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Thread: Wiring & Electrical Design & Safety!

  1. #46
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    Help Scooterman!!!

    So after you helped me out with my lighting on my nano tank, I noticed that the light and my house caused a very moist environment inside the canopy. I decided to buy a fan. I bought a 115V AC fan from radio shack. My question is can I splice into the generic lamp cord that supplies power to the light? What would be the best method. The light is on a timer and I wanted the fan to be on the same, is this smart? Once again thank you for your help

  2. #47
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    You want moisture away from that light/hood so that fan must blow the air outside the hood to be effective. Make your connections with crimp on connectors and tape well or use heat shrink. This fan is 120vac so it would work but for me I'd install a fuse very low amperage into the circuit for safety. Look at the fan amperage and get a fuse like a 250Ma or similar, just slightly above the rated amps of the fan. Make all of your connections water tight (heat shrink is awesome, get it at radio shack & use hair dryer). I would make sure you use a GFCI on your lighting , fan & everything else if you can. Sometimes lighting can be a problem with GFCI's but I'd still try and protect yourself. Also a ground probe is cheap, total your talking a few bucks to be safe, well worth it. Seal your connections & think about water, try to keep your wiring so if any water falls it won't go into a socket or connection, drip loop it all.

  3. #48
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    Added Ground Probe Quoted from Michelson

    Conventional wisdom found in magazine articles and in the bowers of world wide web chat rooms indicated that “voltage” in aquaria is one of the factors that can cause Hole in the Head and Lateral Line Erosion. We read quotes like, “Stray voltage is something that exists in every tank. Stray voltage can be eliminated with a simple ground probe available at most pet shops in the twenty dollar range. Elimination of stray voltage is a simple step in reducing the stress on your fish. Every marine tank should be grounded for your protection and that of your fish.”


    Is it true? Well not exactly, and as I will discuss below, the addition of a ground probe may even make matters worse!

    Clearly electrical items submerged within your aquarium (power heads, heaters, etc.) can provide a direct interface between the prime power source (120 volts alternating (60 Hz) current (VAC) in the United States and 220 VAC, 50 Hz in most of the rest of the world) and the water, but some claim that the stray voltages can be indirectly induced by the lighting systems. This is possible because the skin depth of salt water (a conductor) at 60 Hz is not zero. “Skin depth” is the distance that electromagnetic energy can penetrate a conductor. Salt water is a conductor, but not a perfect conductor, so there is penetration by 60 Hz emissions. These induced voltages are small in magnitude. On the other hand, shorted pumps can develop large currents through the water, but typically between the “short” and some “ground” like your ground probe. This means that the inclusion of a ground probe could make things worse. If a pump were shorting within itself, the currents flowing through the water would remain local to the pump and should not be a problem. You would have to have two shorting pumps, or a pump and a ground probe, or some other current path to get electrical current to flow through your tank.

    Direct shorts would have other ramifications. Copper or iron could be introduced into the aquarium water as plating occurred. Other compounds would plate out as well since salt water contains many ions in suspension. Electrolysis would occur, heating the water while it liberated oxygen and hydrogen. There is of course a shock hazard.

    Most people do not understand the problem however. Lots of web space has been devoted to the measurement of voltage in aquariums... most of which is of no value. Voltage is not the problem, current is. Voltages can exist without there being any current. For example, birds sitting on a power line may be in direct contact with 10,000 volts, but they are not electrocuted. Why? Because no current is flowing through their bodies. Voltage is the “potential” or force that drives electrons through a conductor. The actual flow of electrons is the “current”. It is current that kills. Were one of the birds sitting on the power line to simultaneously touch one of the other wires on the transmission pole, a current path would be created (through the bird) and it would be electrocuted (and probably incinerated as well). So what are you doing when you add a grounding probe to your aquarium? You are providing a current path that might not already exist. Any fish between the source and the grounding probe will experience a current flowing through their bodies... not good!

    Taking a volt meter and measuring a voltage in your aquarium relative to some arbitrary ground point does not indicate that there is a current flowing through the salt water (conductive medium) in your aquarium! It just means that the aquarium water is at a different potential than the ground reference point that you chose.

    Measuring a voltage between submerged points in your aquarium may be misleading if not done correctly. The use of metallic probes can create a “battery effect” if dissimilar metals are involved (think your volt meter probes are the same metal? What if they are chrome plated (most are) and what if you’ve worn the chrome off one to expose brass or copper beneath?).

    Also, some currents in salt water are perfectly natural as described below.

    You can measure electrical currents everywhere-- the fact that salt water ions flow, actually generates an electrical current. Its unavoidable. The open ocean has lots of electrical currents flowing. Some of these are caused by currents flowing through the Earth while others are actually perturbations to local fields caused by the motion of objects (fish, turtles, etc.) in the water. When I was tracking the Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus) in the Banana and Indian Rivers around the Kennedy Space center, we actually considered sensing the extremely low frequency (ELF) emissions generated by the manatee’s tails as they accelerated the brackish or salt water ions in the presence of the Earth magnetic field during vigorous swimming (alas, manatees are not very energetic most of the time and other means were chosen (Sirenian Tracking Project)). For example, the ampullae of Lorenzini in a shark’s nose detect minute current flow disturbances in the water as an aid in locating prey.

    I don't use any power heads and all of my pumps are totally external and physically isolated (motor and pump head are separate). With the exception of an emergency heater in the sump, no electrical appliances come in contact with the water.

    There are all sorts of anecdotes about how much better the fish in a given tank will act and look after adding one of these “grounding probes”. My belief is that if there are any stray currents in the tank coming from an electrical appliance, the solution is not to try to draw the current away with a grounding probe (symptom), rather, the appliance must be damaged and should be replaced (cure).

    Fish don’t like electrical current to flow through their bodies. When higher electrical current levels flow through the water, fish will orient their bodies to minimize the potential (voltage) across their bodies, thereby minimizing the electrical current flowing through their bodies. At very low levels, the fish may only act strangely or seek areas of the aquarium where electrical current is not flowing. It is doubtful that continuous current flow through a fish’s body is beneficial, and may in fact be the source of anecdotal reports of Hole in the Head disease and Lateral Line Erosion. If your tank is at a different potential from the “ground” in your house, no electrical current may exist in your tank based on this static voltage. However as soon as you ground your tank by inserting a “grounding probe”, you will be guaranteed to have electrical current flowing even if the voltage drops.

    For a technical discussion of stray voltage in aquaria and the use of Ground Fault Interrupters, click here.

    In conclusion, the addition of a “grounding probes” will guarantee an electrical current flow in your aquarium and may induce erratic behavior or disease in your fish. If you have defective aquarium appliances that are creating a current path in your aquarium by using the salt water as a conductive medium, then the solution is to repair the appliances or replace them... not divert a portion of the current into a “grounding probe”.

    Return to Michelson Aquarium.

  4. #49
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    Just for reference, I went through this thread on this date to check links & re-read to make sure I didn't post something incorrect or put my foot in my mouth as it can happen from time to time. Think after a little cleaning it looks good, links provided is always worth the read.

  5. #50
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    process of elemination

    I usually just keep adding stuff till the circut breaker pops then you know you went one gadget to far
    The other white meat

  6. #51
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    Hey Scooter... thanks for updating this thread! I am very happy that I added two 20amp circuits dedicated to my tank. One services the hood and the other the sump/pumps/controllers, etc. I am using three American DJ PC 100 (8 outlet) switched power strips with outdoor (Home Depot) timers as appropriate to handle my power management.
    "The more you know, the more you know you don't know" - Aristotle

    ~Mark

  7. #52
    Mantisfreak
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    Seeing as how I once had a fire caused by electricity, I really appreciate the good info on this thread.
    Please pause before hitting enter---being nice is free.

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  8. #53
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    I have been an electrician almost 40 years and here is a safe way for a reefer to wire any panel
    Fishkeeping almost 60 years, Reef tank started in 1972

  9. #54
    Mantisfreak
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    LOL!!!

    Great one Paul
    Please pause before hitting enter---being nice is free.

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  10. #55
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    ROFL! Paul that's hilarious!
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  11. #56
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    I was also an AVIATION Electrician in the navy!
    Worked on EA6-B's out of whidby Is. I can help with things on the Sparky side!
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  12. #57
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    I have been using some marine grade electrical panels in my design...Not done yet, but I will post up after I have the finished result. I want to minimize using cheap power strips, poor connections and simplify the wiring. Also I want to have visual indicators of problems or status (i.e. meter for line voltage, leds for what circuits are on and the ability to quickly switch off a certain component with out just pulling a plug.
    All of this will be on a separate circuit from the breaker panel just for the sump. The tank runs on a different outlet in the living room (it only runs the lights, a vortech, a tunze powerhead and the reefkeeper 2 controller). At least if the whole sump power is off the tank still circulates and we have lights. We do have a generator that I can use to run the T5s and the Powerheads. (we have a gas fireplace that keeps our living room at about 75-80 degrees if needed (power out, freezing cold).
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    Bob

    ...they told me I would have all of this reef tank stuff figured out after a little time...how much time is a little?

    Custom Elos system-(see my thread). Plumbed 20' under the house into the garage located acrylic sump (thank you Jason), Warner Marine AS150 skimmer (mesh modded), Profilux Dosing system, Reefkeeper 2, auto top off, and a testing bench/reef aquarium work area.

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  13. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooterman View Post
    You may want to check for the local codes, or ask your friend and let him suggest the best route in doing this project. If your running any new wire get the 12g romex, and I like the Cutler Hammer or the Siemens over the rest, Cutler Hammer IMO is one of the best, we use the Industrially for years with no troubles.

    Only problem is that Cutler Hammer can be hard to find breakers from time to time although I agree they are high quality. I use Siemens/Murray and the QO series Square D I have had no problems with any of them and price is right. I have 4 - 20A circuits for my tanks. 2 pure 20's that are GFI'ed independently with GFI's for ever outlet to reduce nuisance tripping since it is so split up. Then there is 2 -20's from the backup power again all with independent GFI's with the exception being the main circulation pump it is its own breaker with a single 20A outlet so nothing else can be plugged in and I do not have to worry about tripping the breaker. This of course is an external pump so a GFI is less of a concern. Thanks for providing people with some general guidelines as most here have no clue about power and I have seen some really scary stuff.
    75g FOWLR, Octopus BH800S HOB Skimmer - Just getting back into the hobby again. Amateur Callsign KF7BIG

  14. #59
    Goby
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    post needs some updating scoot many of the links dont work anymore.

    Thanks for the info though im still trying to figure out what i will need and if whats in the condo already will be sufficient with just 2 or 3 power strips etc.

    good to know about those probes for sure.

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