Breaker question? GFCI? Oh my....

urshurak776

New User
Todd
Morning. I just bought a home in Indian Land, SC (I work in North Charlotte.) There are no outlets in garage other than one on back wall and the one for garage door opener. My plan is to add some surface mount outlets (20 AMP.) I know they have to be GFCI protected. This is the 20 AMP breaker for my box (Eaton CH series.) It says this is a GFCI breaker, but no test button? Does this mean I can use it in garage without a GFCI outlet (like I had originally planned?)


Thanks all!

Todd
 

DaltonEdmonds

New User
Dalton
Not an electrician, but have run into these a couple of times on remodels I was doing. They flip to about half when they trip, and to reset them need to flip them off then back on. Now to test them I’m not completely sure, but there is an outlet tester that has a gfci tester on it. I believe you plug it in to an outlet on that run press test should flip the breaker.
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
Again, not an electrician but I seem to think the outlets (GFCI) are a lot cheaper than the GFCI breakers. You may check this out at an electrical supply store to see if that makes any difference.

Roy G
 

urshurak776

New User
Todd
Thanks guys. The breaker is only $7.95 at Lowes and Home Depot. Pretty cheap. Even a cheap GFCI outlet is $12-$15. So it was odd to me that a GFCI breaker was only $8. If this is all I need then great, I'm just not sure?
 

Brantnative

Jeff
Corporate Member
It's a pretty important point in the circuit. Cheap GFCI's will trip more at less over current or may not trip at all. Buy the best you can afford. Electricians I talk to prefer the wall GFCI's because breakers can trip if there's a small stray current nearby in the panel. If you buy a pass through GFCI then you only need one on the circuit and every other receptacle will be protected. Whatever you do install, remember to test it at least once a month. They do fail.
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
Also, if you go the breaker route, make sure the breaker will fit your box. There are several box manufacturers and the breakers are different.

Roy G
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
Thanks guys. I think I will put an actual GFCI outlet as the first outlet in each circuit. Easier to replace that way also (if the GFCI goes bad.)
Also, not sure where your panel is with relation to your garage, but it's a PITA to go traipsing back to the panel when one trips when all you had to do was go the GFCI receptacle.
 

sawman101

Bruce Swanson
Corporate Member
The GFCI has to be the first outlet in the circuit, and not sure what code is now, but I believe the outlets down the line from the GFCI breaker or outlet was 4. That may have changed as I haven't kept up with code since the last century. If you put in a GFCI outlet, make sure it is easy to get to it to reset or test. My house has an outdoor GFCI outlet in a weatherproof box mounted on the outside wall with the bottom of the box touching the deck. Do you have any idea how hard it is for some of us fossils to lay down on the deck in order to even see how to put the plug in? Then I see no GFCI's near the sinks either, so apparently they are not protected circuits. I guess they'll stay that way while I'm still kicking. I'm not sure how this house ever passed the Underwriters inspection.
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
The GFCI has to be the first outlet in the circuit, and not sure what code is now, but I believe the outlets down the line from the GFCI breaker or outlet was 4. That may have changed as I haven't kept up with code since the last century. If you put in a GFCI outlet, make sure it is easy to get to it to reset or test. My house has an outdoor GFCI outlet in a weatherproof box mounted on the outside wall with the bottom of the box touching the deck. Do you have any idea how hard it is for some of us fossils to lay down on the deck in order to even see how to put the plug in? Then I see no GFCI's near the sinks either, so apparently they are not protected circuits. I guess they'll stay that way while I'm still kicking. I'm not sure how this house ever passed the Underwriters inspection.
Chances are your outside outlet was installed before the deck, or they may not have had a means of getting it any higher when they put it in.
Not sure about residential, as I am mainly involved in commercial construction, but GFCI outlets are required in any area with a water basin (sink, lavatory, tub, toilet) where the outlet is within 6 feet of the basin as well as any outdoor location. And, yes, that's why I made the comment I did, because I hate trudging downstairs every time I forget and have the microwave, the TV, and the electric fireplace on at the same time and the breaker trips - which is what it's supposed to do.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Yup Like Dennis said, I am a contractor, one of my past licenses was Electrical. I do not recommend GFI's ...unless there is a moisture potential where you are working. Until 2017 NEC Code requires typically one in the garage, any outside located outlets and kitchen and bathrooms if if in close enough proximity to water. The newer NEC code Post 2017 does require all plugs in the Garage to be GFI, but there are exceptions and, trying to run equipment on these is problematic. I can tell you most people will install GFCI's in the garage until after inspection, then convert them to regular plugs after inspection sign off. I am not recommending doing this but only pointing out what other people do.

The better way to go is to put 20 amp circuits in your panel (12 ga copper wire or 12 ga romex.) And, if, you want closer overcurrent protection, then get a quality power strip with a good overcurrent protection. Either 15 or 20 amp. That is how I have my garage set up. I only use the mandatory GFI to Feed lights and or fans, only. That way, I get clean power without all the gfi's over kill that lawyers have created within the code. If you are hell bent on GFI's then you can buy the outlet expansion (turns the plug in to 6 outlets in a plug.that have a built in GFI protection. Just my thoughts.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
Since you are having to run a circuit, why not use a multiwire branch circuit. This way you could have two 120's and a 240 at each location. The circuit hits the 240 first and feeds thru to hit the 120's. You will need two open slots in the breaker box, and pull two hots and a single neutral. By surface mounting, using EMT, you don't have to run a separate ground wire. The EMT serves as your ground. Use 3/4" EMT, as it will give you room to pull additional circuits late as needed. First talk to building inspector, as you might not have GFCI's at all locations, as these are dedicated circuits, not general purpose circuits.
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
Since you are having to run a circuit, why not use a multiwire branch circuit. This way you could have two 120's and a 240 at each location. The circuit hits the 240 first and feeds thru to hit the 120's. You will need two open slots in the breaker box, and pull two hots and a single neutral. By surface mounting, using EMT, you don't have to run a separate ground wire. The EMT serves as your ground. Use 3/4" EMT, as it will give you room to pull additional circuits late as needed. First talk to building inspector, as you might not have GFCI's at all locations, as these are dedicated circuits, not general purpose circuits.
If I am not mistaken, the code has been changed to require running a separate ground wire in EMT, as well as all boxes (pull boxes as well as outlets) are required to be grounded as well. That is what I had to do for my shed and was the primary thing the code inspector wanted to see (I was warned in advance when I picked up my permit, and he did check every box during the inspection.)

For multi circuit wiring sharing a ground, the ground wire has to be equal in size to the largest current carrying conductor.

In the wiring you described, the two separate 120 circuits would be sharing the neutral. This can cause nuisance tripping problems in GFCI circuits.
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
If I am not mistaken, the code has been changed to require running a separate ground wire in EMT, as well as all boxes (pull boxes as well as outlets) are required to be grounded as well. That is what I had to do for my shed and was the primary thing the code inspector wanted to see (I was warned in advance when I picked up my permit, and he did check every box during the inspection.)

For multi circuit wiring sharing a ground, the ground wire has to be equal in size to the largest current carrying conductor.

In the wiring you described, the two separate 120 circuits would be sharing the neutral. This can cause nuisance tripping problems in GFCI circuits.
I was at another project of ours last week and the tenant specified that the space be wired using shared neutrals - on a 3 phase service, which required 3 phase circuit breakers to link the shared neutral circuits together. They are a national chain and wanted to maintain consistency in their design. IMO, that is consistently stupid. We tripped a general purpose receptacle and could not find which circuit it was, as the breaker was too stiff to trip out all three circuits, creating a hazardous situation as well as a mega nuisance. When servicing shared neutral circuits, one must be sure that ALL circuits served by the shared neutral are disabled to avoid a backfeed situation. I would recommend staying away from shared neutrals, and IIRC, they may not work on GFCI circuits, as the GFCI may read a load on the other circuit neutral as a fault and trip. Others more qualified can better comment on this.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
The rules on grounding are often misunderstood. Code has been for along time you cannot use emt for ground except for very short runs. Rigid you can. Reason being is how they attach. Emt is either a coupling with a single screw to attach and hold in place or a compression fitting. In both cases, it can compromise the piping causing a break or dimishment in the pipe's ability to run the ground without resistance. Rigid has to be threaded so it can be used but way expensive. The most common way people run power from a panel to an out building, especially in residential is to use UG (underground rated) romex. It noramally has to be 24-36 " deep depending on the state or county rules.

As far as using a common ground for circuits, in single phase 120/220 systems you are allowed to run 1 common ground for 2 circuits- provided the breaker the power side runs together to is bussed together. That way, if one circuit breaks the other is also tripped to prevent neutral feed back. This is how I will run bedrooms I will run a 12/3 romex and run 2-circuits per bedroom. The reason is the white(neutral runing back to the panel to complete the circuit is not more than 1/2 the power being fed. So.... if you have a 120 v read on a line the neutral will read 55-60 volts.

3-phase you are supposed to buss common neutral circuits together ........ or must provide and accurate call out in the panel, so people coming after you are able to trace what got fed off of what. In Georgia, that info was rarely given which is lame, unprofessional and unethical.

One last thing, with DRO's and many digital devices, a positive clean ground is much more important than it was prior to the digital age.

But, except with a few exceptions (like the 12/3 power run), the wire/labor you save really is not worth it IMHO.
 
Last edited:

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Hi John, welcome to the forum. YOu might want to open a "hi I am a new member" posting. That way it will alow all of the group to respond.
 

Our Sponsors

LATEST FOR SALE LISTINGS

Top