Since the 1970s, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) have saved thousands of lives and have helped cut the number of home electrocutions in half.
GFCIs are electrical safety devices that trip electrical circuits when they detect ground faults or leakage currents. A person who becomes part of a path for leakage current will be severely shocked or electrocuted. These outlets prevent deadly shock by quickly shutting off power to the circuit if the electricity flowing into the circuit differs by even a slight amount from that returning.
A GFCI should be used in any indoor or outdoor area where water may come into contact with electrical products. The National Electrical Code currently requires that GFCIs be used in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoors.
Questions and Answers: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
Even today’s modern electrical devices are subject to the basic principles of electricity. One of the most important being – water and electricity don’t mix! Luckily, there is a technology available to help protect you from this shocking hazard. In fact, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters have been providing this type of protection to consumers since the early 1970s.
What is a ground fault?
A ground fault is an unintentional electrical path between a power source and a grounded surface.
These leakage currents usually occur when an electrical appliance is damaged or the electrical parts are wet, causing electrical current to flow outside of the circuit conductors.
If your body provides a path to the ground for this current, you could be burned, severely shocked, or electrocuted.
What are ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs?
GFCIs are electrical safety devices that are designed to protect people from electric shock and electrocution.
Typically, GFCIs are installed in areas where water and electricity are in close proximity, such as the bathroom, kitchen, garage, basement, and outdoors.
They are especially useful for cord-connected appliances and equipment used outdoors or near water.
How do GFCIs work?
GFCIs prevent deadly shock by quickly shutting off power to the circuit if the electricity flowing into the circuit differs by even a slight amount from that returning, indicating a loss of current.
Are they effective?
Since the 1970s, GFCIs have saved thousands of lives and have helped cut the number of home electrocutions in half.
Since first including a home GFCI requirement in 1971, the National Electrical Code (NEC) has continually expanded the requirements to include additional locations. The NEC currently requires that GFCIs be used in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, basements, crawlspaces, and outdoors.
Is it cost effective to switch to GFCIs?
GFCI outlets are generally fairly inexpensive, starting under $15.
Can I install them myself?
GFCIs should only be installed by a licensed, qualified electrician.
Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and provide flexibility in using receptacles that are not GFCI-protected. They are commonly used outdoors.
Ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, have saved thousands of lives over the last three decades. Found mostly in areas where electrical products might come in contact with water, a GFCI is a special type of electrical outlet designed to cut off power before an electrical shock can occur. GFCIs should be tested every month to ensure they are in working order.