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Thread: This is why we fuse everything.....

  1. #1
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    Default This is why we fuse everything.....

    Display has been running since December 1st with a few small hiccups (one tripped GFCI), this was actually amazing considering it has been raining for a week or more....
    Took dog for a walk as I always do around 8PM and walked past the 8 or 9 cars parked enjoying the show when I received a frantic call from my wife about 15 minutes into my walk. A lady came to the front door to tell her my talking tree was on fire! I ran home and the show was still playing along (pixels and dumb RGB were fine) but the 6ft talking tree was dark (AC, made out of led rope light). I quickly took a flash light but could not see anything burnt and no damage to house. I let the sequence finish and shut everything down. I took a ladder out and climbed up to detach the tree and this is what I found:
    burned_wire_shrunk.jpg
    Thank God I had the SSR fused.....fuse blew and all I lost was a section of LED rope light.
    Guys may think it is a waste of money to fuse things with a small load (in this case it was a 6ft section of rope light, can't get much smaller than that for draw), but when the experienced electricians and electrical engineers on this forum (of which I am not, just a computer geek) recommend you follow some general safety guidelines it is a good idea to do so.....
    I just want to say I am grateful for the insights from the professionals on this forum and a huge Thanks for showing newbs like me the safe way to enjoy this hobby.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: This is why we fuse everything.....

    Thank you for this post. I have stickied it and hopefully it can be used as a teaching lesson.
    Thanks,
    Brian, your friendly site Admin.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: This is why we fuse everything.....

    I'm with you.

    I fuse every element of my display.
    That is every single light strand, every single candy cane, every single snowfall tube, every AC input to a controller and every single SSR.
    I believe in pushing the failure point out to the smallest possible segment of my display.
    For one thing it helps keep the display running in the event of a failure and two it provides the maximum amount of safety.
    This is one reason I've purchased the fused SPT plugs that have been on group buy. It allows me to fuse anything built with that wire.
    Last edited by ukewarrior; 12-21-2014 at 01:20 PM.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: This is why we fuse everything.....

    You can never over protect with fuses. I keep a selection of axial leaded fuses around for various projects, they come in a variety of ratings from 0.1 to 10 amps and in either fast or slow blow, and I just splice them in anywhere needed and cover them with heat-shrink, the $1 to $2 these types of fuses cost is cheap compared to a fire or injury.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: This is why we fuse everything.....

    Been reading through some of these posts for awhile and I get the impression that not all on here understand that fuses are for over current/load protection of equipment and that GFCI's are for people protection, and will not always trip if there is a fault. in other words the GFCI's do not replace FUSES........

  7. #6
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    Default Re: This is why we fuse everything.....

    I was looking to stock up on spare fuses for my new Renard SS16. Looking at the BOM, it looked like it came with "fast burn" fuses, but most stock fuses I'd find at a local store are "slow burn" fuses. Simple Google research seems to lean towards fast burn for our use case, but I'm not sure how stressed to be about this. Like the OP, I want to be safe and do the right thing.

    Am I crazy, or are fast burn fuses easier to find than my experience? Is it worth paying for the shipping to get the fast burn fuses?

  8. #7
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    Default Re: This is why we fuse everything.....

    Maybe you found this, the fast or general fuse are the same thing so they should be standard items, I use to pay about $3.50 for a box of five for 250volt rated fuses........

    Fuses chart.png

  9. #8
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    Default Re: This is why we fuse everything.....

    Awesome. Thanks for the info.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: This is why we fuse everything.....

    Resurrecting this post (hope that's ok).

    Are there any recommended parts and places to source parts for both AC and DC fuses, fuse-blocks, etc.?

    For DC, I was going to use in-line ATO fuses (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o00_s00) where appropriate but didn't know what to use on the AC side. Amazon had some options but they were questionably expensive so I assume I can save some dough but going through a place like Mouser.

    I actually like the ATO style fuses but those are DC only right? For AC I need to use the glass tubes?

    Basically my plan was for my Renard TR16 setup, not worry about it since it already has AC glass fuses on both sides.

    For DC, I was going to do something like:

    AC -> AC Fuse -> DC PSU -> DC Fuse -> Controller

    Since the E1.31 already has fuses on the DC side, I was thinking of just adding an AC fuse there. But my Ren4floods have none of that. I figure at minimum to use the above idea, but wasn't sure if each channel output also needed a fuse? I wasn't going to worry about that for my flood lights as the LEDs and boards are all contained in the same enclosure, but I will be using ren4floods for some coro trees.

    Also good places to source glass tube an ATO fuses? Just the local hardware store and auto parts stores?

  11. #10
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    Default Re: This is why we fuse everything.....

    Quote Originally Posted by m00dawg View Post
    Resurrecting this post (hope that's ok).

    Are there any recommended parts and places to source parts for both AC and DC fuses, fuse-blocks, etc.?

    For DC, I was going to use in-line ATO fuses (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o00_s00) where appropriate but didn't know what to use on the AC side. Amazon had some options but they were questionably expensive so I assume I can save some dough but going through a place like Mouser.

    I actually like the ATO style fuses but those are DC only right? For AC I need to use the glass tubes?

    Basically my plan was for my Renard TR16 setup, not worry about it since it already has AC glass fuses on both sides.

    For DC, I was going to do something like:

    AC -> AC Fuse -> DC PSU -> DC Fuse -> Controller

    Since the E1.31 already has fuses on the DC side, I was thinking of just adding an AC fuse there. But my Ren4floods have none of that. I figure at minimum to use the above idea, but wasn't sure if each channel output also needed a fuse? I wasn't going to worry about that for my flood lights as the LEDs and boards are all contained in the same enclosure, but I will be using ren4floods for some coro trees.

    Also good places to source glass tube an ATO fuses? Just the local hardware store and auto parts stores?
    Hello folks,

    I might be able to shed some light on this fuse situation. I've spent 30+ years as an electrician. Here's what the National Electrical Code has to say in regards to fuse type. Use a fuse that is rated for the VOLTAGE you are using. I.E. NO, don't use 36v automotive fuses for 120v AC. YES, you CAN use GLASS fuses rated for high voltage on LOW voltage.

    Most AGC style "glass" fuses are rated up to 250v and probably the MOST common fuse and least expensive. Slo-blow vs. fast-blow. Hmmmm ... no, only use FAST BLOW. Slo-blow fuses are used to absorb some current inrush and generally are on motors which require that little bit of extra to get spinning. Fast blow fuses for everything else and they are usually cheaper too.

    Hundreds of control panels I've worked on, later, it's the same. Current is a consistent factor based on voltage. Ohms Law. Fuses are rated for amperage and MAXIMUM operating voltage. Low voltage is less than 50v - High voltage is greater than 50v (doesn't count the overhead power lines from 7.2 to 34.5kv - some of us call it DEAD voltage if it ever bites you).

    Regarding SIZE of fuse. The NEC is clear you want to protect the wire size you are using. Over current devices protect the wire. NEC Article 310, NEC Table 310.16 is pretty clear on this subject. Overloaded conductors are the primary cause of fires and failure. What you will not see are the smaller wires under #18 ... there are other tables in my trade that allow for over loading conductors in control cabinets ONLY. Go figure. Seasoned electricians don't do that.

    Here's a good table, pretty clear too: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wi...ges-d_419.html

    This is an example.

    If you want to protect the LIGHT or DEVICE you are using, there are several ways using OHM's Law to determine what sort of current interruption you need. Want to protect a 100w lamp at 120v? 1A fuse because 1a x 120v = 120w (there are allowances up to 125%) ... lamp goes bad or breaks? either the fuse remains intact (bad lamp) or opens because the lamp shorted out.

    Dr. Neutron:

    I noticed in the picture all that tape around the connection. I would only wonder how long it had been taped? Done for waterproofing? Moisture will get under the tape, corrodes the contacts - the contacts create resistance - the resistance causes heating - eventually the contacts fail. The photo tells me that damage was mostly from overheating caused by trapped moisture corroding the contacts. Rope light, 2 little pins and a nut? The tape covered up the pending failure. The first clue was the tripped GFCI - Good man! U used the safety tools!

    This brings me to the next important point.

    INSPECT all wires, connections and cords for damage BEFORE you use them. Those wires have been sitting around for awhile ... maybe they are getting old ... brittle? Maybe you missed it last year and have a bare conductor now. Visually inspect for DISCOLORATION around sockets and plugs. If they show any sign of brown and/or cracking (sunlight fading doesn't count) it usually means it is time to either repair or retire that unit.

    Many years doing seasonal lighting and I've never taped light connections and when I do, I use rubber tape or a high quality tape such as 3M #33 or #88 tape. I take them apart (when necessary or possible) after the season so the connectors can dry out naturally. This also ensures you EXERCISE the connector. It rubs together and can provide a better connection in spite of its age. My oldest trick (wd-40) using NEWLY available materials to keep connections in good condition is to use silicon gel. Available at your local auto parts store as "SPARK PLUG BOOT GREASE" Get a BIG tube - it's cheap enough. It doesn't conduct, allows for proper contact and helps displace moisture and adds water resistance to the metal contact surfaces to retard any oxidation or corrosion. It does not interact with plastics like petroleum products.

    Not so much with your AC power plugs and sockets but for things like low voltage and rope light or any other small pinned connection.

    It has also helped some of these cheap barrel connectors slide together easier. Keep a rag with you - first time around can get messy on the fingers.

    Vampire Plugs and Sockets: Silicon GEL or Silicon caulk of which some of us prefer the ladder. Either one is messy but caulk can help add some strain relief and keep those little teeth dry and healthy for years to come. We apply a liberal amount in the wire channel and then mash it onto the wire, slide the cover on and POOF! Pretty well protected plug or socket.

    Bit of information: less than 5 MILLIAMPS at 120v can kill you. That's 0.005 amps. Screw the fuse - it'll be happy to keep frying you.

    If I had a choice between 120v and 240v ... I rather grab a 240v wire first. 120v sort of grabs you ... 240v will throw you.

    ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use Ground Fault protection! There are people in their graves who wish they did.

    Moved into a new home? Older home? No visible signs of GFCI outlets for outdoors? TWO ways to do it. Call an electrician to install the proper device. Buy a GFCI protected outlet. We use these on job sites. It is a cord to a GFCI outlet. Plug in the outlet and then plug in your cords. In the weather? Think "Constant Use" cover for your outlets. My outlets are outside however none are directly exposed to the elements. I can use a GFCI outlet and simple snap covers (spring loaded door).

    TEST your GFCI outlet(s) and/or BREAKERS - if in doubt, call your local electrician for an evaluation. I use 2 pole GFCI breakers and they are tested October and December (my GFCI tester is a hospital grade service device). GFCI testers WORK and are available in most electrical departments. If you have a GFCI breaker protecting the outdoor outlet, get a GFCI tester and test AT THE OUTLET . This verifies your wiring also (a bonus tip).

    Mixing of wires. Low voltage and high voltage don't play nice together. I read where someone used regular 120v NEMA 5-15 plugs and sockets on LOW VOLTAGE LED strips yup, crossed the wires and all his strips glowed RED for about 10 seconds along with some hideous sounds of bacon frying. There went about $1000 UP IN SMOKE if I recall correctly. $50 in the right parts = $1000+ in savings not a bad investment idea.

    Dont go on the cheap dont get impatient. Get the right stuff and do it right it is allot less expensive in the end.

    Most wire insulation today is rated at >300v. This is good. Cat5? READ THE JACKET. CL1 or CL2 means >300v insulation and good for IN-WALL use. If in doubt, keep them separated. At the very least ... keep low voltage connections away from high voltage connections - this can help prevent a bad ground loop from frying your electronics. The smallest AC power leak could be just low enough to NOT TRIP the Ground Fault protection 1 or 2 milliamps is enough to fry electronics. Connector distance is key to help minimize this potential. Dont go bundling up 120v connections (plugs/sockets) with low voltage jacks and connectors if exposed to water, that can be a recipe for disaster.

    GENERALLY ... crossing low and high voltage cables is OK ... and I mean crossing as in an "X" sort of way. This reduces coupling EMI or RFI - not a terrible thing if they do have to run parallel ... space them if practical. DMX is RS-485 and actually used in industrial automation as Profibus or Modbus or just RS-485. Ethernet cable usually doesn't suffer any cross talk either. There are always exceptions for noise - nothing a homeowner would ever encounter. Like a 4000hp 5kv motor - that sort of extreme stuff.

    HEAT SHRINK: It's really good stuff. One point. If it is going to be used to waterproof something, use the DOUBLE WALL shrink tube. It has a glue inside the tube which bonds to the wire(s) ... get it good and warm ... it oozes a bit ... then (with a glove) before it cools, gently press it around the wire(s). This method is used and approved for underground direct burial cable repairs. It works wonders for keeping connections secure and highly moisture resistant. There is also another benefit. Double wall shrinks to ONE THIRD its original size. Single wall only reduces to ONE HALF its original size and is NOT waterproof. I pay about $1 more for double wall and it is worth every penny having that peace of mind. Hey it also comes in COLORS including CLEAR!

    Want to cap some wires? Use double wall shrink tubing! Cut the piece about 40-50mm let the end hang over the end of the wire(s) about 15-20mm heat it up properly and while it is still hot, use a pair of pliers to seal the end. Shazam! Water proofed and insulated end. MOST heat shrink tubing has an insulation rating of 250v or higher. When doing multiple wires in one piece, cut one wire just about 5-10mm shorter than the other to avoid potential shorting. Multiple wires: Stagger them and use a length of tubing to cover them all and leave enough to squeeze it closed. It would be inadvisable to bundle more than 3 conductors.


    I hope your head isnt swimming with OH GAWD or WELCOME TO MARS or worse A DEER STARING IN THE HEADLIGHTS. Given the right circumstances, low voltage can be just as dangerous as high voltage.

    Protect you and yours with the power of KNOWLEDGE.

    Thanks for your time and I hope someone finds this information useful.

    Ive powered over 10kw of lighting at my own home.
    This is how Ive done holiday lighting for years without any problems.

    Make it BEAUTIFUL! Make it safe!

    Happy Holidays!

    Eddie
    Last edited by RGB_Mixer; 11-12-2015 at 12:47 AM.

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