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It seems that GFCI-protected receptacles are required in all areas of the garage (even on the ceiling, where the garage door opener plugs in). Can I install a non-protected (15A) receptacle specifically for a freezer? I've had the GFCI trip a few times, cutting power to the freezer (sometimes losing the contents, other times I noticed in time), and would like to avoid this problem in the future.

The freezer sits in front of the main GFCI receptacle for the garage / outside, so my plan would be to add a second receptacle next to the existing GFCI receptacle pigtailed into the line side of the GFCI. Is this allowed by the NEC? Not sure which version is in use here in Alexandria, VA, but let's assume the latest version of the NEC.

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    I think you’d be better off figuring out why the GFCI keeps tripping on you. – paul Aug 10 '18 at 18:02
  • @paul Likely water infiltration in the outside receptacles, but fridges and freezers are not recommended to be plugged into GFCI receptacles specifically because they can trip and leave the appliance without power. If I fix one cause of the GFCI tripping, it doesn't mean it won't trip due to some other cause, and I'm back the same situation. – mmathis Aug 10 '18 at 18:06
  • It depends where you live. The state of Oregon 2017 code revision still allows non GFCI outlets behind refredgerators and freezers both in the home and garage. It sounds like a newer home when was it built if prior to the last code cycle it may be legal or if your state is using an older version of code. I just looked Texas is on 2017 code so check your state exemptions or if built prior to 14 code – Ed Beal Aug 10 '18 at 19:14
  • @paul I had a freezer on a GFCI that would trip on super humid days (rain not required). I finally had to just yank the GFCI from the garage circuit and put in a normal outlet. Given how far these outlets were from the garage door the safety risk seemed minimal. Code was just over-cautious – Machavity Aug 16 '18 at 15:25
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Lets start with a little history. Before 2014 the NEC did not require GFCI protections to outlets that were not readily accessible. After 2014 all receptacles in the garage shall be GFCI protected. for reference that would be NEC Article 210.8(A)(2). The NEC Handbook also notes, there are no exceptions because, Appliance leakage currents permitted by today's product standard are far less than the operational threshold of a GFCI, so nuisance tripping is unlikely. That's verbatim.

This has always been a sticky wicket since some people have appliances that were manufactured before 2014. I have found most AHJ are sympathetic since they are there to serve the community. What I have found in discussing this with them is that many times they will allow you to use a non GFCI receptacle so long as the circuit is dedicated to that one inaccessible location.

That's about the best I have good luck.

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    In our area, the AHJ will allow a single (not duplex) outlet on a dedicated 15 amp circuit (the theory for ‘dedicated’ deals mostly with the idea the equipment ground goes unbroken, unspliced straight to the buss bar, since its technically not in code you should hear the arguments when this point get debated over a few cold beers) in the garage for a freezer or refrigerator. They also have a sticker given away at most supply houses in our area that says “Dedicated for Freezer” that must be applied. – Tyson Aug 10 '18 at 21:30
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GFCIs/RCDs (30mA) should always be installed nowadays regardless of local legislation and regardless of fridges. All following values are meant for 220-240V voltage.

Like said in the comments, if they trip, there is some fault in the cable network or in the appliances which should be corrected. If old heating appliances like ovens or tank heaters trip a 30mA RCD, they could be run without RCD, but it's better to change the heating element resp. to check the appliances for insulation values.

In that sense, RCDs are an automatic check of the electric installation, and as intended, they provide inexpensive protection for ca. 30$ (40A, 30mA, suitable for non-linear (pulsed) load like switch mode power supplies).

According to the insurance companies here in Europe, many electrically tripped fires would have been avoided if RCDs had been installed. Electrocution is more seldom caused by missing RCDs. In a wooden house there might be a higher probability of animals like martens, rats, mice, insects etc. to settle near the warm cables and to destroy the cables' insulation resulting in a fire. And for outside outlets, high humidity/UV radiation/high temperature changes etc. make it far more likely for the electric insulation to fail.

Before installation, the insulation values (phases <-> yellow green protection earth PE, phases <-> N and N <-> PE if disconnected) should be checked (at least 20kOhm, measuring voltage 250V, all bulbs removed (some switches have tiny discharge bulbs inside which also must be temporarily disconnected), but wall switches switched on, surge protection, ground fault and arc protection devices also disconnected). A good, dry installation has 50MOhm or more. After installation of a RCD, the function should not only be checked by pressing the test button, but it must also be tested in the protected circuits, f.e. by connecting a lamp with power >= 15W to the phase and PE of an outlet. One of the most frequent faults in electric installations is the (re-) connection of Neutral N with PE in TN-C or TN-C-S networks downstream of a RCD. In that case the RCD would trip very frequently, even if the appliances which are switched on have no insulation faults.

  • 30ma GFCIs/RCDs do little to nothing for life safety, which is the purpose of the requirement in North America. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 11 '18 at 0:22
  • @Harper: Do you have sources for the statement, that "30mA RCDs do little to nothing for life safety"? This is very surprising, since current, that flows to a person touching a phase (f.e. children poking in outlets) will trip a RCD if correctly installed, and possible fires from insulation faults that do not trip the circuit breaker can also be avoided. – xeeka Aug 11 '18 at 0:56
  • Insulation faults are the main reason the 30ma standard was chosen in Europe. It is a compromise because so many RCD/GFCI installations are "whole house"; an 8ma trip is simply too sensitive and would have too many nuisance trips. America did nothing about insulation/arc faults until the AFCI was introduced. For life safety, 30ma protection is better than nothing at all, but if your goal is life safety, you need 8ma. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 11 '18 at 1:04
  • @Harper Studies have shown that both current and time are very important for the probability of deadly heart ventricular fibrillation - besides other damage to the body. IEC publication 60479-1 reflects that knowledge, it contains a graph defining less dangerous and more dangerous areas in dependence on current and time. A 30mA-RCDs significantly reduces the risk of deadly accidents caused by electric current, since it operates in the low-dangerous area up to ca. 300mA with switching time < 200ms. Where is a source for the statement "if your goal is life safety, you need 8ma"? – xeeka Aug 11 '18 at 4:00
  • @xeeka the UL 943 standard (the operative product standard for GFCIs for personnel protection in North America) is where that 6-8mA figure comes from. – ThreePhaseEel Aug 12 '18 at 1:35
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Definitely yes, you should use any means necessary to connect your food storage non-GFCI. GFCI on a fridge is akin to a low-oil-level trip on a fire pump (awesome, you saved the pump while the building burnt down).

Don't put it on shared circuits with anything else that might trip GFCI, AFCI or just breaker. And if your freezer by itself is tripping GFCIs, get it fixed. The below is not a cure for a ground fault.

Ask your AHJ for permission to run a dedicated circuit with ONE SOCKET on its receptacle, located behind the freezer to be not particularly accessible. It's important that it be a special 1-socket receptacle, not the usual 50-cent 2-socket "duplex" receptacle. Now, important part here, the socket type must match the breaker exactly, in terms of 15A or 20A. Normally 15A socketS plural are allowed on 20A circuits -- but here, you are going out of your way to have only one of them - so no.

Your freezer isn't required to be cord-and-plug connected

And fridges, freezers, fans, lamps and many other loads which aren't cord-and-plug connected aren't required to be GFCI :)

Go to the electrical supply house and get some proper cordage with the same basic rating as the freezer's cord. Remove and coil up the original freezer cord for when you sell it. Then attach one end of the cordage where the cord had been. The other end uses a well-fitting strain relief (which we buy with the cordage) to enter probably a 1/2" knockout in a steel junction box... where you make a 3-wirenut connection to your feed cable. That goes to a dedicated breaker. This junction box does not need to be hidden.


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