GFCI Receptacles have LED Lamps Now

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by nc5p, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. nc5p

    nc5p Member

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    My darkroom is in the laundry (Dust is a problem!) I am in the midst of re-wiring the house (it had the dreaded aluminum wire). Here in the US we have to use GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupters) on the counters and within six feet of a sink. The problem is that the new GFCI's are equipped with LED lamps. Now I bought two major brands, Leviton and Cooper. The Leviton is totally unusable in the darkroom. It has a green LED that lights all the time, that one went to the kitchen. You might put a dab of paint on it but unless it is black the lamp will probably make the faceplate glow around it. The Cooper model is what I installed. It has a yellow LED but it only comes on during a ground fault. The light extinguishes when it is reset.

    I did look at Leviton's catalog and they do make a model without the LED. Lowes and Home Depot don't carry it but one could probably get it from an electrical supply house. Hubbell also makes GFCI's but I didn't check to see if they made one without the LED.

    We should all have the GFCI receptacles. If you have wet hands (like I often do) and touch the timer or enlarger there is risk of electrocution.
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I have my darkroom GFIs installed in the main box, rather than in each room. Breakers come in many amperages and suitable for many types of box.

    No problem that way.

    PE
     
  3. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

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    I thought that was against the national "standard" electrical code. I tried to do that and the building inspector told me "no way."

    --Jeffrey
     
  4. Wilbur Wong

    Wilbur Wong Member

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    If you are rewiring, a possible option for you to consider would be to place the actuating gfci receptacle out of darkroom critical sight. Daisy chain your important exposed outlets to the out of sight one.

    That's what the second set of terminals are for on the back of the gfci's, usually covered by a piece of tape that notes that they are not for the primary wiring from the box.
     
  5. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Blu Tack to the rescue

    I found the little glowing thing on a new GFCI in the darkroom after I put in a dedicated circuit for the roller transport machine this summer.

    So I dug out a bit of the sticky stuff my son uses to tack his artwork onto the walls of his room. Staples/Offiuce Depot sourced, as I recall, and it is blue in colur. It also, when more than a few mm thick, blocks light. It stiock on and stays on, and can be peeled off, and reapplied if you really want to look at the LED's some day.
     
  6. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Hmm - that doesn't sound right to me - you should be able to do that as long as all the outlets on the circuit are clearly labeled as GFIC. Perhaps you ran into some local code.

    Dan
     
  7. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Put duct tape over the LEDs.
     
  8. polaski

    polaski Member

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    Gaffer tape?
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    When I put in my darkroom, I had all wiring inspected. At the same time I had installed GFIs in the Laundry room as well.

    Everything passed inspection and a report was sent to my insurance company that all was well.

    Some circuits cannot use GFIs in our house as the part that was built by the contractor uses an older standard where all returns are linked together. This will not accept GFIs. Each circuit must have its own return.

    So, he patiently explained that houses with older wiring must have a GFI to replace each duplex plug. They cannot use a GFI breaker.

    PE
     
  10. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    I just put a small piece of black electrical tape over the led. Works fine.

    Bob
     
  11. c.d.ewen

    c.d.ewen Subscriber

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    There's also a limit on how far an outlet can be from the GFI device, either breaker or outlet, and still have the GFI device function properly.

    Keep in mind that a GFI device is not a guarantee that you won't be electrocuted. In a previous lifetime in an industry full of electricity and water, each time I entered the building I repeated an industry saying: electricity + water = death.

    Charley
     
  12. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Are you sure of that? I don't know you and you may be an electrician in which case I'll defer to you. However, the way a GFI device works is be detecting a difference in current between the hot wire and the neutral wire - if the currents are different, then some current is finding an alternate way to ground - i.e. through you. I don't see how a long wire is going to affect this - even if it adds resistance, the resistance will affect the current in each wire equally.
    You are correct a GFI doesn't guarantee you won't be electrocuted. It just insures you won't be electrocuted for more than a fraction of a second.

    Dan
     
  13. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Actually, the national electrical code does allow the use of GFCIs in feeder breakers. Practically, however, it makes a lot more sense to install them in receptacles out on the circuit. And I think the receptacle-based units are less expensive that the version built into feeder breakers.

    That said, the local jurisdiction always has the right to accept the NEC in its entirety and/or to supplement it with local requirements.

    No where it is written that electrical inspectors actually have to be knowledgeable. But they do have the last word.

    Modern receptacle-based GFCIs are designed to protect against problems on anything plugged into themselves, and may installed in a way that extends that protection to receptacles that are further downstream on the feeder. So if the only GFCI receptacles that you can find have LEDs, the simple solution is to plan for an additional receptacle OUTSIDE the darkroom (you can always use additional receptacles!), put the LED-GFCI there, and then extend the circuit to pick up the receptacles in the darkroom.
     
  14. dslater

    dslater Member

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    The code also states that any outlets downstream from a GFI device must be clearly marked. This is because there are devices which won't work properly in a GFI outlet - notably a defibrillator will trip the circuit off.
     
  15. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Actually, the traditional problem with GFCIs and circuit length goes back to the days when the only GFCIs available were incorporated into feeder breakers. In addition to providing a differential leakage current detection function, they also included the ability to detect if the neutral wire was grounded. That algorithm involved superimposing a high frequency voltage between neutral and ground and looking for current flow in the outgoing neutral. (You could actually hear the breakers humming at that high frequency.) The problem was that if the circuit was too long, the accumulated distributed capacitance would cause enough of a current flow to trigger the high-frequency current level detector and give a false trip.

    I knew one of the people who was involved in the early development of GFCI technology, and he used to talk about how they would test prototypes on themselves. Made for interesting stories, but better him than me. I tend to agree with Charley that while I have GFCIs installed in our house, its always better to avoid those situations that might test their functionality.
     
  16. c.d.ewen

    c.d.ewen Subscriber

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    Dan:

    IIRC, the distance limit (I remember 100 ft) is in the Leviton installation instructions. It may just be a manufacturer's CYA - a longer pull means more appliances, more chances for leakage, and a better chance the part will be returned as defective because it kicked when 'nothing's turned on'.

    Regarding the life-saving guarantee of GFI, in the unusual but plausible case of finding yourself in contact with both hot and neutral legs, but insulated from ground, how does the GFI device distinguish you from a toaster?

    I approach both fire and electricity with the assumption that either, given the chance, will try and kill me.

    Charley
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Hmmm, I have a GFI that keeps tripping. It goes for nearly a year with no problem, then begins tripping every few hours - or days. It just went today for the first time in over a year, and cut off power to half of the darkroom. A reset and another trip later and I was scratching my head. Third reset and things are ok.

    Oh, the wet side is on one GFI and the dry side is on another.

    Any thoughts?

    PE
     
  18. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    For the slope browed knuckle draggers in the crowd (and concerning electricity I'm at the front of the line) I found a simple solution today. Noma makes a 6' long GFCI power bar with four outlets on it...$26.00 CND at Canadian Tire.

    Murray
     
  19. c.d.ewen

    c.d.ewen Subscriber

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    Hi, Ron:

    Was it raining? :D

    Confounded things are a mystery sometimes. I have one that won't let me put a lightswitch at the far end.

    Charley
     
  20. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    Ron
    Are the 2 GFCI's on the same circuit? More than 1 per breaker can sometimes cause problems.
     
  21. Photo Engineer

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    Richard;

    No, the GFIs are at the box and they comprise the circuit. I have many and only one does this.

    Charley;

    It rained harder than we have seen in months, about 12 hours earlier, and I can say that this may be the reason. IDK.

    PE
     
  22. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    Damp making its way into a junction box sounds plausible then.

    We had damp enter a below-ground junction where the 415 volt 3-phase entered our building (apparent cause of fault was constant lorries on the road thanks to building work causing the cable shielding to crack, allowing water to enter.) Evidently the local substation (we don't have US style 'pole pigs' here) doesn't have a GFI :D . The length of cable the electricity guys dug out of the ground was basically a blackened mess - the outer steel armour was just about in tact, but the aluminium conductors themselves had basically evaporated.


    Anyway, I'm convinced of the worth of GFIs in your darkroom. The ceramic heating element in my Jobo CPE2 cracked a while ago, which will have exposed the mains-voltage nichrome wire in the middle to the water bath. The GFI tripped immediately; it could have been nastier otherwise. (I've had UK mains (240VAC) electric shocks a couple of times before - on the one hand, it proves it's not necessarily fatal, on the other hand I know well not to want to do it again.)
     
  23. dslater

    dslater Member

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    I don't think it does - in that case I think you SOL unless the current is high enough to trip the breaker. I think a GFI circuit only protects you from contact with the hot wire while you're grounded.
     
  24. DavePEI

    DavePEI Member

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    Just a quick note regarding the Cooper GFCI sold through Home Hardware outlets. I purchased one today for my new darkroom, and can confirm its yellow light comes on only when the GFCI is tripped. This is probably one of the better candidates for the job.

    Dave