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Should A Refrigerator Be On A GFCI?
A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is a device that protects homeowners from being electrocuted by shocks emitted from faulty electrical appliances.
GFCI was first introduced in 1971, and this was a significant step towards reducing cases of Americans being electrocuted.
How does a GFCI work? It compares the current input on the hot side to the current output on the neutral side.
If it notices a difference in the input and output current, it will indicate a problem and shut down the power supply or trip the circuit. But, Should A Refrigerator Be On A GFCI?
No, A GFCI outlet is a 115-volts or 120-volts with a securely grounded branch circuit having a 15-amp or 20-amp protection circuit breaker. A GFCI outlet will trip when the refrigerator’s electrical insulation is worn out or has accumulated some moisture. It’s a safety measure you would not want to avoid.
The difference in the input and output current is when the current is flowing from the circuit to the ground.
A regular circuit breaker will trip when the amperage levels go beyond the recommended ratings, commonly 15 or 20 amps in a home;
By doing so, it prevents the circuit from overheating and starting a fire, but it does not protect humans from electrical shock, unlike a GFCI.
GFCI helps shut off the current flow in a circuit should it detect an improper current flow which might produce an electrical shock.
As much as it is not a requirement for refrigerators to use GFCI, it’s a safety measure.
Some people believe that using outlets that are not GFCI protected reduces the risk of food spoiling in the fridge.
The GFCI might repeatedly trip because of the refrigerator, but this might not necessarily mean that the circuit is the problem; it could be an issue with the fridge.
Putting your refrigerator on a GFCI will help you reduce the risk of electrocution and minimize the chances of a tripped wire and food getting spoiled.
About the National Electrical Code, no commercial building or kitchen should lack a GFCI for refrigerators.
If you have a refrigerator on a GFCI and it keeps tripping the circuit, it’s usually because of a fault in the refrigerator and not the circuit itself.
Having a GFCI installed in your home indeed guarantees your family’s safety from being electrocuted.
There are cases of the water lines feeding the refrigerator bursting open and creating a pool on the ground.
Should the water come into contact with electrical appliances.
The GFCI will sense and immediately trip the breaker preventing homeowners from finding themselves standing in the pool of water prone to electrocution.
A GFCI outlet will also trip when the refrigerator’s electrical insulation is worn out or has accumulated some moisture.
What Size GFCI for A Refrigerator?
Old homes have a common problem. The circuit that runs in old houses can be short if too many kitchen appliances are turned on simultaneously.
All the appliances and light sources that are connected to that circuit will also shut down.
Circuit breakers are installed in homes to interrupt electricity flow to some regions of the house.
And they are also modified to protect homeowners from overloading the home’s electrical system.
The National Electrical Code requires refrigerators to have a dedicated circuit, and homeowners should always look keenly at the start-up amps and wattage.
Which are three times more than the running amps.
To avoid having wires overheating in your house, you are required to use the appropriate wire size for the suitable amps required.
When buying a refrigerator, you should always look at the compressor’s intake, and the general instructions are given by the manufacturer on the appliance’s guide.
A good number of domestic refrigerators use close to 725 watts of electricity with 15 to 20 amps;
This is almost 10 percent of the total energy used by the house or more than 10 percent. Knowing a refrigerators’ wattage helps with choosing the proper amperage for it.
What Would Cause My Refrigerator To Trip The GFCI?
It is a common issue to find refrigerators or other big appliances tripping GFCI outlets. What makes a GFCI outlet trip is the difference in the output and input current.
When it comes to huge power guzzler appliances like a refrigerator, the refrigerator can draw more current quickly.
Creating the difference in the returning and outgoing current in the GFCI, making the GFCI trip.
When a refrigerator is turned on or off, the refrigerator compressor motor could cause the GFCI to trip.
You are advised to try plugging the refrigerator into another GFCI outlet, and it trips too then; the problem is with the refrigerator; it could be having a short.
When an inductive load is turned off, it can produce electromagnetic interference (EMI).
It’s that interference that trips GFCI devices, and a vapor compression refrigerator does not have a lot of inductive loads that could cause a trip.
The refrigerator tripping the GFCI occurs at random times because the motor in the fridge operates on changing current.
It’s a big letdown coming home from work or school and finding spoilt food in the refrigerator because the GFCI tripped.
To stop your refrigerator from tripping the GFCI;
You can try changing the GFCI outlet to a new one to see if the problem is with the refrigerator or the GFCI outlet.
You could find that the GFCI outlet is worn out and needs replacement hence the regular tripping.
If the issue is with the refrigerator, you can call an electrician to look at it to find what is causing the short.
You can also install a device known as snubbers. Snubbers help reduce or cut the electromagnetic interference that causes GFCI devices to trip.
Snubbers are used to lower voltage spikes, usually caused by the circuit’s inductance if an electrical or mechanical switch opens.
Those who fear their food going bad when the refrigerator trips the GFCI while away can install snubbers in between the refrigerator and the GFCI to stop the circuit from tripping.
Can A Refrigerator Be On A 15-Amp Circuit?
Yes, a refrigerator can be on a 15-amp circuit. On average, refrigerators run on 3 to 6 amps, but they can shoot to 15-amps when on maximum power.
That means, when installing a breaker, you should look at the worst-case scenario.
For instance, when the refrigerator begins the cooling process, when the motor starts running, it requires its maximum power to run, which is around 15-amps.
The 15-amp breaker might not be enough to run the refrigerator.
It would be best to connect your refrigerator to a dedicated 20-amp, 120-volt circuit to carry the current from the breaker to the appliance safely.
Installing a dedicated 20-amp circuit will help avoid overloading the circuit because the power being drawn is too much, and the wires cannot handle it.
The wire used on a 20-amp circuit is a 12-gauge wire; this is the dedicated wire for a 20-amp circuit.
You should always check the manufacturer’s details on the manual book concerning the power.
Should The Refrigerator Be On A 20-Amp Circuit?
Yes. The new age refrigerators require a dedicated 20-amp, 120/ 125-volt circuit.
A 20-amp circuit uses a 12-gauge wire as it is the recommended wire to carry that amount of power safely.
Having your refrigerator on a dedicated circuit is recommended for this helps it perform to its best and prevents overloading the other house wiring circuits.
On average, most residential home refrigerators consume around 500 to 750 watts of electricity with 15 to 20 amps when running on full power.
A 750-watt appliance on a 110-volt current will require 6.8 amps to run it;
That is half of what the refrigerator will use on a 15-amp circuit and slightly more than a third of a 20-amp circuit.
When installing a circuit for the refrigerator, consider giving it a safety margin of roughly 20% to 30%.
A circuit is required to carry 80 percent of its designated load when normally operating.
If we are to use a 15-amp circuit, we will have an actual load rating of 12amps. Having loaded a 6.8-amp on the circuit.
We will have a remaining working reserve capacity of 5.2 amps. So, it would be best to have a circuit with higher amps than a 15-amp circuit.
It will be best to use a 20-amp circuit instead of a 15-amp to have a larger working reserve capacity.
Because the unused capacity on a 15-amp circuit would not run another appliance like a microwave oven.
The two appliances would not work on the same 15-amp circuit when the refrigerator’s compressor is running; it might lead to circuit breaker tripping.
There are smaller refrigerators that could be plugged in the general lighting circuit, and it will work quite fine because of its size.
Although it is recommended that when renovating the house, you install a dedicated 120 or 125-volt circuit for the refrigerator to work smoothly at its full potential.
Can I Use A 14-Gauge Wire On A 20-Amp Circuit?
No. You cannot use a 14-gauge wire on a 20-amp circuit. The cross-sectional area of a 14-gauge wire is smaller than the cross-sectional area of a 12-gauge cable.
A 12-gauge cable is the recommended wire for a 20-amp circuit. Using a 14-gauge wire on a 20-amp circuit would lead to overheating the wires and melting;
At some point, it can lead to a fire outbreak. Some people use 14-gauge wires on a 20-amp circuit.
But the National Electrical Code does not recommend it because it cannot sustain a full load from a 20-amp circuit.
A 12-gauge wire is designated for a 20-amp circuit to sustain the load and carry it safely from the breaker to the outlet.
Here is a relation of the Non-Metallic (NM) wires to the amps.
- 14-gauge = 15-amps
- 12-gauge = 20-amps
- 10-gauge = 30-amps
- 8-gauge = 40-amps
- 6-gauge = 55-amps
Vice versa, a 12-gauge wire can carry current safely from a breaker to the receptacle on a 15-amp circuit.
The same it is not advised to install a 15-amp receptacle on a 20-amp circuit.
If an appliance that draws more than 15-amps or 20 amps is connected to the 15-amp receptacle, it might lead to overheating of the receptacle.
So, you should install every amperage with the related wire size and receptacle.
A GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter is a device that the Americans invented in 1971 to help reduces the cases of electrical shock on Americans.
It’s designed to cut off the power supply when there is a ground fault.
It will sense the difference between the current input and current output caused when current flows from the circuit to the ground.
Having someone nearby would lead to them getting electrocuted and suffering severe electrical injuries.
A refrigerator will require a 115 or 120-volt individual and a properly grounded branch circuit with a 15-amp or 20-amp circuit breaker.
A refrigerator’s start-up amps or watts is three times more than the running amps.
It is recommended to have a dedicated 20-amp circuit with a GFCI receptacle to help the fridge function efficiently to full capacity and to help prevent shorting the circuit.
What would cause your GFCI receptacle to the trip is a change in the current input and output.
A refrigerator’s motor can draw much power during the start-up process triggering a difference in the current input and output.
A refrigerator can be a 15-amp circuit, but this would not leave enough working reserve capacity.
Should the fridge motors start running, it will spike to a full capacity amperage, 15-amps. So, it would be safe to use a dedicated 20-amp circuit for a refrigerator.
You cannot use a 14-gauge wire on a 20-amp circuit because it cannot sustain the load at maximum power, which will lead to the wire overheating and melting and.
If possible, cause a fire. For a 20-amp circuit, you are required to use a 12-gauge wire and a 14-gauge wire on a 15-amp circuit.
However, you can use a 12-gauge wire on a 15-amp circuit because it can handle the power at its peak, 15 amps.