Power failure monitors

We have a fridge and a freezer in the basement. The freezer is on a circuit with a GFI, and the fridge is on a fancy new arc fault interruption circuit breaker. Both are less reliably on than I want for a freezer that I don’t look at every hour. So in addition to possibly changing the circuit breaker/outlet, I’m also thinking of buying some power fault monitors.

They come in two general types – ones that make a loud noise and ones that text you. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Any advice? Any experience?

(No I don’t want to put the whole house on a smart system. I’m looking for a standalone solution for the fridge and the freezer.)

Id fix the problem rather than monitoring a known problem.

1 Like

When we built our house the county code made us put in a bunch of these arc fault breakers. After we moved in we had the same problems as you and pretty much switch them all out and have had no problems since

On the one hand, a licensed electrician risks losing his license if he swaps out the circuit breakers. On the other hand, when I bitched to the electrical inspector, he said, “I can’t tell your electrician to do something against code, but maybe you can find someone else to do it.”

So I have asked my BIL to swap out the circuit breakers. He’s not an electrician, but he’s handy and says he’s comfortable doing it. The electrician tells me it’s easy to do, and the GC promises me he can get the specs from the electrician of what the correct circuit breakers to put in would be.

So that’s in the works.

But I think maybe I want to monitor anyway, just in case?

Swapping circuit breakers is dead easy, I’ve seen it done.

Zero chance I’d do it myself though. My electrical repairs stop at the panel.

Nothing wrong with the monitoring idea.

I was thinking that the “text” message option would be better as you’ll get notified when “no one is around” and you can get someone to respond if you just happen to be out of town.

1 Like

Something like this?

IMO, if the circuit breaks more than once, time for a more practical and more expensive solution. Not sure what could cause circuit to break (Dammit Jim, I’m an actuary, not an electrician!), as I think (not know for sure) that more-modern fridges and freezers are not pulling as many amps at one time in order to prevent circuits from breaking.
I can ask my electrician friend about it over wine.

I purchased the freezer, new, during the pandemic. The fridge is a bit older, but not ancient.

May the circuits, be unbroken…

Have the circuits even been broken? A lot?
And this special circuitry is because it’s in the basement (in case of flooding)?

Perhaps Lucy should go old school:

1 Like

“My Dad could swear up a storm…”
“Fraggin magggin, sonofaframmin…”



I tend to think of it as the breaker being tripped. And Lucy’s problem isn’t an uncommon thing according to electrialoutpost.com. The way certain motors work triggers an arc, which the arc fault breakers are supposed to detect. The problem is identifying the pattern of current flow that differentiates an arc that is a problem (cracks in wiring, bad connections) vs one that is expected. If you have a machine that causes it to trip once, it likely will do it again. I think it is new wiring as part of her basement project, and new wiring must meet new code.

If you want a monitor like this I’d get something with a backup power source that will text you or otherwise send an alert to your phone. In this way you’ll be alerted not only for a fault in your circuit but also if you have a power outage and lose power to the whole house when you are out.

A connoisseur of swear words.

dup post, sorry.

So, i actually have two problems on that circuit. Maybe three. One is the fancy new arc fault circuit breaker. Another is that there was a dedicated GFCI on the outlet, which was tripping. The third is that it’s only a 15 amp circuit running a freezer and the kitchen lights.

I can’t do anything about the third, and it ran the lights and a fridge for a long time without troubles. So I’m going to ignore that one.

I fixed the second. I moved the GFCI to be downstream from the outlet the fridge is on. (There’s another outlet downstream from the one that powers the fridge, which is slated to run a light for sprouting plants. Not a lot more power.)

I’m hoping to get those arc fault breakers out, too.

60 for a plug and play device isn’t bad. You could probably also create your own with a Raspberry Pi If you like that kind of project. I saw a fully documented project that monitors energy usage with specs way above what you need. Didn’t look at the cost.

Looking at the Amazon thing linked above, it looks like it must have a built in battery so that it will send the alert after the power goes out. It also says it sends when the power comes back on.

So you probably want to make sure you have a UPS on your wifi router/modem so that it can still communicate with the internet if the whole house loses power.

Well, knowing that the whole house is without power is less actionable unless you have a generator/battery backup system than “breaker went off again” so UPS wifi/modem isn’t a must have.

If the whole house is without power, Lucy won’t need an text alert, unless she is away from her house, in which case not much can be done. Just wait it out, don’t open fridges or freezers. At some time after the outage started, it will be optimal to eat all the ice cream.
Lucy is looking for something that alerts her to a break of particular circuits.
Probably a diode, cathode, electrode, overload, generator, oscillator…