Moved GFCI to panel, trips

janwadOctober 2, 2010

I had a garage gfci outlet that controlled the power to all 3 bathroom outlets, and a couple of low voltage 35 watt halogen bulbs in the master bath.

The garage was remodeled and yesterday the electricians moved the GFCI from the garage outlet to the panel. I think they moved the garage outlet to a different circuit.

This morning it tripped after 3 minutes of hair dryer and the 2 lights. That combo never tripped it before. I'm the only one home and nothing else is running except the toothbrush charger.

Do GFCIs on the panel limit the load that much? Would it help to move the GFCI to the first outlet instead?

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Have the electricians do the diagnosis and correction.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 4:28PM
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Ron Natalie

Hair dryer's are notoriously high loads (as anybody with teenage daughters can attest to). A GFCI doesn't change the load at all unless someone used a smaller GFCI than the breaker that was there before.

You've probably got an older house that had the bathrooms and the outside receptacle all on the same circuit so they could share a GFCI. If this was wired up with 12G wire, confirm that the new GFCI breaker is a 20A one.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 8:45AM
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A GFI doesn't provide ANY overcurrent protection. An overload won't trip it. If it's tripping, it's because it's detecting a potentially hazardous leakage current condition.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 1:00PM
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There is probably an unintentional connection from neutral to ground between where the GFCI was located before and the panel. Now that the protection is back at the panel, the problem connection is being noticed and is causing the trip.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 1:08PM
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if the GFCI was moved "to the panel", I'm assuming it's a GFCI breaker. It WILL provide overcurrent protection, it is a combination device.

I believe the explanation is that a smaller breaker was installed.

Unintentional ground/neutral connections will definitely trip GFCIs, but this should happen a lot quicker than 3 minutes, and shouldn't require much of a load (if any) to occur.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 1:49PM
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Thanks for the responses. I will contact the electrician, and I appreciate having some more info so I can be prepared to understand him better.

You guys are invaluable.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 6:19PM
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"...tripped after 3 minutes of hair dryer and the 2 lights."

That is the breaker tripping on thermal overload (and a few minutes is not a very large overload).

The GFCI function would trip instantly if there was a neutral or other wiring issue unbalancing the hot current and neutral current.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 1:08PM
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