GFCI Outlet poll

Where are you on Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets for your power supply?


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Brew12

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It's clear that some people prefer one risk, while other's prefer a different risk. There's no such thing as risk free. Some would prefer a catastrophic but extremely unlikely risk - that of electrocution or injury from shock. Others would prefer a lesser, but much more common risk - that of the GFCI tripping and killing or injuring the tank.
I changed my vote from Not Sure to Optional. I have a ground probe in the sump only, at the moment. Probably install another in the tank just for redundancy, but I'll keep GFCI out of the system.
I have a master kill switch, very conveniently located, and I don't need to get into the cabinet to switch off the power strip.
In fact, that might be the best safety feature of all - a master kill switch, conveniently (but not too conveniently) located.

I have a piece of red tape covering it, so it can't be easily switched off by accident, but it's easy if you mean to. When I'm going to put my arm in the tank, take water out, or put it in, if there's ever an emergency - there's the master switch on the wall away from the tank itself. It's just a switched outlet, into which I've plugged my power strip / surge protector, and also my ground probe (which doesn't care if the switch is on or off; it's permanently grounded.
So, a master kill switch - yes there's a choice of risks. But I'm thinking that I'm avoiding the pitfalls of the GFCI by simply cutting the power when I'm messing in the tank. One day I could get struck by lightning or hit by a meteorite.
I feel like you are ignoring the continued release of contaminant into a system without a ground probe/GFCI. I agree that electrocution isn't likely. I also agree that some tanks have been wiped because of not designing redundancy into the GFCI. But, there are plenty of cases here on R2R where there were massive fish and coral losses due to failed electrical equipment that wasn't detected.
For me, the main reason I use GFCI isn't personal protection. It is to minimize the release of copper and toxins into my tank if a heater or pump housing cracks. I can design redundancy in my GFCI system. I can't prevent copper from killing my coral.
 
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Brian_68

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I'm still looking for a case where the GFCI tripping caused an unavoidable tank crash. By unavoidable, I mean no battery powered airstones, no Apex warnings etc.

I'd be interested if there were any GFCI related tank crash, despite all the backup precautions.
Here is one, on vacation that tripped. Sure they could have added an APEX etc. and hundreds of dollars to it in addition:

 

zalick

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Here is one, on vacation that tripped. Sure they could have added an APEX etc. and hundreds of dollars to it in addition:

I feel bad for him. But that's not the GFCI causing the crash. When I go on vacation, I have someone checking my tank daily. Just like I would a cat or dog. Easily preventable in his situation.
 
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MarcF

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I feel like you are ignoring the continued release of contaminant into a system without a ground probe/GFCI. I agree that electrocution isn't likely. I also agree that some tanks have been wiped because of not designing redundancy into the GFCI. But, there are plenty of cases here on R2R where there were massive fish and coral losses due to failed electrical equipment that wasn't detected.
For me, the main reason I use GFCI isn't personal protection. It is to minimize the release of copper and toxins into my tank if a heater or pump housing cracks. I can design redundancy in my GFCI system. I can't prevent copper from killing my coral.
I don’t get how GFCI stops the continued release of toxins. Ground Probe, possibly. A ground probe functions continuously. But a GFCI only functions when there’s a ground fault, and at no other time. Right? So how would it protect your aquarium from contamination, continuously? After a catastrophic event, ok. But continuously?
 

afuel

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I feel like you are ignoring the continued release of contaminant into a system without a ground probe/GFCI. I agree that electrocution isn't likely. I also agree that some tanks have been wiped because of not designing redundancy into the GFCI. But, there are plenty of cases here on R2R where there were massive fish and coral losses due to failed electrical equipment that wasn't detected.
For me, the main reason I use GFCI isn't personal protection. It is to minimize the release of copper and toxins into my tank if a heater or pump housing cracks. I can design redundancy in my GFCI system. I can't prevent copper from killing my coral.
That’s pretty convincing point I suppose I’ll keep my gfi’s and just replace them when they fail. Since I have dual return pumps and they are on separate circuits as well my power heads and heaters are separated between the 2 it’s just an inconvenience that doesn’t happen that often. Seems like I’m replacing one somewhere in my house every couple of yrs though either inside or out
 

Roger D

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The only thing grounded near my tanks are the outlets,the power packs and the heaters. All in the sump and a ground detection.
 
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MarcF

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Can't understand the point about continuous release of toxins into the water without GFCI. That makes as much sense to me as washing your car to make it rain, or carrying an umbrella to prevent it.

Rob. The owner of my LSF. The man that sold me my system. The man that is so devoted to his (customers? clients? patients?) that he makes house calls to stop in and check that everything is all good. That guy. Rob.
Anyway, I'm set up for 2 days and Rob pays me a house call. This is after he set it up (with me watching closely) a few days ago. He doesn't charge for this. I've never heard of this. The guy at the counter can sell you whatever you ask for, in most LFS's, and if you have a question he / she will mumble an answer of some kind. But to MAKE REPEATED VISITS THE HOME TO CHECK THAT EVERYTHING IS PERFECT? I'm laughing. I come from NYC (though in ABQ now).

So Rob comes over this morning. He's checking out my system. He knows I have a ground probe but not a GFCI because he sold me the probe and we discussed the GFCI. With everything on, he puts his hand in the water up to the shoulder and starts wiping down stuff with his hand - getting out all the film and air bubbles that were sticking to everything. Wiping the glass - agitating the sand up - moving rocks - getting everything settled again. By some of the responses, I should have had a defibrillator in my hands, ready to yell CLEAR! at any second. Instead, I hand him a towel.

We look at my sump. It's not flowing properly. Filter pad too clogged (although I washed it out several times). Water is coming through the overflow, not going though the hairy blue balls. I thought it was normal. He replaces the filter pad with one I had bought, because he told me to and there, I needed it.

I told him I had some saved saltwater from yesterday - he told me to throw it out. I told him I had saved some conditioned fresh water too, to age it for top off (until I get RODI) - he told me it was fine.

He declined to sell me a bunch of stuff I asked about - saying I don't need it or I don't need it now.
He carefully cleaned the top of the glass canopy - it was drippy and salty. I thought that was normal. He said keep the exterior of the tank clean. There are organisms living in that water and they can be dangerous. He showed me a scar on his had from surgery he had - because he touched some food that was carelessly scattered on top of a tank by one of his employees - wound up with an infection that took 3 years to diagnose and clear up. Never use Windex on the exterior. Use vinegar and water.

Why am I telling you all this?
For one thing, it's because I'm so amazed by this guy I have to yell it out.
But Rob is obviously no dummy - every single thing he's said and advised, has proved to be right.

He will put his arm into the water up to the shoulder, with everything running, no GFCI.
I asked him if he has them in his store. He waved his hand at me.

By some of the responses and the poll numbers, I'm sure many will be shocked (sorry) by this - but there it is. Also his employees chimed in (because I asked in the store) and they felt the same. Don't bother. Dangerous to the system. They're trippy. One said - "I've worked here 6 years and only been shocked about 5 times".
To me, this is like, well, I was only ***** once today. But that's what these pros are saying to me. I'm going with the pros and the odds. I've gone skiing many many times, with known and visible risks. I do agree with minimizing risk to a point - and for me, I'm at that point with the ground probe. Now someone will say it's not enough. I'm listening, but I really really trust Rob's judgement, in this and all things aquarium related.
 

Brian_68

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I feel bad for him. But that's not the GFCI causing the crash. When I go on vacation, I have someone checking my tank daily. Just like I would a cat or dog. Easily preventable in his situation.
A tank can and will crash within hours of a power loss, sure you can have someone check in on it every day, but how about the other 23 hours 45 minutes of the day? Even when you are home sleeping and it trips leaving the power off for hours as well. Preventable, maybe to a certain extent if you time the failure just right, or can be back home within a couple hours notice if you get notified.
 

zalick

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A tank can and will crash within hours of a power loss, sure you can have someone check in on it every day, but how about the other 23 hours 45 minutes of the day? Even when you are home sleeping and it trips leaving the power off for hours as well. Preventable, maybe to a certain extent if you time the failure just right, or can be back home within a couple hours notice if you get notified.
This is true. It's usually oxygen first. Hence a battery powered airstones that turn on when there is no power to it. Very cheap. That buys tons of time. Keep my house at 72 when gone. Easy peasy. I've not tested it but I'm sure my tank would be fine for 24hrs with the airstone. On a small tank, the airstone is a no brainier. Oxygen and circulation.
 
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zalick

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Also his employees chimed in (because I asked in the store) and they felt the same. Don't bother. Dangerous to the system. They're trippy. One said - "I've worked here 6 years and only been shocked about 5 times".
.
Not trying to convince you to use a GFCI, or anyone else, but I must point out the irony in your quoting the employee. He's been electrocuted 5x in 6 years. Nearly once per year. Did you ask him how many GFCI he's seen fail? I haven't had a GFCI have a false trip in my tank in 25years. The only time it ever tripped was from a broken heater.

So far there are WAY more examples in this thread of people getting electrocuted than of GFCI tripping for no reason.
 

Brew12

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I don’t get how GFCI stops the continued release of toxins. Ground Probe, possibly. A ground probe functions continuously. But a GFCI only functions when there’s a ground fault, and at no other time. Right? So how would it protect your aquarium from contamination, continuously? After a catastrophic event, ok. But continuously?
If you are sticking your hand in the tank and getting a shock, you have something conductive and energized in the water. That energized conductor is most likely copper. Copper, exposed to salt water, will corrode and that corrosion will speed up when electricity is involved. If you don't have a GFCI, you may be able to run on that pump for years until the corroded copper causes the pump to completely fail. If you have a GFCI, the first time you stick your hand in the tank and get a tingle the GFCI will trip letting you know you have a problem. With a GFCI/Ground probe combination, as soon as the energized conductor is exposed the GFCI will trip.

So, the GFCI/Ground probe won't directly prevent contaminants from entering your system but it will let you know that you have a failing component ASAP. All too often people find they've had a pump housing crack because their coral start dying and they are investigating.
 
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MarcF

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If you are sticking your hand in the tank and getting a shock, you have something conductive and energized in the water.
I'm wanting to believe that the ground probe alone will prevent a shock when putting hand in tank. Especially if I stay grounded and take reasonable precautions.
That energized conductor is most likely copper. Copper, exposed to salt water, will corrode and that corrosion will speed up when electricity is involved. If you don't have a GFCI, you may be able to run on that pump for years until the corroded copper causes the pump to completely fail. If you have a GFCI, the first time you stick your hand in the tank and get a tingle the GFCI will trip letting you know you have a problem. With a GFCI/Ground probe combination, as soon as the energized conductor is exposed the GFCI will trip.
So, the GFCI/Ground probe won't directly prevent contaminants from entering your system but it will let you know that you have a failing component ASAP. All too often people find they've had a pump housing crack because their coral start dying and they are investigating.
I'll keep it in mind, but from the comments, the pump is the one component that many people don't want to run through GFCI, due to risk of killing system by power loss. Each path has it's merits and demerits, as with everything.
 
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MarcF

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Not trying to convince you to use a GFCI, or anyone else, but I must point out the irony in your quoting the employee. He's been electrocuted 5x in 6 years. Nearly once per year. Did you ask him how many GFCI he's seen fail? I haven't had a GFCI have a false trip in my tank in 25years. The only time it ever tripped was from a broken heater.

So far there are WAY more examples in this thread of people getting electrocuted than of GFCI tripping for no reason.
I think "electrocuted" is a bit strong a word for what he experienced, and what the examples in this thread described. I did think exactly what you thought, though - that he was getting shocked about once per year. I would want to avoid any and all shocks - and told him so. Of course you want to avoid any and all shocks. But let's realize he was talking about very minor events. I've been shocked many times by live wires. It's nothing to toy with, and can usually be avoided with precautions. And GFCI is definitely one of those precautions.

Every person you encounter could be carrying a contagious illness. Every surface you touch could have dangerous germs growing on it. Have you ever gotten a sunburn? A sunburn is radiation sickness - make no mistake.

Life is full of hazards. One of them will eventually have its way with all of us. (not that I want my fish tank to kill me).
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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I guess I'm asking, if I don't already have a GFI outlet there, must I install it? Or can I just be careful about say, turning off accessories when I'm mucking around with my arms in the water.
Edit
Just saw Zalick's answer. So, I guess it is the prudent thing to do.
I definitely would. I value my life more than some folks, I guess.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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Can't understand the point about continuous release of toxins into the water without GFCI. That makes as much sense to me as washing your car to make it rain, or carrying an umbrella to prevent it.

Rob. The owner of my LSF. The man that sold me my system. The man that is so devoted to his (customers? clients? patients?) that he makes house calls to stop in and check that everything is all good. That guy. Rob.
Anyway, I'm set up for 2 days and Rob pays me a house call. This is after he set it up (with me watching closely) a few days ago. He doesn't charge for this. I've never heard of this. The guy at the counter can sell you whatever you ask for, in most LFS's, and if you have a question he / she will mumble an answer of some kind. But to MAKE REPEATED VISITS THE HOME TO CHECK THAT EVERYTHING IS PERFECT? I'm laughing. I come from NYC (though in ABQ now).

So Rob comes over this morning. He's checking out my system. He knows I have a ground probe but not a GFCI because he sold me the probe and we discussed the GFCI. With everything on, he puts his hand in the water up to the shoulder and starts wiping down stuff with his hand - getting out all the film and air bubbles that were sticking to everything. Wiping the glass - agitating the sand up - moving rocks - getting everything settled again. By some of the responses, I should have had a defibrillator in my hands, ready to yell CLEAR! at any second. Instead, I hand him a towel.

We look at my sump. It's not flowing properly. Filter pad too clogged (although I washed it out several times). Water is coming through the overflow, not going though the hairy blue balls. I thought it was normal. He replaces the filter pad with one I had bought, because he told me to and there, I needed it.

I told him I had some saved saltwater from yesterday - he told me to throw it out. I told him I had saved some conditioned fresh water too, to age it for top off (until I get RODI) - he told me it was fine.

He declined to sell me a bunch of stuff I asked about - saying I don't need it or I don't need it now.
He carefully cleaned the top of the glass canopy - it was drippy and salty. I thought that was normal. He said keep the exterior of the tank clean. There are organisms living in that water and they can be dangerous. He showed me a scar on his had from surgery he had - because he touched some food that was carelessly scattered on top of a tank by one of his employees - wound up with an infection that took 3 years to diagnose and clear up. Never use Windex on the exterior. Use vinegar and water.

Why am I telling you all this?
For one thing, it's because I'm so amazed by this guy I have to yell it out.
But Rob is obviously no dummy - every single thing he's said and advised, has proved to be right.

He will put his arm into the water up to the shoulder, with everything running, no GFCI.
I asked him if he has them in his store. He waved his hand at me.

By some of the responses and the poll numbers, I'm sure many will be shocked (sorry) by this - but there it is. Also his employees chimed in (because I asked in the store) and they felt the same. Don't bother. Dangerous to the system. They're trippy. One said - "I've worked here 6 years and only been shocked about 5 times".
To me, this is like, well, I was only ***** once today. But that's what these pros are saying to me. I'm going with the pros and the odds. I've gone skiing many many times, with known and visible risks. I do agree with minimizing risk to a point - and for me, I'm at that point with the ground probe. Now someone will say it's not enough. I'm listening, but I really really trust Rob's judgement, in this and all things aquarium related.
sorry you don’t understand it, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

A GFCI/ grounded tank will shut down a broken heater that might be massively pumping copper into the water. It is not just exposure of copper metal to the water, it is dissolution of the copper every time the sine wave of current is pulling electrons away from the water on a copper electrode.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I'll keep it in mind, but from the comments, the pump is the one component that many people don't want to run through GFCI, due to risk of killing system by power loss. Each path has it's merits and demerits, as with everything.
true, they might rather die than have a tank without power.
 

Brian_68

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Everyone has differing opinions, I still fly and drive a car and those are riskier statistic wise than dying reaching your hand into an aquarium. Sure you can keep a pump or two off the GFCI but doesn't that create it's own false sense of security? I have felt the strong tingle of electricity many times, just recently I checked with a GFCI to see if it would trip and you guessed it, it did not. It takes quite a jolt to do so, so that stray voltage exists even with a GFCI unless you have a ground probe.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Everyone has differing opinions, I still fly and drive a car and those are riskier statistic wise than dying reaching your hand into an aquarium.
you know that how?
 

Brian_68

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you know that how?
Find one article / case of a person who died of electrocution with their aquarium. 15 to 20 million have aquariums in their homes in the US alone. In the US 40k people die in car accidents. Even accounting for the lower number of aquariums vs. cars we don't have 1000 per year dying with aquariums....
 
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Do you think that slowing down the water through your sump benefits the chemistry of your tank?

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