Service,Cook Electric
Written by Larry Cook

Comparing the GFCI Receptacle and GFCI Circuit Breaker

For the prevention of shock and electrocution injuries, GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protection is required for certain electrical outlets, primarily those areas where water is present.

Homeowners can select either a GFCI circuit breaker or GFCI receptacle to meet this requirement. Depending on the location, there are pros and cons for each. In addition, state and local electrical codes also set forth GFCI requirements.

Circuits vs. Receptacles

GFCI circuit breakers allow simple installation. One is installed inside the service panel, also known as the breaker box, and it provides GFCI protection for the whole circuit, including wiring and every appliance and device connected to the circuit.

Single-location GFCI wiring provides protection for only one receptacle. Multi-location wiring provides protection for the first GFCI receptacle and all the following receptacles downstream of the electric current on the same circuit. Multi-location wiring will not offer protection between the service panel and itself.

Accessible Receptacle Locations

A tripped GFCI breaker must be reset at the service panel. In contrast, a tripped GFCI receptacle can be reset at the receptacle itself. A GFCI receptacle should be installed at locations that are physically accessible, so it can be easily reset whenever necessary.

Electrical issues downstream from a GFCI receptacle can cause it to trip. As a result, the tripped GFCI receptacle will need to be reset to allow electrical current to flow again on the entire portion of the circuit that it protects.

How to Decide the Type of GFCI Protection

It may be the case that only one or two outlets are needed for a laundry room or bathroom. For this situation, the installation of GFCI receptacles would be the most efficient and sensible.

Where a new receptacle circuit is needed for a location like an outdoor patio or garage wood shop, every receptacle will require GFCI protection. The best course of action will be wiring the circuit with a GFCI breaker to provide protection for all the receptacles on the circuit.

Electrical Peace of Mind

Providing professional electricians since 1988 in Maryland, Cook Electric is the company you can rely on for all your electrical service needs. For knowledgeable, fair, honest, reliable, and conscientious service, call Cook Electric today at (410) 266-9040. We will be very glad to help you.