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Ground Fault Testers

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by MEKer, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    OK, in my basement I have 2-prong plug-ins. Everything works fine with them. I guess you'd have to say they are open ground since they are not 3-prong plug-ins, right? (My house was built in 1957 BTW.) I do plug in to them via GFI strips anyway.

    Anyway, I guess I should get testers for both 2-prong AND 3-prong plug-ins as there are a few of those around here too (3'ers), not to mention for testing places you may play at.

    So...here are 2 for consideration: I am a bit confused in that the 3501 model is ONLY for GFCI outlets like you might find in a bathroom right?

    1. Gardner Bender GFI-3501 GFCI Outlet Tester (3-prong):
    Product Features
    Tests ground fault receptacles by overloading circuit and tripping GFCI
    Easy to use
    Tests for seven conditions
    Succession of yellow and red lights provides indications of circuit status or specifies wiring errors
    Tester trips GFCI between 6-9 mA

    2.Gardner Bender GFI-501A Ground Fault Receptacle Tester and Circuit Analyzer (2 -prong)
    Product Features
    Professional grade ground fault receptacle tester
    Easy-to-read red and yellow light system
    Protected by a ground fault receptacle
    Tester trips GFCI between 6- 9 mA
    1-year limited manufacturer's warranty

    I also am wondering if it is not just more handy to bring a GFI strip to plug into at anyplace you play anyway.

    What say the electro-whizzes here?
  2. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    The second one is not a 2-prong tester, it has all 3 prongs but it's not clear from the angle of the photograph.

    Yes, the first one will also test GFCI outlets and breakers, but I'm pretty sure it won't work (it won't trip a GFCI) without a working ground line. GFCI power strips are providing you with protection against getting electrocuted, but won't do anything else.
  3. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Are you grounding the little tab on the 3 to 2 pin adapter to the outlet screw?
  4. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    You cant have a 2 prong ground tester because 2 prong outlets don't have a ground connection. Thats what the third pin is for.
  5. There is no ground at all with a two prong receptacle. GFCI will protect you from shock but you will still be using an ungrounded circuit.I'm not sure why you are looking at GFCI testers? If you think someone has installed grounded type receptacles without a ground(illegal wiring but commonly done by do-it-yourselfers)just use any electrical tester/meter and see if you get a reading between the slots but not to the ground prong slot,it's not grounded.
  6. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    Guess for starters I had better make sure to ground all the little tabs on the 3 to 2 pin adapters to the outlet screws. Then keep a regular ground tester handy anyway.

    In the end-does using my GFCI strips protect my equipment properly?---short of re-wiring the house.:confused:
  7. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Yes, and you should then use an outlet tester to tell you if the grounds are connected to anything. The box is supposed to be grounded. On old houses this was done via the BX cable. Usually the fuse or circuit breaker box is grounded to a water pipe to establish ground.

    Ground fault interrupters are designed to protect from electrical shock by interrupting a household circuit when there is a difference in the currents in the "hot" and neutral wires. Such a difference indicates that an abnormal diversion of current from the "hot" wire is occuring. Such a current might be flowing in the ground wire.

    I'm not sure what that has to do with protecting your equipment. You find them in bathrooms because the water pipes are grounded. If you were to drop a blow dryer in the tub for instance, it will trip the circuit breaker, because current will be flowing into the ground wire.
  8. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    OK. I guess the strip (GFI or not) will at least protect from spikes which is the main reason to use'em.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    A GFI on a two wire outlet will protect YOU but not your equipment. As for surge protectors most of them are junk too.

    Couple questions:
    1) Are your outlets flush mounted? In other words, are they sunk into the walls so that the plate on front lays against the wall?

    2) What material are the walls? Cinder block? Concrete? Brick?

    3) Is there drywall or just bare bricks?

    4) Do you have any idea how the wire gets from one outlet to another? Through the walls or do they all go straight up into the unknown that is your ceiling?

    5) Is your basement actually underground?

    6) Is your basement "pretty"? In other words, is the room more utilitarian in design or just as nice as any other room in the house?

    The reason I ask all these questions is that rewiring might not be such a project depending on what your answers are.
  10. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    In my area, the boxes are most often NOT grounded in houses of roughly the same vintage as the OP's. The original wiring in my current house, probably built in the early 50s, is cloth jacketed without a dedicated ground wire. The house I grew up in, also built in the early 50s, had bakelite boxes. In both of these houses, any box that has been added or replaced more recently is plastic. In none of these cases can the cover plate screw be used as a ground.
  11. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    Now I gotta really find out about the ground situation.
  12. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    No. Your equipment won't be protected. A good Power conditioner would help protect your equipment. IMO Class D Amps all need Power Conditioners
  13. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Wow! Someone other than a mason who knows the difference between cinder block and concrete block! :D

    My band practices/rehearses in my (unfinished) basement. Rather than run new wiring the entire length of the basement from the beaker box, I gounded a couple outlets to an overhead copper water line. You might be able to do the same without needing to do too much wall/ceiling patching.

    As for the post about class D amps "needing" a "power conditioner":
    I've been running at least one class D power amp in my PA rack for several years and am currently using a class D bass amp, all without a power conditioner. Haven't had a single problem that could be traced to anything a typical "power conditioner" would have prevented.

    A GFCI will protect you. A good surge protector will protect your equipment. Both are available as units that plug into wall outlets.
  14. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    Hah=====gimme concrete over cinder any day :)

    Yes, my GFIC is also a surge protector.

    Soon I'll be paying attention to and working on all the grounding info (including yours) gained from this post, thanks to the knowledgeable TBer's we have.

    Thanks all. And Merry Christmas to all as well.