I have a similar situation to How do I install a GFCI receptacle with two hot wires and common neutral? in my kitchen.

The solution looks good and I'm ready to go ahead, but with one reservation... What do I lose in terms of safety when I remove the two split receptacles and replace them with GFCIs? What's the purpose of split receptacles - why are they safer? I've not been able to find this info on StackExchange or elsewhere.

What's safer -- two split receptacles or two GFCI's? If it's the former I'll leave things as they are.

Thanks for any advice.

  • 1
    Are you asking if you can replace a receptacle that was split so two circuits can control each individual plug in the duplex with a GFCI? Please edit your question to give us a little more detailed information about what you are trying to do. Thanks. Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 14:08

2 Answers 2


Split receptacles are no safer it allows 2 separate circuits on 1 outlet. I have found a double pole GFCI to feed a multi wire branch circuit is more stable than trying to use GFCI outlets. If using GFCI outlets to prevent nuncance tripping each outlet would need to be GFCI using only the line or there may be issues if the load is used I have found a double pole GFCI circuit breaker is cheaper than a bunch of GFCI outlets. You would still have a separate 20 amps on each outlet but if any of the outlets sees a ground fault they all go dead, this would be the reason for individual GFCI outlets using only the line side and may be a good idea if your breaker panel is remote or if your fridge is on this circuit but it cost more. But no new wiring is needed with a double pole or individual GFCI outlets using the line only (feeding 1 hot wire through to the next outlet and alternate the hot to the outlet provides 2 circuits if you go this route)


If you don't have GFCI now, I'd say there's no loss in safety and it's all gain.

The real question is whether you want the current situation, where you can plug two fat 1500W loads into the 2 sockets of one receptacle, and not get a breaker trip. That is to say, if you call your 2 circuits A and B, do you want your sockets to have a circuit configuration of

A___________A     or would you rather have     A____________B
B           B                                  A            B

If you want the left one, your only option is to leave the sockets wired as they are, and fit a 2-pole GFCI breaker in the service panel. This is guaranteed to protect the whole circuit, unless there's a wiring fault, in which case it will never stop tripping.

If the right one is fine with you, then your choice is GFCI receptacles, and "skip socket" wiring as in the question you linked. However, very important! If the next socket downline is wired with /3 cable (including a red wire), then you cannot use the LOAD terminals on the GFCI at all: leave the warning tape on them. Regardless, you must always pigtail since you only have 1 screw on the GFCI (neutral should already be pigtailed if the rules were followed).

  • Thank you Harper. I finally understand why this split receptacle thing is done. Since I don't plug a lot into these outlets, (and since I already have purchased the GFCI's) I'll go ahead and install as you and the referenced article suggest.
    – MReinhart
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 0:08

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