I have a question about GFI protection in an attached garage/shop.
I've turned one bay of a 3 car garage into my shop (no comments on my
screwed up priorities, please!).
Had an electrician run a 100 amp subpanel into my shop. He installed
two circuits...one circut for switched lightbulbs and the other has a
single GFI outlet (15amp-12GW).
Now, I'm getting ready to run the other circuts..plan is to install 2
15 amp - 120v cicuits (lighting), 4 20 amp - 120v circuts (misc
tools) and 5 20 amp-240 circuts (dedicated circuits for dust
collector, bandsaw, and table saw).
Now, this is in my garage and so I'm pretty sure I need to have my
circuts GFI protected. Here's the problem...
I am using the single existing GFI duplex plug to power my equipment
as I get the shop ready. Typically, I run a radio out of one outlet
and a shop light or my contractor saw out of the other. I never run
the shop light and the table saw at the same time.
When I unplug the shop light or turn on the table saw I almost always
trip the GFI plug. Have to walk over and reset it nearly every time.
My intial plan was to use a 20 amp GFI outlet as the first oulet on
the 120v circuits to protect all downstream circuits. But I don't
want to reset the GFI breaker every time I use a tool. Is anyone else
having this problem? Any suggestions? I'd prefer to not use GFI
breakers if I don't have to (expensive!).
Also, do I need to GFI protect the 240v circuits?
Easiest way to do this is to pull the circuit breaker and replace with
a GFI breaker.
Also, there is something WRONG if it is tripping the GFI everytime you
unplug something from the socket. Get the electrician back out to
find out what I feel is a install problem that HE is responible for
It's either tripping because it is doing its job, or its faulty (cheap).
Electricians are noted for not using the best unless you pay for it. The
first thing I would do is replace the receptacle with a hospital grade GFI
receptacle and see if it continues to trip.
If it does, call your electrician back, he will know what to look for.
Wow. I am a belt-and-suspenders kinda guy myself, but a hospital grade
breaker? IIRC, aren't they mucho $$$ (versus regular, yet good GFI
breaker)? Then again, I do suppose it is cheaper than a trip to the
hospital. Seriously, do you actually use them? -- Igor
Hell, he's only needs one, its much cheaper than a GFI c'bkr, and for the
+/- $13 retail, it should be well worth the aggravation he's already put up
Besides, you only need one per circuit, and it pays to make that one a
_good_ one. DAMHIK
Hospital grade is excessive in a shop, just try another name brand GFCI
receptacle. Save the other one and if it doesn't fix anything you can use it on
another circuit. If it is bad the electrician may swap it out for you.
You don't need GFCI on 240v circuits, only 120v 15&20a receptacle outlets. It
is best not to have your lights on GFCI. Stumpling around in the dark is not a
good idea when power tools are involved, even if they are just spinning down..
Like most blanket statements, and with the proliferation of cheaply made
gfci devices, that is not always the case.
They do cost more, but they are manufactured to more exacting specs, have
fewer nuisance trips as they age, last longer, need to be replaced less
often, and in some environments, like lightining prone areas, will generally
operate without nuisance trips, and provide protection, when the cheaper
ones will not.
I saw data a couple of years back at a building seminar (put on by the
American Society of Home Inspectors) that showed about 20% of standard
gfci's tested failed to trip when they were supposed to, with a failure rate
as high as 60% in area's with high lightining activity.
"You pays your money and you takes your chances."
I have had both cases happen. In the case of the faulty GFI, a replacement
cured the problem. In the case of the faulty equipment (a paint pump on an
old Wagner power roller), scrapping that crap cured the problem. Hope
your's is as easily fixed.
My understanding is that, if "fixed appliance" is going to be dedicated
to the outlet, it doesn't need to be GFCI. So, for example, in your
laundry room, which would normally require GFCI outlets, your washing
machine is probably plugged into a non-GFCI outlet, because it's a fixed
appliance. Unfortunately I'm at work and don't have my NEC reference
handy, but I'm sure someone will jump on^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcorrect me if I'm
I don't know if I'll get away with it, but my current plan is to call my
dust collector, air compressor, etc. "fixed appliances" and not GFCI
them (not because of cost concerns, but because I don't see the
practical point and don't want to put up with false alarms).
I also vaguely recall that there may be further loopholes having to do
with height of outlets, distance from door or somesuch. But I'm sure
that if you can claim a "fixed appliance" will be used (i.e., something
that's there, not going away, and never going to be unplugged), you can
avoid the GFCI outlet. Now, as to whether your tablesaw (or portable
thickness planer, or drill recharger...) counts as a "fixed appliance,"
that probably depends on how recently you've taken your building
inspector out for lunch...;)
Do you mean a "dedicated circuit"? :)
No other lights or appliances can be on a dedicated circuit, so that will
rule out the OP in this case.
IOW, he should still have GFCI regardless, if for no other reason than
safety in a "garage/shop". Not to mention that his code almost surely
requires it in a garage these days.
Also be careful, some "dedicated circuits" still require GFCI protection
(portable spas and hot tubs for one), so you need to check with your local
I had a similar problem and spent too much money before I found the simple
cause. Every morning, my wife would plug her hair dryer in to the
receptacle next to the sink. When she unplugged it, the GFI breaker would
trip and the lights would go out. Bright guy that I am, I concluded that
the hair dryer was at fault. Bought her a new one; same problem. OK, the
GFI breaker must be too sensitive. You're right, they are expensive, but
nothing is too good for my family, right? The new one tripped too. Then I
checked out the receptacle itself. The bare ground wire was running right
alongside the neutral terminals on the side of the receptacle. When she
unplugged the hair dryer, the wiggling motion was just enough to touch the
bare ground to the neutral and trip the breaker. When I re-routed the bare
ground safely away from the terminals, the problem disappeared. Good luck,
and let us know what finally fixes it for you.
"Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him." Thomas Carlyle
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