WAZIPOINT Engineering Science & Technology: GFCI Outlet Installation Step by Step and Wiring Diagram

Saturday, May 27, 2023

GFCI Outlet Installation Step by Step and Wiring Diagram

GFCI Outlet (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)
Fig-Installed GFCI Power Outlet

We will discuss the procedure for Installing the GFCI Outlet step by step and the wiring diagram of the GFCI, also the frequently asked questions regarding GFCI code, history, and various benefits of using GFCI in homes. 

What is the GFCI Outlet?

A GFCI Outlet (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is a safety device that monitors the amount of electricity flowing through a circuit. If the current spikes or drops, the GFCI will immediately cut the power to the circuit, preventing the risk of electrical shock or potential fire hazards.

Where do GFCI Outlets Need to be Used?

The 2023 update of the National Electrical Code requires GFCI protection in all kitchen receptacles, expanding the GFCI requirements. Not all your kitchen outlets need to be the GFCIs, but they are required to be if they're within six feet of a kitchen sink or if they serve a countertop. GFCI receptacles are often found in areas of the home that are exposed to water, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor areas where a water source is present.

We have discussed Bathroom outlets and Swimming Pool wiring in another episode:

01. What Is The Specialty For Bathroom Wiring Than Others?

Why Need GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter in Your House?

You would be wondered that before came the GFCI technology around 800 people died annually in the United States alone due to electrical accidents called electrocution, God knows how many people die around the world each year. 

GFCI can prevent ground fault and saves lives. GFCI technology Safe lives particularly in areas near water, such as bathroom sinks or in places exposed to rain or standing water at home. After the GFCI Power outlet, the death rate reduced remarkably, it is around 200 persons per year. 

How Does GFCI Outlet Work?

The intelligence GFCI outlet compares the supply and returns current, if the return current is not the same as the supply current, then it considers somewhere dropping the current due to an unwanted fault. Instantly GFCI device cut off the circuit power supply and saves the life.

Let's consider an example in real life when you plug in an appliance, such as a hair dryer, the GFCI outlet monitors the amount of power going to the device. If you accidentally drop the appliance into a sink full of water, the GFCI detects the interruption in current and cuts the power, and possibly saves your life.

How Quick GFCI Can Work?

Please note that the term GFCI and GFI both are interchangeable, and it is actually a ground fault Circuit Breaker. The GFCI outlet, or circuit breaker is designed to block electric power in the event of a ground fault in under 1/40th of a second. 

GFCI Outlet (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Installation Step by Step

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI outlet wiring procedure is described below:

GFCI Outlet Terminal
GFCI Power outlet Wiring

  1. Turn off the breaker at the panel which controls the circuit you are working on. If the circuit breakers aren’t labeled, you can find the right one by plugging a light or clock radio into the receptacle you are updating. Then, you simply turn off the breakers one by one until the light or radio goes off. It helps to have an assistant and cell phones during this phase. Once you turn off the correct breaker, mark it with tape to make sure a “helpful” person doesn’t accidentally flip it back on while you’re still working.
  2. Test the outlet with a circuit tester to verify that the power is indeed off (there’s nothing worse than finding out the hard way).
  3. Remove the receptacle’s cover plate and the screws holding the outlet in place and unscrew/disconnect the wires from the outlet.
  4. Re-strip and re-connect the power-supply wires to the terminals marked “LINE”. Remember, the White wire connects to the Silver LINE screw and the Black wire connects to the Brass LINE screw. Connect the bare ground wire to the green (Ground) screw. (See Diagram A).
  5. Replace the receptacle, screw it back into the box, and attach the cover plate.
  6. Turn the power back on at the circuit-breaker panel.
  7. Plug a clock radio or light into the outlet.
  8. Test the GFCI by pressing the Black “Test” button on the outlet. If the radio turns off, the outlet is working.
  9. Reset the GFCI by pressing the “Reset” button on the outlet until it clicks into place. The clock radio or light should come back on.
Multiple GFCI Wiring Diagram
Fig- Multiple GFCI Wiring Diagram

What Rules Should Follow to Wire GFCI Outlet?

Following thumps rule should follow during GFCI outlet wiring:
  • Only one GFCI/AFCI per circuit. If you increase the limit, it may lead to a trip to the circuit.
  • GFCI circuit breaker protects the whole circuit while a GFCI outlet can be installed to protect additional outlets and switches etc.
  • No need to install an additional GFCI if the circuit is already protected by the GFCI circuit breaker.
  • For perfect operation of a GFCI, it is a must to properly ground the GFCI or it will not trip instantly but will trip before the serious damage and electric shock.
  • No GFCI should be used with some devices like power-vented 12-gauge water heaters or it will interrupt the proper operation of the circuit.
  • Both the Test and Reset button on a GFCI is for testing purpose only i.e. GFCI must be tested before final operation to make sure it is working properly.
  • Use 14 and 12-gauge wires for 15A and 20A circuit breakers.
  • 15A and 20A GFCI can be installed on 15-20A and 20A only (not 15 and 30A) circuit breaker respectively.

How GFCI Receptacles are different from normal Circuit Breakers?

A GFI or GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter takes only 5 mA (0.005 A) of current leakage from the hot wire to the ground to cause a GFCI to trip which makes a GFCI from other normal Circuit Breakers. 

A small amount of leakage current may be difficult to avoid in some normal circuits. Hand-held power tools do not cause a tripping problem if the tool is maintained in good condition.

GFCI Ratings or Capacity

Voltage Rating of GFCI: A GFCI voltage rating, 240-volt, single-phase, breakers must have a neutral extended to the circuit breaker for the breaker to operate properly. A GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter is designed to cause tripping even when the circuit voltage is 85 percent of the rated voltage (102V for a 120-volt device). 

Current Rating of GFCI: The current rating of a GFCI at rated voltage, the current employed by the supervisory circuit may not exceed 9mA. In normal operation, it takes only 5mA.

Power or Watts Rating of GFCI: 125V/15-Amp Plug-in GFCI is suitable for a maximum of 1800 watts.

Types of GFCI or GFI

Considering the using facility three types of GFCI are designed for home use – wall receptacle, circuit breaker, and portable plug-in. All three are readily available, inexpensive, and fairly simple to install.

Advantages and Disadvantages of GFCI

Advantage: The advantage of GFCI is already discussed above, the short summary is as-
  • Prevent Shocks,
  • Avoid Fires,
  • Avoid Electrical Device/Appliance Damage,
  • Automatic Monitoring,
  • Immediately Identifiable,
  • Protection Regardless of the Source of a Surge.

Disadvantage: The main disadvantage of GFCI is after a ground fault has been detected, a GFCI circuit breaker will disable the entire branch circuit. It needs someone to find and correct it manually.

How GFCI Works in Wet Environment?

NEC or National Electrical Code Required 2008, The GFCI must be wet environment friendly,  for use in damp or wet areas including Patios, decks, porches, pool areas, garages, yards, and other outdoor damp locations. 

The weather resistant is designed to withstand extreme cold, corrosion, and damp environments. GFCI does not provide any waterproof qualities. It is extremely important that an outdoor outlet be protected by a GFCI device in one way or another.

Replacing GFCI Outlet Cost

Hearing so many benefits of ground fault circuit interrupter electrical outlet or GFCI breaks you are thinking about replacing GFCI outlet cost! yes, we must discuss the GFCI outlet replacement cost but think about the life-saving GFCI device. 

A GFCI electrical outlet is a safe option because it protects against electric shocks in wet areas. A GFCI outlet costs between $130 and $300, with an average price of about $210.

cost of installing a gfci outlet depends on some of the primary factors like the location and the local labor cost. The number of gfci switches is also a factor of the total cost of installing gfci outlet.

Available GFCI Outlet in the Market and Choosing the Best GFCI Outlet

There are so many GFCI receptacles that are available in the market, you must choose the best one as per your requirement and considering the factors below:

Amperage Rating: Most GFCI brands run at around 15A and 20A only for home usage. These ratings are ideal for residential applications since electricity doesn’t travel that long inside your house. 

Outlet Type: Some outlets accept aluminum and copper wires, while some can only accommodate copper wires. You must check your wires before purchasing GFCI outlets.

Trip-off Capacity: GFCI outlets should be responsive once the inbound and outbound currents are not equal. Consider its LED indicator and trip-off speed.

Self-testing: The more frequent self-tests occur, the better, self-test must regularly take place, and ideally at frequent intervals.Users tend to forget monthly testing on their GFCI outlets. Thus

Accessibility: Most buyers prefer thin-cased GFCIs, as well as those they can wire from behind or through the sides.

Most but not limited uses GFCI brand is as below:
  • ANKO GFCI Outlet
  • Leviton GFNT1-W GFCI Receptacle
  • PROCURU 2-Pack GFCI Outlet
  • Faith GFCI Outlet
  • LGL GFCI Outlet
  • Dependable Direct GFCI Duplex Outlet
  • TOPELE GFCI Outlet
  • DbillionDa GFCI Outlet
  • Faith 3-Pack GFCI Outlets
  • ELEGRP GFCI Outlet

GFCI History and Added in Code

To prevent such accidents, Charles Dalziel, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, invented the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), in 1961. 

The requirements of GFCIs by the NEC since 1971. Initially,  GFCI was required only for all outdoor receptacles. Latter, bathrooms were added as a requirement in 1975.

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