There have been many safety advancements in building construction in recent years. One such safety measure is the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet, abbreviated as GFCI.
However, you sometimes ask yourself, can you plug surge protectors into GFCI outlets to access more power outlets or gain additional protections? Read further to find out your answer.
You can plug a surge protector into a GFCI outlet, though not always; this is because some surge strips have a light indicator that tells you that the surge strip is working effectively or the plug wiring is correct. However, some indicator circuits are connected to the ground and can cause an imbalance large enough to trip the GFCI.
Can I Use a Surge Protector In a GFCI Outlet?
Using your surge protector in a GFCI outlet is possible, but you must ensure that the circuit’s ground wire goes back to your electrical wire without fault.
However, there can still be issues because the surge protector can trip the GFCI outlet, triggering small leakages due to the circuit.
Therefore, keep it in mind that you may wake up one day and find your GFCI not working,
When you connect a surge protector to another surge or into a GFCI outlet, the current will flow from one surge protector to the other or the GFCI.
However, apart from the redundancy, you also get additional protection by plugging one surge protector into another.
The second can do the job when the first surge protector fails to provide power. Also, it won’t consume a greater amount of power in the event of a surge.
Moreover, with two or more different surge protectors, the tripping level also differs, where the one with the least trip point will trip first and absorb the excess power before the second surge.
A surge protector’s protective capabilities can be impaired when the two devices are “daisy-chain” together, and you’ll be void of many protection guarantees if you try this method.
In addition, it’s paramount to “daisy-chain” power strips. Although power strips are now less risky than before, the strip is likely to overload when you connect more devices to the single strip closest to the wall outlet.
On the other hand, it could be dangerous to “daisy-chain” power strips because a power strip can cause a fire when it supports a high load or exceeds its rated load.
As most people think, when we use the term “power strips”, it offers surge protection.
In some countries (such as the UK), a fuse is most likely to blow when sensing an overload in the power strip. In other countries, no fuse is available to provide such protection.
You can also purchase single outlets that offer surge protection, there are some that are designed for a specific load.
In many cases, low-power devices such as an alarm clock, a phone charger, or even a bedside lamp don’t consume enough power to cause a problem.
However, you increase the chances of overload when you plug more power-hungry appliances like pressing iron, water heater, or kettle into a power strip.
Therefore, when planning to plug a strip into a GFCI or to another strip, ensure that the total power consumption is below the rating of the strip closest to the wall.
There’s a printed note available on the power strip which explains the rating of the power strip. It would be best if you also were wary of power strips that may not meet the required code.
Will a Surge Protector Stop GFCI Tripping?
A surge protector won’t stop GFCI from tripping. However, GFCI safeguards YOU when the current leaks outside the circuit, such as via your body.
It safeguards you by detecting a very little current leak and shutting off the circuit before you even feel it.
On the other hand, an overload on the GFCI can cause tripping. GFCIs handle a specific number of amps.
Not only but also, a GFCI outlet may trip because numerous devices are using too much power from the circuit.
However, you can readily avoid GFCI tripping by not plugging in many power-hungry devices before connecting the surge protector to the GFCI outlet.
The surge protector won’t stop the GFCI outlet from tripping, so don’t rely on it; it can’t perform this function.
Moreover, you get a better current path when you serially connect the surge protectors with a voltage clamp between the hot conductors and the grounding conductors.
The current will serially go through the motor’s neutral wire, the power strip’s neutral wire, the GFCI’s neutral return, and the neutral wire leading back to the panel.
Following that, the current will pass via the clamping device, back to the surge suppressor (bypassing the GFCI’s detecting), and finally through the grounding conductor wire to the motor’s hot wire.
In addition, it trips if a GFCI detects current flowing via the hot wire but not the neutral wire or the other way around.
In this case, the GFCI will detect current flowing via the neutral wire but not through the ground.
The GFCI will detect current in the neutral wire in this case even though it didn’t return through the hot wire, indicating that it should trip.
One voltage clamp may be between the hot and grounding conductors and between the neutral and ground wires in some surge suppressors, but there is no clamp between the hot and neutral conductors.
Therefore, purchasing units with a clamp between the hot and neutral wires reduces false tripping.
The better path provided by the clamp between hot and neutral would not pass through the GFCI’s neutral lead and would instead provide an alternative to the previously mentioned path through the grounding lead.
What To Do When the GFCI Outlet Trips Frequently?
When your GFCI outlet frequently trips, it is a sign that it probably needs the service of a professional electrician as it could result from worn insulation in connected equipment, accumulated dust, old equipment, or deteriorated wiring.
The ground fault circuit interrupter prevents ground faults by immediately interrupting the current from the input. Regular testing is very important to ensure the GFCI outlet is always working.
Please don’t make assumptions; try to test the GFCI protection before you tell whether it’s operational or not. Once it is triggered, the best thing to do is to test its operation.
To ensure the effectiveness of the connected load, press the test button on the protection device. However, you are to do this when you install one right before using it.
Can You Plug an Extension Cord On a GFCI?
You can plug an extension cord into the GFCI outlet, and as long as you wire the GFCI outlet correctly, GFCI protection extends to all connected devices.
However, you should avoid plugging extension cords on GFCIs in bathrooms and kitchens because these are locations with water and high draft fixtures where safety is a big concern.
However, when plugging an extension cord on your GFCI, you should firstly plug the GFCI directly into the power outlet before plugging the extension cord into the GFCI.
The extension cord may be multiple or single, depending on your need and the number of receptors on the GFCI.
Let me explain the types of GFCI and their specifications below.
#1. Outlet type
This receptacle incorporates GFCI devices within one or more outlets. Such devices are becoming popular due to their low cost.
#2. Portable type
These come in several styles, all designed for easy portability. You can plug some portable type into an existing non-GFCI outlet, which connects with a cord and power strip.
#3. Cord type
This GFCI cable is a plug incorporating the GFCI module. The accessory plug has a non-standard appearance with test and resets buttons.
Do GFCI Protect Appliances From Power Surges?
Unlike surge protectors, GFCI doesn’t protect appliances from power surges. GFCI protects people from electrical shock, especially in areas where water is mostly available, e.g., kitchens, bathrooms, or even garages.
An electric shock can occur when someone comes in contact with a faulty appliance and a grounded surface.
Therefore, having the GFCI can greatly reduce the risk of electrocution by immediately closing an electrical circuit when it notices a shock hazard.
NOM-001 requires GFCI protection for branch circuits or on installed and replacement 15 and 20 amp outlets, above kitchens, outdoor areas, uncompleted basement, bathrooms, outdoor areas, crawl spaces, and laundry areas, in sinks, bathtubs, and shower stalls.
Moreover, all appliances with a history of causing electrical shock hazards need GFCI protection.
Other appliances and devices that need GFCI protection include drinking fountains, vending machines, washers, and boat lifts.
Surge protectors and GFCI are important and must-have electric appliances. Ground circuit breakers are necessary because the risk of electrical fires and shocks increases collectors without them.
On the other hand, surge protectors protect appliances from power surges. Lastly, the important point is to know when and how to use them.
With the help of this article, you can get the basic knowledge of these two different items.