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Author Topic: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?  (Read 12507 times)

frank kayser

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Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« on: November 07, 2014, 10:46:55 am »

I need a reality check here.


I've been told by the warranty department of surge suppressor manufacturer, a well respected/recommended brand here, that "I have been advised that the [product ID] will trip the GFI outlet they are not compatible they are for the standard outlet only."  I'm incredulous.


Is this possible?  Do I call BS here?


frank

[/size][size=78%](probably not enough specific information here, but I really don't want to drag any name through the mud in public.  PM me if you need more specifics, and we can chat offline)[/size]
[/size]

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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2014, 10:50:21 am »

I need a reality check here.


I've been told by the warranty department of surge suppressor manufacturer, a well respected/recommended brand here, that "I have been advised that the [product ID] will trip the GFI outlet they are not compatible they are for the standard outlet only."  I'm incredulous.


Is this possible?  Do I call BS here?


frank

[/size][size=78%](probably not enough specific information here, but I really don't want to drag any name through the mud in public.  PM me if you need more specifics, and we can chat offline)[/size]
[/size]
Did it ever work?  A common issue is MOVs that have started leaking from previous hits.  This current can trip GFCIs, but a new MOV-based strip should not.
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frank kayser

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2014, 10:56:44 am »

Did it ever work?  A common issue is MOVs that have started leaking from previous hits.  This current can trip GFCIs, but a new MOV-based strip should not.
Two identical units, DOA out of the box. Allegedly, no MOVs - one of their brand's selling points.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2014, 11:10:46 am »

Two identical units, DOA out of the box. Allegedly, no MOVs - one of their brand's selling points.

From what I've read, new surge strips can have up to 3 mA current leakage to ground and still pass UL listing. So while one won't trip a 6 mA threshold GFCI,  two surge strips hooked together on a common GFCI just might make it trip. Would be interesting to do some actual testing to know for sure. I have the metering to test this if they'll send me a few samples to play around with.
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Mike Sokol
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frank kayser

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2014, 11:28:12 am »

From what I've read, new surge strips can have up to 3 mA current leakage to ground and still pass UL listing. So while one won't trip a 6 mA threshold GFCI,  two surge strips hooked together on a common GFCI just might make it trip. Would be interesting to do some actual testing to know for sure. I have the metering to test this if they'll send me a few samples to play around with.
Thanks, Mike.

I've read about the surge strips in series, each leaking a minimum, but additive being above the 6 mA threshold here.


Both surge units I have tripped the two different GFCI outlets they were plugged into - a 20a outdoor receptacle at the center of town, and a 15a indoor receptacle in my home.  Nothing but a single surge suppressor (no load) was plugged in.


As for testing, is that your milliamp multiplier loop you'd be using?  I'm in your same general neck of the woods, and would be willing to make mine available for testing, or PM me, and I'll send you the specifics on brand and model, and let you deal directly with the manufacturer.


frank
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2014, 11:35:13 am »

I still like the idea of GFCI built into the power strips.

It could be possible to make adjustable GFCI but I don't trust end users to not use that adjustment capability to defeat the functionality.

JR
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When in doubt do what's right.

frank kayser

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2014, 11:41:17 am »

I still like the idea of GFCI built into the power strips.

It could be possible to make adjustable GFCI but I don't trust end users to not use that adjustment capability to defeat the functionality.

JR
The more I think about it, the better it sounds.


Yeah, I wouldn't trust the end users with that "power", either.
frank
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2014, 12:17:42 pm »

The more I think about it, the better it sounds.


Yeah, I wouldn't trust the end users with that "power", either.
frank
A surge supressor could be built into the GFCI power strip but upstream of the GFCI so leakage could be inconsequential.

JR
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Guy Holt

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2014, 12:40:20 pm »

The more I think about it, the better it sounds.

As you can see in the table below, Bender and Shock Block make a wide variety of GFCI devices - ranging from Class A devices with fixed 6mA trip levels and devices with user adjustable trip settings from 5- to 50mA.  Even though devices with adjustable trip levels are capable of providing personnel protection to UL943 Class A specifications when set for a trip level of less than 6mA and time delay of 100 milliseconds, they can not be used in place of Class A devices because the UL Standard for Class A requires a fixed threshold of 6mA (probably for the reasons John Roberts cites above).


For more details on how to use user adjustable GFCIs,  see my IA workshop on Ground Fault Protection at http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/481_GFCI_Workshop.html.

Guy Holt, Gaffer
ScreenLight & Grip
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2014, 12:48:53 pm »


I've been told by the warranty department of surge suppressor manufacturer, a well respected/recommended brand here, that "I have been advised that the [product ID] will trip the GFI outlet they are not compatible they are for the standard outlet only."  I'm incredulous.


Name the brand here.  Explain to them that while that may be the case, and while their product may meet UL spec, it does not meet your needs since you need one that is compatible with GFCIs.  You won't be buying any more and you will  make  your colleagues in the industry aware of the unsuitability of their product for use in this industry.

The NEC and UL specs are MINIMUM standards-they do not necessarily indicate a quality product. IMO, it is not slamming a  brand/product to give an honest, fair assessment of its suitability for use-and if their warranty department claims that it is not suitable for use with GFCIs then that is just as much part of the companies spec as the info in the marketing brochure.

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Steve Swaffer

TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2014, 01:16:56 pm »

Name the brand here.  Explain to them that while that may be the case, and while their product may meet UL spec, it does not meet your needs since you need one that is compatible with GFCIs.  You won't be buying any more and you will  make  your colleagues in the industry aware of the unsuitability of their product for use in this industry.

The NEC and UL specs are MINIMUM standards-they do not necessarily indicate a quality product. IMO, it is not slamming a  brand/product to give an honest, fair assessment of its suitability for use-and if their warranty department claims that it is not suitable for use with GFCIs then that is just as much part of the companies spec as the info in the marketing brochure.
+1.  Not to mention that as time passes, there will be more and more situations where GFCI functionality is required by code.  This manufacturer will soon run out of potential customers if they can't work around an intentional leakage issue.
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Lyle Williams

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2014, 03:44:08 pm »

I've said this before, but having non-mandatory GFCI use, but a mandatory 6mA trip if you use GFCI is insane.

The end outcome is that we consider a no-GFCI system with a 150,000mA trip safe and a nuisance-trip-free 30mA system unsafe.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2014, 05:04:48 pm »


As for testing, is that your milliamp multiplier loop you'd be using?  I'm in your same general neck of the woods, and would be willing to make mine available for testing, or PM me, and I'll send you the specifics on brand and model, and let you deal directly with the manufacturer.

I do have one of my milliamp multipliers built up, but haven't had a chance to do any actual testing. And I happen to have a high-end Fluke meter with an external amp-clamp that goes down to 1 mA, which I'll use for calibration. Once I double check calibration side-by-side I'll build a few more of the multipliers and send them out to you guys to experiment with. Frank, do you want to be on the list to get one? If so, PM me your shipping address and I'll  mail one out to you next week. If anyone else interested, then PM me. I'll have four of these modified to pass out for experimenting.
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Mike Sokol
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Rob Spence

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2014, 07:13:14 pm »

Given that with each recent revision of the NEC they have mandated GFCI and AFCI on more and more circuits, the market for devices that require a direct wired receptacle are fading.

Any home with a garage or unfinished basement built since 2008 has needed GFCI protection. Just the places where PAs get used by bands for practice.


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Cailen Waddell

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2014, 07:22:55 am »

Since the op indicates the surge suppressor mnftr doesn't use MOVs, the list of who it could be is relatively short.


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Mike Sokol

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2014, 08:14:45 am »

Since the op indicates the surge suppressor mnftr doesn't use MOVs, the list of who it could be is relatively short.


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The OP and I have conferred on this, and I'm contacting the manufacturer on Monday to confirm if that's the case. If so, it's news to me.

For everyone.... If there's anything like this you would like me to confirm with any manufacturer, it's fine to air it publicly here as long as you note that it's unsubstantiated. I'll send a query to the manufacturer along with a link to the thread so they know we're serious. I'll post whatever they tell me, and we can continue the thread with our own conclusions. I do this all the time with my own experiments which is very educational. The power of PSW and this forum is pretty formidable and will get an answer back from any manufacturer.
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Mike Sokol
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2014, 02:04:29 pm »

The OP and I have conferred on this, and I'm contacting the manufacturer on Monday to confirm if that's the case. If so, it's news to me.

I've been promised a response back from "the manufacturer" by Monday, and I'll post it here then. At that point wen can continue the discussion.
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Mike Sokol
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2014, 03:43:33 pm »

I've been promised a response back from "the manufacturer" by Monday, and I'll post it here then. At that point wen can continue the discussion.
Can we assume the lack of activity on this thread means the mfr didn't follow through?
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2014, 04:21:35 pm »

Can we assume the lack of activity on this thread means the mfr didn't follow through?
They've promised that engineering was going to respond, but I haven't heard back from them in nearly two weeks. I'll double check tonight to make sure their email didn't end up in the spam box of my main computer.

Edit: I just pinged SurgeX again to ask if they've responded already. It's possible this was trapped in my spam folder on my office computer, but I won't know for sure until I get home and check. I'll let you know later tonight what I find out
« Last Edit: November 25, 2014, 04:25:37 pm by Mike Sokol »
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Mike Sokol
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Re: Surge protector incompatible with GFCI? Really?
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2014, 04:21:35 pm »


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