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#184215 02/04/09 06:52 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 3
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semano Offline OP
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desperately looking for an answer to this one. if anyone has any ideas I would appreciate it.
monthly electric bill averages about $300 a month, went over to look at this to determine the power grabbing appliance and found....................nothing! home owner wants to know if power can leak to ground. he has a 50+ year old house with MANY additional panels and circuits added. (some professionally and many done by previous home owners.) when isolating the sub panels, only the 2-pole 15A seems to be the culprit. The only thing on this circuit is the original fuse panel (4 15a circuits, 2 lighting and 2 receptacles) and some lighting and receptacles in the basement. With ALL the fuses unplugged and ONLY the 2-pole breaker turned on the meter spins like a top. With ALL the fuses plugged back in there is no noticeable difference. Any suggestions?

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 318
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Member
With a clamp on meter at the service what is the amperage draw per leg?

Assuming there is a main, what is the draw with the main breaker off?

I assume you did the above when isolating the subpanel anyway. What about further isolating the things to individual circuits in the subpanel? What about turning off the breakers in the sub and monitoring the current in the feeder to the subpanel?

I would suspect a high resistant ground fault drawing about 15-20 amps somewhere.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,288
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Semano:
IF the billing is excessive, you should contact the utility/POCO to have the meter checked by them. Here in NJ, they have to do it, per the BPU rules.

I see from your profile, you did not state any reference to the electrical trade.

Are you saying that the 'wheel' within the electric meter (utility/poco owned) is "spinning"??

The procedure I would use is a clamp amprobe, and isolate the circuits, based on the meter reading. Then determine what is on the circuit. As sabrown said, with the 'main' off....you should have no load...zero amps on the hot legs.

I also would like to say that IF you have no electrical trade experience, you should not attempt to solve this, but hire a licensed professional.


John
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,677
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If you do the math you find out a few amps 24/7 add up real fast. A 6a load @ 240v can be half of your $300 bill
As for the sub;
Are you saying the feeder on and all the branch circuit fuses out the thing is still drawing current? Look for a tap.


Greg Fretwell
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 402
J
Member
Look for thing like stuck attic fan, stuck sump pump, buried line to light post or out building leaking to ground, heater the owner never new he had.
You need to trace that circuit and see where all the cables go.

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 167
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Member
Originally Posted by sabrown

I would suspect a high resistant ground fault drawing about 15-20 amps somewhere.


That would produce more heat than a space heater. In fact, I would expect it to cause a fire.

Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
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A space heater, left on 24/7, would run about $160/year in CA. Honestly, $300/month sounds part for an electric bill. I suspect there's no short to ground or wasteful compressor or anything like that, and it's just that he's using $300 worth of electricity a month.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
L
Member
Also check for Refrigerator or Freezer stuck in the defrost mode.

Heat tape energized, Christmas lights left on 24/7, basement lights left on 24/7, dehumidifier stuck on,etc.

Does he have a new laser printer or copier that the owner didn't realize draw lots of current.

Larry

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 167
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Originally Posted by SteveFehr
A space heater, left on 24/7, would run about $160/year in CA. Honestly, $300/month sounds part for an electric bill. I suspect there's no short to ground or wasteful compressor or anything like that, and it's just that he's using $300 worth of electricity a month.


What are the electric rates in CA??? A typical space heater uses 1.5kw. In 24 hours it has used 36kw/h. In 356 days it has used 13,140kw/h. At 10 cents per kwh that's $1314 per year.

Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 152
A
Member
The only way to solve this is to do some sleuthing:

1)Clamp hot and then neutral from each circuit with a high quality sensitive ammeter and see if amps drawn = amps returned. Difference = leakage to ground, no difference = powered appliance consumption or faulty appliance.

2)Clamp hot from each circuit and one by one turn on/plug in the appliances/lights on that circuit. Check amp draw and voltage vs boilerplate or wattage and compare, small differences can add up.

"he has a 50+ year old house with MANY additional panels and circuits added" Does that necessarily mean more oportunity for ground leakage or just more legitimate consumption.

"monthly electric bill averages about $300 a month" assuming $150 of that $300 bill is excessive and cost of power is $0.12/kWh at 115V then you are looking for a total power consumption of 1.736 kW or 15 Amps, should be easy to find that.


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