GFCI Earth Leakage Journey Time..and Sparks!




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I exploit the ROHDE & SCHWARZ RT-ZC15B Present Probe and RTM3004 Oscilloscope to measure GFCI / RCD Earth Leakage Journey Time.
A couple of sparks fly after I take a look at how simply arc flash can happen at low AC voltages.

The R&S present probe (R&S RT-ZC15B) I used on this demonstration:
https://www.rohde-schwarz.com/us/product/current_probes-productstartpage_63493-73797.html

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13 thoughts on “GFCI Earth Leakage Journey Time..and Sparks!

  1. I'm sorry if this is off topic. I was watching your Power Supply videos recently and remember you mentioned something about 'press on' or 'rub-on' lettering. Anyway, I was going through one of my old junk boxes and found some. I think the company is out of business now, but these letter/number sets are still available. Common search terms include "rub-on" and "dry transfer", in case you're interested, there seem to be several companies that still produce them. Here's a web page that mentions them;
    http://www.pcbsupplies.com/dry-transfer/

  2. I would put a resistor in the path to ground to better represent a human in the path,. perhaps a 100 ohm resistor as a worst case and use mains voltages. Some research into human path impedance under various conditions would inform a better test.

  3. Sorry, but testing an RCD with a dead short to ground is very weird for me (even if the you are using a variac).
    I would even find it safer to crank the voltage to maximum and use a appropriate resistor for the leakage.

  4. As far as I know, in Europe RCDs have to trip between 50% and 75% of the nominal leakage current within 200ms. A good test method is using a resistor limiting the current to ca. 75 or 80% of the nominal leakage current and to measure the time to trip. This should be <200ms. In pratice it trips within one or two periods or not at all.

  5. I would definitely be more interested in seeing a more real world test. if this was a person leaking current to earth it's only going to be mA. I would bet the response times would be much different.

  6. Very interesting, and just when I was thinking a full AC cycle you said it. 😛 I think ill go stick a paperclip into my outlet and see what happens. Just kidding, I work with electronics everyday, mostly low voltage stuff but some 110v DC boards I have to repair. I am always super cautious no matter what I do if it involves electricity. When I first started out I was getting shocked left and right, but I probably haven't been shocked in the last 10 years or so and do this stuff all day everyday.

  7. Thought I would point out some differences with my electricians gfci tester. It injects a selectable current between A+E. What our test proves is that the RCD detects that imbalance of current flow between A+N,

  8. Your demonstration does not test the functionality of a residual current device (RCD). More a test of the circuit breaker functionality. As you probably know testing an RCD is done at rated voltage with gradually increasing current delta between line and neutral. IMO this video is misleading, fake news. Revision and/or retraction is recommended.

  9. Great experiment and test!
    A couple of things that do not affect your data, but might be notable:
    1) the current probe is rated at 30Amps (RMS or peak?) Since you are exceeding the rating, your peak current displayed might be in error due to overloading the amplifiers in the probe, and/or the hall effect transducer in the probe and/or the ferite core in the probe.
    I am sure you are aware of this, but I thought I would mention it.
    2) the wire gauge you are using and your connections (alligator clips) aren't the best for the current that you are drawing due to the impedance of the wire, so the currents might be limited by the wire gauge.

    There are many things in your test that also affect the outcome of your data, but the end result that you achieved was to show the timing of the GFCI and how fast they operate.
    They don't necessarily trip on over current, but imbalance between hot and neutral, and ground currents, and that is what you showed!

    Great experiment and thanks for your effort and all the warnings you stated! Also remember that a variac is NOT isolated from the AC line, so that alone will trip a GFCI when a ground fault occurs.

    Thanks for posting!

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