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Thread: outdoor gfi failures

  1. #1
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    Default outdoor gfi failures

    i'm putting together my to-do list for memorial day at the cabin and once again i need to replace several outdoor gfi outlets. the indoor gfi's do just fine but i dont seem to get more than 1-2 years out of the outdoor gfis before they fail. when they fail the set/reset buttons are frozen into place and won't "click" in and out of place. our electrical system consists of a generator and an inverter/battery bank. so my questions for the forum are - does extreme cold affect gfi's? are some invertors or generators incompatible with gfi's? are gfi's even worth the trouble at a cabin? are there some brands of gfi's that work better outdoors, especially in alaska? does the mode of failure indicate that water is probably getting into the gfi?
    i've looked on the internet and the answers to these questions are all over the place. i'd appreciate any feedback from people with actual alaska experience.

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    interesting question.. Not sure if a generator affects them but now a days outlets of all flavors dont seem to last that long..I dont think weather really affects them but it does affect wire sheathing and there are some codes on that.. Is there a chance they are getting wet... I do think they are necessary but thats of course for safety concern of course.. you could do away with the gfci outlets and install a breaker in the panel instead and see if that helps ya

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    GFI outlets are crap, unless you spend some good money on them in IMO. I know they are required when they are outside but if you think about it, you are not really usually using the outside outlets all that much unattended. I would keep them out unless you were selling the place and needed it for code inspection. With that said, If you have a good ground on your plugs your breaker will do all the work for you.

    I dont know your setup but I hope I helped. Also, if you want you can install a GFC on your breaker...

    Quote Originally Posted by lakecreek View Post
    i'm putting together my to-do list for memorial day at the cabin and once again i need to replace several outdoor gfi outlets. the indoor gfi's do just fine but i dont seem to get more than 1-2 years out of the outdoor gfis before they fail. when they fail the set/reset buttons are frozen into place and won't "click" in and out of place. our electrical system consists of a generator and an inverter/battery bank. so my questions for the forum are - does extreme cold affect gfi's? are some invertors or generators incompatible with gfi's? are gfi's even worth the trouble at a cabin? are there some brands of gfi's that work better outdoors, especially in alaska? does the mode of failure indicate that water is probably getting into the gfi?
    i've looked on the internet and the answers to these questions are all over the place. i'd appreciate any feedback from people with actual alaska experience.

  4. #4
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    lakecreek
    Put the GFI indoors and feed the outdoor plug from the indoor gfi..
    That way the device is kept warm and moisture free and it still protects the downline plugs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear View Post
    [...]you could do away with the gfci outlets and install a breaker in the panel instead and see if that helps ya
    Regardless of whether the circuit in question is interior or exterior, my preference is to use GFCI circuit breakers rather than individual GFCI receptacles. The breakers are more expensive, but much higher quality, and in the long run I think they're the better deal both in terms of cost and safety.

    The question regarding the generator possibly causing problems is not one I have any experience with.

    One thing to keep in mind when planning new construction is that the heating elements utilized in some if not most/all smokers such as the 'chief' type, generally do not get along with GFCI circuits...
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    Anything with a high capacity motor or heating element will not get along with them. I say ditch them unless you really want them.

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    I recommend the gfi protection to be as close to the power source as possible. In my case, the Honda genny has gfi at the generator, in any other case with city power, I recommend gfi breakers, as opposed to at the outlets.

    This in theory allows a greater chance of damaging equipment on the gfi circuit in the event of a ground fault, but my experience is that the risk is negligible, and the durability of the gfi in the service panel makes it worth it.
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    thanks for all the advice, the cabin is remote and goes unheated all winter unless i am there which isnt as often as i would like. so the generator and the invertor both have gfi's built into them. would that be sufficient with normal outlets on the outside outlets? other wise i think gfi breakers for the circuits that contain the outdoor outlets sounds like the best solution.

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    As long as the first outlet in a circuit is gfi, the the whole circuit is gfi. If your genny and inverter outputs are gfi, then everything that runs off your genny and inverters are gfi protected.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    As long as the first outlet in a circuit is gfi, the the whole circuit is gfi. If your genny and inverter outputs are gfi, then everything that runs off your genny and inverters are gfi protected.
    Yes but only if the electrician wired them in series. If instead he pigtailed out power for each one then there is zero downstream protection.

    Check which way they were wired (though you can change it later if needed) by clicking off the first one and if there's no power to the rest right then, you know they were wired in series.

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    Never mind brain fart.
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    If the generator output is GFI protected then everything is "downstream" and protected already no matter how the cabin is wired.
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  14. #14
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    you've gotten some good advice. Since your protected at the genset, then just put regular outlets in the outside boxes.

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    thanks for the help. i will be going with regular outlets and let it go at that.

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