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Old 07-05-2011, 03:10 PM   #1
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Default GFCI problem with Chill-Chaser

I bought something call a Chill-Chaser on eBay. It’s a 120V/1000W heat stick with a temperature control knob. It’s old and only had a two wire (no ground) cord. Thinking it would be safer, I rewired it with a three wire cord. Previously it would not trip the GFCI. Now it’s fine at low temperature settings, but after it’s been run at the high setting for a long time it trips the GFCI. I cautiously plugged it into a non-GFCI outlet and it works with no issues at any temperature setting. No breaker tripping. No electric leaks that I could detect.

The temperature control is a very simple and small unit. There’s a probe between the loop of the heating element. A plunger retracts at higher temperatures to separated two contact points and stop the flow of current. A screw is used to set the distance between the contacts and control the temperature. Once the set temperature is met, it flutters between on and off to hold it.

Why the GFCI problems with the three wire set-up?


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Old 07-05-2011, 04:25 PM   #2
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sounds like it is allowing current to get outside of where it is intended.

When you have the 3rd wire in there, that leaking current has somewhere to go (ground) and the GFCI trips.

Without the third wire, that current is still getting out of it's intended places, but it has no where to go, so it just sits there waiting and looking for a path to ground.

If you grab it in the right place, YOU will become that path to ground.

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Old 07-05-2011, 06:37 PM   #3
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Without the third wire, that current is still getting out of it's intended places, but it has no where to go, so it just sits there waiting and looking for a path to ground . . . If you grab it in the right place, YOU will become that path to ground.
Is a 120V GFCI still effective without the ground?

Everything is dry, sealed and tight. Any thought on where the electric leak would be in this type of immersion set-up? Could the heating element overheating cause the GFCI to trip?
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:39 PM   #4
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GFCI works on the principle that if current finds an alternate way out of the circuit, then the power will be shut down. With a ground wire in place, you give an easy way for rogue current to go somewhere, thereby tripping the GFCI immediately.

With no ground wire present, GFCI will still work, but it isn't going to kick-in until that rogue current finds a path out of the system.

I cannot explain where your problem is. I can tell you that I had a frayed connection in an extension cord I made one time. That cord worked fine running a heater element for 10 or 20 seconds. Then it would trip the GFCI. I fixed the fray in the cord, and all was well.

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Old 07-06-2011, 10:41 AM   #5
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Well, I was sure that everything was good, but you convinced me to go over all the connections one more time. Still don't know where the problem was, but did a successful couple hour test run after some adjustments last night. I did rotate the connectors away from the outer casing thinking that thermal expansion may have been causing some contact.

I actually scored two of these heat sticks on eBay. The one that’s been giving me grief I mounted in the side of the stainless pot used as an MLT. The other one has a longer element. I haven’t used it yet, but thought it might be good to speed up time to boil or stirring the mash during temperature steps. This other one also has a two wire cord. I was going to change it to three wire, but before this thread I had thought that GFCI didn’t work without a ground wire. Do you think the extra work is worth it or will the two wire with GFCI provide enough protection?

(Have to wonder if this company is out of business because of lawsuits. )

Thanks for the help!


(Pulled the handle off and put a male plug directly into the housing so that I wouldn't have to drag a cord around when cleaning the MLT.)

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Old 07-06-2011, 11:18 AM   #6
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...
This other one also has a two wire cord. I was going to change it to three wire, but before this thread I had thought that GFCI didn’t work without a ground wire. Do you think the work is worth it or will the two wire with GFCI provide enough protection?
Just keep in mind: Without a ground wire it is possible it to have a fault where the hot wire touches the kettle. There is no path to earth and therefore the GFCI thinks everything is ok. You come along and touch the kettle and provide a ground path through you. Yes, the GFCI would trip, but, I wouldn't want to set myself up for the risk.

Bottom line? I think the grounding wire is important.

(BTW -Your Avitar picture is absolutely fantastic.)
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:00 PM   #7
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. . . BTW -Your Avitar picture is absolutely fantastic.
Oops. Got some new pics from the Fourth of July, so I changed it.

Love those eyes! She makes being a grandfather a little less painful.
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:13 PM   #8
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bottom line? I think the grounding wire is important
+1
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:28 PM   #9
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Damn! But can't argue with either of you.
I wanted to be lazy, but now I'll have to do it right.
Thanks for setting me straight.



(It souldn't be such a PITA, but there's no room to work inside that housing.)

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Old 07-06-2011, 09:40 PM   #10
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well... the ground wire doesn't need to be inside of that housing. It can just be a wire connected to the kettle somewhere (handle, very top edge, etc). True, putting it in the houseing would be cleaner and prettier, but "anywhere" will make it functional.

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