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  • GFI trips refrigerator

    When I plug my refrigerator into my gfi protected outlet (gfi breaker), it will trip the breaker when the compressor starts. The refrigerator is located in the garage. The same thing happened to me a few years back with an older refrigerator. Both times I used an extension cord to test them, and they both worked fine. Is it possible the gfi breaker is weak and wearing out?

  • #2
    Re: GFI trips refrigerator

    It's probably not the best idea to run a fridge from a GFI, but if you keep one in a garage I don't see how to get around it assuming you want to keep your house to code. I found this on another forum:

    The refrigerator and freezer should not be on a GFIC. They can trip and the
    food will spoil. This is one thing the nation electric code puts the food
    first and safety second. The refrigerator and freezer should be on breakers
    that are not connected to anything else. The motors pull a high current for
    a couple of seconds as they start up and then the current falls way back.
    If you have other things powered from recepticals on the same breaker as the
    refrig , the breaker could trip.

    I guess you could see if you have any other high draw appliances on that GFI circuit and move them if you can. Another idea I have that may or may not be a good one, use a backup power supply unit to plug between your outlet and fridge. This way when the compressor kicks on, the extra current draw would pull from the battery and hopefully not trip the GFI with the extra load.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: GFI trips refrigerator

      In short plugging refrigerators and such into GFI's is a bad idea the load can often cause them to nuisance trip and tripping can cause the loss of your perishables. You can use a non-gfci outlet in a garage for a refrigerator. It would need to be solely for that purpose and not easier usable for other purposes. A standard outlet is ok if you need to move the fridge to access it or a single outlet if you can not.

      To change your garage you'd need to replace the breaker with a standard breaker and replace the non-fridge outlets as needed with GFCI's to ensure proper protection.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: GFI trips refrigerator

        Originally posted by wathman View Post
        The refrigerator and freezer should not be on a GFIC. They can trip and the
        food will spoil. This is one thing the nation electric code puts the food
        first and safety second.
        What code section is that? How would you plan on avoiding these situation when in the near future (if you're not already on the 2008 code cycle) will require AFCI breakers, which to those of us who have installed them are a lot more problematic then GFI's. If the GFI is tripping, replace it, If it's still tripping, it's saving you from a problem that you're unaware of. Have your fridge serviced by a qualified appliance technician.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: GFI trips refrigerator

          Wire the circuit(s) for freezers and/or refrigerators so they don't have a GFCI breaker protecting them. If needed install GFCI receptacles where required but not where the freezer or refrigerator is. If it can be done put them on a private circuit. (Freezer or refrigerator that is)

          As for having the refrigerator checked for leakage to ground, that's a very good suggestion.

          In older homes and buildings sometimes there's a small leakage to ground in the wiring and that will trip a GFCI circuit breaker from time to time even if nothing is plugged into any receptacles on that circuit. If that's the problem it's time to replace wiring after checking for any problems in junction boxes.
          Last edited by Woussko; 06-09-2009, 12:07 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: GFI trips refrigerator

            Originally posted by Badabing View Post
            What code section is that? How would you plan on avoiding these situation when in the near future (if you're not already on the 2008 code cycle) will require AFCI breakers, which to those of us who have installed them are a lot more problematic then GFI's. If the GFI is tripping, replace it, If it's still tripping, it's saving you from a problem that you're unaware of. Have your fridge serviced by a qualified appliance technician.
            I couldn't tell you what code section it is, I was quoting from another forum I found when I was researching GFI's. The post was from a year or so ago, and I don't know if the original poster was a pro or not.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: GFI trips refrigerator

              Originally posted by wathman View Post
              I couldn't tell you what code section it is, I was quoting from another forum I found when I was researching GFI's. The post was from a year or so ago, and I don't know if the original poster was a pro or not.
              Sorry, didn't mean to sound like a prick in the earlier post, but the NEC doesn't put food before safety, Just wanted to make sure it was clear

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: GFI trips refrigerator

                Not a problem, when it comes to electrical work, I'm a hobbyist at best. I'd rather have pros who know what they're talking about correct inaccurate info to prevent misconceptions from spreading. That's why I like this forum over others I've browsed, more people who actually know what they're talking about contribute on here

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: GFI trips refrigerator

                  This is a old thread but had to comment, if a GFCI is tripping one needs to look at the cause and it's very unlikely to be the GFCI causing the problems, the OP needs to check out the fridge to find the cause because there that is the most likely culprit. Another issue is the NEC is slowly having any exceptions to GFCI requirements removed, one example is for commercail kitchens, if it's cord & plug connected & 120 volts, there are NO exceptions to the requirement for everything to be GFCI protected (see 2005 NEC 210.8 (B) (2) ), a residential kitchen is allowed to have a fridge on a non-GFCI circuit but in this day & age the problem is not the device, it's the appliance plugged into it.....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: GFI trips refrigerator

                    how many gfci's on the circuit. 1) if more than one in box to box wiring that can be your problem. 2) with a lot of use gfci wear out. 3) some are 20 amp on the face with 15 amps pass through. i wouldn't put one of those in on a bet. have fun. breid

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: GFI trips refrigerator

                      [QUOTE=breid1903;242458 3) some are 20 amp on the face with 15 amps pass through. i wouldn't put one of those in on a bet. have fun. breid[/QUOTE]

                      A 15 ampere GFCI receptacle is rated for 20 ampere feed through, not the reverse.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: GFI trips refrigerator

                        Originally posted by Norcal View Post
                        A 15 ampere GFCI receptacle is rated for 20 ampere feed through, not the reverse.
                        Agree.

                        A 20A face with a 15A feed-through does NOT exist and would not be legal in the first place.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: GFI trips refrigerator

                          I think the first question to ask is this.

                          Are you saying you have a GFCI receptacle which your refrigerator is plugged into that trips? If not, do you mean you have a GFCI circuit breaker that trips which protects the circuit for your refrigerator? There's a difference from a circuit breaker with the GFCI feature and a receptacle which has it.

                          Next we need to know if there are any other dead receptacles when the CFCI opens up.

                          Finally is there any way using a good extension cord that the refrigerator might be powered off a different circuit which has a GFCI receptacle that the extension cord can be plugged into?

                          My bet is either there are too many things being protected by a given GFCI either which is a circuit breaker type or a receptacle type, or that (most likely the problem) the refrigerator is leaking current to ground and needs repair.

                          In my house I installed a non GFCI receptacle just for the refrigerator and nothing else in the kitchen. I really don't want to think it's running only to find it warm inside and the food is spoiled.

                          For what this is worth, refrigerators and freezers need to have a long life battery setup to sound a beep beep alarm when the temperature inside is no longer in the safe range. During a long power failure you remove the battery and put it where you can see it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: GFI trips refrigerator

                            Originally posted by Woussko View Post
                            I think the first question to ask is this.

                            Are you saying you have a GFCI receptacle which your refrigerator is plugged into that trips? If not, do you mean you have a GFCI circuit breaker that trips which protects the circuit for your refrigerator? There's a difference from a circuit breaker with the GFCI feature and a receptacle which has it.

                            Next we need to know if there are any other dead receptacles when the CFCI opens up.

                            Finally is there any way using a good extension cord that the refrigerator might be powered off a different circuit which has a GFCI receptacle that the extension cord can be plugged into?

                            My bet is either there are too many things being protected by a given GFCI either which is a circuit breaker type or a receptacle type, or that (most likely the problem) the refrigerator is leaking current to ground and needs repair.

                            In my house I installed a non GFCI receptacle just for the refrigerator and nothing else in the kitchen. I really don't want to think it's running only to find it warm inside and the food is spoiled.

                            For what this is worth, refrigerators and freezers need to have a long life battery setup to sound a beep beep alarm when the temperature inside is no longer in the safe range. During a long power failure you remove the battery and put it where you can see it.
                            I'm not a pro and can not speak to procedures in other places, but in my area the generous and agreeable local inspection team will tolerate a circuit (or outlet, with conditions) without GFI protection in a garage if and only if said circuit (or outlet, with conditions) powers a refrigerator or freezer and is not easily used for any other purpose.

                            Also, some older refrigerators can trick GFI's at peak draw when the compressor starts up. It may mean that there is a ground fault somewhere, but, and I do not pretend to understand the mechanism, there can be momentary, non-problematic conditions that appear to the GFI to be imbalance greater than 5 mA.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: GFI trips refrigerator

                              A GFCI is designed to trip at only 5 mA (milliamps). This isn't much. An AC motor works by induction; even a moderate size motor can develop enough field, especially at startup when the current is high, so that more than 5 mA well could inductively couple out of the circuit and find an alternate way back home that doesn't go through the neutral connected to the GFCI. For example, the field can induce current in a nearby conduit or the safety ground wires in the box or wall. This could well trip the GFCI. Of course, you also might really have a problem with the fridge, or the start of a problem. It can be hard to tell.

                              Personally I don't think that a fridge not being on a GFCI is all that much of a safety hazard, even though of course any electrical device can, under the right fault conditions, shock you. To me, though, the need for a GFCI on a fridge is not nearly as clear as the need for GFCI protection on an outdoor outlet that you might use for your electric mower or stringtrimmer, or an outlet over the bathroom sink. But that's just my layman's opinion, you have to be responsible for your own decisions regarding safety and in any case, ensure you are in compliance with the code in your area.

                              >> "Finally is there any way using a good extension cord that the refrigerator might be powered off a different circuit which has a GFCI receptacle that the extension cord can be plugged into?"

                              I don't think using an extension cord for a refrigerator, other than for test purposes or very temporary use, is code-legal. I could be mistaken on this though. Were you just suggesting this as a test?

                              Comment

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