Marina GFEP breaker failures

John 2297

Member
Location
wisconsin
Occupation
electrician
I am an electrician we just did a job for a local marina. We installed 80 new pedestals with (2) single pole 30 amp receptacles and (2) double pole 50 amp receptacles in each pedestal.
Each receptacle is protected with 30 ma Eaton GFEP breakers. 30 amp 1pole and 50 amp 2pole respectively. We have had about 30 of the 250 breakers go bad. They trip and will not reset no matter what, no load attached or anything. When a new breaker is installed it works fine. Not a single 130 has gone bad.
All feeders are protected by marina guard.
We sent a few of the breakers back to Eaton and they said it appeared they were back fed but we double checked our wiring and everything checks out. They also asked about an open neutral but I have to believe that would've affected the single pole ones as well and also boaters definitely would've complained or experienced failures of their own in that situation.
We have not had any boaters complain about any power problems just when one of the breakers goes bad.

Any help would be appreciated thanks
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I don't see how lost neutral would be a problem other than the possible unstable voltage - which would show up in the supplied loads as well. And on top of that if it burned out the GFPE electronics it wouldn't trip it would fail to trip on GFPE thereafter.

I don't see backfeeding it being an issue either. GFCI receptacles have line/load reversal lockout features but breakers don't have this nor do they really need to have it.
 

John 2297

Member
Location
wisconsin
Occupation
electrician
So there are four services all are single phase except one three phase 120/ 208 wye the single phase ones are 120/ 240 volt
it does say specifically in the instructions not to back feed them and I did get to talk to the engineer from Eaton that designed the breakers we installed personally and he asked about back feeding and an open neutral as well. It would seem that the breakers Eaton are making don't have line/load lockout on them. I'm really thinking it's a fault with their product because we experienced a high failure rate initially and then as the season drug on it tapered down considerably. So far this season there have been three of them fail.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
So there are four services all are single phase except one three phase 120/ 208 wye the single phase ones are 120/ 240 volt
it does say specifically in the instructions not to back feed them and I did get to talk to the engineer from Eaton that designed the breakers we installed personally and he asked about back feeding and an open neutral as well. It would seem that the breakers Eaton are making don't have line/load lockout on them. I'm really thinking it's a fault with their product because we experienced a high failure rate initially and then as the season drug on it tapered down considerably. So far this season there have been three of them fail.
I kind of doubt any other GFCI/GFPE breakers have line load reversal protection either, and don't see why it would matter as long as you backfeed all ungrounded conductors as well as the grounded conductor. Take a single pole GFCI, backfeed the ungrounded but connect the neutral in normal manner - by doing that instead of the GFCI seeing net zero on the two conductors it will see 2 times actual current.
 

John 2297

Member
Location
wisconsin
Occupation
electrician
We completed the initial install last year. We finished about mid May of 2019. Within a month we replaced about 18 and then it tapered off to maybe six more through the summer and then during the winter they aren't used. Once things started picking up a few weeks ago three more had gone bad.

I don't think it's physically possible to back feed them. That's the problem I'm having with that line of thought. Unless a boat had some kind of issue where a generator would put power onto the shore power but I would have to think that would cause major problems with the boats systems as well as the breaker. We used Hypower pedestals. https://powerpedestal.com/hypower-products/
It's nearly impossible to miswire wire them with the way their panels plug into the pedestal. You would really have to think on how to do it.
 

Electromatic

Member
Location
Virginia
I don't have any experience with the GFEP breakers. However, with the white-handled Eaton GFCI breakers, I've had probably 80%+ failure rate either right out of the box or within a couple of months.
 

John 2297

Member
Location
wisconsin
Occupation
electrician
I'll have to check on the voltage drop I hadn't thought of that but there is a lot of power on those docks and not many pedestals per circuit except for one pier which is older. And I would think that a voltage drop issue would also cause problems with boats inverters and various other components.
What did Eaton do for you about your beakers failing?
 

Electromatic

Member
Location
Virginia
I only went through about a dozen Eaton GFCI breakers before just giving up on them. I returned some of the bad-out-of-box ones to our local supplier and just ate the cost on a few that lasted briefly then tripped and wouldn't reset.
 

bob the wire man

New User
Location
texas
Occupation
electrical genius
when you replace a bad one does the same new one go bad or are they are random?
the single poles should be fed from different circuits so an open ground or neutral would not affect all breakers in that panel .
 

John 2297

Member
Location
wisconsin
Occupation
electrician
We have not replaced the same one twice. they appear to be completely random. The single poles are right next to the double poles in the same pedestals so they are on the same circuits, same feed wires.
Hypower the pedestal company has finally admitted to me that there are three other locations experiencing this same problem, same breaker same type of pedestal, same type of failures but different locations.
Of course they're telling me that the pedestals are out of warranty and they'll no longer do anything and they're passing the buck along to Eaton who is being very very difficult to deal with.
It appears to be some sort of manufacturing defect on Eaton's part although they are not admitting to it as of yet.
 

jim dungar

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Wisconsin
Occupation
Retired Engineer
We have not replaced the same one twice. ....
It appears to be some sort of manufacturing defect on Eaton's part although they are not admitting to it as of yet.
This can happen.
Maybe there was a problem with some internal components not being compatible. But the issue only existed for a brief period of manufacturing, maybe not even one shift's worth. But you (or a distributor) purchase a large quantity and they all ship from the same manufacturing batch. You experience lots of failures but no one else does because you got all of the bad ones.
 

John 2297

Member
Location
wisconsin
Occupation
electrician
Oh I agree completely. But you would think that a company that large would be able to asses that failure very quickly and remedy it. They should've sent a notice out to the people who received those faulty breakers and replaced them with no questions asked.
I've been dealing with this for over a year now and am just beginning to get a little traction.
Up until recently they've just told me it was some fault of mine or a power problem with the existing wiring.
Just an awful experience.
 
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