GFIC breakers

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Dude I am not trying to argue with you I am just trying to understand the reasoning. You say code prevents smoke alarms from being on a GFCI circuit. OK. By this reasoning it is more likely that a smoke alarm would be made inoperative from a false trigger when your house is on fire than something actually accruing on that line to trigger the GFCI to shut down and turn off the smoke alarm. By this same reasoning it would be more likely that a GFCI would falsely trigger and shut down the refrigerator causing spoiled food and someone eating it and dieing than the breaker correctly triggering in that circuit and saving someone's life. Granted all of these would be very bizarre situations but if the cost of doing it were not an issue I am having a hard time understanding the reason not just use the a GFCI breaker on every circuit in the house. Do they false trigger that often? They have not for me.
Joe

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Joe,
It's not an issue of how often they false trigger, or if they ever false trigger at all.
If you want to put a GFI on your fridge circuit - go ahead. There used to be a guy here named Tom Horne, and he had every version of the NEC ever released memorized.
He could tell you if there are any rules in the NEC that prohibit the use of a GFI on EVERY circuit, specifically on the utility circuits in your kitchen. I think Doug's constant posting of complete crap made Tom lose hope though, I havn't seen him post here in a long time.
I can tell you that as *I recall* (from the period I worked full time as an apprentice electrician, regardless of the people who will insist I am a plumber, or am not at all qualified in any way to comment on electricity or electrical related items) in a house your age the smoke alarms *should* have been wired on a dedicated circuit, and they *should* also all have a third conductor which causes all of them to fire if any one of them fires.
I say this to you because *if* your smokes are all on one circuit - and *if* (for whatever reason) the GFI you put in that circuit trips - the chances are VERY GOOD that you won't notice it.
And in this situation, you have turned a life saving device into a life taking device.
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No, they don't false trigger all that often, but they don't safe lives all that often either. In the absence of water or other excacerbating circumstances, it's actually pretty rare for an electrical fault to do anything other than give someone a painful shock. So the point isn't than the negatives of a GFCI are big, it's that, while they're small, the positives aren't necessarily bigger. Even when numbers are really, really small, some of them are bigger than others.
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Walter R. wrote:

Kitchen circuits are typically 20 A, not 15. One issue with a GFCI breaker is that the circuit must have a dedicated neutral. That's not likely to be the case because the kitchen must have at least two appliance circuits in addition to the dedicated appliance circuits.
In addition, GFCI outlets are less expensive than breakers now. Assuming that the outlet isn't split between two circuits (common in Canada) you can swap out the ordinary outlet with a GFCI outlet.
If you don't understand wiring principles and the concepts in this thread, get professional help. Amateur tinkering with electricity is much more dangerous than the lack of a GFCI.
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So what? Unless the two appliance circuits are installed as a single Edison circuit, there would be a dedicated neutral for each one. Of course, he'd need two breakers.
In any event, he didn't say how old his home is. It may have only one appliance circuit in the kitchen.

They always have been.

AMEN!
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Current setup has 2 20A appliance circuits running into the kitchen.
plus (but not really applicable to this problem) 15A lighting 240V/40A oven 20A dishwasher/disposal
The problem I've got is that the circuit feeding the outlet for the refrigerator also serves an outlet < 6 ft from a sink.
So I have 2 choices as I see it.
1) switch the outlet near the sink to the other 20A circuit. Provided the prev owners installed the new GFCI outlet as the first on in the stream that circuit would then be GFCI protected and all outlets near the sink would be on it. I'm gonna double check the install of that GFCI outlet to ensure it's first.
The other circuit would then not be GFCI protected and all should be fine to have the fridge running on it.
2) add a 20A circuit dedicated for the refrigerator and GFCI protect both of the original 20A appliance circuits. Assuming that the GFCI outlet that broke is first in the stream I'd just have to replace that.
(1) would certainly be easier but that would result in a single circuit w/coffee pot, toaster, new fangled wall oven, and then incidental appliances all on a single 20A circuit. I'm not sure what my toaster wattage is offhand but that circuit looks overloaded to me. Further it puts an outlet that is 6 ft. 6in from the sink on the unprotected circuit. There's more to this than just meeting the letter of the code. I'd really rather have that outlet on a GFCI protected circuit.
So it really look like putting in a dedicated circuit for the fridge is the way to go.
I've run circuits before in other houses but this one's gonna be a bear. Panel is as far from the kitchen as it could be. Truss roofing with a tiny dangerous attic space full of unfaced insulation with roofing nails sticking out of sheating a couple inches above your head.
Electrician coming tomorrow to give me an estimate. Sometimes just cause you can do something doesn't always mean it's the best idea for you to do it.
A'int owning a home grand! (yes it is :D )
ml
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So replace that outlet with a GFCI, wired to protect that outlet only and not the rest of the circuit. No big deal. Lots easier than running a new circuit.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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On 5-May-2005, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Ahhh Doug, this is why I post.
To do this I simply ensure that everything I want non-GFCI protected is upstream of the outlet? If the answer is yes I'm a buy you a beer!
ml
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never mind... this is obvious now that i visualize the circuit in my head. the circuit stays intact upstream of the GFCI device even when it trips.
thanks for the heads up ml
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Right - you'll need to connect the GFCI with pigtails, like this: (view in fixed-space font such as Courier)
Black ---------------------+---------------- (incoming power) | (remainder of circuit) White ----------------+--- ) --------------- | | | | + + neut. hot GFCI LINE terminals
Make no connections at the GFCI LOAD terminals. This way, if the GFCI trips, that outlet drops power, but the rest of the circuit is unaffected.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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It's all becoming clear to me now. There are actually a pair of breakers in these devices. One on the line and one on the load side. Both trip when the device trips but how you wire it gives you the option of just removing the device or additionally all of the downstream devices.
So lets say I wanted to keep the fridge outlet unprotected but wanted everything else on the circuit protected.
It seems to me the answer is to simply wire the fridge outlet as first in stream with an ordinary device and then make the 2nd outlet in the stream a GFCI wired to remove itself and all downstream outlets when it trips, i.e. using the load terminals to continue the downstream circuit rather than using the pigtail method you described.
One question though. It's not immediately obvious how the GFCI device sensor is isolated from the current surges when the fridge compressor comes on. Won't this trip the device? True the outlet to the fridge will still supply power and keep your food from rotting but won't you be having to constantly reset the time on coffee makers etc that are on the protected leg of the circuit.
thank you for all your help ml
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Ahh reality rears it's ugly head.
Fridge outlet is last in the stream.
Hmmm let's see... add a box to splice a new piece of cable to the existing one from the panel so I can make the fridge outlet first in the stream or just make the two outlets GFCI devices wired to just remove themselves......
think that one answers itself....
ml
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No, that is not correct. There is one interrupter that simultaneously disconnects the LOAD terminals and the outlet itself.

That is correct.

I doubt it.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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All done. 2 GFCI's outlets followed by a non-GFCI outlet for the fridge. All is working perfectly. Thank you Doug for your accurate advice and putting up w/my questions. You probably saved me in the neighborhood of $500 today.
ml
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ps. The refrigerator compressor kicking on is not tripping the upstream GFCI's.
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Great!
You're welcome. Glad to help.

My bill is in the mail. :-)
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Walter R. wrote:

The following discussion talks about GFCIs as if they are circuit breakers rated for 15 or 20 amps. But a GFCI does not trip at the rated current, it simply is designed to carry that amount of current.
GFCI trip when there is a imbalance of current between the two conductors. This can be caused by you touching one side or the other while standing in a puddle of water. They are very sensitive and I believe the test button just connects a 10K resistor to ground.
So, I don't see why any special provisions need to be made for a frige although you may want it to be the only thing on a breaker circuit because of compressor motor start-up transient current draw.
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It would be most unfortunate to wake up in the morning to find your GFI had tripped the evening before, for whatever reason.
It would probably be a lot like the time the start relay on my compressor failed one night, and I woke up the next morning to find a small pond from the melted ice all over my formerly unwarped parquet floor.
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