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Old 03-08-2010, 05:27 PM   #1
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Default Why did my circit breaker pop?

Here is the photo of my control panel. I just finished wiring it on Sunday in preparation of my first 10 gallon batch. I had been prepping water and the rest of my brewing equipment all morning, then when I plugged the panel in the GFCI popped immediately as did the CB in the panel and the inline fuse. I tried a number of times and each time the power went towards the element the CBs popped. I am wondering if it is anything to do with the wiring or is it a short in the element wiring. I changed plans and did a 10gallon all grain stove top brew. It made for a long day.

I am hoping for suggestions as to why the CB was popping so I can begin testing tonight.

I have a 3 wire feeding the 240/120 of a spa panel CB panel and the ground comes from a 120V GFCI from a different circuit that powers the PID only, as well as ground for the case and heating element circuit.

My heating element is potted in a PVC coupler. I attempted to put a ground wire screw into the base of the keg. I went through 4 batteries and broke a bit. I took the ground and used an alligator clip to ground the keg. I tested the ground on the plug attached to the element cord and there was continuity to the keg.

One other possible source is the inline fuse. I have a 12 gauge cord feeding the 4500W element. I could not find a slow burn fuse so i have a 20A fast burn fuse.

Now that the element is potted I am limited in testing or options. I will try testing continuity to the ground and OHMs of the element from the plug on the cord. What else should I look at?


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Old 03-08-2010, 06:48 PM   #2
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I can't make much sense out of these wires going all over the place. Any chance you can draw us a schematic of the situation?


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Old 03-08-2010, 07:09 PM   #3
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I do not have the schematic drawing skills or knowhow. But I will try to explain the setup.

I have a 3 prong outlet coming from my dryer. I have that wired directly into my bars from the Spa panel parts 2 hots, 1 neutral. The cord has four wires so there is a ground wire that is just capped off, with a red cap.

I get my 240 from the two hots in the GFCI breaker (spa panel).One has a 20A fuse that goes to the line side of the SSR then to a double pole switch. The other hot goes directly to the same switch bypassing the SSR then to an outlet. The element is plugged directly into the outlet via a 8 foot 12gage SJOO cord.

The other things you see in the bottom of the photo is my 120V power that comes from a kitchen based GFCI. It goes to 3 bus bars that I am using to distribute the 120V hot, neutral and ground. The ground is bonded to the case via a jumper. This grounding bar is also providing the ground to the 240V water heater circuit. The only other wires are the hot and neutral to power the PID. There is also a small guage wire for SSR control from the PID and thermocoupler wires also. The curly white wire is to the neutral lug to the spa panel.

I will try to take better photos tonight.
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Old 03-08-2010, 07:46 PM   #4
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Dumb thoughts but...

1. "One has a 20A fuse that goes to the line side of the SSR then to a double pole switch". Shouldn't this be going to the LOAD side of the SSR?...Nevermind, I'm a dumbass...but maybe double check that again.

2. Maybe it's loose connections somewhere along the way, did you check to ensure that all of the connections are snug & tight?

EDIT: Although doesn't have anything to do with your 240v circuit tripping, I'm not in love with the 3 bus bars for 120v power distribution. I'd temporarily make the 120v connections with wire caps for now and pick up something LIKE THIS for a more permanent installation. But thats just my opinion...
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:44 PM   #5
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You could always start to un-wire it and test it at each section. Have you tried disconnecting the heating element and seeing what happens? Disconnect the SSR, etc. one thing at a time and see where it stops tripping.

Unfortunately I cant make sense of whats going on. Kinda looks like a mess IMHO...I do have to agree with illin8 that I dont like the bus bars for the hots and neutrals. They are fine for the grounds but even there I would mount that one to the chassis.

Please be safe...
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:33 PM   #6
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OK, I'll give this a try. I read your post earlier and although I have wiring experience, I have never wired up a brewery panel. There are folks here with a lot of experience with this that know a lot more than I.

The first question I would have is about the white wire coming out of the breaker that is part of the orange cable, that I am guessing has 10 gauge wire due to the color. I am guessing that provides power to the plug that you use to plug in your element. If so - where is the return to ground from this plug? It is not evident from the picture.

It is really hard to tell what goes where but another question I would have is there seems to be two white wires that go to a buss right above what looks to be a fuse holder. They are alone on this buss. If they are truly neutrals I would think you would want to tie them in with the white neutral wire on your supply. This would mean you would put them on the buss that is to the right of your breaker.

A schematic would help.
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:47 PM   #7
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It must be at the element side as it does not trip until the two pole switch is turned on. It could be in the box with the switch and outlet. I will try to do it again tonight with the Element unplugged, to see if it is upstream of the element or cord.

Illini8, that distribution block had been mentioned previously and was said to be overkill. It has 4ga input and is limited to 175 amps, overkill to power a PID and maybe a pump some day. I do not see it does anything different than what I have setup. In a circuit breaker panel box the neutral would simply be supplied through a distribution bar just like this, and the ground is distributed from another bar. The only other difference is the hot side of a panel is distributed from a bar that goes through a circuit breaker. I am getting the same function by adding a fuse to each hot wire coming out to protect the individual circuit. I have seen more elegant distribution bars but not sure how that will be different.
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsdude View Post
The first question I would have is about the white wire coming out of the breaker that is part of the orange cable, that I am guessing has 10 gauge wire due to the color. I am guessing that provides power to the plug that you use to plug in your element. If so - where is the return to ground from this plug? It is not evident from the picture.

]Yes it is 10 guage in case I step up the element to something bigger later. The ground from this run is the bare wire that goes to the ground bar to the right of the picture. The white wire coming out of the GFCI CB is the second hot for the 240V.

It is really hard to tell what goes where but another question I would have is there seems to be two white wires that go to a buss right above what looks to be a fuse holder. They are alone on this buss. If they are truly neutrals I would think you would want to tie them in with the white neutral wire on your supply. This would mean you would put them on the buss that is to the right of your breaker.

The white wires going into the bar you describe are the power cord from the dryer and the curly wire coming out of it feeds into the GFCI breaker. Ignore these wires, I am. I do not use the neutral from this circuit. I am trying to keep the 240v and 120V power supply separate. I have had problem with a common neutral into 2 GFCIs popping CBs. I am trying to avoid a repeat of this experience. The only common denominator to these two circuits is the ground. The ground from the 120V GFCI (a kitchen outlet) is supplying ground to both circuits. This is my possible suspect for the problem, or a short in the element.

Other suspects are the fast burn fuze. Anyone know where to look for a slow burn 20A fuse? Does one fuse on the leg of a 240V cause any problems?

A schematic would help.
I will try to take better photos or come up with a schematic. I promise to clean up the wires If I can get it to work.
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:57 PM   #9
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fuse type aint the problem. exactly how close is the ground wire in the lower right hand corner to the power connection with the red and black wire, in the picture it looks like it may be touching. might also help if you tried labeling everything, even drawing it out by hand
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:49 AM   #10
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I am curious about something. On your 220 in line(S),is the ground tied to the same bar as the nuetral, on a gfci i though that was bad, unless it is at the maine panel. Here is a pic of how my main 220 is wire, hope it helps.


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