Using ground probes in aquariums

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by Brew12, Oct 20, 2016.

  1. Phil Cusimano

    Phil Cusimano Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    Outstanding write-up! Sing it Brew12 sing it!
     
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  2. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    A grounding probe is only effective in salt water. As the video above shows, it provides no protection in a fresh water aquarium.

    Think about corded power tools. If the tool has a metal housing, it will have a 3 prong plug with the ground prong directly connected to the metal case. This is the role a ground plug plays in a salt water aquarium. If your tool has a plastic case, odds are that it will only have 2 prongs. Since the plastic case is an insulator (like fresh water) connecting a ground wire would be of no value.
     
  3. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    I use Vortech MP40's in my aquarium DT so I do not have anything electrical in my DT. For me, there is no value to having one in my DT.

    The most important place to have one is in your sump since that is where most of your electrical equipment will be. As long as you have water flowing through your system it will also protect your DT.

    A best practice is to put one in each location if you have powerheads in your DT.
     
  4. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    Just about all of the major online suppliers carry them. Your LFS may carry them. There is so much bad information out there on ground probes I wouldn't be surprised if some LFS do not carry them. You can also get them from Amazon.
     
  5. RobBaglieri

    RobBaglieri Well-Known Member

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    My pellet reactor pump was not working properly yesterday. Took it out to fiddle with it and felt a tingling sensation when I rested my elbow on the tank. Put it down, picked it up and it felt like my arm go whacked with a stick. Grounding probe did not seem to help when the pump is out of the water. After that, I put a GFCI adapter on the plug for the tank. Need to get a GFCI breaker installed. Lesson learned.
     
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  6. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    I'm glad you are okay, and thank you for sharing. I think this goes to show the effectiveness of a ground probe in a salt water aquarium. Without the ground probe you would have been shocked when you touched the water. This does go to show why ground probes and GFCI's should be used together if at all possible.

    Installing a GFCI is a great idea. If you don't want to install a GFCI breaker, it is easy to change the receptacle to GFCI and will cost less than $15.
     
  7. RobBaglieri

    RobBaglieri Well-Known Member

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    I have new GFCI receptacles. I bought a bunch for different damp areas in the basement, garage and kitchen. They are very easy to install. However, my tank is too close to the wall to replace the receptacle. I am not comfortable replacing the breaker.
     
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  8. JustinFromAL

    JustinFromAL Well-Known Member

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    Ok, electrical amateur here so please bear with me.

    I have a dedicated circuit with a two plug GFCI receptacle on it. I connect a Battery backup / UPS to one of the receptacles. My Apex and all my equipment connects to that UPS. If I connect a grounding probe to the OTHER receptacle on that GFCI is this the recommend setup or do I need to have GFCI receptacles AFTER my apex?
     
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  9. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    I don't blame you at all. I still get a nervous any time I do work in my home electrical panel. Using the portable GFCI like you are is a fantastic option to provide safety.
     
  10. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    I have a feeling you won't like the answer. If your GFCI trips, your UPS will still provide power to the fault until the battery is drained. To use both the UPS and the Apex, you would need to have the GFCI's installed after the Apex.

    It does not matter which outlet you plug your ground probe into. It doesn't even have to be on the same circuit.
     
  11. JustinFromAL

    JustinFromAL Well-Known Member

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    That's what I was thinking, thanks for the confirmation. Luckily I use 3' extension cables to get from my Apex out of my wiring closet for a nice clean look. I can just install a bunch of those GFCI "adapters". Not the cheapest solution but safety first.

    But, to be clear, if I install the GFCI "adapters" I'm still ok with a single grounding probe back to the "source" GFCI wall receptacle?
     
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  12. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    I agree, it is a small price to pay for safety.

    Yes, a single grounding probe plugged into any receptacle will work just fine.
     
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  13. Vidofner

    Vidofner Well-Known Member

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    What about metal in the water? Since the grounding probe is made of metal, surely that much leach into the water which cant be good for sps corals and sensitive invertebrates. Even if its stainless steel it will leach chrome, nickel and molybden or is it made out of titantium or any other reef safe metal?
     
  14. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    Most ground plugs are made of titanium to avoid the leaching metals issue.
     
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  15. Vidofner

    Vidofner Well-Known Member

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    Thats great. Then im definetely getting one. Hate that tingly sensation under my nails
     
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  16. alton

    alton Well-Known Member

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    If your service ground is bad outside it will use your tank as a ground and you will get more than a tingle. Example I got a call from a friend and he told me he was getting shocked when he put his hand in his tank. So I took a voltage reading and only 5 volts to the meter but to the hand it wasn’t very pleasing. Took out the grounding probe and voltage and shock was gone. I went to the service and added another ground rod and it took care of the problem. Another friend had installed a grounding probe and was still getting shocked and could not understand why? After a couple minutes I realized someone had installed GFCI grounding receptacles on 2 wire non-grounded romex, and did not mark the receptacles as such. Please check your service and receptacles for proper grounding before using a grounding probe.
    On 20 amp breakers tripping, there tripping is based on temperature and amperage. I have seen business owners using fans blowing on there equipment to keep breakers and transformers from over heating. If your panel is in the garage or another area that gets cold it will take much more than 20 amps to trip that 20 amp breaker. I have also seen receptacles fried black and crispy before the breaker tripped.
     
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  17. Rolando Lorenzo

    Rolando Lorenzo Well-Known Member

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    I used to get that tingling sensation on cuts whenever I put my hand in the water, installing two grounding probes one in the DT and the other in the sump took care of that.

    My question is should I still be worried and try to find out what equipment is leaking?
     
  18. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    Having your service ground become disconnected or having an open between your neutral circuit and ground can create a very dangerous situation. Houses are fed with two hot wires from a single phase 240V service along with a center tap conductor. This center tap becomes our neutral and is bonded to ground. We get our 120V services by going from either of the hot wires to neutral. We get our 240V service by going between the 2 hot wires. If we develop a problem with our homes ground or neutral these voltages may "float". This can allow one of the 120V services to be at ground potential but the other 120V service will actually be 240V to ground. Not all our electrical equipment is rated for this higher voltage and the insulation may break down. This situation commonly results in a house fire. In this particular situation, your friend is very lucky the 120V in his aquarium was much the one that was 5V from ground and that it was not the 120V that had crept up to 235V!
    If your lights flicker when you start an electric clothes dryer or other large 240V load, I would recommend calling your utility and asking them to check your neutral/ground connections ASAP! This is the most common symptom without using a volt meter.

    This is another dangerous situation. Installing a ground probe in this situation doesn't hurt anything, but it also doesn't help anything. This results in the ground prong on the probe plug to be electrically isolated. If you have 2 prong outlets in your house but have a few areas where 3 prong outlets are installed, I highly recommend checking to make sure your ground plugs are wired in properly!

    Any circuit breaker can fail. Circuit breakers used in home applications should have a UL 489 listing on them. You may also see a stamp showing either 25C or 40C. If your breaker shows this UL listing, it is good from -35C all the way up to 25C (or 40C if stamped) and will trip within it's current specifications unless it fails.
    Fans on transformers is a good practice. Fans on molded case breakers is a carryover from the days of breakers having externally mounted thermal overloads. Molded case breakers have ambient temperature compensation built in.
     
  19. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member Article Contributor

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    Yes, you should still find out what is leaking. You probably have a piece of electrical equipment that is failing. It could be leaching metals like copper or other materials into your tank water. I would make it a priority to find it and remove it.
    A great way to troubleshoot it is to buy a temporary GFCI plug like the one I am linking. Plug your components in one at a time until (with your ground probe installed) and see which one trips the GFCI.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/YELLOW-JACKET-GFCI-Portable-Plug-In-Adapter-Black-2762/204667709
     
  20. alton

    alton Well-Known Member

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    upload_2016-10-25_13-18-30.png
     
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