Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets, known as GFCI, are designed to protect users from being shocked due to current leakages. The wiring device cuts off power once a variance in current is detected between the hot wire and the neutral wire. You’ll also see these outlets referred to as ground fault interrupters (GFI).
The NEC, or the electrical receptacle in a bathroom space requires GFCI.
Garages and sheds: Floors meeting and below grade level, non-living areas, storage, work, and task areas.
Outdoors: Electrical devices and receptacles on the outside of a structure must be GFI protected. This is unless the receptacle is not easily accessed and/or supplied energy through a branch circuit for floor-based de-icing or snow-melting electrical devices.
Unfinished basements and crawl spaces: Non-living spaces at or below grade level must have GFCI outlets. Note that exceptions are made for receptacles that solely support a permanent fire or security system, outlets that are not easily accessible, and outlets noted for plug-in use only or on branch circuit systems.
Laundry rooms, wet bar sinks, and utility areas: Any electrical outlets placed within a six-foot radius of the sink.
Pool and spa areas: All electrical outlets, receptacles up to 20 feet away from the water source, pool cover power source, and pump receptacles.
When issues with an electrical current are detected, the GFCI can be manually reset using the red RESET button and the black TEST button near the middle of the receptacle. The TEST button tests the safety function of the GFI. The safety function is the ability of a GFCI to trip the outlet and shut off power when there is a fault in the current.
Testing a GFI Outlet:
You can also test your receptacles using alternative devices:
On top of that, GFCI circuits can still supply power to appliances or lights regardless of if the safety function is working. For this reason, it is suggested that you test your receptacle at least once a month.
The most common reasons for your GFCI device to trip are:
If your device does trip, simply click on the RESET button to set it back to operational. However, if it continues, please consult a certified electrician to find the cause before it leads to bigger problems.
Both devices provide the same ground fault protection. GFCI must be tested and reset at the panel while its counterpart happens at the individual wall outlet. The main difference is that all outlets wired on that circuit breaker will become ground fault interrupter receptacles.
Why would you want the outlet version when the breaker version protects the entire branch? It comes down to cost. On average, the receptacle type is 75% cheaper.
While GFCIs protect against ground faults, AFCIs protect against arc faults.
An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) shuts off the flow of electricity if it detects electrical arcing. This occurs when there is a gap between the path of the current. Once an arc happens, it can lead to an electrical fire.
There are many reasons why this could happen:
Whether you’re working on a DIY home improvement project or are an experienced contractor, you’ll find everything you need at HomElectrical. In addition to GFCI outlets and other electrical supplies, we carry an extensive selection of LED lighting products and accessories.
To learn more, contact HomElectrical at 888.616.3532 or create an account to start getting great deals today.