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$2.70/yr saved! Redundant GFCI removal

Post in 'The Green Room' started by TradEddie, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    On another thread I mentioned that our home inspector identified that the bathroom outlets had redundant GFCIs. All three outlets had individual GFCIs, but all went through the same GFCI breaker too. He recommended that we remove the redundancy, so we got a small discount on the house price to pay for an electrician to fix it.

    Ten years later I finally got around to removing those local GFCIs so I wired one up to the Kill-a-watt to see if the phantom draw was as bad as some websites suggested. The GFCI draws 0.8W with an open circuit, by removing all three I saved a whopping 2.4W, 21kwh or $2.70 a year. Now all I have to do is figure where the remaining 9,979kwh are going...

    TE
    PapaDave likes this.

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  2. lilbertie

    lilbertie New Member

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    They are in my garage shop too. 4 of them because they are on individual circuits.
  3. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    My meter measured 6 watts on each gfci when I was chasing phantoms. I went around and pressed the test button to shut off the ones I didn't need. Waaaay different than 0.8 watts.
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Wait a sec, how did you use a kill-a-watt to measure phantom load of an outlet? I used a clamp on Klein ammeter on the circuit wire right next to the breaker.
  5. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    I wired it up to an old lamp cable with plug. I've no idea of the low end accuracy of the kill-a-watt, so take that 0.8W with a grain of salt. The one I measured didn't have an LED, maybe those use a little more. I did notice that the GFCI was slightly warm to the touch when I removed it, so they certainly consume some electricity. On an unrelated job, I was opening the breaker box yesterday and I felt the GFCI breaker, which was not noticeably warm.

    TE
  6. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I got an IR temp gun for Xmas and shooting a GFCI outlet shows that heat is being generated, shooting a regular outlet shows no heat generated. They are phantom loads but you need some.
  7. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    I'm okay with the phantom loads in a GFCI, but it would be nice if manufacturers would declare that load so that we could consider it when purchasing. In my case I had three GFCIs that were not needed and may even have been counterproductive. I would never replace a GFCI where one was required just to save a few dollars a year.

    TE
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    When buying new gfci outlets i would be interested in choosing the one with a one watt phantom load over one with a six watt phantom load.
  9. Where2

    Where2 Member

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    I've got a few different GFCI units kicking around. I'll have to see whether they have measurable differences in current draw...
    Any idea what brand and model the one tested was?
  10. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I just spent 10 idle minutes googling this issue to find the solution....and came up dry. The answer does not appear to be known to the internet. And we can figure all the GFI outlets in the US are burning through a gigawatt of standby load....

    Bottom line: US Energy Star program has not targeted GFCI outlets, so it appears no manufacturer is going to stick their neck out and list their draw. 99% of the earnest greenie kids that have a kill-a-watt and a blog are not going to pull the outlet out and measure the draw as Highbeam has.

    So, anyone here want to get some pitchforks and torches, um, or an internet petition to get Energy Star to start pulling down that GW phantom load monster?
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  11. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Ok, lets assume that the average home has 5 of these and they draw at 2W standby, that's 10W per home * 100M homes in the US = 1 GW. Times 8600 hrs/ year, that is 8.6 TWh of electricity a year. Since in the US, we generate ~1.2 lbs CO2/kWh, this is 8.6 Billion kWh/yr * 1.2 lbs/kWh = 10 Billions lbs CO2, or 5 million tons CO2/year.

    For another point of comparison, since the average capacity factor of solar PV in the US is ~20%, the GFI outlets are using as much power as 5 GW of PV panels. This is equal to all the solar power installed in the US before roughly the end of 2012.

    So the cost/electricity/climate impact of GFI outlets is nearly equal to the benefits of all solar power in the US _g.
    Highbeam likes this.
  12. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    Depressing.
    We can only hope that the number of ER visits prevented by the presence of GFCIs somewhat offsets those numbers, but I doubt it.
    It's hardly a massive issue compared to the pointless phantom loads of everyone's microwave or stove for which there is no benefit or value from the phantom load.

    Anyway, I'll measure each of the three I removed with the Kill-a-watt again, and find some low draw nightlight or something to benchmark the kill-a-watt at such a low reading.

    TE
  13. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    OK, FWIW:

    My kill-a-watt reads 0.0 to 0.3w with no load, and does not detect the presence of a 0.3w LED night light, but reads 4.5w for a 5w incandescent nightlight.

    Leviton Class A GFCI Issue No. B343488 reads 0.5w.
    Leviton Class A GFCI Issue No. B281027, (with LED) reads 0.8w.

    TE
  14. Where2

    Where2 Member

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    I just rigged up a Leviton (No. 802-6599-W) GFCI outlet I had kicking around to a grounded cord. According to the Kill-A-Watt, it draws 0.01A (sometimes fluctuating to 0.00A). On the Watt scale, the Kill-A-Watt doesn't read anything but 00 Watts. I thought maybe I had wired it up incorrectly. So, I pulled out my Leviton 6185 GFI Polarity Tester. The outlet checks fine. If I dial the tester switch up to "GFI Trip Test", it does trip the GFCI outlet, as it should.
  15. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    TE, thanks for the data. I found an unreferenced comment that the Leviton brands had the lowest draw.

    HB, what were your brand/model?

    I am ok with GFI technology. It seems that cartoons and movies pre-1960 have an inordinate number of cases of folks getting zotted by forks in toasters and hairdryers in the bath. And I know that my 1960 house had no outlets in any of the bathrooms, think it was a code requirement....had to snake wire and install GFIs myself, in 2010.
  16. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I'll take a look. Note that I did not test with a kill-a-watt but used a Klein clamp on that displays amperage to enough decimals to allow me to calculate wattage that low. It's not a fluke or anything really expensive but much more expensive than a kill-a-watt.
  17. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Got it. If you think your 6W is accurate, that's good enough for me.
  18. Where2

    Where2 Member

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    After 137 hours on the Kill-a-Watt, I've measured 0.08kWh used.
  19. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    ONe way to reconcile the high reading from HB and lower (<1W) readings, other than saying its a brand difference is if the Kill-a-Watts are reading true watts, and the clamp-on ammeter is reading VA. IOW, 6VA (reactive) versus 1W (dissipation)??
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I looked at the gfcis and there is no brand name on the front, only a lock symbol with a lightning bolt through it. I only shop at home depot for electrical stuff so the gfcis must be their brand.

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