Follow-up on new GFCI code requirement

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.

New Rules on GFCI Receptacles

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.

GFCI-Outlet

New GFCI Outlet

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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Kitchen Remodeling Tip: Check Electrical Needs

Updating your New Kitchen

Review Electrical Requirements in your New Kitchen

Remodeling a kitchen can be fun and exciting, but it can also be frustrating, and costly. Don't make it more frustrating and costly than necessary by failing to examine your electrical needs.

When lighting or appliances are moved or require additional power, it's typical to have some electrical work done. However, even if you're just updating an existing kitchen with new cabinets, countertops, etc. you may be find yourself in need of some electrical work. Here is an example that I ran into recently with a kitchen remodel.

Microwave-Install

The house was in a nice neighborhood, and had a great floor plan that perfectly fit our needs. But it was an older house (approx. 30 years), so we had to completely gut and redo the inside. Even though we weren't adding any additional appliances, I had some concern that the power available in the kitchen might be insufficient. Specifically, I knew that the manufacturer of the microwave hood recommended a separate circuit, and I doubted that this kitchen was wired with a separate circuit for the microwave hood. Nevertheless, everything seemed to work well in our new kitchen….until Thanksgiving.

All of our kitchen appliances and lights were running at full power along with crockpots, etc. when the kitchen lights started blinking like a Christmas tree. Curiously, even the lights on the chandelier in the nearby dining started blinking. Then a breaker kicked off and the microwave as well as some lights shut down. We turned off a few things, and flipped the breaker back on. Thanksgiving was saved, but we knew that some electrical work was in our future.

We had an electrician come out, and together we discovered that the microwave hood was on a circuit with some lights and plugs in another room. Unfortunately, there was no inexpensive way to pull a separate wire from the breaker box to the microwave hood. However, the electrician was able to switch the microwave to a different circuit with a lower total power requirement. In addition, he suggested we use low power LED bulbs for the lighting on that circuit. The result was that with LED bulbs and the microwave together, even if all lights AND the microwave were on at the same time, there would be no chance of overloading the circuit. Easter here we come!

Next up: GFCI circuits in your kitchen.

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Appliances, floor coverings, window treatments, and more

Arizona Wholesale

Phoenix 602 258-7901, Scottsdale 480 596-0092, Tucson 520 795-4663

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