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Old 11-27-2006, 03:19 AM   #1
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Folks with battery backups - don't go dumb like me!

OK... I'm embarrased to even write this, but if it saves someone it was worth it.

I have a battery backup hooked up to my heaters and powerhead. I've got everything - lights, battery backup, skimmer, etc - plugged into a GFI outlet beside the tank. Great... I've got ground fault protection so I don't shock myself. Now comes the "duh" that I can't believe I didn't notice for the three months my tank has been set up:

If my GFI outlet does its job when it senses a current spike, then it shuts off power to everything - including the battery backup unit. And then when my battery backup senses no power, it does ITS job and supplies power to whatever is plugged into it! So much for that safety feature of the GFI! Duh!

I fixed that by getting one of those GFI extension cords with the three outlet block on the end. I've got that plugged into my battery backup so that if a heater wants to trip the GFI, then it'll trip the one before the battery backup and no power will get to it.

Just thought I'd pass along my oversight in hopes others won't make the same mistake I did. And no... I luckily did not find this out by experience.
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Old 11-27-2006, 09:33 AM   #2
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I'm surprised your UPS didn't have GFCI built in. Thanks for sharing though
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Old 11-27-2006, 02:51 PM   #3
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Kurt-I'm in WA too and hope that you didn't do without power yesterday (I'm in North Kitsap). I think I lost my favorite torch coral (major bummer) due to the extended power outage. Generator didn't work and it went downhill from there.
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Old 11-27-2006, 04:43 PM   #4
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I got lucky... I'm in South King County and usually lose power when a squirrel breaks wind, but was spared yesterday. I was in your neck of the woods on Sunday though, and you guys definitely got hammered.

Regarding UPSes with built in GFIs, mine doesn't have one and for that matter, I don't recall seeing any with them built in. Surge suppressors, yes... but GFIs? Maybe on the very high end ones?
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Old 12-02-2006, 07:16 PM   #5
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I have never seen a UPS with a GFCI device attached. I would say that it might be a good idea to have the UPS plug into one (I have it set up that way, so if it trips the circuit, the battery will work, until I reset it)

I recently had a power outage from a cut power cable and once the battery went out, I was faced with getting enough Oxygen and such to the tank. Sadly, I lost a Flame Angel, which my hermit crabs decided was theirs! No one else was harmed, including the corals and such.

I had about 1 hours of backup with my UPS and it still wasnt enough. I might consider a B/U generator (small one) for the tanks (I have 3) and linking those outlets to a seperate circuit somehow.

Guess it depends on if "the boss" allows me to...GRIN.... She wasnt too happy with the loss.
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Old 12-03-2006, 12:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferretttt
I have never seen a UPS with a GFCI device attached. I would say that it might be a good idea to have the UPS plug into one (I have it set up that way, so if it trips the circuit, the battery will work, until I reset it)
Yes... I agree that plugging the UPS into a GFCI outlet is a good idea. But I think you should also consider one on the outlet side of your UPS for the very reason you mentioned: "if it trips the circuit, the battery will work..."

Let's say that whatever you have plugged into your UPS has a short circuit to the tank. You touch the tank and get a little zap and then the main GFCI that your UPS is plugged into trips out. Great... no power... exactly what you want. But then your UPS says, "Hey... no power. I better kick in." So before you even realize what's happening and you still have your hand in the tank, the UPS kicks in and powers up that thing that has the short circuit. Which then zaps you again, and continues zapping because there's nothing now - except for a circuit breaker on the UPS if it has one - to shut off the power between the UPS and the faulty device.
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Old 12-05-2006, 11:48 PM   #7
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I didn't consider an ups because our power usually is out too long and it would run out of juice before the power comes back. I went to radio shack and got and inverter that i plug into my cigarette lighter in my p/u truck...an extension cord, and a power strip and i can power the essentials in the tank until the power comes back. Worked great when power was out for 3 1/2 days, a few yrs back. Just another idea.

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