We need to regulate the use of microwaves, just like any other type of electrical appliance in the home. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, when paired with such appliances, can improve their performance with less risks. However, do microwaves need this GFCI?
Yes, microwaves do need GFCI. Nevertheless, the location of the microwave determines how great or small the need for GFCI is. GFCI reduces the risk of severe electric shock or, in some fatal cases, electrocution. To be on the safer side, microwaves need to be used with GFCI.
Should a Microwave Be Plugged into a GFCI Outlet?
You should plug a microwave to a GFCI outlet depending on its closeness to water sources like a wet counter, kitchen sink, shower, and even swimming pools. Locations like these are notorious for causing electric shocks when in contact with unregulated electrical appliances. Therefore, before a microwave is used in any of these situations, it should be plugged to a GFCI outlet.
We also use microwaves outdoors, and when the location of use is within six feet of laundry, utility sinks, and garages, a GFCI outlet must be used.
Although some microwaves are used in locations far away from water sources and wet areas, it is strongly advisable to plug them into a GFCI outlet as it also acts as a dedicated circuit that protects both the microwave and the user from electrical power bursts.
Can I Plug a Microwave into any Outlet?
Yes, we can plug a microwave into a simple appliance outlet to get it to work. But, for a microwave to work safely, we need to operate it with a dedicated circuit.
Large microwaves need a high amount of electrical power to function correctly, so we need a fixed outlet with a dedicated circuit because this can easily provide the amount of power such microwaves need.
However, smaller microwaves can be plugged into a simple wall outlet, but you should only do this if the microwave is located away from water and damp surfaces.
What Kind of Outlet is Needed for a Microwave?
Any outlet that reduces the risk of both mild and fatal electric shocks works just fine for a microwave. This is the major quality of a GFCI, so it is highly recommended for the safe operation of a microwave.
Notwithstanding, we should consider a couple of factors like the location of use, the size of the microwave, safety, and if the microwave will be used commercially or in a residential setting when choosing an electrical outlet for a microwave.
1. Location of use
Consider where the microwave will be used. Once that has been determined, the outlet with the requirements for proper functioning in that type of location should be selected.
A microwave that is operated in a location close to water, or on a nearly always damp surface, like a wet bar sink or kitchen countertop, needs a GFCI outlet as that can ensure safe operation in such a location. Similarly, a microwave used in a different location can be properly operated in a different outlet.
2. Size of Microwave
Large microwaves perform more tasks than their smaller counterparts, so a large microwave is at a higher risk of electrical accidents. You can simply avoid this by selecting an electrical outlet with a dedicated circuit that regulates and provides adequate electric power to the microwave.
On the other hand, smaller microwaves use less power to easily work while plugged into any simple electrical outlet.
3. Level of Safety
When we choose an outlet for our microwaves, the best choice we can make is to go for an outlet with the best safety features and capabilities. There are outlets designed to keep its users safe by either preventing electrical fires or electrical shocks and electrocution.
A GFCI outlet is typically installed in places exposed to moisture and water, like bathrooms and kitchens, because of its ability to prevent electric shocks. Going for a GFCI outlet for a microwave is a valid and safe choice.
4. For business or residential use
There are outlets designed to meet the requirements of any microwave that is either used to serve a very large number of demands or used for business. Similarly, some outlets have been designed for microwaves which are only used in the home.
The outlets used in these two settings are different and should not be replaced with the other. Deciding if you will use your microwave for commercial or residential purposes is important when choosing an outlet, as most commercial outlets can not be used in a home setting and vice versa.
Why Does My Microwave Trip the GFCI?
A microwave tripping a GFCI outlet simply means that there is an overload in the circuit. When a microwave is plugged into an overloaded circuit, it reduces efficiency by turning quick and simple tasks into a long, frustrating, drawn-out chore. This is because the circuit can no longer provide the amount of power the microwave needs.
An overloaded circuit can be caused by many things, ranging from too many appliances being plugged in the same circuit as the microwave, the GFCI developing a fault, down to the microwave itself getting faulty.
1. Too many Appliances on one Circuit
Microwaves draw a large amount of power from a circuit, but when there are other appliances also drawing power from that same circuit, the demand is higher than what the circuit can handle, so it trips.
When this happens repeatedly, it can lead to the failure of the circuit, and even damage all the appliances relying on that circuit. Extreme tripping of the circuit can heat up the wiring in the house and cause electrical fires.
This is why we strongly recommend a dedicated circuit for each microwave because a dedicated circuit only powers one appliance and nothing more.
2. Faulty GFCI Outlet
When your microwave is connected to a dedicated circuit, and the GFCI still trips, this means that the outlet might not have been properly set. If, after resetting the GFCI outlet and it continues to trip, then there is a fault somewhere in the circuit.
To confirm if the GFCI is really the problem, you should plug the microwave to another outlet, and if the microwave works just fine without tripping, then you have a faulty GFCI.
An electrician should properly test the GFCI outlet to discover the source of the fault.
3. Faulty Microwave
A microwave can trip a GFCI outlet simply because it has developed a fault. To confirm this, you should connect the microwave to a dedicated circuit and another outlet. If it continues to trip, then the problem lies within the microwave.
A skilled technician should check for and repair the cause of the fault in the microwave as this is dangerous for an unskilled user.
The microwave can be faulty because it is old or cheap, so instead of repairs, it would be a better option to replace the microwave with a new and better one.
A microwave functions at its best when plugged into a dedicated circuit and an outlet that guarantees safety like the GFCI outlet.
This way, the microwave lasts longer without putting its user at risk of electrical accidents. It is also advisable not to share a circuit between a microwave and other appliances to avoid unnecessary faults.