning ON or OFF that can interfere with the proper operation of the GFCI.
There are several potential solutions:
a) Insure that the ballast and metalic reflector are properly grounded
b) Replace the GFCI for a different brand (Try Leviton)
c) Install a noise filter between the light plug and the GFCI.
http://www.radioshack.com/product/i...g=2&origkw=filter&kw=filter&parentPage=search
 

techreef

Premium Member
Thanks jdieck. I'll try your suggestions and post back in a couple days. While I'm trying that, has anyone else here had problems with this specific ballast model?
 

rookie96

New member
I ran into the same problem, only with a 6 bulb 54w T-5. Three times the fun (sarcasm). I tried everything, from completely rewiring (in case of a short), switching out ballast, and even switching out bulbs because I found the bulb ends blackening very prematurely.

One thing I did come across is the GFCI will become "worn" or "weaken" after multiple trips. The more it trips, the more likely it will trip in the future.

So start off with a new GFCI, doublesheck that all wiring and contacts are properly sealed from moisture and that all connections are secure. If you still have a problem, contact your store for assistance in resolving the issue by providing a replacement or repair as Sunlight Supply does stand behind their product.

Good Luck
 

rookie96

New member
One more thing, make sure the GFCI is correctly rated for the fuse you currently have and that the circuit is not pulling too many amps.

For example, if you have "X" amps worth of electrical goodies plugged in, and then add the new ballast, you may be over what the GFCI is rated for and tripping it.
 

techreef

Premium Member
That is one of my problems/concerns, rookie96.
doublesheck that all wiring and contacts are properly sealed from moisture

the way the wires connect to the Tek ballast (push in tension style connectors, with a pushbutton release next to each of the 3 holes) I can't figure out how to insulate them from moisture. Would it be okay for me to wrap all three wires w/ electrical tape? Would current travel through the tape and trip the ShockBuster? Can you maybe suggest how you moisture-proofed your setup?

The Shockbuster was a gift from my father-in-law, so I don't know how many amps it's rated for. I am running nearly all of my equipment through that one Shockbuster, so your over-amped suggestion is a possibility. I never got to check out the packaging for the Shockbuster, and the back of the device doesn't state any ratings.
 

rookie96

New member
The push-in connectors on the ballast are a challenge and does not work well with braided core wiring as you found. I tried the splicing with solid core, but still had the problems. As I found, a chain is only strong as it weakest link, and every splice is a potential short.

I ended up rewiring the while thing. I couldn't find solid core 16 guage anywhere and finally bought some brand new 16 guage TFFN braided wire at Home Depot and soldered the braided core tips to make it "solid" and easier to push into the connectors. Just try to avoid having any exposed wire sticking out of the ballast. Press in until you reach the vinyl covering.

I looked up the ShockBuster for you and found it at marinedepot.com. The one they carry is rated 15 amps.
 

jdieck

New member
The Shockbooste might have a label or rating plate indicating the amperage it is rated for. Insure that at the maximum (say when all your equipment is ON you do not exceed 70% of the rating.
The most usual rating is 15 Amp by the way.
 

techreef

Premium Member
thanks for the info, you two. i'll see if i can wrap my wires and splices well after drying them off w/ a hair drier tonight. Maybe that will solve my problem. If not, I'll start working through the other suggestions you've given me. Thanks.
 

techreef

Premium Member
One question about checking the total amperage that I'm running through my Shockbuster: When calculating this, do I simply add each device's amperage rating together in one total, or is there some sort of complicated ratio or fraction needed when totaling amperage?
 

rookie96

New member
Fortunately, no difficult formulas. Just add up the amps of all the equipment running through the GFCI. You'll probably be OK. but remember, GFCI's don't like to be tripped to often before they get touchy and trip real easily.

You can also buy a go down to the local Home Depot and purchase a 2-outlet GFCI and replaced the standard 2-outlet. Includes the wiring diagram and is really easy to install. If you want to go one step further, they also have waterproof switchplates with a clear cover to make sure moisture doesn't get at the plugs. Both of these are something like $5.00 each.:)
 

easye123

New member
so thats what was wrong with my tek ballast...

i hope to do it right when i get my new ballast

im not very happy with their product i might have to say
 

jdieck

New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8084099#post8084099 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by techreef
One question about checking the total amperage that I'm running through my Shockbuster: When calculating this, do I simply add each device's amperage rating together in one total, or is there some sort of complicated ratio or fraction needed when totaling amperage?

Some equipment may not give you the Amps but will give you the Watts or the Horsepower.
To approximate the Amps you can use:

Amps= Watts /(115 x 0.97)

Amps= (HP x 745) / (115 x 0.95)

Remember to add up only the equipment that will be on at the same time.
 

techreef

Premium Member
i would have preferred an in-wall GFCI, but the box in the wall behind my tank does not QUITE fit the larger GFCI device. It is 1)in a mirror-covered wall, thus making enlarging the hole a lot more interesting, and 2)has another outlet pushed up against it from the opposite side of the same wall, thereby further restricting the available space for the in-wall GFCI. I had bought one and tried to shove it in there, but no go.

Thanks for the conversion formulas, jdieck.
 

crumbletop

New member
I had the same problem with a 6x54W TEK setup (3 ballasts). My problem occurred not after one was turned on, but if all 3 were turned on together (or close together). If I stagger the on times by 15 minutes, then the GFI doesn't trip. The ballasts apparently have some RFI filtering circuitry that is required for all electronic ballasts that bleeds some current so that at power on there can be a sizable missmatch between current in and current out, thus tripping the GFI. If yours is doing it with only a single ballast, then I'd get it replaced.

RE: GFI's, I wired up 2 GFI's in parallel using a junction box from home depot, and then ran a heavy duty (12 guage or 10 guage, I think) power cord from the junction box to the wall outlet. This is essentially a DIY dual GFI power strip. You could do the same thing with a single outlet junction box. That way you can use your mirrored outlet and still have GFI protection.
 

jdieck

New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8088986#post8088986 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by crumbletop

RE: GFI's, I wired up 2 GFI's in parallel using a junction box from home depot, and then ran a heavy duty (12 guage or 10 guage, I think) power cord from the junction box to the wall outlet. This is essentially a DIY dual GFI power strip. You could do the same thing with a single outlet junction box. That way you can use your mirrored outlet and still have GFI protection.

Just insure that the wire gauge from the outlet to the main and the breaker in the main can take the load.
 

techreef

Premium Member
crumbletop, re: your power bleed note for Tek ballasts, what if I'm running my 2-bulb Tek ballast with a 4-bulb IceCap 660 ballast? (which is my setup) Would you say that fits your "sizable missmatch between current in and current out, thus tripping the GFI." scenario? Or did you mean if I was running more than one Tek ballast, it would be a problem?
 

jdieck

New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8089071#post8089071 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by techreef
crumbletop, re: your power bleed note for Tek ballasts, what if I'm running my 2-bulb Tek ballast with a 4-bulb IceCap 660 ballast? (which is my setup) Would you say that fits your "sizable missmatch between current in and current out, thus tripping the GFI." scenario? Or did you mean if I was running more than one Tek ballast, it would be a problem?

Every time that an electric device is turned on an almost instantaneous spike of current ocurr. The amount and duration depends on the charachteristics of the device. Electronic ballasts and most magnetic devices, Motors, transformers and such generate what is colled a Transient peak where that skike keeps bouncing up and down diminishing n intensity until it achieves a stable state. This transient effect happens in a matter of thousnads of a second usually faster than a GFCI can detect. Note a GFCI actuates in about 5 (Thousands of a second) milliseconds. If several devices are turned on at once the spikes of the devices can add to each other in intensity and time thus potentiall being detected by the GFCI. This is why stageing the start up of the devices helps prevent tripping of the GFCI.
As a general rule it is always a good practice not to start up many devices at once, specially if they are heavy loads.
In other words you do not want to turn on your fridge, freezer, aircon and such all at once.
 

jdieck

New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8089071#post8089071 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by techreef
crumbletop, re: your power bleed note for Tek ballasts, what if I'm running my 2-bulb Tek ballast with a 4-bulb IceCap 660 ballast? (which is my setup) Would you say that fits your "sizable missmatch between current in and current out, thus tripping the GFI." scenario? Or did you mean if I was running more than one Tek ballast, it would be a problem?

Every time that an electric device is turned on an almost instantaneous spike of current ocurr. The amount and duration depends on the charachteristics of the device. Electronic ballasts and most magnetic devices, Motors, transformers and such generate what is colled a Transient peak where that skike keeps bouncing up and down diminishing n intensity until it achieves a stable state. This transient effect happens in a matter of thousnads of a second usually faster than a GFCI can detect. Note a GFCI actuates in about 5 (Thousands of a second) milliseconds. If several devices are turned on at once the spikes of the devices can add to each other in intensity and time thus potentiall being detected by the GFCI. This is why stageing the start up of the devices helps prevent tripping of the GFCI.
As a general rule it is always a good practice not to start up many devices at once, specially if they are heavy loads.
In other words you do not want to turn on your fridge, freezer, aircon and such all at once. This could most probably happen after a power failure. During the failure you want to disconect such devices and after the power has been re-established re-connect one at a time.
 
Top