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How to wire GFCI devices
Wiring diagrams also apply to AFCI (arc fault) devices
Troubleshoot GFCIGFCI will not reset
Spa is tripping GFCI
How GFCI works
How GFCI protects you
Troubleshhot GFCI with FAQ
GFCI manualsPass and Seymour Combo-GFCI manual
Leviton Combo-GFCI manual
Lutron GFCI outlet manual
GFCI pilot light manual
Leviton GFCI-related manuals
Installing and testing GFCI
Arc Fault circuit breaker
AFCI-GFCI circuit breaker installation and troubleshoot/ pdf
Ground fault outlet detects grounded circuit that can potentially electrocute you.
For example:. You plug-in extension cord. Then use power tool while standing in water. Or wet grass. Electricity wants to flow to ground through easiest path. Since you are standing on wet ground, electricity can jump from power tool and race through your body to ground.
This will kill instantly.
GFCI instantly detects open circuit, and cuts power so electricity is stopped.
Same can happen while holding electric shaver and touch metal faucet. Faucets are grounded because metal pipe is bonded into ground. Homes with plastic or pex plumbing might not conduct to ground, but risk is present so GFCI is code in each bathroom, kitchen anywhere water and electric outlets are both present.
Outdoor plugs, kitchen plugs and bathroom plugs are GFCI protected.
What is a ground rodTake a metal pole or pipe or rod. For household electric service, use copper ground rod from hardware store.
Hammer the metal into the dirt. The deeper, the better. Up to 8 feet deep.
Attach piece bare copper wire using grounding clamp.
Use tester, Test between bare copper wire and Hot side of outlet (the narrow blade), and it will show live power potential.
You can be a ground rod whenever standing on bare ground. Or by touching any metal that goes into the ground, like a water pipe, or faucet connected to the water pipe. GFCI protects you from ground faults.
Ground wire is not discussed further on this page.
See electricity from power pole to breaker box
|How to identify Hot and Neutral wires
Following description does not mention ground wires. All ground wires are either twisted together or attached to green ground screw exactly like ordinary outlets, and are not immediately important for understanding how to wire GFCI.
So which wire is Hot and which is Neutral?1) Each residential box (excluding 240Volt boxes, 3-way switches, and some single light switches) will have 1 Hot wire and 1 Neutral wire that comes from circuit breaker.
For example each circuit breaker supplies power to one area of home. To do this, the Hot wire and Neutral wire leave breaker box and travel to a junction box. The junction is usually a ceiling box where light fixture is attached. But any box can be a junction box. From the junction box, the Hot and Neutral split off and jump from one box to the next box, and to the next box. The very last box will have 1 Hot and 1 Neutral, and no additional wires. So each box between the last box and the junction box will have several wires.
Despite having several wires, there will be only 1 Hot and 1 Neutral in each box. Hot wires are usually black
Each switch will connect to Hot wire, but not to Neutral.
Each outlet will connect to both Hot and Neutral. So if you see a Black wire that connects to both a switch and outlet, then that is the Hot wire.
Neutral wires are usually white and are twisted together and covered with wire nut, then pushed to back of box
GFCI has an outlet, so it will connect to both Hot and Neutral, just like ordinary outlet.
To identify the Hot and Neutral: Take photo of wires so everything can be put back. Separate all wires except bare ground wires. Tape tester leads to wood sticks for safety. Stand on dry boards, and never on wet surface. Turn power on. Test each wire to bare ground wire. Only 1 wire will light up tester. This is the Hot wire. Next test Hot wire to all other wires except bare ground. Tester will light up on Neutral wire.
So the Hot and Neutral are identified, and these wires will connect to the GFCI Line Screws.
with ordinary outlet
Ground wire is connected exactly same on ordinary outlet and GFCI outlet:
Ground wires connects to green screws, and all ground wires are twisted together and covered with wire nut
Ordinary outlet has 1 Hot wire from circuit breaker and 1 Neutral wire from Neutral busbar.
See inside main breaker box
Ground wire is not shown, and connects to green ground screw.
Ordinary outlets have screws on each side.
The Hot side screws feed power to the narrow blades.
The Hot side screws are brass, and Neutral side screws are silver.
The Hot side screws are bonded (electrically connected) to each other by break-away fin. So wire that is connected to one screw also feeds power to other screw.
To separate brass screws on Hot side, remove break-away fin
The Neutral side screws are also connected to each other by a metal plate.
Look on back of device for marks identifying Line and Load
outlet is different than ordinary outlet
Hot side has narrow blade/ Neutral side has wide blade = same as ordinary outlet
There is no break-away fin because all 4 screws on GFCI are independent of each other
There are two set of screws on GFCI outlet, same as ordinary outlet.
Except each screw is independent and not connected by metal. So all 4 GFCI screws are independent.
Back of GFCI device identifies Line screws and Load screws.
Load screws are usually covered with yellow tape when device is fresh out of box.
Hot and Neutral wires from breaker box attach to Line screws, as illustrated.
At this point, anything plugged into the GFCI outlet is protected from fault.
Both outlets are GFCI protected at this point, and Load screws are not used
1) Load screws are usually covered with yellow tape when device is purchased. This indicates that GFCI is wired differently than ordinary outlet.
2) If you want more outlets and switches protected by same GFCI, then attach wires to Load screws, as illustrate below.
3) If you do NOT want GFCI protection on subsequent outlets and switches, then attach wires to Line screws, as illustrated below.
GFCI outlets at Amazon
Whole house surge protectorHow to wire whole house surge protector
GFCI circuit breakersSingle pole and double pole
White wire connects to Neutral busbar.
Avoid double GFCI protection
How to wire 1-pole 120Volt GFCI circuit breakerSingle pole
Hot wire(s) connect to breaker in ordinary way.
GFCI breaker coiled white wire connects to Neutral busbar
White neutral to Load connects to neutral busbar in ordinary way
Bare ground wire connects to ground busbar in ordinary way.
GFCI 2-pole breakerIllustration shows 2-pole 208-240Volt GFCI.
Wires leave GFCI and travel to T104 timer, before going to pool pump.
National electric code requires 2-pole breaker for 240Volt circuit Read more
It is unsafe, and against code to install 2 single GFCIs for 208-240 Volt applications.
How to wire T104 timer
How to set and operate T104
Intermatic timers and manuals
How to wire arc fault breaker
BR Type 120Volt Arc fault breakerGFCI protection
Also mitigates damage from arcing fault
Breaker stabs onto busbar.
Hot connects to breaker in typical fashion.
White Neutral connects to breaker.
Coiled White connects to Neutral busbar.
AFCI-GFCI circuit breaker installation and troubleshoot/ pdf
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