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Old 08-22-2010, 05:13 PM   #1
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Default GFI outlet question

Does a GFI outlet require a dedicated circuit ?

I have 2 GFI's in the basement, each on dedicated circuits...I just replaced a faulty outlet in the basement with a GFI..it is on the same breaker as the lighting -- is this wrong ?

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Old 08-22-2010, 05:17 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by kappclark View Post
Does a GFI outlet require a dedicated circuit ?

I have 2 GFI's in the basement, each on dedicated circuits...I just replaced a faulty outlet in the basement with a GFI..it is on the same breaker as the lighting -- is this wrong ?
No GFCI's do not require a dedicated circuit. However, they are normally in circuits that are required to have ground fault protection. The way I wire them, is to have the GFCI as the first plug, then chain and protect all the plugs downstream from the GFCI.

Not only is it not wrong, it's exactly what you should do if the faulty plug wasn't protected by an upstream GFCI. Lights in basement are not required to have fault protection.
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:17 PM   #3
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Nope, they don't require a dedicated circuit. As long as you installed it correctly, everything wired past the GFI will be protected by the one you installed.

So, no problem having your lights on the same circuit.

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Old 08-22-2010, 05:36 PM   #4
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My home is old and two of the outlets are still 2 prong (Silly me for waiting to change them huh!). The real important thing to remember is that the initial wiring feeding the GFCI is grounded properly. Without the proper grounding potential, a GFCI will not do its job.

All devices down stream of the GFCI are protected.

Salute!

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Old 08-22-2010, 06:07 PM   #5
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Thanks --

I did the test on the outlet using the test button, and it works...

Nothing is wired "downstream" of the actual outlet (only 1 pair of wires + ground to outlet) , but good to know I do not need a dedicated 120 circuit.

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Old 08-22-2010, 06:22 PM   #6
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I'm by no means an expert, but I researched this just the other day for putting an GFCI protected outlet inside my refrigerated bar. My GFCI outlet had "line" and "load" posts. My research indicated that everything wired to the load posts would be protected by the GFCI. Also, I used the test button and it interrupted the outlet inside my bar.

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Old 08-22-2010, 07:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by bmckee56 View Post
The real important thing to remember is that the initial wiring feeding the GFCI is grounded properly. Without the proper grounding potential, a GFCI will not do its job.
This is not correct. A ground is not required in order for a GFCI to work properly. A GFCI works by comparing the current between the hot and neutral of the outlet. An imbalance between the legs indicates current leakage and the GFCI will cut off the power through it's internal breaker. IIRC, GFCI's are generally not recommended for use on refrigerators and freezers (and some other critical power applications) as they can sometimes trip when some inconsequential imbalance is detected and that can result in a lot of spoiled food. Should this happen while you are away from home on vacation it can be horrendous. Even if you are home and don't notice that it tripped for a day or two it would be a bummer. Many older homes have only the two prong outlets and no ground wire at all. Often the two prong receptacles are replaced with three prong outlets, but the ground is not connected to anything and there is no easy way to retrofit a ground wire in most cases. The safe solution is to install a GFCI breaker in the panel or as the first outlet in a circuit. I'm not an electrician, so YMMV and I would suggest consulting a licensed professional if you have any doubts about this stuff.
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Old 08-23-2010, 06:04 AM   #8
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This is not correct. A ground is not required in order for a GFCI to work properly.
Thank you for correcting my mistake, I stand corrected. I am not by trade an electrician and admit my ignorance of NEC code. I just found this information on the internet:

What happens when you're working at a previously unprotected location that now requires GFCI protection? It's no longer acceptable to replace an old, unprotected receptacle with a new, unprotected receptacle. Per 406.3(D)(2), you now must install a GFCI-protected device.

What if you come across a non-grounding type receptacle or an old 2-wire NM cable without a ground? These receptacles can be replaced with one of the following:

Another non-grounding type receptacle.

A GFCI-receptacle, if marked “No Equipment Ground.”

A grounding type receptacle, if GFCI protected and marked “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground.”


The equipment-grounding conductor plays no part in the operation of a GFCI, so it will provide ground-fault protection even on a 2-wire circuit without an equipment-grounding conductor.

Salute!
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Old 08-23-2010, 09:38 AM   #9
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Although not related to the GFCI issue, but something to consider is how much load you place on the receptacle. IIRC lights are run with 14ga and generally connected to a 15A breaker, where receptacles are on 12ga and 20A breakers. Probably not an issue if you haven't had problems with the breaker tripping in the past, but I also have an older home and the outdoor floods that a PO installed were on a 15A breaker, along with a receptacle. I pulled out the receptacle and wiring when I had my walls open and installed a new dedicated 20A circuit for the receptacle (added another one, too for power tools/spaceheater). I also am not an electrician, so I looked up all the codes before I did anything. Before you go doing any work like that I suggest you consult a pro, look up the codes and get permits.

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Old 08-23-2010, 03:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trigger View Post
Although not related to the GFCI issue, but something to consider is how much load you place on the receptacle. IIRC lights are run with 14ga and generally connected to a 15A breaker, where receptacles are on 12ga and 20A breakers. Probably not an issue if you haven't had problems with the breaker tripping in the past, but I also have an older home and the outdoor floods that a PO installed were on a 15A breaker, along with a receptacle. I pulled out the receptacle and wiring when I had my walls open and installed a new dedicated 20A circuit for the receptacle (added another one, too for power tools/spaceheater). I also am not an electrician, so I looked up all the codes before I did anything. Before you go doing any work like that I suggest you consult a pro, look up the codes and get permits.
I'm not an electrician or anything close to one, but IIRC, there is a reason why all household circuits are not installed with 20 amp breakers. IIRC, it has to do with the possibility that an appliance may malfunction, short out and possibly cause a fire before actually drawing enough current to trip the 20 amp breaker. This is the reason that the receptacles are different for a 20 amp circuit. The slots are different to prevent the insertion of a regular appliance plug by mistake. One slot is horizontal and the other "t" shaped which requires a matching plug such as on some of the larger window air conditioners. Maybe a real electrician can enlighten us more on this. I may have it all wrong, so don't rely only by what I've posted. I think it is safe upgrade wiring from 14 ga to 12 ga for most circuits, but the breaker for most household circuits should be only a 15 amp.
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