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Old 02-09-2010, 06:36 PM   #1
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Default Electrian dad says GCFI is pointless?

My dad has been very intrigued with my brewing endevour ever since I started. Yesterday I said we could have a nice father son construction... Electric brewing!

I have a new 10g Blichmann on the way for my new BK. I may not have it for my next brew but I figure I can at least get my E-HLT going.

I picked up 2- 3000w 240v heater for my HLT and BK. I have a question though.

A single 3000v heater should be more than enough for my HLT but what about for my BK? You think it will be a little under powered for boiling 6.5 gallons?

Father, the electrician, seems to think it will take a long time to boil. In either case he also seems to think using a GCFI is pointless. Now I know you all stress using it for safety but there is a reason I'm torn here. My dad has over 20 years experience as an electrician and 10+ as Southern Ontario's chief electrical SAFETY inspector. I asked him why it's pointless and he just said it's not necessary. Maybe someone else here can shed some light on it? maybe USA vs CAN thing?

This normally wouldn't be an issue as I would just spring for the GCFI just to be safe.... but my dad is very strict in his plans. If he doesn't feel the need for it, "why waste the money". I told him it wasn't much and I'd just pay for it..... meh... I trust him with my life, I just want to understand why.

I also got electricuted pretty effing bad when I was an apprentice about 3 years ago. I was wiring up some flourescent light fixtures in a hockey arena. I was told by my boss that he shut off power to that section so I could work... Well some other dumb ass switched it back on...and I got zapped big. I forget what current AC or DC, because I've changed careers but it was the kind were it makes you stick. I was lucky enough to some how bang the wires out of my hand. I think i must of some how grounded myself too... I'm actually not entirely sure how I was able to free myself. Needless to say I was lucky because that whole section had a lot of power running through it... it was powering close to 55 -4 bulb lamps!

So that's why I'm still cautious.... but i also think the reason he feels it's pointless is because we're not working with enough power. It would hurt like a Mother! but I think he feels it wouldn't do bodily harm...

Anyway this got way off topic... so 2 questions:

1. Would 3000w be enough for a BK?
2. Should I slap my dad and get the GCFI?

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Old 02-09-2010, 07:25 PM   #2
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In theory, as long as the stuff is properly grounded he is assuming that should do it. However, you will be dealing with liquid. I think a lot of things would have to happen at the same time, like an element ruptures, you are stirring with a metal spoon and you are grounded......... Something along those lines. You offer enough resistance that you wouldn't trip a breaker, but a GFP would notice the difference. That is my understanding anyhow.

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Old 02-09-2010, 07:26 PM   #3
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1. 3000W is a bit low. It will work but will not be as fast as it could be. Go bigger, it is only a couple bucks.

2. I don't exactly know the science behind 220VAC, but I assume it works the same as 120VAC because the operate at the same frequency. Basically, AC current is extremely dangerous when in contact with damp or wet skin. The water changes the resistance of your body and the frequency of the current become very close to your hearts frequency and stops it from beating. Combine that with the paralysis you have already experienced and you get death via electrocution. I am sure I have screwed up the explanation somewhere and someone will correct me, but that is the jist of it.

In a properly designed and grounded system, a GFCI should be unnecessary (i.e., never be tripped). Do you feel 100% confident every single strand of wire is in the right place, you have not forgotten any grounds, no grounds have failed, etc. etc. etc.? If not, spend $20 and turn a potentially very serious situation into a nasty shock you get over in a few seconds.

Just my opinion, but screwing around with water and electricity isn't something to mess with.

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Old 02-09-2010, 07:28 PM   #4
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Your dad rules.
The kind of guy who has a steak in one hand and a beer in the other.
I bet he never wore a helmet to ride a bike.

I never met him, but I already like him.

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Old 02-09-2010, 07:32 PM   #5
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note to self ...ditch the metal spoon! Christ how did i even over look that.

Well I'm pretty confident my dad will probably wire this whole thing safely.... if not more safely then most people on here; if that's possible. That's probably why he thinks it pointless. however, In that same manner of thinking, you'd think he'd throw it in there anyway.

So what if I just wait and put both 3000w elements in the BK? then buy a 4500w for the HLT?

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Old 02-09-2010, 07:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boerderij_Kabouter View Post
In a properly designed and grounded system, a GFCI should be unnecessary
Disagree. There are many situations where the operator completes a circuit from the hot 240VAC to earth gnd. This circuit THROUGH the operator will NOT trip the 30A breaker. Likely, the operator will be well past the "can't let go" threshold in which the AC current is great enough to cause involuntary muscle contractions, and possibly respiratory paralysis.

We could come up with a bunch of ways for the operator to come in contact with the 240VAC without the this short also contacting the earth gnd directly (which would open the breaker). Many of these do require a single failure mode, like a loose wire somewhere. Note, though, that with so much conductive fluid around, there will be a spill, and that is tantamount to throwing a wad of loose, bare wires everywhere.

There are also an infinite number of ways for shorts to happen that we could never imagine. Put the GFCI in there.
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:45 PM   #7
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I agree with your dad. I was an electrician for a while and I installed many wet location appliances and heaters and other high voltage devices with no GFCI. There is no code for gfci in most hard wired applications.

When building my rig I called my old boss. He went to college for EE and is also a master electrician. Owns his own electrical company. I asked him about GFCI's and if he had any. He asked why. I told him and he said the same thing. You don't need that. They are expensive and there is no need. He said: "do you have a gfci on your stove at home?" I said no. You boil water on it and don't you! He gave me a few other more technical reasons too.

Anyway. My plan was to ditch the GFCI but this board keeps stressing it so much. I eventually caved to the homebrewtalk mafia and bought a $75 GFCI cord.

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Old 02-09-2010, 07:53 PM   #8
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My father is a car mechanic. Since my car is always in good shape, and since I'm an excellent driver, I don't bother with seatbelts or airbags.

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Old 02-09-2010, 07:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyjacobs View Post
My father is a car mechanic. Since my car is always in good shape, and since I'm an excellent driver, I don't bother with seatbelts or airbags.
Sure seems relevant! good contribution. I applaud you
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Old 02-09-2010, 08:09 PM   #10
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I would NEVER invest any amount of money into a GCFI. Those things are worthless lead riddle crap.


Now a GFCI I'd totally buy.

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