GFCI outlets are very common in households these days, especially due to the added safety they provide to the electrical appliances and the user. However, can you plug a fridge into a GFCI?
The short answer is yes; you can plug a fridge into a GFCI outlet. However, it is not always the best choice for such an appliance. There are a few factors to consider before plugging a fridge into a GFCI. Otherwise, you could face issues like nuisance trips and spoiled food.
I will go through all of the benefits of plugging a refrigerator into a GFCI outlet alongside the issues that you might face if you do so.
How GFCI Protects Appliances and Users
The basic concept of GFCI is that it detects voltage changes in a circuit, no matter how small it is, and shuts down the circuit by tripping. The current between both the source and the return from the device should be the same.
GFCI is short for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. It compares the amount of current traveling to and coming back from equipment along circuit wires. The GFCI stops the current when the quantity going exceeds the amount returning by around 5 milliamperes. The GFCI is designed to trip rapidly enough to avoid an electrical shock.
But do GFCI breakers replace GFCI outlets? If the breaker is supplying power to the same outlet, then yes, it is possible to use them interchangeably.
If you plug your refrigerator into a GFCI outlet, you can ensure safety regarding any shocking hazards. But you have to ensure it is using a 110 volt or a 120-volt power supply.
Because almost every refrigerator uses 110 to 120-volt plugs. However, in certain areas, the electrical code requires refrigerators to be used on a dedicated circuit.
Plugging a Fridge into a GFCI
You definitely can plug a fridge into a GFCI outlet, if it matches the voltage criteria of your fridge and complies with the electrical code of your area. However, there are some issues to consider.
Can you plug a fridge into a GFCI? Yes, you can. But, should you? Below are a few reasons which you should consider, before making your decision.
National Electric Code:
The NEC does not actually dictate the use of a GCFI for appliances like a refrigerator. The NEC is specifically concerned about areas or locations, in which the appliance or the outlet has a possibility to come into contact with water.
A nuisance trip is an occurrence when the GFCI keeps tripping even though nothing is particularly wrong with the device, outlet, or connection. Due to ground faults, nuisance trips can happen frequently. And if you are too late to notice the tripped GFCI, the food in your fridge can get spoiled.
Exposure to Water or Liquids:
As stated above, any location where an outlet or the connected device has the possibility of coming into the exposure to water, demands a GFCI.
A GFCI outlet is required if your refrigerator’s receptacle is within six feet of a sink in your kitchen or the bathtub, or if it has been installed in a garage, outside, in boathouses, or any other site where the receptacle is exposed to water.
Location of Your Fridge:
It’s possible that a GFCI outlet is located in a location that makes it difficult to operate. This will need the use of an extension cord, which might restrict or fluctuate current, resulting in inconvenient travels.
Moreover, GFCI in kitchens is required for only countertop appliances. If your fridge is not connected to the countertop outlet, it does not necessitate the use of a GFCI.
Length of the Circuit:
The longer a wire is, the more it creates electrical circumstances which can result in a nuisance trip. A circuit with a length of more than 100 feet has a high chance of producing these experiences. As a result, these circuits should not be used to install a GFCI. Alternatively, you shouldn’t use them with a refrigerator.
Snubbers are devices that can be used to minimize or completely remove the effects of EMI. Installing one between the refrigerator and the GFCI device might help you save unnecessary journeys.
You can either create a snubber yourself using a schematic (Fig 1) if you have the necessary expertise. Or you could buy them online. The ideal approach, however, is to connect the refrigerator to a circuit that is not protected by a GFCI.
These are some of the most typical factors to consider when deciding whether or not to utilize a GFCI in your refrigerator. Because, while it is feasible to plug a refrigerator into a GFCI, this is not always the best option.
Also Read: Can You Plug An AC Into An Extension Cord?
In this article, I have tried to answer whether can you plug a fridge into a GFCI or not. I have also given a detailed note of factors that might interfere with a GFCI and a refrigerator if you connect them.
I hope this article has helped you decide whether you should connect your fridge to the GFCI outlet or not.