(206) 949-5683, Top Rated Plumber, Seattle
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 27

Thread: To plug or not to plug into a GFCI outlet

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member DIY's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    150

    Default To plug or not to plug into a GFCI outlet

    GFCI outlets are located throughout this house,other than the bathroom and kitchen.Is a PC, or stereo etc. protected if plugged into a GFCI outlet with or without a surge suppressor?

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Yakima WA
    Posts
    7,246

    Default

    GCFI is not a surge protector for computers if that is your question.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    21,388

    Default

    A gfci is designed to prevent you from getting electrocuted if there's a fault in the wiring or device plugged into it. It measures the current on the power lead and compares it to the neutral...if they aren't the same, some leaked to a new ground, which might be you, then it shuts the power off.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member DIY's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    150

    Default GFCI plug in or not/question rephrase

    Is it a good idea to plug a PC,laptop,stereo etc. into a GFCI outlet?

    Just as i have learned a refrigerator should not get a gfci outlet due to the potential food spoilage it can cause.Might it do similar with regards to a data loss/memory loss etc. with a PC/laptop?

  5. #5
    Consultant cwhyu2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Cincinnati OH
    Posts
    1,330

    Default

    It is not a good idea to plug a P/C into a GFCI,for the reasons you stated.
    If you do a battery backup system would help,it would also help in a
    power outage.

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    21,388

    Default

    A properly operating electrical device should work in a gfci protected circuit...including a refrigerator. If it trips it, it has a problem and could kill you which is worse than losing some food from spoilage or having your computer shut off. Get the appliance fixed, verify the gfci is working properly, or replace them as required.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  7. #7
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,523

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DIY View Post
    Is it a good idea to plug a PC,laptop,stereo etc. into a GFCI outlet?

    Just as i have learned a refrigerator should not get a gfci outlet due to the potential food spoilage it can cause.Might it do similar with regards to a data loss/memory loss etc. with a PC/laptop?
    The statement in bold above is nothing but hog wash and anyone who makes this statement doesn't have a clue about electrical current and needs some formal training.

    Any thing that uses electrical currnet can be plugged into a GFCI without concern of loss of anything.

    The statement in bold above is saying that in the event of a power failure all your food spoil. Just like with a power failure you know that the refrigerator isn't working and take measures to stop from losing the food unless someone is just to stupid to know that the refrigerator isn't working.
    Last edited by jwelectric; 04-07-2009 at 01:06 PM.

  8. #8
    Computer Programmer Bill Arden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    MN, USA
    Posts
    584

    Default

    The problem with GFCI's and surge suppressors is that power spikes can cause them to send current threw the ground conductor and that will trip a GFI.

    Some of the fancier refrigerators have electronic controls and surge suppressors.

    Also as a surge suppressor ages due to repeated "hits" it starts to leak more and more current and that will also trip the GFCI.

    The best option for a PC is to add a surge suppressor and a Good UPS. Don't bother with the really cheep ones since they burn out the lead acid battery's every year or two due to overcharging.
    Important note – I don’t know man made laws, just laws of physics
    Disclaimer: I'm a big fan of Darwin awards.

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member DIY's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    150

    Default gfci plug into

    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    The statement in bold above is nothing but hog wash and anyone who makes this statement doesn't have a clue about electrical current and needs some formal training.

    Any thing that uses electrical currnet can be plugged into a GFCI without concern of loss of anything.

    The statement in bold above is saying that in the event of a power failure all your food spoil. Just like with a power failure you know that the refrigerator isn't working and take measures to stop from losing the food unless someone is just to stupid to know that the refrigerator isn't working.
    I appreciate your reply rock of marne. Actually your one sentence answers two of my questions about gfci outlets...... I will consult a professional electrical contractor locally regarding other questions and if gfci outlets are the best option [B]to be[B] installed here.

  10. #10
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,523

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DIY View Post
    I appreciate your reply rock of marne. Actually your one sentence answers two of my questions about gfci outlets...... I will consult a professional electrical contractor locally regarding other questions and if gfci outlets are the best option [B]to be[B] installed here.

    You might would want to contact UL at UL.com and ask them the same question you have posted here as well as asking about any appliance including a refrigerator being plugged into a GFCI.

    They are the ones that puts their labels on these appliances and if there is anyone who can give you a straight answer I would think they would be the one.

    Yes I have talked with people from UL and already know the answer you will recieve but do it yourself and then all questions will be put to rest in your mind.

  11. #11
    Computer Programmer Bill Arden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    MN, USA
    Posts
    584

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    You might would want to contact UL at UL.com and ask them the same question you have posted here as well as asking about any appliance including a refrigerator being plugged into a GFCI.

    They are the ones that puts their labels on these appliances and if there is anyone who can give you a straight answer I would think they would be the one.
    I've gone threw the UL process and they don't care if the device functions. All they care about is if it is safe.

    I've also had UL approved devices short out, and do other bad things.

    Back to the original question. You want to add a surge protector to a PC, stereo, etc. If the GFCI trips then try a different surge suppressor.
    Important note – I don’t know man made laws, just laws of physics
    Disclaimer: I'm a big fan of Darwin awards.

  12. #12
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,523

    Default

    All GFCI devices have to be built to meet UL Standard UL 943 and gapped silicon-carbide surge arresters for ac power circuits are required to meet Standard IEEE C62.1 with metal-oxide surge arresters for ac power circuits, the most common, meeting Standard IEEE C62.1.

    Each of these standards is the guide lines that each piece of equipment must meet in order to be listed. Each of these standards mandates that the each device functions in a safe manner and also mandates the amount of voltage and current each device is to detect.

    In the case of a GFCI device it is to open when there is more than five milliamps of current difference in the current carrying conductors. At five milliamps, according to OSHA, slight shock felt; not painful but disturbing. Average individual can let go. However, strong involuntary reactions to shocks in this range may lead to injuries.

    If there is an appliance be it a power tool such as a drill or even a refrigerator or freezer that trips out a GFCI device then it is time to get rid of that appliance and replace it with another.

    Surge arrestors on the other hand have a component that is called a clamping device which reads the peak voltage and clamps a sine wave that reaches a set point, on a 120 volt device this will be around 330 volts to peak, letting the upper range of the voltage go to ground. Here we are not talking about any current emptying out into the yard (ground) simply because the physics of current flow states that every one of them electrons that leave a supply must return to that supply.
    The word “ground” as used here is implying the same word that Article 200 of the NEC is addressing or what we have come to call the neutral in the field. The neutral is required to be connected to earth at every service therefore called the grounded conductor.

    All this clamping device does is cause a short circuit from hot to neutral letting any high voltage bypass the load connected to it. This short usually happens to quick to open any overcurrent device such as breakers or fuses.
    If this voltage is going back to the neutral then the current will always be the same and the GFCI will not trip.

    In the event of a lightning strike where the current is trying to go to earth then the tripping of a GFCI device only goes to aid the surge arrestor in protecting the equipment and the result of a tripped device is good and not bad.

    Once again all this hog wash being passed around about this or that tripping a GFCI and that is bad is nothing more than hog wash and holds absolutely no merit.
    Last edited by jwelectric; 04-08-2009 at 05:59 PM. Reason: spelling

  13. #13
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,523

    Default

    The author of an email I received asked if the voltage that was choked by an arrestor not allowed on the equipment grounding conductor.

    The confusion comes from the term “ground” with statements like, “the spike is shorted to ground.”

    The neutral conductor of a service is a current carrying conductor that is required to be connected to earth therefore the neutral has one Article of the NEC devoted to just that conductor, ARTICLE 200 Use and Identification of Grounded Conductors.
    The neutral is called the grounded conductor in Article 200 of the NEC hence the term “leakage to ground” is born and erroneously thought of as letting current flow into earth.

    In an AC circuit the voltage is the amount of push or pressure the current (amperage) is getting to push through a resistance or load if you please. The more voltage the quicker the current can be pushed through or the more resistance that can be over come.
    Should the push or voltage become strong enough it could push the current through the insulation that surrounds the conductor.

    On a hydraulic system a pressure control valve will let excess pressure bypass the system and bleed back into the reservoir tank. It doesn’t let the fluid squirt out all over the place and make a mess like some seem to think electrical current is allowed to do.

    The surge arrestor just like the pressure control valve of a hydraulic system, lets this extra pressure or voltage bleed back to the reservoir tank, its source and does not squirt it out into the earth. This is achieved by shorting to the grounded neutral conductor, a conductor installed to carry current, so the term bleed to ground is born.

    The equipment grounding conductor is installed for the purpose of establishing a low impedance path to the source in the event current gets on the non-current carrying metal of the electrical system or equipment connected to this system. It is not installed to carry current except in the event of a fault. If there is a voltage on the equipment grounding conductor something is wrong with the system.

    To allow the top of a sine wave be shorted to these non-current carrying metal parts of the electrical system would let the voltage potential of this metal rise and fall in sequence with the surges.
    I don’t see how letting this potential be directly connected to the metal of a system could ensure that the system would be stable under normal operation one of the purposes of connecting a system to earth as outlined in 250.4(A)(1) nor how this could possibly keep objectionable current off these items as outlined in 250.6.

    No the choke does not connect to the equipment grounding conductor. For whole house surge arrestors there will be three conductors, two ungrounded and one white grounded conductor. Nothing in this unit connects to the equipment grounding terminal of the panel just as nothing connects to the equipment grounding conductors in those remote 120 volt units. Everything is grounded to the grounded (neutral) of the device.

  14. #14
    Computer Programmer Bill Arden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    MN, USA
    Posts
    584

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    just as nothing connects to the equipment grounding conductors in those remote 120 volt units. Everything is grounded to the grounded (neutral) of the device.
    I have UL approved power strips with "full protection"(marketing term) surge protection that has 3 MOV's that connect between all three conductors. They also make power strips with three filter capacitors.

    These kind of surge suppressors are needed since lighting can damage equipment if the neutral to case/ground voltage gets too high.

    I can take photo's if needed...
    PS: this is also the power strip that shorted out when I plugged a plug into the end socket due to a small piece of internal plastic snapping off.

    - Reference
    Woods "full Protection" surge suppressor
    Model PT-F04
    UL E115193
    Listed 50EB
    I believe that I bought it in 2004.

    Of course this debate is now pointless since both sides say you should use surge suppressors on computers and stereo's even if you have GFCI's
    Important note – I don’t know man made laws, just laws of physics
    Disclaimer: I'm a big fan of Darwin awards.

  15. #15
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,523

    Default

    I have 67 duplex receptacles in my house and every one of them has all three wires connected to them. I can take pictures if you like.

    Does this mean that the equipment grounding conductor is carrying current?

    Edited to ask;

    Does the fact that the MOV has the equipment grounding conductor connected to it mean that it wouldn’t work on a two wire device?

    If it will work on a two wire device then I would say that the fact that the equipment grounding conductor is connected to it wouldn’t mean a lot wouldn’t you?
    Last edited by jwelectric; 04-11-2009 at 10:06 AM.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •