Electrical, GFCI, Controllers.

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by sfsuphysics, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    So I'm not going to open a can of worms by asking what peoples opinions on GFCI circuits and the aquarium, but I am going to ask what's your opinion on putting "non-wet" items into GFCIs.

    First some background, I have 2- 20A circuits run inside the tank stand, and unless things change I'll have 3 - 2 outlet boxes. 2 in my "dry space" under the stand, and 1 brought above the stand. I'm sure this is all sorts of against code, so I'm not even going to ask those questions for the arm chair electricians of the Internet who seem to have more time answering questions than they have jobs to work on.

    My thought is to have one circuit the "dry circuit" without any sort of GFCI on it at all, this circuit simply won't have "wet stuff" on it, no wet stuff no GFCI needed right?! right! The other box will have two GFCIs each separate from one another so I can have two possible trip points and not one trip point that takes everything out if there's a trip, this way I can have a return pump separate from an in tank pump etc. Then off the load side of one of the GFCIs goes the box with regular plugs that is above the tank, the box will be physically attached to something (not that tank) but being as lights and stuff that could possibly fall into tank should really have some level of protection. The reason for regular plugs is because they're downstream (in line) with another GFCI they're protected as if they are connected to the GFCI and since the GFCI plugs are in a "Dry area" there's less worry about humid air prematurely making them fail. I don't know what I'm going to do about load balancing for the tank right now, but to be honest I'm not on that step anyways.

    So here's the question though, at some point I might want an Apex (or some other controller), do people plug the EB832 into a GFCI outlet because presumably you'll have "wet items" plugged into it, if anything to use the current sensing to see how your pumps are working. But if a GFCI trips the whole system goes down, and presumably you would lose a lot of function of your tank when that happens. Or do people just not use GFCIs with their controller?
  2. insomniac2k2

    insomniac2k2 Supporting Member

    I plug my EB8 direct into my wall and run a home made GFCI pigtail on my "wet" ports. In fact, I run 2 GFCI pigtails off of a splitter on a single port of my EB8. This allows each return pump to trip an independent GFCI without killing all flow.

    Attached is a picture of my simple pigtails. All parts found at home depot.

    Attached Files:

  3. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    ah interesting, so you basically make a junction box "extension cord" and use that for a particular plug on your controller
  4. insomniac2k2

    insomniac2k2 Supporting Member

    Yep. Exactly. I have several of them. I run 1 of them for a return and skimmer. I run the other on my backup return. I run yet another one on an entire EB8 in the garage for a bunch of random stuff.

    Each one cost about $12 to make. I just cut the ends off old computer cords for the pigtail.
  5. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    $12? That can't be including the outlet because those GFCI outlets easily cost more than that each.
  6. insomniac2k2

    insomniac2k2 Supporting Member

    Got mine in a multi-pack . I think they were about $10 ea

    Amazon has a few 2 packss for $20 right now. I'm guessing how much the box cost, but I dont remember it breaking the bank.
  7. insomniac2k2

    insomniac2k2 Supporting Member

    Just took a look on Amazon. Looks like you can get boxes for $5. I know i got mine much cheaper at the time from home depot.
  8. Ranjib Dey

    Ranjib Dey Guest

    even in home depot you can pick up pack of 4 outlets under 30$ I think.
    I use two main ones and then connect the main power bars to those.. individual outlets do not need to be GFCI potected
  9. insomniac2k2

    insomniac2k2 Supporting Member

    I disagree. For me, I absolutely need some of my individual outlets on gfci and others, not. It all depends on what you are building for. My requirement is redundancy and fault tolerance.

    Sent from my LM-V350 using Tapatalk
  10. Ranjib Dey

    Ranjib Dey Guest

    I had this advice in reef2reef from Brew12 (a staff member and career electrician) that if the parent outlet is a gfci, making downstream outlets that are connected to eat does not add to any extra protection, but does adds to cost. I dont have a whole lot of understanding on this, but his rationale (and echoed by other electrical engineers in r2r) made sense.

    In general redundancy beyond certain point adds to reliability but can add to complexity/difficulty (like a six wheel vehicles does not add more stability than a 4 wheel, its only required for more weight capacity). In reefing world, I think Apex ATK is the prime example of this, even with multiple sensors it has more issues than smart ato micro which employs only a single sensor.
  11. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    I think you're missing what he's doing, his power bar is NOT plugged into GFCI, so he creates individual GFCI circuits for his outlets. The redundancy he speaks of is not having a GFCI trip essentially turning off his entire Apex unit, instead it only trips on the bad item (pump, or whatever).

    And just looked online, at least the store near me a 4 pack of GFCI switches is $51. I would order some off Amazon although some of those off brands scare me, and everyone I'm looking at has a face plate, like geeze I don't want the faceplate! Let me save a dollar or whatever :D
  12. insomniac2k2

    insomniac2k2 Supporting Member

    That advice is generalized. It all depends on what you are building for. Plugging the EB8 direct into the wall will allow me to connect to my apex remotely when something dies and trips my gfci. Honestly I could care less what a career electrician advises to save a buck because he or she doesn't share my vision. I don't need to save a buck. If I did, I wouldn't be in the hobby.

    I protect million dollar systems from failure and build redundancies for them. Not a pissing war. It's my mentality.

    Nothing is complicated.

    Sent from my LM-V350 using Tapatalk
    Ranjib Dey likes this.
  13. insomniac2k2

    insomniac2k2 Supporting Member

    Lol get the faceplate. It's a splash guard

    Sent from my LM-V350 using Tapatalk
  14. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    But it won't fit with my mudring :p
  15. xcaret

    xcaret Guest

    If you plug the Apex on a GFCI, make sure you have an auxiliary power supply connected to the Apex; I believe it does have a DC port; in that case if something happens, the Apex can send you a notification.
  16. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    You can enable the Apex heartbeat. If it loses connectivity to the Neptune servers, it will notify you that it communication has been loss.

    Heartbeats are NOT enabled by default. You need to manually enable this after your Apex has been setup and plugged in for at least 24 hours.

  17. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    I mean that's fine and dandy that I can be alerted to the Apex no longer functioning, however Apex can't exactly reset a GFCI so it would still be without power :D
  18. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    It's better than not knowing at all. When my Apex and my network attached battery backups go nuts with the emails, I know it's time to get home quickly.
  19. JVU


    Every wall outlet near my tank including a sink area where I work on stuff and garage area where I have a pass-through is GFCI protected. I have areas around the tank I refer to as dry areas that I don’t intend to splash water for sure, but I don’t have any that I know with 99+% certainty they will never get splashed with saltwater or exposed to wet hands. So GFCI for all.

    And yes, Apex Heartbeat works well once activated.

    I also don’t buy cheapo electrical devices trying to save a dollar or run things near the edge of their power tolerances, so failures are very rare.

    I don’t see the point in making it more complicated than that, but then again I don’t want to get too involved in this stuff as long as I get safe reliable power. But hey, its a hobby so if you have the knowledge and the interest to optimize a bit further then go for it.

    Like they say, anyone can design a bridge that stands. It takes an engineer to design a bridge that barely stands.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  20. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Supporting Member

    @Vhuang168, why isn’t each outlet on the eb32 individually gfci protected?

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