Remodeling a Kitchen? Think about updating GFCI outlets.
This is an update of a blog I wrote last year regarding new NEC requirements for GFCI plugs as of June 29, 2015.
We purchased an older home recently, and did major remodeling including the kitchen. We had some electrical issues in the kitchen, so I called in an electrician to analyze and fix the problem. Not just an electrician, this fellow was an electrical inspector who did some odd jobs on weekends.
He addressed and fixed the main problem I had which related to the lack of adequate power in my kitchen. While he was there, I asked him to install new GFCI outlets in my kitchen. We had a brief discussion regarding the new code, and he informed me that GFCI plugs should not be used for the refrigerator. THIS IS WRONG, and it is widely misunderstood by the trade. The new NEC code which went into effect June 29, 2015 requires the new self-monitoring GFCI's in the kitchen, but does make an exception for a refrigerator in the kitchen. That does not mean that the GFCI is not a good idea for the refrigerator, but an exception is granted where needed (see below). Here's what you should know:
At one time, twenty years or more ago, refrigerators and freezers had large compressors, that had large power requirements when they turned on, a “surge” if you will. Old model refrigerators provided a lot of cooling very quickly, then turned off for a long time, and then kicked back on when the refrigerator warmed up. A refrigerator or freezer kicking on might unnecessarily trigger the circuit breaker and disconnect power to the refrigerator. This could result in food loss or spoilage. However, today's refrigerators have smaller compressors that run all the time at variable speeds, eliminating the “surge” and keeping temperatures even. Refrigerators today pose little risk of tripping a circuit breaker. In fact, if they do trip the circuit breaker, it is likely there is an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.
The real lesson for you is that if you have any electrical work done in your kitchen or baths, it is a good idea to update your electrical receptacles with new outlets that are compliant to the latest NEC requirements.
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