GFCI and Refrigerator and Circuit Breaker


Refrigeration equipment may be served from another circuit aside from the kitchen circuits but it is not required.

210.52(B) Small Appliances.

(1) Receptacle Outlets Served. In the kitchen, pantry, breakfast room, dining room, or similar area of a dwelling unit, the two or more 20-ampere small-appliance branch circuits required by 210.11(C)(1) shall serve all wall and floor receptacle outlets covered by 210.52(A), all counter-top outlets covered by 210.52(C), and receptacle outlets for refrigeration equipment.

Exception No. 1: In addition to the required receptacles specified by 210.52, switched receptacles supplied from a general-purpose branch circuit as defined in 210.70(A)(1), Exception No. 1, shall be permitted.

Exception No. 2: The receptacle outlet for refrigeration equipment shall be permitted to be supplied from an individual branch circuit rated 15 amperes or greater.

As to why it is tripping the breaker, I think you apparently have...

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The storm is coming, and this time you’re prepared. You've got your stockpile of food and water, a portable generator and a supply of fuel to get you through a week with no power. You start up your generator, plug in your refrigerator and … the generator trips.

You turn off your generator and reset the “breaker”, restart and five minutes later the power is out again.

This is an especially frustrating scenario for homeowners who are depending on a portable generator as back-up power in an emergency.

There are a couple common causes for portable generator tripping, and the solution could be as simple as replacing a power cord. So read on for step-by-step troubleshooting.

What’s Tripping? GFCI vs Circuit Breaker 101

In general, there are two devices that can “trip” (shut off power) on a portable generator – the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles and the circuit breaker. Both are safety devices, but they serve different purposes and...

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That is Not a good thing.

I will assume the breaker trips when the motor on the fridge kicks in.

How old are the breakers and how old is the fridge? If either is approaching 20 years, I would call an electrician for the breakers and/or go to the wholesale fridge warehouse for a new fridge..

Old fridges need to be replaced, old breakers - even more so.

There is one device that might buy you some time --- a voltage regulator. But don't hold your breath. Rather, read this paper:

Ultimately you lef t of many details -- like did you just move your old fridge into a new place? Or did the fridge work great for x amount of years and then this started happening? Lots of stuff to know here.

As an example: One time a mouse chewed my wires just enough to cause trouble, but not enough to clue my meter - the meter said the voltage was OK. It can get complicated.

NTL, I...

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Determine the structure type. If circuits are installed in a space for use other than a dwelling unit, AFCI is not required (commercial and industrial spaces are not required to have AFCI protection). AFCI protection is required only in dwelling units (apartments, homes, manufactured homes, RVs and mobile homes).


Identify circuit destinations. All 120 volt / 15 or 20 amp branch circuits supplying outlets (includes both lighting outlets and receptacle outlets) in dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sun rooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc fault circuit interrupter. This means that nearly every habitable space in new homes are required to have this protection.


Determine if an exemption applies. Most fire and smoke alarm systems are prohibited from being connected to GFCI or AFCI circuits. Absent from the list of...

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GFCI receptacle with red button for Test and black button for Reset

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), or Residual Current Device (RCD) is a circuit breaker. This device reduces the risk of electric shock. It shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing in a way it is not meant to, such as through water or a person. Electric shock may cause the heart to stop or cause burns. The device can also prevent some fires, for example, those caused when a live wire touches a metal conduit.

A GFCI device uses Kirchhoff's current law. This law states that everywhere on an electrical circuit that is in series, the current must be exactly the same as every other point on that same circuit. House wiring normally has a "hot leg" and a "neutral leg". The GFCI device watches the current "going out" on the hot leg and measures it against the current "coming back in" on the neutral. If there is a difference between the two, even as little as 4-5...

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What is a circuit breaker?

A circuit breaker is a device that automatically shuts off power supply to a device if there is a problem with the electric supply. If a power surge occurs in the wiring and the amperage exceeds the design limit of the circuit breaker, it will trip and shut off the power to prevent damage to the device drawing it and also prevent the overloaded circuit from catching fire. Normal domestic lighting and wall outlet circuit breakers are typically of 10, 15 and 20 amp capacity. Larger capacities may be needed for air conditioners, washers etc. Read below where Experts answer questions regarding circuit breakers and circuit breaker replacement.

The circuit breaker on my compressor keeps tripping. When I reset it the unit runs fine and the thermostat cuts out as programmed. But when the temperature rises and the thermostat signals the compressor to restart, the breaker trips again. What should I do?

This sounds like a contactor...

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Video: How to Connect Wires to Terminal Screws

Troubleshooting the outlet

When an outlet goes dead, it’s easy to jump to conclusions and assume the worst. But more often than not, the problem is something simple, and you can save the cost of a service call just by taking a few steps to trace the cause. Don’t worry if you’re not comfortable doing electrical work. Better than half the time, you’ll solve the problem without even lifting a tool. We’ll show you how to start your search for the problem by checking in the most likely places. If that doesn’t work, we’ll show you where to look for loose connections that may be to blame, and how to fix them.

Of course, there will always be problems that are best left to an electrician. But if you take these steps first, there’s a good chance you’ll find the solution.

Check for Simple Solutions First

Shortly after moving into our house, we had an electrical problem. The exterior outlets and bathroom...

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Originally Posted by


All GFCIs may be differential CBs, but not all differential CBs are GFCIs.
The term GFCI indicates specific current thresholds, 6ma for Class A.

Yes, correct. But more specifically:

There are potentially confusing terminologies for all of this stuff collectively called "Ground Fault" equipment here in North America but with other terms from different areas of the world.

In Europe and Asia, they use the term Residual Current Device (RCD) or Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB). And RCD does not have the CB current sensing, just the differential.

In South America, Brazil in particular, some people call them Differential Residual (DR) or Differential Current (DI, because I = Current) circuit breakers. Weg, a large Brazillian supplier, has begun exporting their components here to the US in recent years and their DR breakers are showing up in catalogs and stores, then get misapplied by sales people who have no...

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A circuit breaker offers protection and safety of your high voltage residential wiring and is installed in your breaker box. These devices include single pole breakers, double-pole breakers, GFCI breakers, ARC fault breakers, surge protectors and fuses. The following webpage will explain the proper application for each type of circuit breaker. Keep in mind you should always reference electrical codes in your area to ensure you are meeting requirements.

Single Pole Breakers

A single-pole circuit breaker is one of the most common types of breakers found in homes. They protect a single 120V circuit and are typically rated at 15A or 20A. A 15A breaker is used to protect a 14gauge romex circuit for lighting or outlets. A 20A circuit breaker is typically used to protect a 12gauge romex circuit. A single-pole circuit breaker takes up a single slot in a breaker panel and has one screw to connect your line wire (usually black). These circuit...

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Intro | service panel | breakers | 240-volt circuits | GFCI | Neutral & Ground


The breaker panel is your homes electrical jugular vein and a safe way to CUT power to an appliance for a successful and safe repair. We have become so accustomed to electricity that we sometimes forget that it can also be extremely hazardous. Because of this often overlooked fact, several types of electrical safety devices are installed into every home to make the use of this modern day necessity a little less dangerous.

Service Panel

Electricity enters the house through three incoming electrical service wires that are attached the two top lugs of the meter mount inside the main service panel. At the top of the service panel a meter is installed to measure the amount of electricity being used within your home. When the meter is in place, power is supplied to two bottom lugs. The main breakers then close the circuit from the bottom lugs to a set of separate,...

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The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) saves lives. There are two different kinds for home use--electrical outlets and circuit breakers. GFCI circuit breakers last longer than GFCI outlets and are a good idea if you do not test your GFCI outlets on a regular basis. Read on to learn more about proper installation.

Turn off the main breaker in the service panel and remove the panel cover. Check the circuits with your voltage tester to make sure that they are not hot. Pull out the old breaker and disconnect the wires.

Verify that the GFCI breaker matches the circuit wiring. Use a 15-amp breaker with 14-gauge wire and a 20-amp breaker with 12-gauge wire.

Attach the curly white wire from the breaker to the neutral bus. The neutral bus is the strip with the screws located on the outside edge of the service panel.

Connect the white circuit wire to the neutral breaker terminal and the black circuit wire to the hot breaker terminal. No more than 1/4 inch of...

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Yes, if the fixture itself has a shorted wire or a socket, the light bulb in some cases will cause the breaker to trip. Remember there are other things connected on that same circuit. Other outlets, lights, switches, etc. etc.. Check out everything that is on that circuit first, as well as the entire light fixture for burned wiring or a burned socket. An alternative answer Sometimes, if the alternating voltage - and corresponding peak current - happen to be at or near to peak value at the instant when the filament of an incandescent light bulb blows, the sudden break in the flow of current can induce a "spike" of current which causes the circuit breaker to trip. Good quality light bulbs have a fuse inside them which is intended to blow in this situation but, sometimes, the fuse may not melt in time and the breaker reacts faster than the fuse. So, if you replace the light bulb and the breaker does not trip again when you switch the light on, the breaker most probably tripped...

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GE and Hotpoint refrigerators, compact refrigerators, wine chillers, beverage centers, and standalone icemakers:

Requires a 120 volt individual, properly grounded branch circuit with a 3 prong grounding type receptacle, protected by a 15 or 20 amp circuit breaker or time-delay fuse.Should be on a dedicated circuit. This is recommended for best performance and to prevent overloading house wiring circuits.


Although some Monogram refrigerators require a 20 amp fuse or breaker, most new models Requires a 120 volt individual, properly grounded branch circuit with a 3 prong grounding type receptacle, protected by a 15 or 20 amp circuit breaker or time-delay fuse.

Refrigerators should be on a dedicated circuit, however, sometimes the exact amps or wattage is needed for use on generators and other similar applications.

The rating plate on the unit has this information. View refrigerator rating plate location.To determine wattage, use: volts x amps =...
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AFCI Circuit Breaker and Wiring

Gary, from New York asks:
I had an addition done on my house a while ago, but the builder never filed for the electrical work. To make a long story short I received a violation from the building department that AFCI protection has not been provided for all bedroom outlets and lighting. Surfing the web it sounds like an easy fix by just changing the circuit breakers. I have had 2 electricians tell me they have to put a loop in the outlets. Not sure what that is really. Does that sound accurate?

Dave's Reply:
Gary, the electricians mat be referring to a loop that may have to be installed between two outlet locations in order to place the outlets on one AFCI circuit. AFCI circuit wiring cannot share the neutral as with multi wire circuits and this may be a condition that needs to be corrected as well.

How to Provide GFCI Protection for a Circuit

Perrie, from Trinidad WI, Other asks:...
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GFI outlet, circuit breaker trips after UPS or SurgeArrest is connected.

Product Line:
Back-UPS Models ES,CS,NS,XS and RS. Surge Surpressors; All Product Families

Surge or Back-UPS plugged in to GFCI outlet.

A ground fault interrupter (GFI) is a safety device required by the National
Electrical Code. Its purpose is to avert personal injury.
Some GFI devices are poorly calibrated and trip prematurely.

You can try to replace the GFCI device and see if this solves the problem.
Try a different brand if possible. If the outlet is not in a bathroom or kitchen, you can consider changing the circuit to a non-GFCI receptacle or breaker. The circuit breaker type GFCI devices are generally of higher quality and are recommended as being more immune to this type of problem.

There are thousands of successful installations of UPS and computer equipment with...

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The 2014 NEC requires AFCI protection for refrigerators. I've read that one shouldn't use GFCI protection for a refrigerator, but I know that AFCI breakers do include ground-fault protection (at a 30mA threshold, as opposed the 6mA threshold for GFCI breakers or AFCI/GFCI dual breakers).

Are nuisance trips a problem when using an AFCI breaker on an individual branch circuit for a refrigerator?

And if so, I'd be curious - are the nuisance trips typically due to false-positive ground faults (difference between line and neutral current - as a GFCI breaker would detect), or false-positive arc faults (series arcing or line-to-neutral arcing)? I believe most of the AFCI circuit breakers on the market will distinguish between those two, in order to help diagnose the wiring problem.

The question presumes something I do not believe.

I don't believe all AFCIs also do GFCI at 30ma level.

This answer here is a very well-informed and interesting exposition on...

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Hi Max,

Thank you for your question regarding Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFCI) protection for personnel and refrigerator receptacle outlets, it is our pleasure to help.

Refrigerators, surge-protection devices, electric motors, and many other devices have reported problems of excessively tripping the GFCI breaker when these items are in normal use. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to understand the frustration of a home owner when they come home to find all the food in their refrigerator spoiled because of a GFCI tripping during normal operation. However, modern refrigerators do not typically have this problem. In fact, if you have a refrigerator built in the last 20 years or so, if it does trip the GFCI, it is probably more likely that there is a problem with the refrigerator than with the GFCI circuit.

A GFCI (Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter) uses technology to sense the difference in amperage between the hot and the neutral lines, typically...

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Oh, I just KNEW this would come up someday - and now it is 2015 (the 2014 National Electrical Code (NEC) came into effect in many jurisdictions on January 1, 2015 that makes it even worse.

By pre-2011 code (or thereabout), if the outlet is used only for the reefer and is NOT readily accessible (reachable without pulling reefer out) for use for countertop appliances, it does not need to be GFCI covered and almost universally was not (ditto for washers, dryers, dishwashers, freezers, air compressors, large shop power tools, garbage disposals) because the solenoids and motors tend to trip out GFCI's when starting up. The 2011 code, as I recall, added garbage disposals as GFCI required items, for good cause as almost all undersink plumbing is non-conducting now, so the garbage disposal (especially the idiotic two-wired ones) are ungrounded and could energize the sink without tripping the breaker (or possibly even a GFCI if 2-wire).

Now comes the complication, with some...

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If you have a properly grounded outlet and grounding system, there is no need for a refrigerator to be on a GFCI so long as the outlet is hidden behind the refrigerator and no one can plug anything else into it.

The grounded metal chassis would provide plenty of protection.

Now take something like a toaster in a kitchen. A kid could stick a knife in it and be shocked. A GFCI would protect the kid.

Or a hand mixer with a frayed cord. Someone could touch a bare wire.

The danger is with small appliances, especially handheld, which can be plugged into outlets. Those outlets should all be GFCI.

Another example is an electric range. No need for a GFCI. No one is going to plug anything else into that...

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