Using ground probes in aquariums

ingchr1

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….To my knowledge there isn't a GFCI on the market that will trip on a ground fault and then reset on it's own.
I would think it would be against code to have a device trip on fault then reset (restore power) on its own.
 
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Brew12

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I would think it would be against code to have a device trip on fault then reset (restore power) on its own.
If one were developed, it likely would be banned by code. In the utility world, reclosers are very common. This is why your lights will often flicker a few times at the start of a power outage.
After the first trip, it the breaker will almost immediately reclose. If it trips again, a 3rd automatic close attempt 10 to 30 seconds later is common. If it trips again, the distribution line locks out. I doubt we will ever be allowed to use something like this in our homes.
 

ingchr1

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If one were developed, it likely would be banned by code. In the utility world, reclosers are very common. This is why your lights will often flicker a few times at the start of a power outage.
After the first trip, it the breaker will almost immediately reclose. If it trips again, a 3rd automatic close attempt 10 to 30 seconds later is common. If it trips again, the distribution line locks out. I doubt we will ever be allowed to use something like this in our homes.
Somewhere in the code I think it states that if something trips on fault you have to investigate before you attempt to reclose. I'll see if I can find it during the week.

Utilities fall under their own rules and regulations. The intro to the NEC states that the code does not apply to them. They may follow it, but they are not required to.
 
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Brew12

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Somewhere in the code I think it states that if something trips on fault you have to investigate before you attempt to reclose. I'll see if I can find it during the week.
I don't recall seeing that in the 70E (NEC) but that doesn't mean it isn't in there. Big, boring, dry book and I can't claim to have read the entire thing.

I know it is in the 70B that you are allowed one reclose before investigating.
 

doubleohwhatever

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I doubt we will ever be allowed to use something like this in our homes.
I wouldn't want a home with something like this installed. I've found too many wiring cut corners and general screwups inside the walls of homes.

I only ground the sump and the DT is protected by the continuity of the water.
I used to do the same. However, years ago I had a koralia leaking juice into a tank and I had isolated the tank via valves to clean the sump. I found out about the powerhead leaking current when I stuck my hand into the tank to do some cleaning. Lessons learned that day:

1) Don't buy koralias
2) Ground the DT and the sump
 
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Brew12

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I wouldn't want a home with something like this installed. I've found too many wiring cut corners and general screwups inside the walls of homes.
Completely agree. I was involved in a lawsuit between a hospital and an electrical contractor recently. The hospital had a major renovation done, but after that renovation much of their equipment wouldn't work correctly. Investigating it showed that the contractor connected a 2 foot wire to the ground connection on the outlets and shoved the unconnected end into the conduit to make it look like it was grounded. Over 800 outlets were connected this way.
If an electrical contractor is willing to do this in a hospital, imagine what they would do in your house.
 

KStatefan

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Completely agree. I was involved in a lawsuit between a hospital and an electrical contractor recently. The hospital had a major renovation done, but after that renovation much of their equipment wouldn't work correctly. Investigating it showed that the contractor connected a 2 foot wire to the ground connection on the outlets and shoved the unconnected end into the conduit to make it look like it was grounded. Over 800 outlets were connected this way.
If an electrical contractor is willing to do this in a hospital, imagine what they would do in your house.
Holy Cow
 

Samandar

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Why is it that some people refuse to put a grounding probe in their aquarium? I've seen many arguments against using them, some of which are based on what I believe to be bad information. I want to make the case for why every aquarium should have a grounding probe installed.
We have these beautiful aquariums full of salt water into which we place electrically operated equipment. Everyone has heard the phrase "Water and electricity don't mix" and it is especially true of salt water. Yet this doesn't have to be dangerous and a ground probe is key to making this safe.

An electrical shock occurs when current flows through a person. There are three main factors that impact the severity of the shock. The amount of current flowing through the person, the length of time they are being shocked, and the path the current takes through the body. For a shock to occur a person must be touching an energized conductor and a source to ground. The glass and acrylic most aquariums are made from are excellent insulators. If a pump or heater develops a fault in the salt water, it will raise all of the water in the aquarium to the same voltage as is available at the fault, typically close to 115V. If you are touching the metal housing of a light fixture or standing on wet concrete and touch the water, you become the best path for the current to take to get to ground. These shocks are most likely to take the most dangerous path, which is through our heart. It will go into the hand, through the heart, and either out the opposite hand or down through our legs. This is one way the ground probe keeps us safe. Electricity always takes the lowest resistance path to ground. The human body does have some resistance so a properly maintained ground plug will always offer a lower resistance path to ground.

I would also make the argument that the use of a ground plug is important to the health of our marine fish, but not because of a risk of electrical shock. Scientists use electro-fishing techniques to collect or count fish populations by shocking fish. Electric eels hunt prey by shocking them with electricity. So why do I say marine fish are not at risk for being shocked? They live in salt water. Electric eels are a fresh water species and electro-fishing only works fresh water. In a fresh water environment the fish is more conductive than the water just like people are more conductive than air. You cannot shock a marine fish while it is in salt water since the water is more conductive than the fish. This doesn't mean that marine fish aren't affected by electricity.

It is a generalization to say that all of the salt water is at the same voltage in our aquariums. In reality, small differences in potential can exist within the water. Eddy currents of water will cause a difference in voltage. There will be a difference in potential caused by any air bubbles that may touch a fish. While these may not cause shocks, it can cause a serious irritation across the surface of the fish. I would also point out that you do not need to have an electrical fault to have a harmful voltage in your aquarium. Any energized cord either running in the water or along the outside of the tank will create a voltage in the tank using a process called induction. This is why many people see a voltage in their aquariums without having a GFCI breaker trip. A ground probe will prevent any voltage from building up in the aquarium water, protecting our fish from these small voltage differences.

Grounding probes also protect our tank from another problem that is much harder to see and correct. If you have an electrical fault in your tank, there is a high probability that you have exposed copper in your system. This copper will corrode in salt water and the corrosion is accelerated when impacted by electricity. Even if you use a GFCI, the circuit will not trip on a fault until you have a source to ground. A ground probe will immediately provide that path to ground. If you do not have a ground probe installed, you could be leaching copper into your system for days or longer until a path to ground from your water is established.

The one argument against using ground probes I cannot counter is that it could provide a heat source during an electrical fault. If you have an electrical fault in a very narrow resistance range, and do not use GFCI protection, it can act like a heater. I know I wouldn't risk the safety of my family and friends in an effort to avoid this one scenario. I hope after reading this you won't either.
Hi, very informative. Thank you.
 

Ramasule

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Somewhere in the code I think it states that if something trips on fault you have to investigate before you attempt to reclose. I'll see if I can find it during the week.

Utilities fall under their own rules and regulations. The intro to the NEC states that the code does not apply to them. They may follow it, but they are not required to.
Better go disable our 2 / 3 shot reclosers.

1 for lightning
2 for birds
3 to give her a lil more waahh boy.
 

Ramasule

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If one were developed, it likely would be banned by code. In the utility world, reclosers are very common. This is why your lights will often flicker a few times at the start of a power outage.
After the first trip, it the breaker will almost immediately reclose. If it trips again, a 3rd automatic close attempt 10 to 30 seconds later is common. If it trips again, the distribution line locks out. I doubt we will ever be allowed to use something like this in our homes.
Yeah the purpose of the recloser is to burn off the Bird / Branch, is that what you want on your tank? haha.
 

ckalupa

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I know this is an old post. Excellent write up. I have been tickled by failed heaters in years gone by also. Excellent argument for keeping electronics out of the DT as much as possible (ecotech wave makers may be the only way for doing this and keeping flow?). Nice cabinet assembly @Brew12

Do you all use Ground probes in both DT and sump?
 
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Brew12

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Thanks, glad you liked it!

I only put one in my sump. I consider the risk minimal since the only time it doesn't protect the entire system is when the return pump is off. And everything is still GFCI protected.
 

Reefluv456

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I went all DC but two heaters on two separate gfci outlets , putting massive amounts of ac electronics in saltwater has always bothered me.
 
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Brew12

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I went all DC but two heaters on two separate gfci outlets , putting massive amounts of ac electronics in saltwater has always bothered me.
Just so you are aware, the speed controller of a DC pump converts the DC back to AC. Granted, it is normally at a lower voltage, but it is still AC. All DC motors have carbon brushes connecting to the rotor. If it doesn't have brushless, it isn't DC.
 

Bmwm235i

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Added my ground probe to the new system a week ago. First time using a ground prob since starting in the hobby, cant give a good reason why i never have in the past.
 

Jase4224

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Question: is a ground probe simply a connection between the aquarium water and the neutral pin via a wire? Or is there more to it ?
 
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Brew12

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Question: is a ground probe simply a connection between the aquarium water and the neutral pin via a wire? Or is there more to it ?
Its a connection between the water and the homes ground. The neutral and the ground should be connected at the distribution panel so they do all end up connected eventually.
 

Jase4224

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Its a connection between the water and the homes ground. The neutral and the ground should be connected at the distribution panel so they do all end up connected eventually.
Sorry I meant to say ground not neutral, don’t know what I was thinking there. Thanks for correcting me!
 

PaulPerger

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Can a ground probe be plugged into a power strip? Or should they be only plugged directly into an outlet?
 

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