This is why you should never plug high powered stuff into your controller...

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by sfsuphysics, Feb 22, 2018.

  1. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Cheap plastic power bars that cost way too fricking much, you'd think they'd use some high temperature thermoplastic dohicky stuff.

    This cold weather has caused my heater to go overboard on my 300g pond. Of course to be fair the outlet is only rated at 8 amps, and the 1000 watt heater is technically 8.33 amps, but still. Smelled this burnt smell this morning before I left for work, wife suggested downstairs, and good god burnt plastic mess, I turned the power off to the bar, and just yanked hard on the plug and it did not want to come, this plastic plug dohick popped out of the power bar, and some more pulling and one of the prongs of the heater plug pulled out too. I think I can get the plug part and just pop it back into the power bar, but I'll have to see, for now it's no go on that one.

    luckily I had a couple 400W heaters, and threw one in, but 400watts was not enough to keep it warm, it was down to 72 when I got home, another 400 watts in (on a different circuit) and hopefully that should keep it up.
  2. capescuba

    capescuba Supporting Member

    Damn Mike!
  3. kinetic

    kinetic Webmaster

    OMG yikes. Glad you caught it and nothing major happened.
  4. daddio

    daddio Supporting Member

    Perhaps it is a quality plastic which is why it did not ignite and burn the house down?
  5. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Well my power bars are not mounted in a place where a fire can break out if they somehow do ignite, if the whole thing goes up in flames at most there is a scorch mark (good safety tip for planning out your electrical as you think about mounting them to the wood frame of your stand), nothing of a really flammable nature is anywhere near by, come to think of it I wonder what the ignition point of gypsum board actually is, I guess the paper on it technically is flammable, but it's covered in good old school lead based paint :D

    That said I'm now more pissed that 2 - 400 watt heaters over night and the temperature went up like 2 degrees. Damn it's cold down there.
  6. coral4me

    coral4me Supporting Member

    Were the heaters on power bar outlets 4 and 8? I believe those are rated for higher current draw?
  7. euod

    euod Supporting Member

    Good tips on the igniting points.
    I usually go into surge protector before the controller. Learned that from the metal halides days and still using them, too.
    My tanks are running at 70-72 F now so no worries. Livestocks can endure cold better than heat. I keep my tanks 75-76 to give it room to fluctuate.
  8. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    The outlet 4 & 8 issue only applies to EB8 and not EB832 and is actually doesn't have to do with the ability to have higher current draw. Outlets 4 and 8 are mechanical relays versus TRIAC outlets. TRIAC outlets can switch on/off much faster than a mechanical relay and also does not wear down as fast as a mechanical switch. The problem with TRIAC outlets is that for low power devices (<5W) it may have trouble actually switching it off. Even though the outlet appears off there could still be a small amount of current going through the outlet.
  9. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Yeah I'm not terribly worried about the colder than normal temp of the water, I'm more looking at it about 800 watts of heater that are on constantly and how fast the electric meter is spinning, Dec-March are usually my expensive months even with the solar panels (but still cheaper than most I'm sure).

    And this wasn't an Apex power bar, it was the Digital Aquatics version, but yeah it was on the outlets that were rated for 8A each instead of 3A, but like I said 1000watts translates to just over 8A, which normally isn't an issue but maybe the prolonged on time heated it up too much, caused a gap, created some arcing which melted the plastic? who knows, I'm only speculating on what was the cause of the melt.
  10. coral4me

    coral4me Supporting Member

    Yes, i know about Triac vs. Mechanically switched, but if you read the specs the Triac outlets have a 5 amp max and the Mechanical outlets have a 10 amp max. Note: The energy bar over all has a 15 amp max

    From Neptune Website:
    "Outlets 1-3 and 5-7 are switched with silent solid-state devices and can power items up to 5 amps each. Outlets 4 and 8 are switched with
    relays and can power items up to 10 amps each. The total current draw for all active outlets must be less than 15 amps."
    RandyC likes this.
  11. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Ahh....did not know that! Thanks!
    coral4me likes this.
  12. Chromis

    Chromis Supporting Member

    I agree that there is a silver lining here. Remember that coral shop in the east bay that burned down from daisy chaining strip outlets or something?
  13. Ranjib Dey

    Ranjib Dey Webmaster

  14. daddio

    daddio Supporting Member

    This is why that raspberry pi thingy in a wood box is not a real good idea
  15. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member


    My guess: Corrosion in the receptacle for the plug.

    If you get corrosion, you do not have a good connection between plug and receptacle.
    That means high resistance in that area.
    Power = current squared * resistance.
    You have 10A, and a small enclosed space that probably only needs 20W or so to melt.
    So all it would take is 0.4 ohms.

    If it was the relay/triac, the failure would be inside.


    Side note : TRIACs burn quite a bit of power. Not like a mechanical relay. Never put a big load on them without a heat sink.
  16. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Well when it rains it pours... put food in the tank today and it felt colder than usual, look at the temperature gauges (3 of them) and it's at 70 degrees, apparently one of the 400 watt titanium heaters crapped out although the controller/gauge still worked apparently. Shuffling through dusty box of old stuff, no problem I found a bunch of older glass heaters, 250-400watts, put in a couple 250s to replace, about a half hour later I smelled "that" smell, went back to the tank saw awesome underwater sparky light show as one of the heaters apparently broke in half, fished out what I could tossed in a bag of carbon, plugged in the 400watt heater to replace it, but that didn't seem to work anymore either... finally put an old plastic 250W heater in and that one seems to work but geeze all this fish junk and all this crappy heaters. Getting tempted to rewire the 1000w plug and give that a roll again (just not on the controller ports).
  17. ashburn2k

    ashburn2k Webmaster

    Shit, sorry that this is happening. Hope that will be the end of fails.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
  18. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Yeah, really sucks. Old heaters and cheap powerheads are two things that pop into mind that don’t stand the test of time well.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Coral reefer likes this.
  19. daddio

    daddio Supporting Member

    Sounds like a bit of insulation might be in order?
  20. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Yeah I could imagine having a bunch of glass heaters in a box of other random garbage probably doesn't make for the most ideal of storage either, there could have very easily been a tiny crack I just didn't notice.

    Insulation might help, the rule of thumb for heaters I usually go by is 1 watt per gallon per 5 degrees below ambient, so with a 300g tank, if the room is 60 degrees, that's 1200 watts of heater, although my 1000 watt heater did fine so it shows there is a level of wiggle room, but yeah the whole room is unheated, has no insulation in the walls (houses never did built back then) has a door to the outside that really isn't an exterior door... yeah there's a whole lot of project work to do, but finding the time to do it is quite problematic... hence the multi-year "temporary" tank :D

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