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Thread: Breaker Decision - GFCI?

  1. #1
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    Breaker Decision - GFCI?

    I'm going through the prep-work for my sub panel. I'll need 4 - 220v (dedicated to machines) and 4 or so 110v breakers ( a couple for lights and some for outlets). It seems it would make sense to have the GFCI function at the breaker as opposed to in the line. If I haven't already made it obvious, I know nothing about this I haven't read in a book.

    It may be from my own ignorance but I think I'd sleep better with a master switch for the sub panel that "kills" the shop when I'm done for the day.

    Opinions?
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  2. #2
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    The bad thing about using GFCI breakers is they cost BIG $$$$$!! Get 4 GFCI outlets, make them the first outlet in each 110v run, and then everything wired after that, that is wired to the the output side of it, is covered as well. I bought my GFCIs off of Ebay. Got the regular outlets there as well. In fact, my breaker box and all but 1 of the breakers came from there. The box and outlets were all brand new, sealed never opened. Some of the breakers I bought were used, but in good shape and work fine. The box came from Cripe Distributing out of Houston if I remember right.
    Even if you buy the GFCI outlets at HD or Lowes, (I like the Leviton Decora from HD better) you'll save a bundle over the GFCI breakers.
    You can wire a master switch easily, or use the panel's master breaker as the switch. Either way, good insurance. Jim.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks Jim. Good info. Do I need GFCI for the 220v lines as well? I just want to remove all doubt that I have any idea about this sort of thing ;-)
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  4. #4
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    Glenn,

    Here's some additional info you might find useful. He also mentions monitoring both 120V legs on a 220v circuit GFCI.

    http://www.codecheck.com/gfci_principal.htm

  5. #5
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    Glenn, I was told for me in my area, 220v does not need a GFCI if it is a dedicated circuit. You might check with your local electrical inspector or supply house. I've not seen a 220 GFCI outlet, so I guess it would have to be 2 of the GFCI breakers. That would really hurt the pocket book! Jim.
    Coolmeadow Setters...
    Exclusively Irish!
    Home of Irish Setter Rescue of North Texas
    When Irish Eyes are smiling, they're usually up to something!!
    At a minimum, I'm Pentatoxic...but most likely, I'm a Pentaholic. There seems to be no known cure. Pentatonix, winners of The Sing Off, season 3


  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim O'Dell View Post
    The bad thing about using GFCI breakers is they cost BIG $$$$$!! Get 4 GFCI outlets, make them the first outlet in each 110v run, and then everything wired after that, that is wired to the the output side of it, is covered as well. I bought my GFCIs off of Ebay. Got the regular outlets there as well. In fact, my breaker box and all but 1 of the breakers came from there. The box and outlets were all brand new, sealed never opened. Some of the breakers I bought were used, but in good shape and work fine. The box came from Cripe Distributing out of Houston if I remember right.
    Even if you buy the GFCI outlets at HD or Lowes, (I like the Leviton Decora from HD better) you'll save a bundle over the GFCI breakers.
    You can wire a master switch easily, or use the panel's master breaker as the switch. Either way, good insurance. Jim.
    I agree on everything that Jim said. I did the same thing in my older part of my house, my new addition and even my shop. Every 120 volt outlet at my place is GFCI'ed except for my refrigerator outlet.

    With breaker type GFCI's you have the added benefit of having the wiring protected from that first GFCI all the way back to your sub-panel, but about the only way that would help you is, it would prevent you from getting lifted if you were drilling through a wall and hit the wire while standing in a puddle of water. In other words, not all that likely.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    BEWARE GFCI breakers. Town code around here requires the expensive things on circuits in our bedroom (or so my builder said). I can't use my vacuum on any of them. It blows the GFCI breaker whenever we turn it on. It was bought new and has been double checked. The vacuum is fine and doesn't draw anywhere close to the rating of the breaker. And it works fine on regular breakers. One of these days, when I have time , I am going to yank the things out!
    Last edited by Steve Clardy; 09-20-2007 at 01:48 AM. Reason: wording

  8. #8
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    Chip, make sure the hot and neutral aren't reversed on either the receptacle, or the vacuum cleaner. If it is reading a ground where it shouldn't be, it should trip! Jim.
    Coolmeadow Setters...
    Exclusively Irish!
    Home of Irish Setter Rescue of North Texas
    When Irish Eyes are smiling, they're usually up to something!!
    At a minimum, I'm Pentatoxic...but most likely, I'm a Pentaholic. There seems to be no known cure. Pentatonix, winners of The Sing Off, season 3


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip Charnley View Post
    BEWARE GFCI breakers. Town code around here requires the expensive things on circuits in our bedroom (or so my builder said). I can't use my vacuum on any of them. It blows the GFCI breaker whenever we turn it on. It was bought new and has been double checked. The vacuum is fine and doesn't draw anywhere close to the rating of the breaker. And it works fine on regular breakers. One of these days, when I have time , I am going to yank the things out!
    I think your builder got it a little off... most municipalities require an arc fault interupter on bedroom circuits, which is typically built into the breaker. If he installed GFCI outlets in the bedroom, you can remove them and replace them with standard outlets. As to the vacuum tripping any type of circuit interupter, I would speculate that the builder might have used sub-standard products in the interest of saving money. Any time you're having a mysterious GFCI problem, the quickest and cheapest solution is usually to replace the recepticle with a name brand unit.
    Last edited by Steve Clardy; 09-20-2007 at 01:49 AM. Reason: wording in quote

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    I'm going through the prep-work for my sub panel. I'll need 4 - 220v (dedicated to machines) and 4 or so 110v breakers ( a couple for lights and some for outlets). It seems it would make sense to have the GFCI function at the breaker as opposed to in the line. If I haven't already made it obvious, I know nothing about this I haven't read in a book.

    It may be from my own ignorance but I think I'd sleep better with a master switch for the sub panel that "kills" the shop when I'm done for the day.

    Opinions?
    Glenn, are GFCI's required? If you're doing the work yourself, I'd suggest you make sure the equipment is properly grounded and leave it at that if they're not required. If you do a careful job of grounding, GFCI's offer no benifit that I'm aware of in a workshop.

    Since I'm going against the current on that one, I'll go further and suggest using premium GFCI outlets on circuits that will see a lot of use. The cheepies are fine for passing an inspection, but I suspect you'd see a lot of nuissance trips after a couple years if you ran a router from one on a regular basis. But then, I wouldn't be using them in your case anyway, so what does it matter which ones I wouldn't be using?

    Subpanels are available that have a panel disconnect breaker. I would put the lights on another panel if you can and plan to shut off the local main every day. Not a big deal, just convenience.
    Last edited by John Dow; 09-20-2007 at 01:42 AM.

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