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Old 06-03-2012, 11:40 PM   #1
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Turning on Lights trip another breaker


Problem: About 20% of the time when I turn on hallway lights or kitchen lights the 15A GFCI to two bedrooms trip. The lights that trip the breaker are on a separate circuit.

House: 2007 construction in the dry Mojave desert. The only 3 wiring projects I've done in the house is install a timer light switch for a ceiling light, add 3 outlets for an island rebuild, and change the 15A garage outlets to 20A which was already wired as 20A (20A breaker/wire).

My hunch is that the 15A bedroom breaker is going bad.

All of the lights are CFLs. CFLs do have a high initial current when first turned on and decrease to max efficiency as they warm up which normally takes a couple of minutes depending on how cold it is. I believe that this initial spike when first turned on is what's tripping the breaker but I don't know if it's a ground problem or a faulty breaker that is oversensitive to the other circuit's surge.

I can tell the second that it trips because I have a UPS that beeps that the router is connected to. Before I put the UPS in the bedroom I'd go for days without knowing it was tripped.

I can go reset the breaker and everything works fine. I can even cycle the light switch right after resetting without tripping it again. Again, it normally trips when turning on a light that hasn't been on for a while (hours).

Any BS flags, suggestions, or war stories? Before I change out the breaker, I'll see if there's something else I'm missing.

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Old 06-04-2012, 05:00 AM   #2
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Turning on Lights trip another breaker


Try temporarely replacing the hallway CFL's with incandesants
and see if the breakers still trip !
This will tell you for sure if it is the CFL's causing the problem !

CFL's have been known to cause trips,
But usually it involves a large number of them !
How many do you have ?

Otherwise your breakers could be too sensitive
you could try a slower reacting breaker.

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Old 06-04-2012, 07:53 AM   #3
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Turning on Lights trip another breaker


The breaker is probably an AFCI not a GFCI. The CFL currents could be triggering the AFCI arc detection.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:20 PM   #4
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Turning on Lights trip another breaker


I have 4 CFLs in the hallway and 5 CFLs in the kitchen. I only need to flip on one of the sets to trip it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmxtothemax View Post
Try temporarely replacing the hallway CFL's with incandesants
and see if the breakers still trip !

Otherwise your breakers could be too sensitive
you could try a slower reacting breaker.
That's a good test with the normal incandescent bulbs but I will have to go and buy some. I didn't see any slow reacting breakers on an initial search. Do you have a particular brand in mind?

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Originally Posted by joed View Post
The breaker is probably an AFCI not a GFCI. The CFL currents could be triggering the AFCI arc detection.
Thanks, that's perfect info. I have a copy of the NEC2008 and it lists "family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas" that shall be protected by AFCIs in 210.12(B). I didn't know that.

Another piece of info I found was from Electrical Contractor Magazine on the AFCI (http://www.ecmag.com/?articleID=3667&fa=article) which suggests that the circuit to monitor for arcs will improve nuisance fault rejection as the manufacturers learn more. This article was written in 2006.

I'm hoping that a test of real bulbs will tell me that the AFCI is being tripped by the CFLs and that a new AFCI will not detect the nuisance. I'll probably get to these this weekend.

Thanks for the info so far.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:46 PM   #5
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Turning on Lights trip another breaker


Just wondering what brandname the breaker you have it in there now due the early AFCI breakers are very senstive to trip the latter one is better due there is alot of improvement but still.,, there are some kinks to work out.

Any chance you have any RF remote controller devices in your house ?

If so try to hit them to see if they can trip the AFCI or GFCI breaker.

I have couple case with our Europan verison of GFCI breaker that do trip with pretty strong RF signal but got wise with them.

Merci,
Marc
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:36 PM   #6
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Turning on Lights trip another breaker


No Marc, the sticker label is mostly warn away. There was another sticker on the edge of the breaker with the numbers "042925413" but I think that's probably meaningless.

I did try to see if the garage door opener tripped it or my Philips Pronto remote set to RF but neither worked. They're pretty weak though the garage door did open from across the house! The panel is located on the outside of the house.

If I see a manufacturer name when I open up the panel I'll post it.

Thanks.

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