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GFI breaker protected controlled outlet


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#1 jab

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 10:45 PM

I installed an outlet in my eaves for 120V incandescent string lights over my deck. In my situation the only code compliant way to GFI protect the outlet is using a GFI breaker if using a Insteon Micro Module behind the outlet.

 

I had already installed an Insteon Micro Module behind the outlet so I could control the string lights from 8 button in wall Insteon controllers or HomeSeer. I finally decided to install the GFI breaker after about 6 months of having the Micro Module and outlet installed and wired. When I installed the GFI breaker it tripped immediately. I verified the wiring was correct and reset it, tripped again. I then switched the breaker back to a non-GFI breaker. I then found the Micro Module would not respond to on commands. I removed the outlet so I could get to the micro module and try the buttons on the micro module. It wouldn't come on with the buttons. I then tried a factory reset, it wouldn't reset. Called Insteon support, they had me try all the same and then determined the Micro Module was dead so I removed it and they warranty replaced it.

 

While I was waiting on the new Micro Module I wired the outlet back up without a Micro Module. Everything worked fine. I then put the GFI beaker back in and the GFI didn't trip, everything worked fine.

 

I then got the new Micro Module but before installing it I decided to ask Insteon support about my setup. They told me the Micro Module couldn't be used on a GFI project circuit. I'm guessing I could use the Micro Module before the GFI protection if I could use a GFI outlet instead of a GFI breaker but that won't work in my situation. I also can't easily add an Insteon switch in front of the outlet and Insteon support told me the Insteon switches can't be used on a GFI breaker. Does anyone have any experience with a wire in module or controlled outlet downstream of a GFI breaker? I could also use a Z-Wave device as I have a Z-Wave controller in my system.

 

Thanks.



#2 pete_c

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 07:51 AM

Welcome to the Cocoontech forum jab.

 

Many years ago added more outlets outside.  It was mostly for Christmas decorations.  Ran new circuits and mounted the new boxes in brick (time consuming) and over did it with GCFI outlets on every box.  I also put an electric outlet / automated switch next to the BBQ grill on the deck.  With this outlet put a GCFI in a basement box that feed the deck electric.  For Christmas lighting automation stayed with X10 Black and Decker out door FreeWire modules which have worked fine over the years.  Neighbor installed outlets under the eaves (inside GCFI) using an X10 Palm pad to control his Chrismas lights.

 

Sometime in the endeavor did try ZWave outdoor modules that looked just like the FreeWire modules.  It was just a PITA to configure these once a year.  For a couple of years just left them plugged in to a power strip so that they would remain connected to the ZWave network.  Much easier to just use X10 for me.

 

Personally over the years never liked using automated outlets of any kind such that I would automate mostly with switches and automation modules inside or outside of the house.  Even the 1/2 powered by switch outlets here used child proof covers such that the cleaning ladies wouldn't plug in a vacuum cleaner to these automated switched outlets.

 

For my outdoor LED lighting conversion went to multiple DIN mounted AC to DC LED power supplies plugged in to a DIY automated UPB switch set up.

 

Today for X10 utilize CM11A's, TW-523's and Volp X10 controllers.  For the OmniPro panel here using a dual phased TW-523 Volp X10 emulator.

 

Automation today is X10, UPB, ZWave and Zigbee.  Cheapest for me and still functioning fine outdoors is X10.  Indoor light switches here are all UPB then a sprinkling of ZWave and Zigbee.

 

Recommendations are to have a look at using an X10 controller, W800 for wireless and maybe old Black and Decker Outdoor Freewire modules.



#3 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 08:40 AM

I would consider installing a normal outlet (as the breaker is already GFCI) and plug in an Appliance Link Insteon controller for the lights.  Since this is made for outdoor applications is should be compatible with a GFCI protected circuit.

 

I can tell you that an old X-10 controlled outlet will work when wired off of a normal GFCI protected standard outlet as I had this situation when I needed to control an outdoor fountain at my previous residence (but, yea, it's X-10).  If you want to go down that rabbit hole, I do have some stuff in my for sale posts here.



#4 42etus

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 02:36 PM

Why use a Micro Module at all? It just means that much more to stuff into the outlet box.

I would use a Insteon Outlet 2663-222. I have several on GFCI breaker protected circuits and they work fine.

 

IIRC, the NEC allows for non-GFCI protected receptacles outdoors providing they are 8 feet or more off the ground.

It's been several years since I referenced that tid-bit of info and the code may have changed since. YMMV

 

EDIT:

Just looked at the 2017 NEC and it appears that the 8 ft exemption is no longer there.


Edited by 42etus, 13 May 2018 - 02:45 PM.


#5 wuench

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 05:55 PM

Not sure if something like this will work for you, but I use Insteon outdoor modules (2634-222) plugged into my GFI outlets.   Never had a problem.   I have  landscape lighting transformers and a fountain using them.   

 

My guess is you could try other things if you use dual-band to get around signal issues and maybe give up dimming if you see it tripping the GFI.


Edited by wuench, 13 May 2018 - 06:04 PM.


#6 Work2Play

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 06:40 PM

My last house had the same outlet in the eaves just for the christmas lights - I did the same basic thing - put in a UPB outlet and switched to a GFCI breaker and it worked great.  I was also able to use s UPB slave switch on the end-of-run-switch wiring that was in place already (power went to the outlet first, then to a switch and back).



#7 NetworkGuy

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 08:03 AM

Maybe I'm missing something, but why not simply install a GFCI (GFI) outlet into your eave location? I can't see why having a micro controller in front of that outlet would matter, and the micro controller should control a GFCI outlet the same as a standard (non-GFCI) outlet. Wouldn't that satisfy your GFCI requirements? Sent from my SPH-L720 using Tapatalk

#8 Work2Play

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 10:12 AM

Maybe I'm missing something, but why not simply install a GFCI (GFI) outlet into your eave location? I can't see why having a micro controller in front of that outlet would matter, and the micro controller should control a GFCI outlet the same as a standard (non-GFCI) outlet. Wouldn't that satisfy your GFCI requirements? Sent from my SPH-L720 using Tapatalk

I'm not sure all of them do this, but many GFCI outlets I've dealt with have a habit of tripping when unplugged or when they lose power.



#9 cobra

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 11:10 AM

I'm not sure all of them do this, but many GFCI outlets I've dealt with have a habit of tripping when unplugged or when they lose power.

Really?  I've not seen this in any of the installed/wired in units here in the SouthEast.  There are 3 or 4 in our current house.  It'd be a real pain if they tripped on a power outage.  How old are the units?  The ones here should be about 15 years, so not sure if that matters.  Maybe they are lightning damaged or something.


Edited by cobra, 22 May 2018 - 11:11 AM.


#10 ano

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 07:50 PM

Really?  I've not seen this in any of the installed/wired in units here in the SouthEast.  There are 3 or 4 in our current house.  It'd be a real pain if they tripped on a power outage.  How old are the units?  The ones here should be about 15 years, so not sure if that matters.  Maybe they are lightning damaged or something.

When GFIs were introduced many years ago, they sometimes had the tendency to trip when they powered an inductive load. In fact for many years they were prohibited to be used on refrigerator outlets, but this has changed recently, and they are now required for refrigerators in most cases outside of the kitchen refrigerator. In the last 10 years or so, GFIs have gotten much better and rarely if ever trip without a good reason.

 

As an added note, many years ago I got zapped touching a kitchen refrigerator. Was OK but shaken up. Water can leak and cause this to happen. Its a tradeoff of spoilage with an unpowered refrigerator or getting a shock.


Edited by ano, 22 May 2018 - 08:03 PM.


#11 pete_c

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 06:57 AM

Over the years here just updated the GCFI's (80's,90's and 00's). 

 

I did have one go bad which was in an outdoor box on the deck next to the BBQ grill with flip top cover which did get wet and over time hardware failed. 

 

Also had an issue with a new construction where as the (el cheapo) electrician wired one GCFI from the 2nd bathroom to the kitchen counter outlets and that one always tripped.



#12 mikefamig

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 07:35 AM

I installed a 240 volt 20 amp GFI breaker on the swimming pool circuit in the load center in my house. It worked fine until we had a good rain and would no longer stay on. I couldn't find anything wrong with the circuit so I replaced the GFI breaker with a conventional breaker and it worked fine. Since then I have replaced the pump motor on the pool with new and may give the GFI another shot when I find the time.

 

At that time I talked to the electrical inspector for the town and he told me that it was a common problem with swimming pool pumps on rainy days. He went on to say that when he was working as an electrician and had that problem he would remove the breaker until the weather and equipment dried up and then replace the GFI. I think it was his way of telling me to remove the GFI which was a no-no for him to do in his capacity as an inspector for the town.

 

Mike.



#13 Work2Play

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 10:57 AM

mikefamig - was the load center outdoors or indoors?  Just curious - my last house I lived in for 7 years; finally this last winter during the heavy rains I started having trouble with my AFCIs.  The panel was outside and I think the excessive moisture did them in; I replaced with new ones and problems went away.  They were only shutting off during heavy rains, but that's a terrible time to have no power in any bedrooms!



#14 pete_c

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 12:17 PM

Here moved the outdoor by the BBQ grill GCFI to the basement box connected to the conduit that went to the deck.  I have a UPB switch (configured in a 3 way setup with an indoor UPB switch)  in the same box as the outdoor outlet and it has functioned fine for a long time.



#15 mikefamig

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 12:58 PM

mikefamig - was the load center outdoors or indoors?  Just curious - my last house I lived in for 7 years; finally this last winter during the heavy rains I started having trouble with my AFCIs.  The panel was outside and I think the excessive moisture did them in; I replaced with new ones and problems went away.  They were only shutting off during heavy rains, but that's a terrible time to have no power in any bedrooms!

 

The load center and breaker are inside in my basement which is fairly dry.






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