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GFCI Circuit Breaker vs Receptacles

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  • GFCI Circuit Breaker vs Receptacles

    I am not an electrician. I am putting in a couple of 20amp circuits in my new basement woodworking shop. There is easy access to a subpanel I had installed for the shop. The basement is currently unfinished. I will have drywall in the shop area on the walls and leave the ceiling unfinished.

    What are the pros and cons of installing GFCI circuit breakers instead of the GFCI receptacles? My plan is to put in two circuits for power tools with receptacles about 6 feet apart alternating circuits with each receptacle. Plans are to use a different color receptacle for each circuit.
    Start off slow then taper off.

  • #2
    the circuit breakers are in the $30- 50 range for a 20 amp. also depending on what brand of sub panel you have, the breakers might be hard to find.

    the outlets are as cheap as $5. but a 20 amp might cost you $15. they should all have a 20 amp feed through and a 20 amp unit will have the 1 combination horizontal/ vertical blade that will allow for 20 amp tools to be plugged in.

    not a bad idea to be protected by a gfi/ but is it required in a basement?

    rick.
    phoebe it is

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    • #3
      Gfci's are still required in unfinished basements but if the outlets serve a special purpose or are just nuisance tripping then you shouldn't bother. I'd give it a try with gfci outlets feeding through to you other outlets. A gfci will trip at .5 Milli amps and is meant to protect you from faulty tools or appliances.

      Having a gfci breaker costs more and you have to go back to the panel each time you need to reset it. Most sparkys i know save money buy using the GFCI outlets.
      "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
      "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

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      • #4
        Sparky,

        I know you're an electrician, but I don't understand your suggestion that if the outlets are special purpose or nuisance tripping (what causes that?) then you "shouldn't bother". While I make no pretense to be an electrician, I must admit some concern when you're standing on a concrete floor like in a basement or garage and you're not protected with a GFI breaker or receptacal. So, what's the story behind "wouldn't bother"?

        Thanks,

        CWS

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        • #5
          What i meant was that is you have a tool with a motor that draws a lot of power to start then you will have "nuisance" tripping. If you have metal power tools then get a large rubber mat to stand on when you work. I'm not going to have concrete directly under my feet in my shop anyway.

          If all of your tools are double insulated and have plastic exterior handles and every time you have it plugged into a gfci and it always trips then don't plug it into the gfci. Most newer power tools are made so that the user doesn't touch the metal of the tool often. That is why i am not worried about getting zapped by the newer tools. If the tool you are using has exposed metal parts you have to touch in order to operate it then have in plugged into a GFCI. But a rubber work mat will also protect you on the cement floor.
          "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
          "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

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          • #6
            GFCI's are present at every construction site in the country. Saws and drills and everything else are used and seldom trip the GFI's. I would recommend using the GFCI, pound for pound it's the cheapest safety money can buy.

            Receptacles are cheaper, as mentioned above. I'd just do that. There's no real benefit to protecting the circuit the second it leaves the breaker, IMO.

            Relying on a rubber mat seems a little...well, I wouldn't buy a rubber mat.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Rocky Mountain Sparky
              Gfci's are present at every construction site in the country. Saws and drills and everything else are used and seldom trip the Gfci's. I would recommend using the GFCI, pound for pound it's the cheapest safety money can buy.

              Receptacles are cheaper, as mentioned above. I'd just do that. There's no real benefit to protecting the circuit the second it leaves the breaker, IMO.

              Relying on a rubber mat seems a little...well, I wouldn't buy a rubber mat.
              Sorry i was a bit wrong in my last statements. When we had several people using power tools plugged into a gfci it would trip every 4 minutes. Working in a shop on your own won't trip the breaker that often if at all.

              I should make a personal disclaimer "I'm still trying to remember what working alone is like."
              "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
              "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

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