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Old 10-17-2012, 03:55 PM   #1
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Default Tripping the GFCI Fantastic in Kal Clone

Hi All,
I just finished running the power to the Spa Sub-Panel that supplies power to my semi-Kal Clone EHERMS control panel, and I just started energizing/troubleshooting my build, and like A-Rod, I'm striking out, and need some help. I started asking questions in another thread regarding GFCI Spa panel wiring, but figured I'd start a seperate thread to keep from hijacking the other, particularly when PJ responded, and asked for some pics and more details.

The problem: When I turn on the primary power on switch, I trip the GFCI.

The facts: As mentioned, I’m building a modified Kal Clone with 3 PIDS and a timer, an overall on/off switch that controls the primary power contactor, and includes a PJ E-stop fuse/resistor circuit. I'll include some figures in the first few entries of this thread, and as many facts as I presently have, so all of you McGiver's and Sherlock EHolmes out there can point out what I'm doing wrong.
The first figure shows my power feed schematic, where I have a 2pole 50A breaker supplying the standard HD Spa Panel. Just about all of the components are new (the stainless box, heating element outlets, and other connectors were salvaged).

The second figure's my overall wiring schematic ( I wish I could figure out how to get put the text in between the figures, but when I uploaded the figures to the gallery first, I just got thumbnails)

The third pic is of the SPA panel. Power comes into the panel on the bottom left (6/3 copper). The two hot legs (R & B) and the neutral (W) go into the appropriate terminal blocks, and the ground goes to the ground bus. I use the 2 pole GFCI breaker in the SPA panel to feed a 4 prong range outlet (with neutral and ground). I also added a 15A SP breaker to power the fans and lights in my exhaust hood, and a range cord hard wired into my panel provides the power, shown in the 4th. Sorry about the ugly wiring, but that #6 solid copper's tough to work with, and the flex/extension wire for the lights and fans is temporary, until new walls get installed and the boxes get permanently mounted.

The bottom picture shows the panel front, and my main power switch is top center on the panel, and is an Auber maintained, lighted selector switch.

Details: The power to my control panel comes from the SPA Panel through the range plug. The two hot legs go one side of a 240V 2 pole contactor (with 120V coil). I tee off one of the hot legs to go to the illuminated auber maintained selector switch, as shown in the first schematic. When this switch is turned on, it completes the circuit to the 120V coil of the contactor- and trips the GFCI.

Additional pics, and more details in the next entry.

borderline_block_diagram.jpg   borderline_control_panel_schematic.jpg   gfci_panel.jpg   open_panel.jpg   panel_front.jpg  

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Old 10-17-2012, 04:29 PM   #2
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The Details, cont'd.

The first figure in this post shows the back of the auber selector switch - the white neutral is for the light,daisy chained with another switch light. The black in is from the main power in terminal strip shown in Fig.2, and the black out from this switch goes to the main power contact coil, also shown in the second figure. When this photo of the contactor was taken, the 120V neutral to the contact coil and the R&B load out wires had been disconnected for troubleshooting, and there's some purple electrical tape over the output leads as well.

The bottom two photos show the overall wiring in the cabinet.


Troubleshooting facts and current process (note that if I mention that wires were removed/exchanged, etc, I did first open all circuits and always used a DVM to check for stray voltages before touching anything):


1. Turn on main switch, GFCI trips immediately, even before contactor coil closes. I then removed the load wires from the contactor and tried again. The GFCI still tripped. (note that the outputs from this contactor go directly to set of DIN Mounted circuit breakers inside the panel for additional safety, so I think that this step would only be useful if I had an insulation breakdown/short in the wires from the contactor to the breakers, which are off).

2. Ground/continuity check. The entire control panel has a common ground, verified with DVM, from panel back, to door, all exposed metal, grounding lugs, and it's common with the GFCI ground (meter leads from panel metal to inside spa panel).

3. Checked continuity with Neutral - no discontinuity found from any of the whites throughout the panel, and it's also happy from the control panel to the spa panel.


4. Test that switch works. First did continuity check across the two hot legs with power off, to prove that the switch was open when in off position, and closed when in on (verified). Next, disconnected switch out lead from the contactor coil (i.e. removed the load from the switch, but not the wiring). Re-energized, and it turns on, and lights up. GFCI fine. This proves on/off switch is good.

5. Next, check that contactor is good. First checked for shorts between the contact leads and ground, and found none. Next, I used power from the single pole breaker inside the GFCI, through the exhaust hood light switch. The switch gave me an on/off capacity with the 120, and I used the neutral from light switch as well. I disconnected all loads from the contactor, and put the line and neutral onto the coil tabs. At this point, I had the main GFCI on, feeding live power on the inlet side of contactor, and the power from the coil fed from the non-GFCI breaker in spa panel. Energized coil power, and the contact closed (as wanted).

6. Repeat step 5, but with neutral to contactor coil coming from inside control panel, and hot leg from non-GFCI breaker. Energized coil, and contact closed (as wanted).

7. Scratch head, de-energize system, and drink beer. I'm completely confused. It seems that the only thing that's not working is when I use the hot leg from the GFCI to try and energize the contactor coil. I should also add that this is leg A (as labeled by me inside the GFCI Spa panel), which is also the same leg that energizes the single pole breaker used for the tests. I guess I could try feeding the on/off switch from the other leg, but why would that make a difference?



8. I should also add that I also tried reversing the black and white leads to the coil. It shouldn't make a difference with 120V, as it's just acting as an electromagnet - and it didn't (make a difference that is, still tripped the GFCI).

Good luck, and thanks in advance for any/all help. Please let me know what I'm not providing here for clues - as right now, I'm clueless....

main_power_wiring.jpg   main_contactor.jpg   inside_panel.jpg   inside_door.jpg  
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:43 PM   #3
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The neutral going to your range outlet should be coming directly off the neutral connection on your GFCI breaker instead of the neutral bus. I'll let someone else chime in on the other stuff.

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Old 10-17-2012, 08:55 PM   #4
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I had the same issue as in post 44 here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/e-b...35/index5.html

Move the neutral going to your range outlet to the breaker. Then the breaker can sense the difference between hot and neutral. With it going back to the neutral bus the breaker sees any current as a break in the circuit and trips.

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Old 10-17-2012, 08:55 PM   #5
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Hi JS,
thanks for the feedback. I didn't even know that there was room on the breaker for me to get another wire out to the plug. I definitely missed that in the other threads on here - I'll try that as soon as I get home tonight!

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Old 10-17-2012, 10:05 PM   #6
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As has been said by jsguitar and stlbeer - your wiring of the GFCI breaker is not correct.
Your wiring:




How it should be wired:



There is a specific terminal on the GFCI breaker for the Neutral Output.

You have it solved now.

P-J

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Old 10-17-2012, 10:17 PM   #7
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Another Illustration of the GFCI panel wiring & how it should be wired:

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Old 10-17-2012, 11:22 PM   #8
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Thanks to all of you who responded- and thanks P-J for the extra effort with the photo.

I have already made the change, and the control panel is now live, with no GFCI trips.

Amazing what happens when you wire things correctly!


Now I'm off to figure out how to calibrate the PIDs and set the timer!

Cheers to all.

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Old 10-17-2012, 11:26 PM   #9
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Awesome!!!
Success that is well deserved.

Congrats.

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Old 10-18-2012, 01:33 AM   #10
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nhwrecker,

If it makes you feel better (maybe not), I did the exact same thing when I wired my GFCI at first. Glad to see you got it up and going!

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