I have a GFC wall outlet in the garage. I put up a new florescent shop light and plugged it into the outlet. It works fine for maybe an hour but then kicks the GFC breaker off. Sometimes it will kick off the breaker as soon as I plug it in. I have plugged the shop light into other outlets and it stays on and works fine. The GFC outlet could be 20 years old. Is my outlet bad or do florescent lights not work well with GFC outlets?

  • To clarify, is the other outlet where the light fixture work fine also GFCI? Or is it a non-gfci outlet? It's possible your GFCI needs replacement as indicated in the answer that exists as of now, however this is not how a GFCI normally behaves when it fails. My first suspicion would be a cheap ballast that is actually ground faulting after it gets warm.
    – Tyson
    Jan 27, 2017 at 20:43
  • Thanks for the info, the outlet that the light fixture seems to work ok in is not a GFCI outlet.
    – Allen
    Jan 28, 2017 at 23:58
  • If you can try it in a second gfci outlet, that will tell you which to replace the fixture or the first GFCI.
    – Tyson
    Jan 29, 2017 at 0:01

2 Answers 2


I would swap the GFCI with another one, and see if the problem repeats. Then replace either the light or GFCI, accordingly.

No fluorescent fixture should ever trip a GFCI, if it does, it's the ballast, either due to being really cheap, or having a fault. Given that ALL garage outlets must now be GFCI, I can't see how anyone could get away with selling a fluorescent fixture that trips GFCIs.

Like Machavity says, replacing an old one isn't a bad idea. And the best reason is the march of technology: New ones are better. Just don't lose that advantage by getting a bottom-shelf junk unit.

  • Thanks for the advice. I bought the light fixture at Lowes. I'm going to replace the GFCI outlet and see what happens.
    – Allen
    Jan 29, 2017 at 0:00

Sounds like a bad GFCI. If it really is 20 years old then I'd go buy a new GFCI and replace it. GFCIs have systems to detect a ground fault and they don't last forever. I recently bought an older house and several had to be replaced for that reason.

  • We also bought this 24 yr. old home recently, I'm going to try replacing the GFCI outlet since they don't cost that much and we'll see what happens. Thanks
    – Allen
    Jan 29, 2017 at 0:02

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