Santa shocked Me

jap

Senior Member
Went to plug in 6' tall roughly 3' wide Santa last night which I welded togehter out of 5/16 round rod about 5 years ago and outlined with white and red chrismas lights propped up with a 4' piece of 3/4" emt I drive into the ground behind him.

He's been doing good for all this time yet the light string has become brittle and frail over the years.
Since hes only lit up for about 2 weeks out of the year I've been putting off upgrading the over 300 lights and time it would take to re-string him.

The extension cord I made years ago was simply a 50' rubber cord I had in the truck with a regular receptacle in a handy box on the end of it (I dont want to hear it...) but it is plugged into my outside GFI receptacle which tests good.

When I went to plug him in last night in the dark, I was kneeling on the wet ground next to him and one of the wires of the 2 wire stringer was broken awey from the plug (without my knowledge of course) as soon as I went to plug it in, I became the return path from the stringer of lights and the metal handy box or so I think.

There for a while, I was the santa that was lit up standing behind the sled with my 3 deer herd trying to get my jaws to unlock to sing Silent Night all the time wondering why my GFI wasnt tripping.

Still not sure.

JAP>
 

GerryB

Senior Member
Went to plug in 6' tall roughly 3' wide Santa last night which I welded togehter out of 5/16 round rod about 5 years ago and outlined with white and red chrismas lights propped up with a 4' piece of 3/4" emt I drive into the ground behind him.

He's been doing good for all this time yet the light string has become brittle and frail over the years.
Since hes only lit up for about 2 weeks out of the year I've been putting off upgrading the over 300 lights and time it would take to re-string him.

The extension cord I made years ago was simply a 50' rubber cord I had in the truck with a regular receptacle in a handy box on the end of it (I dont want to hear it...) but it is plugged into my outside GFI receptacle which tests good.

When I went to plug him in last night in the dark, I was kneeling on the wet ground next to him and one of the wires of the 2 wire stringer was broken awey from the plug (without my knowledge of course) as soon as I went to plug it in, I became the return path from the stringer of lights and the metal handy box or so I think.

There for a while, I was the santa that was lit up standing behind the sled with my 3 deer herd trying to get my jaws to unlock to sing Silent Night all the time wondering why my GFI wasnt tripping.

Still not sure.

JAP>
HO HO HO:D
 

Strathead

Senior Member
Went to plug in 6' tall roughly 3' wide Santa last night which I welded togehter out of 5/16 round rod about 5 years ago and outlined with white and red chrismas lights propped up with a 4' piece of 3/4" emt I drive into the ground behind him.

He's been doing good for all this time yet the light string has become brittle and frail over the years.
Since hes only lit up for about 2 weeks out of the year I've been putting off upgrading the over 300 lights and time it would take to re-string him.

The extension cord I made years ago was simply a 50' rubber cord I had in the truck with a regular receptacle in a handy box on the end of it (I dont want to hear it...) but it is plugged into my outside GFI receptacle which tests good.

When I went to plug him in last night in the dark, I was kneeling on the wet ground next to him and one of the wires of the 2 wire stringer was broken awey from the plug (without my knowledge of course) as soon as I went to plug it in, I became the return path from the stringer of lights and the metal handy box or so I think.

There for a while, I was the santa that was lit up standing behind the sled with my 3 deer herd trying to get my jaws to unlock to sing Silent Night all the time wondering why my GFI wasnt tripping.

Still not sure.

JAP>
Isn't it ironic how LONG 3/10ths of a second can be?
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Remember a class A gfci trips between 3-5 ma. You may still have gotten a nice 2.5 ma jolt!
The standard says they are not permitted to trip below 4mA, may trip between 4 and 6mA, and must trip above 6mA.

The maximum permitted time to trip in seconds is equal to the quantity (20/fault current in milliamps) raised to the 1.43 power. The application of this formula would permit a 7.26 second trip time for a 5 mA ground fault.

It is my understanding that most devices trip in about 1/4 of a second no matter what the ground fault current is, but the standard permits a much longer clearing time for low current faults.
 

jap

Senior Member
The standard says they are not permitted to trip below 4mA, may trip between 4 and 6mA, and must trip above 6mA.

The maximum permitted time to trip in seconds is equal to the quantity (20/fault current in milliamps) raised to the 1.43 power. The application of this formula would permit a 7.26 second trip time for a 5 mA ground fault.

It is my understanding that most devices trip in about 1/4 of a second no matter what the ground fault current is, but the standard permits a much longer clearing time for low current faults.
Everyone that complains about GFI's should grab onto an energized Santa and let thier bells get jingled for a little while.... maybe then they'd grow to appreciate them a little more... the ones that actually trip when needed that is...


JAP>
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Everyone that complains about GFI's should grab onto an energized Santa and let thier bells get jingled for a little while.... maybe then they'd grow to appreciate them a little more... the ones that actually trip when needed that is...


JAP>
Many don't realize that 4-6 mA still gives you one hell of a jolt. This amount needs to flow before it will trip. Many also think GFCI's prevent shock, though they do eliminate them before they happen quite often, current must flow before they activate, if you are in the path you will feel it.
 

mgookin

Senior Member
Location
Fort Myers, FL
Many don't realize that 4-6 mA still gives you one hell of a jolt. This amount needs to flow before it will trip. Many also think GFCI's prevent shock, though they do eliminate them before they happen quite often, current must flow before they activate, if you are in the path you will feel it.
They limit the duration of shock.
They (hopefully) eliminate electrocution.
 

ggunn

PE (Electrical), NABCEP certified
Location
Austin, TX, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer - Photovoltaic Systems
Went to plug in 6' tall roughly 3' wide Santa last night which I welded togehter out of 5/16 round rod about 5 years ago and outlined with white and red chrismas lights propped up with a 4' piece of 3/4" emt I drive into the ground behind him.

He's been doing good for all this time yet the light string has become brittle and frail over the years.
Since hes only lit up for about 2 weeks out of the year I've been putting off upgrading the over 300 lights and time it would take to re-string him.

The extension cord I made years ago was simply a 50' rubber cord I had in the truck with a regular receptacle in a handy box on the end of it (I dont want to hear it...) but it is plugged into my outside GFI receptacle which tests good.

When I went to plug him in last night in the dark, I was kneeling on the wet ground next to him and one of the wires of the 2 wire stringer was broken awey from the plug (without my knowledge of course) as soon as I went to plug it in, I became the return path from the stringer of lights and the metal handy box or so I think.

There for a while, I was the santa that was lit up standing behind the sled with my 3 deer herd trying to get my jaws to unlock to sing Silent Night all the time wondering why my GFI wasnt tripping.

Still not sure.

JAP>
So, when you tried to light up Santa, he lit you up instead? :D
 
Many don't realize that 4-6 mA still gives you one hell of a jolt. This amount needs to flow before it will trip. Many also think GFCI's prevent shock, though they do eliminate them before they happen quite often, current must flow before they activate, if you are in the path you will feel it.
This happened to my boss. He got in series with a ground fault on a GFCI protected circuit and he felt it big time before it tripped.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
Everyone that complains about GFI's should grab onto an energized Santa and let thier bells get jingled for a little while.... maybe then they'd grow to appreciate them a little more... the ones that actually trip when needed that is...


JAP>
If you are the fault path a GFCI will not prevent you from getting a heck of a shock till it has a chance to respond and open the circuit.

They can only limit the time you are getting the shock, they can't limit the intensity of the shock.
 

jap

Senior Member
If you are the fault path a GFCI will not prevent you from getting a heck of a shock till it has a chance to respond and open the circuit.

They can only limit the time you are getting the shock, they can't limit the intensity of the shock.

True.

One tends to get used to the almost instantaneous quick reaction trip, that most of us witness when troubleshooting a GFI Tripping when something is wrong.

Not so much the case when your actually the path.

JAP>
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Most of the time we are protected because something else has taken the fault current and tripped the device before we are part of the path, which is why there aren't too many shock incidents when GFCI protection is utilized, but there is still those occasional times when first fault current is through a person.

The extension cord I made years ago was simply a 50' rubber cord I had in the truck with a regular receptacle in a handy box on the end of it (I dont want to hear it...) but it is plugged into my outside GFI receptacle which tests good.
The part you didn't want to hear about possibly made it worse then it would have been had you not been holding a grounded object in one hand while contacting the damaged cord in the other hand, though I guess you said you were kneeling on wet ground so maybe would have gotten a good hit anyway.
 

ptonsparky

Senior Member
Location
NE (9.06 miles @5.9 Degrees from Winged Horses)
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
This is what I try to explain to customers when I visit and notice the ground prongs missing or they are using two wire adapters.

The GFCIs may work without that 3rd wire but you have replaced it during a fault and you WILL feel it however long or short of time it takes to operate. I hope your heart is healthy. Have you tested them lately?
 

jap

Senior Member
This is what I try to explain to customers when I visit and notice the ground prongs missing or they are using two wire adapters.

The GFCIs may work without that 3rd wire but you have replaced it during a fault and you WILL feel it however long or short of time it takes to operate. I hope your heart is healthy. Have you tested them lately?
With the wire broke loose from the plug, my finger was actually in series with the neutral return.
Not sure if the GFI would have ever tripped depending on how much current I was sending into the dirt.

JAP>
 
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