GFCi Outlet for Christmas Lights Keeps Tripping?

I put my outdoor Xmas lights up the day after Thanksgiving. I have them connected to the GFCI plate we've used every year. The first connection is a solar sensor and then thru an extension with multiple plug-ins. It is the same setup as years past. Last evening they stopped working. Today I tried removing 2 strings of lights, which were attached end to end from the main extension cord. I also have four other strings connected end to end from the main extension cord. Removing the first two I mentioned worked, for about 4 or five hours before the GFCI outlet went out again. The power to the outlet is still there, but it won't stop tripping. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.


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December 9, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

Electricity works on a loop. Current flows out on the hot and back on the neutral. A standard breaker trips when the flow in the loop is too great. A GFCI trips when the current flowing out exceeds the current flow returning by 4 to 6 milliamps (.004 to .006 amps). It is assumed this small current could be flowing through a person so the GFCI trips.

The current that is leaking is taking an alternate path back to the ground in your panel. Often this is caused by wet locations. The closer you are to the ground of your panel and what it is bonded to (typically a water pipe), the easier it is to trip a GFCI.


So if your lights are wrapped around your water spigot, it would be easy to trip the GFCI.

Lighting strings do not typically have a ground pin, so the current flow from the hot back to your panel would have to be through the neutral (desirable) or the earth (maybe to a water pipe) (undesirable).

Another concern is your sensor. If it has a ground pin and is plugged in outside, and moisture getting in the unit could be providing a path between the hot and ground pin which would trip the GFCI. Make sure the sensor is rated for outdoor use and is in good condition.

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