What Is a GFCI and Why Is It Important?
You’ve probably seen one of these outlets installed in your home before, most likely in the bathroom or above the countertop in the kitchen. Do you know why they’re usually installed in these specific places? Have you ever wondered what the buttons in the middle of the outlet are for? Well, ATI has prepared this blog article to explain what these types of outlets are, where they’re used, and why they’re so important to have in your home or business.
These types of receptacles are called Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets and are commonly referred to as GFIs. Essentially, they’re fast-acting circuit breakers built right into the outlet itself, designed to shut off the flow of electricity in as little as 1/40th of a second in the event of a power imbalance in order to prevent electrical shock hazards and possible electrocution.
GFCI outlets are required by National Electrical Code (NEC) Standards to be installed in multiple areas of a home with an increased risk of shock such as: outdoor receptacles, garages, crawl spaces, basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and any receptacle that is within six feet of a sink or water source. The purpose of GFCI outlets is to protect personnel from electrical shock hazards in areas that are most susceptible to these occurrences. Obviously, the presence of water omits a much greater danger to the threat of electrical shock and electrocution, therefore all locations that are susceptible to moisture will require GFCI protection.
GFCIs and Electrical Shock Hazards
Electrical shock hazards occur every single day. Anywhere that an electrical current is flowing has the ability to provide electrical shock to personnel. A majority of all electrical shocks are the result of a negligent installation or improper maintenance and inspection of equipment. Therefore, it’s so important to be sure that all electrical equipment, whether at your home or business, is installed properly by a certified electrician.
In an electrical circuit, current is constantly flowing through the circuit in a never-ending loop in order to provide electricity. Electrical shocks happen when your body comes in contact with this circuit, giving the electrical current an alternate route (your body) to travel through order to complete the circuit. When this occurrence happens on a circuit with GFCI protection, the GFCI will detect an imbalanced load and immediately trip (stop the flow of electricity) in order to prevent severe electrical shocks from prolonging.
If you reside in an older home that does not have GFCI outlets installed yet, you might be thinking – “Do I really need to upgrade my outlets? It’s been so many years I’ve had no problems thus far”. You may need to reconsider.
Although this may be true, but, in reality it’s fairly inexpensive to upgrade outlets and doesn’t take much time at all. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that your home electrical system is in accordance with national electrical code therefore safeguarding you and your family from any severe electrical shock hazards?
At ATI, all of our employees have completed expert trainings on all of our products. We treat all of our electrical components as if they’re energized 24/7 and take all precautions before attempting to inspect or repair any equipment. GFCI receptacles and circuit breakers are a great way to ensure that all of our employees feel safe and are protected from electrical shock in the workplace.
Types of GFCI Outlets
GFCI Receptacles – These are standard decora style receptacles that are equipped with GFCI protection, a reset button, and a test button. These outlets are commonly installed in your home, business, or power distribution equipment for a permanent connection.
GFCI Cord Set – The GFCI cord set is a more portable option that we have available for purchase directly from our website. This cable is a portable option that is great for adding GFCI protection to existing circuits in construction sites or entertainment venues. Our cord set is a perfect option to incorporate along with an extension cord for use with tools or other electrical devices that you plan on operating outdoors.
GFCI Portable Outlet – Another great tool is the portable GFCI which plugs right into existing non-GFCI outlets or extension cords to provide instant, safe, and portable GFCI protection wherever you may be. They’re extremely compact which make them a great option to add to your tool bag or bring with you on a camping trip.
Spider Boxes Equipped with GFCI Protection - High quality portable power distribution boxes that are equipped GFCI protected receptacles in order to provide reliable power throughout industrial, commercial, and residential jobsites. Spider Boxes are also a relatively common product that you'll find throughout entertainment venues to supply power for equipment and lighting.
GFCI Safety Concerns
With the help of GFCI protection, you can be certain that you’re keeping employees safe at your business and your family safe at home from potential hazards such as electrical shock and even electrical fires. With the ability to detect influxes of electrical current, GFCI outlets and breakers can mitigate electrical fires by cutting off power to the circuit before it can pose a threat. Whether you’re planning on updating your home or business, find yourself on a construction site, or heading out camping for the weekend, ATI has a plethora of GFCI products that can suit your needs. For questions, comments, or concerns, you can contact our portable power experts at (800)-597-9311 or email us at PPG@ATIelectrical.com.