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dnesci
06-13-2008, 05:19 PM
I can't find the thread, but I remember a discussion on mini trees tripping GFIs because people were inserting the tomato cages directly into the ground. I have developed a wood base for my trees to insulate the cages from earth ground. The base is 1/2 inch plywood. The cages are attached to the plywood with plastic cable brackets. The wood has four 6 inch 1/4 inch bolts which are pressed/pounded into the ground. In my tests (in the rain), I never had a failure.

jeffathompson
06-13-2008, 06:25 PM
I can't find the thread, but I remember a discussion on mini trees tripping GFIs because people were inserting the tomato cages directly into the ground. I have developed a wood base for my trees to insulate the cages from earth ground. The base is 1/2 inch plywood. The cages are attached to the plywood with plastic cable brackets. The wood has four 6 inch 1/4 inch bolts which are pressed/pounded into the group. In my tests (in the rain), I never had a failure.

Hmm, I never had a single one trip last year. That looks like it would insulate though

gizmo
06-13-2008, 06:46 PM
im not an electrician but once the wood got wet would it not conduct electricity and thus no longer insulate?

scott

TERBObob
06-13-2008, 07:17 PM
Bingo ...
wet wood , is just like water ..... VERY conductive .
Good thought though .
I also was having some thoughts about what to use and thought about those cheap gasketing rings ( not the wax ones ) for the bottom of a toilet when installing a new one .
I , personally think , that the problem those other fellows were having with the GFI tripping had to do with the fact that they "might" have had their wires pulled too tight around the cage which , of course , would cause it to be a direct ground to the tomatoe cage . ( think of how thin those mini lights wires are )

Virtus
06-13-2008, 07:26 PM
I , personally think , that the problem those other fellows were having with the GFI tripping had to do with the fact that they "might" have had their wires pulled too tight around the cage

You aren't the only one who thought that may well be the case.

Wayne J
06-13-2008, 08:13 PM
I , personally think , that the problem those other fellows were having with the GFI tripping had to do with the fact that they "might" have had their wires pulled too tight around the cage which , of course , would cause it to be a direct ground to the tomatoe cage . ( think of how thin those mini lights wires are )

I was one of those fellows....... and no, IMO the wires were not pulled tight. I don't think the issue will ever be nailed down as to why it happens. It is a small voltage leak, and in my case, it took 4 trees ( 12 strands of 100ct minis), if my memeory is correct, to trip the GFI, and it didn't matter which 4 of the 15 it was. I do find it strange that some have issues, and others never have an issue. What I do know, is that insulating them from the earth fixes/prevents the problem. ;)

Wayne J
06-13-2008, 08:17 PM
That is a good ideal dnesci, although, I tend to sway to the point made above, if the wood get wet, or it pools on top of the wood, the monster could show it's face. Maybe just some electrial tape around the ground spikes will do. That is what fixed mine.

jeffathompson
06-13-2008, 08:32 PM
That is a good ideal dnesci, although, I tend to sway to the point made above, if the wood get wet, or it pools on top of the wood, the monster could show it's face. Maybe just some electrial tape around the ground spikes will do. That is what fixed mine.

Hey I accidentally bought a 100' roll of shrink tube. I just found a use for it. It's just the right size for 3/16 rod, but way to big for any of the wireing.

You guys are great.

gizmo
06-13-2008, 09:30 PM
Hey I accidentally bought a 100' roll of shrink tube. I just found a use for it. It's just the right size for 3/16 rod, but way to big for any of the wireing.

You guys are great.

make sure you get a good seal aroung to end of the shrink tubing that goes into the earth.

gizmo
06-13-2008, 09:32 PM
i was wondering if the fact thet a lot of the cheep minis have lead in the insulation might have something to do with it and when you get a lot of contact with the tom cage it is enough of an assitive effect to trip the GFCI.

scott

jeffathompson
06-13-2008, 10:03 PM
make sure you get a good seal aroung to end of the shrink tubing that goes into the earth.

I was thinking of just putting a little silicone in the end before I shrink it. That's what we do with auto wireing to keep it from the weather.

Jeff Millard
06-14-2008, 08:51 AM
I was another victim of this. I have 15 tree in a triangle on a single LOR controller. If they are all fed by a single GFCI it trips when it rains. Take 1 tree away and it holds... I just split the controller and added another GFCI paralleled to the first one.

One caveat to insulating the base of the trees: If you choose to do this, make sure you use GFCI. If you don't you will be placing an energized cage in your display that can easily shock someone...

Jeff

vairmoose
06-14-2008, 09:30 AM
A brain fart jumped in while reading this thread.

One of the common features of most minitrees is that the lighting wire is usually wound in one direction around the tomato cage - either right hand or left hand. Compound this physical construction with the on/off feature that animated lighting does and would this not in effect create a mini-inductor in the return ground wire that would be in imbalance with earth ground. Granted, the level of juice for each minitree would be miniscule... but when you start adding in more and more minitrees, all wound in the same direction.. a critical level might be reached where that one extra form is enough to create the imbalance between ground and earth ground that trips the GFCI.

If this is the case, then wouldn't doing two windings on each tree, in opposite direction, cancel the effect and eliminate the problem?

One caveat.... i am not EE. Just a hacker hoping to go serously live in 2009 (without very much magic smoke).

dnesci
06-14-2008, 09:46 AM
Thanks for all the input and cautions. I guess the answer is the best we can do is not to make a direct connection to earth ground. But in climates with heavy snows and rains, it doesn't matter what we due. Eventually, the snow will pile up above the base of the cage and it will provide a travel to earth.

If I came accross as implying I solved the problem, I didn't mean too. I'm just looking for ways to minimize it. I had read above the heat shrink and electrical tape and I felt I would rip, tear or damage that insulation as we have hard earth in my area and I knew I would have to hammer to legs into the ground. But I will had some sort of additional insulation to the legs.

Tripping the GFIs last year was a problem due to heavy rains. I had single strings on the shrubs in my yard due it as there plugs were on the ground.

omzig
06-14-2008, 10:31 AM
A brain fart jumped in while reading this thread.

One of the common features of most minitrees is that the lighting wire is usually wound in one direction around the tomato cage - either right hand or left hand. Compound this physical construction with the on/off feature that animated lighting does and would this not in effect create a mini-inductor in the return ground wire that would be in imbalance with earth ground. Granted, the level of juice for each minitree would be miniscule... but when you start adding in more and more minitrees, all wound in the same direction.. a critical level might be reached where that one extra form is enough to create the imbalance between ground and earth ground that trips the GFCI.

If this is the case, then wouldn't doing two windings on each tree, in opposite direction, cancel the effect and eliminate the problem?

One caveat.... i am not EE. Just a hacker hoping to go serously live in 2009 (without very much magic smoke).Interesting theory. I'm not an EE either, but since the light strings have the hot and the neutral wrapped around each other, wouldn't the field cancel out? This is the reason why in when you're running wire in conduit, the neutral is supposed to be run with the hots, otherwise you can have induced current.

gizmo
06-14-2008, 12:25 PM
A brain fart jumped in while reading this thread.

One of the common features of most minitrees is that the lighting wire is usually wound in one direction around the tomato cage - either right hand or left hand. Compound this physical construction with the on/off feature that animated lighting does and would this not in effect create a mini-inductor in the return ground wire that would be in imbalance with earth ground. Granted, the level of juice for each minitree would be miniscule... but when you start adding in more and more minitrees, all wound in the same direction.. a critical level might be reached where that one extra form is enough to create the imbalance between ground and earth ground that trips the GFCI.

If this is the case, then wouldn't doing two windings on each tree, in opposite direction, cancel the effect and eliminate the problem?

One caveat.... i am not EE. Just a hacker hoping to go serously live in 2009 (without very much magic smoke).


WOW that hurts my brain

jeffathompson
06-14-2008, 01:24 PM
I was another victim of this. I have 15 tree in a triangle on a single LOR controller. If they are all fed by a single GFCI it trips when it rains. Take 1 tree away and it holds... I just split the controller and added another GFCI paralleled to the first one.

One caveat to insulating the base of the trees: If you choose to do this, make sure you use GFCI. If you don't you will be placing an energized cage in your display that can easily shock someone...

Jeff

Ah Ha, Keep all the stuff on the ground in small groups. Don't load up a GFCI with all stuff that could trip a GFCI. That makes sense. Time to change the wireing diagram a little.

tconley
06-15-2008, 02:57 PM
Has anyone though about just coating the cages with that rhino lining material they use to coat and water proof truck beds. They sell gallon can of it at the local auto parts store. If the whole cage is coating by an insulator that would protect it wouldn't it?

http://4wheeldrive.about.com/od/bedliners/a/HerculinerDIY_2.htm

Wayne J
06-15-2008, 03:15 PM
Has anyone though about just coating the cages with that rhino lining material they use to coat and water proof truck beds. They sell gallon can of it at the local auto parts store. If the whole cage is coating by an insulator that would protect it wouldn't it?



I am actually going to try the spray can rubberized undercoating this year. I think it will help greatly.

jeffathompson
06-15-2008, 03:18 PM
I am actually going to try the spray can rubberized undercoating this year. I think it will help greatly.

With the Rihno stuff those cages would last forever. In fact that stuff is so tough the cage could rust away and the plastic would hold the lights in place.

deplanche
06-17-2008, 02:42 PM
I am guessing that this is not the actual cause for the problems, but since it could happen...Is there any chance that whatever you are using to anchor your mini-trees in coming into contact with a underground wire or other utility, that it could be transferring current to or from? I was doing some very minor landscaping over the weekend and came across a small diameter tube running along the patio. After some investigation, it turns out it goes into the house and connects to the natural gas lines. After talking to a neighbor, it sounds like many of the houses in the neighborhood were constructed with natural gas grills in the back yard. But over the years, the bases rotted and most people removed them, but left the gas line in place and just shut off the gas in the house. I know legally you are supposed to call before you do any digging or similiar activity, so that you don't hit a utility when doing so. But how many people are really going to do so when putting out mini-trees?

Jeff Millard
06-17-2008, 06:02 PM
Has anyone though about just coating the cages with that rhino lining material they use to coat and water proof truck beds. They sell gallon can of it at the local auto parts store. If the whole cage is coating by an insulator that would protect it wouldn't it?




I think you have a very good idea here tconley. I wrapped a couple trees with 10 mil plastic to see if it would help. Then I put the lights back on and I was able to get all 15 to stay lit, but the plastic looked awful. I think I got that idea back when Brian suggested that just the fact that the lights were wrapped around a metal frame was the cause of our little dilemma. Hamlet Parra (HPHP) contacted me asking about it and after our discussion he tried the insulation approach. He set all his minis on little pieces of rubber workout mats. A great idea to stop the tripping, but the problem with energizing the cage stills exists. Preventing the flow of current to the cage in the first place by insulating the cage seems to me to be the answer to the problem. I have begun taking the lights and Garland off my trees this evening. I'd like to have a spray product that is really easy to apply and insulates well, but I'm not sure what to try.


Jeff

kostyun
06-17-2008, 08:05 PM
Its tough to say.... I just don't run them when their wet, and if they get wet, I use a leaf blower to get everything dry.

WWNF911
06-18-2008, 12:46 AM
I'd like to have a spray product that is really easy to apply and insulates well, but I'm not sure what to try.

I wonder if this (http://www.dxengineering.com/Parts.asp?ID=947&PLID=191&SecID=59&DeptID=33&PartNo=PLD%2D11207%2D6) would work Jeff?

Macrosill
06-18-2008, 08:22 AM
I wonder if this (http://www.dxengineering.com/Parts.asp?ID=947&PLID=191&SecID=59&DeptID=33&PartNo=PLD%2D11207%2D6) would work Jeff?

That product looks promising but at 7 dollars per can I would worry about all the wasted over spray.

Virtus
06-18-2008, 08:27 AM
That product looks promising but at 7 dollars per can I would worry about all the wasted over spray.

They make that kind of product in a dip/brushable can also. It is commonly used to reapply the insulation to the handles of hand tools.

simultekie
06-18-2008, 08:46 AM
Wouldn't wraping the wire frame with a good electricial tape work. I know that it comes in green ,and the good stuff has a pretty good adhesive.
Just a thought.

sjwilson122
06-18-2008, 09:30 AM
Plasti Dip sounds like a great idea. I have used it on tools before.and can attest to the insulation ability. On a remodel job years ago I bit into what was suppossed to be a dead 240 volt drop with lineman pliers I had used Plasti-Dip on. The flash was blinding, the boom deafening but didnt feel a thing. (ecxept that warm wet feeling on one leg a second or two later):oops: Now I know what to do with that unused non aerosole can of Plasti-Dip sitting on my bench. Thanks for the great idea guys....

TERBObob
06-18-2008, 10:24 AM
Now I know what to do with that unused non aerosole can of Plasti-Dip sitting on my bench. Thanks for the great idea guys....

LOL .. hope its not like mine ... all dried up ( seems after you open the can , you have a time limit to use the remaining dip , up before it forms a crust over and then hardens . )

After doing a little research on GFI's and GFCI's , and learning that they are being tripped after rains and such . the miniscule amount of juice required to trip a GFI or GFCI is only 5 ma and with these cheap China and Japan mini lights we are all using , kinda makes a person wonder if the "fault" being detected isn't simply when a dab of moisture somewhere in the line of the minis ?
The more I read about GFI's , the more interesting it got about spurios signals tripping the GFI's . And am now wondering what resistance our little mini light strands have to them . Seeing as to how it only takes 14.75 kohm of resistance at 120 volts (8.2 ma ) , to trigger a GFI , which , by UL ratings , has to trip at 5 ma .
When you think about each little bulb will generally have a resistance of roughly 7 to 8 ohms resistance , and and how many lights are you using ?
Wonder if this isn't the cause of the culprit ( GFI tripping ) ?

rlilly
06-18-2008, 01:38 PM
(ecxept that warm wet feeling on one leg a second or two later.

ROFL! An understandable sensation under those circumstances!

I'm putting heat shrink over the legs of mine then dipping the tips in Plastic Dip.

Avoiding ground faults is one issue, the other is withstanding wind loads. So I need those legs!

ppohlman
06-18-2008, 02:30 PM
Here's something I've been thinking of doing. It will keep the tree off the ground and I think will be able to hold it well in wind. The wind might make it spin, but that can be fixed.

Pound a piece of rebar into the ground and use a PVC pipe to hold the tree upright.
At the top of the tree, have another piece of rebar or rod welded to the cage.
See the attached picture below.

Any thoughts, suggestions, warm legs?

rlilly
06-18-2008, 02:45 PM
Any thoughts, suggestions, warm legs?

That should handle the isolation just fine. You might need to attach the bottom ring to the 'mast' to avoid the wind whipping it back and forth.

ppohlman
06-18-2008, 03:02 PM
I was trying to avoid attaching the bottom ring so during the off season, the trees could be dismantled and stacked.
I figured if the top rod was secured and stiff enough, the base of the tree wouldn't whip around that much in the wind. I guess it depends on the material, fastening methods, and the wind.

I'll have to look into that a bit more. Thanks for your input.

Wayne J
06-19-2008, 10:50 PM
Wouldn't wraping the wire frame with a good electricial tape work. I know that it comes in green ,and the good stuff has a pretty good adhesive.
Just a thought.

That is what I did, and it worked great. ;)

Wayne J
06-19-2008, 10:53 PM
I was trying to avoid attaching the bottom ring so during the off season, the trees could be dismantled and stacked.
I figured if the top rod was secured and stiff enough, the base of the tree wouldn't whip around that much in the wind. I guess it depends on the material, fastening methods, and the wind.

I'll have to look into that a bit more. Thanks for your input.


I would agree. If the rods fit well, then it would be rather stable. I would however seal the top of the pvc, if it fills with water, then purpose defeated.

ppohlman
06-23-2008, 10:58 AM
I would agree. If the rods fit well, then it would be rather stable. I would however seal the top of the pvc, if it fills with water, then purpose defeated.

Good point Wayne. I hadn't thought about that.
If water could get into the top, then wouldn't it trickle out the bottom?

Hamlet
10-08-2008, 11:35 PM
I wonder if this (http://www.dxengineering.com/Parts.asp?ID=947&PLID=191&SecID=59&DeptID=33&PartNo=PLD%2D11207%2D6) would work Jeff?

I bought two cans of the Spray Plasti Dip. One can was good for two cages. I have not put the light on the minis yet but once I do I will let you know the out come.

Photovor
10-23-2008, 12:42 PM
A brain fart jumped in while reading this thread.

One of the common features of most minitrees is that the lighting wire is usually wound in one direction around the tomato cage - either right hand or left hand. Compound this physical construction with the on/off feature that animated lighting does and would this not in effect create a mini-inductor in the return ground wire that would be in imbalance with earth ground. Granted, the level of juice for each minitree would be miniscule... but when you start adding in more and more minitrees, all wound in the same direction.. a critical level might be reached where that one extra form is enough to create the imbalance between ground and earth ground that trips the GFCI.

If this is the case, then wouldn't doing two windings on each tree, in opposite direction, cancel the effect and eliminate the problem?

One caveat.... i am not EE. Just a hacker hoping to go serously live in 2009 (without very much magic smoke).

In minis, there is no 'ground' being monitored. In fact, GFCI has nothing to do with your ground conductor. Grounds are there for this exact purpose. GFCI outlets compare the current going out on the hot to the current coming back in through the neutral. If this 'comparison' is out of tolerance (usually 30mA quick trip/ 6ma quick trip) it trips. The comparison is also made on the rate the mA increases/decreases.

The reason why people are probably seeing their minis trip when there is excessive rain or water is because the moisture that is forming around the plugs and bulb sockets could be shorting to the metal frame, and this alone can cause enough current loss for the GFCI to trip. Having them in the ground would certainly increase the ground loss.

So... if you maybe put the frames on wood/plastic, the current leakage may be only 2mA, where as if they are directly on the ground, you get a current loss of maybe 8mA, thus making it trip. Also, note as I sad above about a slow and quick trip. The GFCI can quickly trip if it sees a spike in current difference above 30mA, whereas if the current difference is only a few mA, the GFCI can take a few seconds to trip.

Also as other people have suggested- enough of these trees, or many strings and a lot of wraps on one of the trees can create enough of a current drain as well. Just depends on multiple factors.

If you don't have your minis on a GFCI, grounding them into the (earth) ground would be a good thing. In case of a short on the cage, it has a direct path to the ground instead of having to travel through a person that may touch the cage. Electricity always takes the path of least resistance.

That said, it's going to be impossible to keep a GFCI from tripping if the lights get wet enough fast enough.

Photovor
10-23-2008, 12:43 PM
Good read:
http://ecmweb.com/mag/electric_think_gfci/

Jeff Millard
10-28-2008, 08:02 PM
The more I read about GFI's , the more interesting it got about spurius signals tripping the GFI's.

Funny you mention this Bob. I have a 400MHz radio in my work truck that will trip the GFI on the convenience outlet in a pole mounted breaker control cabinet. I visit about 150 of them annually, and it happens regularly when I'm picking up a tagout assignment.

Jeff

djulien
12-24-2008, 06:12 PM
I know this is an old post, but since I experienced the dreaded GFCI problem this year, I'm posting my observations for possible future readers.

The times when I had the worst GFCI problems were when the ground was very damp - no rain, just heavy dew (in fact, the show ran fine through other times of light rain). The props causing the problem consisted of painted/enamelled wire frames with minilight strings taped to them; no bare metal. The wire frames were sitting on the ground - as such, they were "floating" on a bed of grass, not actually connected directly to the ground. Also, the bottom row of lights was above the ground/grass (the wires were even higher up, since the bulbs were mounted upside down).

By unplugging various strings, I was able to isolate the problem to the bottom string of lights on one of the props. I wedged a piece of plastic under the prop to get thru the evening; that worked. The next day, I lifted the props and put a sheet of plastic under them. I have not had further GFCI problems. My conclusion was that some strands of wet grass that were touching some of the bulbs were allowing a slight short circuit to ground, and, when multiplied by the number of props, was enough to trip the GFCI.

BTW, the next day it rained, and I ended up with puddles of rain on the plastic, so I had to poke some holes in the plastic sheet so it would drain. So I guess drainage is another detail to take into consideration in all this.

don

Trip
12-25-2008, 12:10 AM
yeah I been experiencing this like mad, I have tried coating my legs with plasti dip, that has helped, but if I get a heavy rain it still trips. I think I am going to have to find a way of complete isolation from the metal frame from the base or go full PVC structure. I did 8 minis this year in chicken wire/tomato cages, I think I will find other ways to go in the future if I need to build more. Too much trouble for me.

dmcole
12-25-2008, 01:14 PM
I did 8 minis this year in chicken wire/tomato cages, I think I will find other ways to go in the future if I need to build more. Too much trouble for me.

I've posted this a couple of places (maybe even earlier in this thread), but wrapping the tomato cages in plastic cling wrap (I bought a big roll of industrial-grade at Staples) before putting on the lights has prevented any GFCI trips for me.

I also have a metal, commercial white tree that trips the GFCI at the lightest touch of moisture, so I know when the Saran Wrapped minitrees should go out and they don't.

\dmc

PS: This is not my idea; I'm merely used it and am testifying that it works.

Trip
12-25-2008, 02:28 PM
thanks, do you just run your zip ties through the wrap?

dmcole
12-26-2008, 02:07 PM
thanks, do you just run your zip ties through the wrap?

Exactly -- I used a sharp-pointed item (alternately, a drywall screw or a pocket knife) to make holes in the wrap on either side of the cage wire and then poked the zip-tie through the holes.

There's also the added benefit that the light reflects off the clear wrap and makes the tree look brighter and more twinkly. And in the rain, the raindrops on the wrap add to the effect.

\dmc

ocb_dave_ocb
12-27-2008, 02:01 AM
I have had my GFCI trip only during heavy Rain.. I do have a 1/4 gallon of Herculiner left. Im going to re-wrap my mini trees. I may very well put that on them first...

WWNF911
12-27-2008, 06:32 AM
I've had heavy rain, snow, snow melt, etc you name it. No problems at all with GFCI trips to date. We've had extreme weather though and I was gonna try the method mentioned above. However, with the winds, (some nights) reaching 80 MPH gusts (4 nights total so far). I don't think that method would work for me. I have used the 1/2 inch pipe insulation method. To mount to the ground, I used the tie wraps from HD with the mounting screw holes. I can post some pics if you'd like. I just widened the holes a little and used the stakes from Wal-mart to hold them down.

I had one night where the wind was so bad, I came out in the morning to find one of the mini trees almost horizontal. No I don't think the wind was bad enough to break the weld. However, it did point out rather dramatically that a weld was broken. ;)

Macrosill
12-27-2008, 06:58 PM
I've had heavy rain, snow, snow melt, etc you name it. No problems at all with GFCI trips to date. We've had extreme weather though and I was gonna try the method mentioned above. However, with the winds, (some nights) reaching 80 MPH gusts (4 nights total so far). I don't think that method would work for me. I have used the 1/2 inch pipe insulation method. To mount to the ground, I used the tie wraps from HD with the mounting screw holes. I can post some pics if you'd like. I just widened the holes a little and used the stakes from Wal-mart to hold them down.

I had one night where the wind was so bad, I came out in the morning to find one of the mini trees almost horizontal. No I don't think the wind was bad enough to break the weld. However, it did point out rather dramatically that a weld was broken. ;)
We Want Pics!!!!!!!!!

Hamlet
12-27-2008, 08:18 PM
I bought two cans of the Spray Plasti Dip. One can was good for two cages. I have not put the light on the minis yet but once I do I will let you know the out come.

My results with Plastic Dip.

I brought both kinds of Plasti Dip. The liquid, which I brushed on the entire cage and then I spray Palsti Dip the entire cage to cover any missed spots. I can't say for sure if that fixed the problem because this year I also went from 3' mini to 2' and from 600 lights per tree to 400 lights per tree. One thing I do know is that I have not had any problem with my minis so far.

Now my icicles are tripping the GFCI's, go figure. You can't win!! :confused:

dj merritt
12-27-2008, 10:51 PM
ok everyone may think im nuts but here is what i did 5 yrs ago removed all GFI's and posted signs all over that said DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE KEEP OUT Saved me so far from any lawsuite and nobody has been fried :D

WWNF911
12-28-2008, 07:27 AM
Sorry dj merritt, but I'm afraid I'm in the "I think you're nuts column!" although I'm glad you haven't been hurt or killed,.... YET!

Here's the PICs I promised of what I did this year and to date "NO" issues with GFI problems.

1st off - I did not come up with the 1/2 inch pipe insulation idea. I don't remember who did but thankyou. The anchoring method is my idea and here it is:

1. You need to get some 1/2 inch pipe insulation with the adhesive strips and some tie wraps with the screw mounting holes from Home Depot.

2. You'll also need some aluminum tent pegs from Wal-mart.

3. Fit the 1/2 inch pipe insulation onto the mini-tree base and remove the adhesive strips. Press insulation together to ensure a good seal. Continue around the mini tree base.
4. Cut insulation with Xacto or utility knife. At this point, unless you cut it exactly perfect you'll have a slight gap. Seal both ends together. I wrapped mine with electrical tape.
5. Next wrap a tie wrap around the mini tree base. (The holes in these are just slightly too small for the tent pegs and need a little persuation with a drill. I'll leave it up to you. However, I found it easier to do this step after the tie wrap was wrapped around the mini tree base. Additionally, hold the tie wrap during drilling with a pair of pliers) Place these around the mini tree base close to the welds for added strength.
6. Now put the tent pegs through the tie wraps and anchor to the ground.

Macrosill
12-28-2008, 11:14 AM
Well now that is a Great idea. I have thought of the pipe insulation route, I even tried an old rubber hose. Since the rubber hose did not work I figured the pipe insulation would not either. I guess I was wrong. I never thought of using the zipties with the mounting holes to secure the tree to the stakes. This even further isolates the tree from the stake. Great idea Leon! This system just may be the fix I need for my exiting trees. I have been trying to come up with a solution for a couple years now. If I was making new trees it would be easier but since I do not want to build 50 more mini trees I am stuck with trying to fix what I have.

Trip
12-28-2008, 12:36 PM
I can't use something like that, my mini trees are on a pretty good slope, so I use the cage to sink it into the ground. I need to find a way to isolate my holding points from the ground.

dj merritt
12-28-2008, 04:41 PM
Forgot to mention my minis are made of plywood and 2x2 pine and I guess I just havent had enough water to soak the wood and make it a conductor so just been lucky will have pics soon

djulien
12-28-2008, 07:44 PM
Pipe insulation is a great idea!

I wonder why the hose did not work - seems like it should have worked unless there was an opening in it?

don

Wayne J
12-28-2008, 09:45 PM
My results with Plastic Dip.

I brought both kinds of Plasti Dip. The liquid, which I brushed on the entire cage and then I spray Palsti Dip the entire cage to cover any missed spots. I can't say for sure if that fixed the problem because this year I also went from 3' mini to 2' and from 600 lights per tree to 400 lights per tree. One thing I do know is that I have not had any problem with my minis so far.

Now my icicles are tripping the GFCI's, go figure. You can't win!! :confused:

OK, here is my take on the Plasti Dip....

Last year I used electrical tape to wrap the spikes of my trees that went in the ground. Problem solved! So, this year for my 50 micro trees that have a single spike to go into the ground I used Plasti Dip. I pre-punched the holes in the yard to put them in as to not scrape the coating off. For two weeks and a few very heavy rains, they worked great. Not a single issue. Then one night during a light rain, all went bad. Nothing I did fixed them. next day I went searching for the problem that just appeared. I started pulling up the trees and checking the the coating. I found that some had scrapes, nicks, and most had the bottoms scraped off. I contribute it to the wind moving them back and forth. What this done was just render the dip useless. I think the cold temps make it easier to chip off. So I went through and started taping them up also. (which I should have done in the first place) I got about a third of the way done and found what caused the problem to just appear suddenly....
Found that one of the squirrels here decided to take a chunk from one of the wires, which was enough to push the 'leak' over the edge.

So, I guess what I am saying is, the Plasti Dip works! You just have make sure that it cannot get damaged as it seems to be very fragile in cold temps. Now keep in mind, it down't get 'cold' here, but it had dipped into the high teens at night this year.
My best advice is, if possible, just use electrical tape to insulate what is going into the ground. It has not failed me.

wbuehler
12-28-2008, 10:25 PM
I did the same with the 1/2" pipe insulation

http://images.net-zer.com/images/diy...e_Insulate.jpg (http://images.net-zer.com/images/diyc/Mini_Tree_Insulate.jpg)

To secure the tree to the ground I used the weed block staples.

Bill

WWNF911
12-29-2008, 03:57 AM
I can't use something like that, my mini trees are on a pretty good slope, so I use the cage to sink it into the ground. I need to find a way to isolate my holding points from the ground.

Trip,

I would recommend using the PVC central pipe method that Kevin (KMC123) uses for extreme slopes.

Leon

Trip
12-29-2008, 09:41 AM
yeah that was my next step, do you know if he caps them on the bottom to prevent water and mud getting in the pvc?

Macrosill
12-29-2008, 09:50 AM
Anyone have a link to Kevin's solution?

edit: I found it : http://www.c3inet.com/ArchesAndTrees/index.htm

Trip
12-29-2008, 10:04 AM
his solution is a little more than I want. It gives me an idea. I will post up some pics once I see if it will work.

ppohlman
12-29-2008, 12:27 PM
Anyone have a link to Kevin's solution?

This appears to be adapted from the idea that I posted earlier in this thread. See post #31 (http://www.doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=31957&postcount=31)
This method works really well and I haven't had any problems with my mini trees.

WWNF911
12-29-2008, 12:53 PM
yeah that was my next step, do you know if he caps them on the bottom to prevent water and mud getting in the pvc?

Don't know how mud might get in from the top so I don't think that would be a problem. However, to drain the water you only need a small hole near the base. (As long as it doesn't ice up) :rolleyes:

Trip
12-29-2008, 01:35 PM
Don't know how mud might get in from the top so I don't think that would be a problem. However, to drain the water you only need a small hole near the base. (As long as it doesn't ice up) :rolleyes:

Mine aren't like that. I didn't build them with attaching in that manner. I have 3' cages welded the top to a point and cut off the bottom circle so that I have 4 rods to puncture the ground and hold the cage down. It works well, it just gives it a nice ground conductor though. So I am probably going to need pvc for all four legs and I don't want water getting up into those legs.

ppohlman
12-29-2008, 02:28 PM
Don't know how mud might get in from the top so I don't think that would be a problem. However, to drain the water you only need a small hole near the base. (As long as it doesn't ice up) :rolleyes:

I really haven't had any problems with water collecting in the PVC yet. Of course, we get more snow here in Salt Lake City than rain. Even with rain, I don't think it would collect much using the method I used (mentioned above). The cage and the wrapped lights/cords cover up the tip of the PVC pretty well. Plus, any water going in the top will drain out the bottom without a problem.

holtm
12-30-2008, 01:30 AM
I used two different methods to isolate my mini's from the ground (two sets of 8 minis).
First I split an old bicycle inner tube and wrapped it around the bottom of the tree like the pipe insulation. It seems to work, but I ran out of old inner tubes.
Second I cut pieces of 1/2" PVC pipe 2" long and drilled a hole through it about 1/2" from one end. I then zipped tied a piece of the PVC pipe to the bottom of the tomato cage in four places and staked through the pipe. That worked too. Neither were all that easy, but both isolated the trees from the ground and the stakes that acted like grounding rods.

dnesci
12-31-2008, 09:23 PM
I tried WWNF911 pipe insulation on a trouble some mini tree that has been giving me problems all season and it has solved the problem for two days. We have had 18 inches of snow then 50 degrees then 3 inches of rain then 40 MPH winds. What a season. I don't know if this method is the holy grail, but I'm sold.

Thanks,
Don

Macrosill
01-01-2009, 10:09 AM
This appears to be adapted from the idea that I posted earlier in this thread. See post #31 (http://www.doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=31957&postcount=31)
This method works really well and I haven't had any problems with my mini trees.

Not sure how I missed that post. I was speaking to Wayne about that exact solution last week. I think I may use a combination of both Kevin's solution and yours. I may use the rebar in the ground but bend the tree frame spikes down at the top to go into the pvc pipe. Now I know this will work for my little 18" trees but will it work for the 36 and 42" trees? A 4 foot length of pvc may be a bit flexible.

ppohlman
01-02-2009, 11:29 AM
I may use the rebar in the ground but bend the tree frame spikes down at the top to go into the pvc pipe. Now I know this will work for my little 18" trees but will it work for the 36 and 42" trees? A 4 foot length of pvc may be a bit flexible.

That's exactly what I did. I welded the tips together after bending them back down towards the rings. They fit nicely into the PVC pipe.

I did this on my 36" trees. They haven't had a problem yet.

One thing I did as well, to make the lights look better when wrapped, was run bailing wire up and down between the gaps of the vertical supports. This allowed the lights to look more circular instead of triangular when wrapped up. Just one piece of wire centered between the posts made the world of a difference.

Virtus
06-30-2009, 08:41 PM
I know this is an old thread but I can across something this week that may spark someone's thoughts about the kinds of things that can cause a GFI to trip. We bought a used treadmill which has a small controller board and DC motor which has its speed controlled by pulse wave modulation. Interesting to me was that fact that it ran fine at the house we bought it from but only ran for 10 seconds in my garage after I cleaned it up and took it for a test walk. It tripped the breaker and I figured we were likely done for. It turns out it consistently tripped the GFI breaker for the circuit to the garage but never tripped a standard breaker (extension cord into the house) when running the same tests (adjusting the speed via the dimmer switch from dead stop to barely on to faster than I could keep up with for very long!).

Trip
07-06-2009, 09:01 PM
After taking a nice long break in the offseason, I am finally back in the mood to get ready for 09. I solved my problem with some plastic ground christmas light holders used to do the ground paths my wife found at wally world I believe. I will get some pics tomorrow for you guys. I was able to just attach the plastic holders to the metal bottom of the cage and keep the metal from touching the ground. It worked well and the GFCI didn't trip in the rain.

ErnieHorning
07-07-2009, 12:12 AM
Virtus, I would expect that you getting a false ground fault because of a bad connection. Do you have another outlet or a way to connect power close to the input to your garage?

My guess is that because of the higher current needed for the treadmill, that a weak connection may cause a capacitive effect that causes a false current difference between Hot and Neutral.

It could also be extra long wires going to your garage. I’ve see air compressors pop GFCI’s when no fault actually exists.

IdunBenhad
07-07-2009, 08:35 AM
Hi:
Not having experience (yet) with computer controlled lighting, I have read this thread with interest, as I was going to use tomato cages for the mini trees. My only advantage is that I winter in Yuma, AZ and it rarely rains there and is VERY dry. However, when it decides to rain, it is usually a deluge, with 1"-2" at a time not uncommon.

Anyway, it seems to me that the GFCI tripping problem may be due to induction. IF the insulation on the light strings is not broken and touching the metal framework, then maybe the answer is induction caused by the coiled light strings. Don't know that there is a solution, except try wrapping one string clockwise on the frame, the second string counter-clockwise, etc. The reversal of direction of wrapping my tend to cancel the induction to the frame.

The suggestion in another post to use heat-shrink is a good one. Maybe one could use some old pieces of water hose, but it would have to sealed at both ends to prevent ground contact and water entrance.

There is another new thread dealing with metal-less minitrees. His ideas are very good and may be the answer for those having to deal with rain and snow.

Idun

joeengler
07-22-2009, 09:18 AM
I have 11 of these mini trees, 9 are 32 inch and 2 are 54 inch tall. I cut a piece of plywood for each tree to sit on. The plywood is attached to 3 piece of 1/2 pvc going into the ground. This keeps the metal from the ground and gives the trees about 12 inches for snow clearance.

N7XG
11-11-2009, 07:18 PM
Here is my take on the problem:

1) Most people wind strings of lights around and around a frame and as a result are creating a inductor that induces current, more than likely using the frame. This is how radios are built. For the lay person think of it as a device like a transformer.

2) To solve the problem you will have to counter act the inductor.

djulien
11-11-2009, 09:33 PM
1) Most people wind strings of lights around and around a frame and as a result are creating a inductor that induces current, more than likely using the frame. This is how radios are built. For the lay person think of it as a device like a transformer.

2) To solve the problem you will have to counter act the inductor.

Are the light strings also acting like twisted pairs? (mini-light strings, not the parallel cord of C9's).

If this is creating a big transformer, then would reversing the winding direction in the middle or periodically eliminate the problem?

don

marble42
03-16-2010, 12:59 PM
My trees are all 3/16 cold roll 5 sided with 3 inch legs welded
To get around the GFI problem i got 5/16 clear tubing it has in I.D. of 3/16
cut it 1/4 inch longer then the leg slide it on and hot glue the last 1/4 inch
to make it water tight.
To keep it from sinking into the ground i hot glued cheap green poker chips
to the bottom of the tubing.
Make some stakes out of the same 3/16 rod bend into a hook and cover the hook with the tubing this keeps the tree isolated from the ground and water.
Would post a pic if i new how.

ErnieHorning
03-16-2010, 01:15 PM
Would post a pic if i new how.
Scroll down below the message entry window and click the attachments button.
http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/5977/attachfiles.jpg

Alternatively you can host the image elsewhere and link to via the image button.
http://img691.imageshack.us/img691/811/imagebutton.jpg

marble42
03-17-2010, 04:56 PM
Here are some pic
1 frame only
2 tube and chips in place
3 finished
4 lit (2)channel white,green both on