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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a ShockShield Portable GFCI Plug with Surge Protection from Home Depot. But turning on my Coralife 2x21 watt fixture consistently trips the circuit. (I am trying to use this set up in conjunction with the Coralife digital timer power strip, but the circuit keeps tripping with or without it.) However, my filter and heater don't trip it. Any idea why this is happening?

Anyone have a similar experience?

Any other product recommendations that don't have this problem?
 

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Many electronic ballasts have "ground trickle" which fools a GFCI to trip. Often the instructions of the fixture state "Not for use with GFCI".
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Many electronic ballasts have "ground trickle" which fools a GFCI to trip. Often the instructions of the fixture state "Not for use with GFCI".
Thank you, smp, for your explanation. The packaging/instructions make no mention of this "trickle". If the fixture is made for use in an aquarium, why would it have "ground trickle"?

Anyone know of a different relatively inexpensive GFCI/surge protector that does not have this problem?
 

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I went back and reread your original post. Which Coral Life fixture are you using? Some of them have a built in GFCI. "Sometimes" plugging a GFCI plug into a GFCI outlet will cause one of them to trip.

As stated in other threads (which you SHOULD search), GFCI and Surge Protection are two entirely DIFFERENT things. GFCI stands for Ground Fault. These devices monitor the flow of electricity between the hot and neutral wires of the device. If any imbalance occurs, the circuit is tripped.

Surge protectors monitor voltage spikes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you, smp. Already familiar with difference between GFCI and surge protection from my juvy days. The fixture is a Coralife Aqualight 2x21 watt T5NO. No mention of built-in GFCI.
 

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You may want to take the fixture and plug it into a GFCI protected outlet in your kitchen or bathroom. If that trips, then the fixture is the problem. If not, it's the portable cord. If the cord is new, you may be able to take it back and have it replaced., but this may not change anything.

Also, note the following:

Portable GFCIs (like the plug you are using, or those on extension cords) are required by code to trip if the input power to them is interrupted, and have to be manually reset. This is to prevent, for example, a table saw from suddenly coming back on in a workshop after a power failure. But this is bad for the fish - it means the filter (or everything else attached) will NOT come back on until somebody manually resets the GFCI. GFCI wall receptacles DO NOT have this requirement, and normally do not trip during a power failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you, smp. I will test it tonight. I've searched the internet and have found many other (non-aquarium related) references to this problem. I can't be the only one with an aquarium who has this problem. There must be a GFCI that does work with fluorescent lights. How does everyone connect their aquarium lights? Anyone know a model that definitely works?
 

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Many electronic ballasts have "ground trickle" which fools a GFCI to trip. Often the instructions of the fixture state "Not for use with GFCI".
Yea, the electronic ballasts generate alot of electrical noise; the noise can cause radio interference if it gets onto the house wiring. So they include filtering components to filter out the noise. Some of these components connect to ground. Any unbalance or leakage in these components can cause the GFCI's to trip.
 

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I have a Current Satellite PCFL 4x65w fixture. When I built my stand, I pre-wired it with a GFCI outlet. I've only had it trip once in 5 years. It was a "good" trip. Seems the quartz sleeve of the UV filter cracked, water seeped down the inside of the cord and got into the ballast.

I have never had a problem with it tripping when the lights come on. As stated above, electronic ballasts generate a lot of electrical noise and different manufacturers deal with it in different ways. A lot of the newer T5 ballast operate at higher frequencies than CFL's, thus they may have higher "leakage".

Also, there's a certain degree of "tolerance" in the manufacturing of GFCI's. I had one outside that would trip just about every time it rained (and the cover was closed). I replaced it and it's working fine. I would not be surprised if the "portable" plugs were more sensitive. I've never owned one, I always make my own from outlet type GFCI's. If I were the manufacturer I would err on the side of quicker tripping (thus avoiding the possibility of the proverbial law suit).

If your fixture works in another outlet GFCI, I would recommend you make your own "cord". Cost would be less than $20.00 (GFCI, box, wire, grounded plug). No frustration and "cheap" insurance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You may want to take the fixture and plug it into a GFCI protected outlet in your kitchen or bathroom. If that trips, then the fixture is the problem. If not, it's the portable cord. If the cord is new, you may be able to take it back and have it replaced., but this may not change anything.
When I got home, I plugged the light fixture into the GFCI receptacles in the kitchen and bathroom and, voila, it worked in both places.

As recommended, I can replace the standard wall receptacle with a GFCI, but it's a hassle. I'll purchase a different model plug-in GFCI. Any recommendations?
 

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Make one. All you need is a GFCI outlet, a single-gang box, 6' 14-3 rubber power cord and a 3 prong plug.

You know that GFCI "outlets" work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
smp, thanks for the helpful advice. As you've pointed out, it's actually quite simple. Will do. Thanks, again!
 

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You are welcome. Funny thing, I'm re-doing mine tomorrow. Adding a switch and additional outlet.
 
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