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Have a dedicated circuit for our freezer which has a GFI circuit breaker feeding a GFI outlet in our laundry room where the freezer is. Unfortunately, the GFI Breaker trips with the slightest power interruption or power surge. This is a major problem when we are not home and the breaker trips. Fortunately, people watching our cat have noticed the breaker tripped and reset them. I tried replacing the GFI outlet with a conventional outlet, but the GFI breaker will not reset. It immediately trips. Re-installed the GFI outlet and freezer now running, but I need to resolve this issue to prevent losing food in the freezer if the breaker trips while we are away.

  • What make and model is the GFCI breaker? Can you post photos of how things are wired at both the breaker panel and outlet ends? – ThreePhaseEel Jul 16 at 22:38
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    This question has been answered: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/53252/… . Summary: because starting of motors in fridges and freezers tend to trip a GFCI frequently, a GFCI is not required in most residential codes if the outlet serves only that appliance and is not otherwise easily accessible. If GFCI is required, a snubber circuit can help prevent surges. – DrMoishe Pippik Jul 17 at 0:54
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    Possible duplicate of Why is GFCI tripping on refrigerator circuit? – Machavity Jul 17 at 13:16
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Yo Dawg

Who was the electrician? Xzibit???

Because putting a GFCI in another GFCI's protected zone is rather silly.

Speaking of silly...

Refrigerators and GFCIs

You want a refrigerator to last a long time, so they want to hermetically seal the Freon stages so the Freon doesn't leak out. But how do you seal the piston rings of a compressor? By putting the whole compressor inside the freon tank. But then, how do you seal the shaft of the motor? By putting the entire motor inside there too. So you have a steel jacketed motor swimming in Freon inside an aluminum tank, stuffed in the bottom back of a fridge that's entirely wrapped in steel and grounded. You have no chance of touching the Freon tank, let alone the motor, and you're not likely to drop it in the sink. Does this sound like the use-case for GFCI? No. No it does not.

Now, an AC induction motor is (as you might guess) a very big inductive load. Inductors, when disconnected, must continue to flow current, and will increase voltage to infinity until they do. This plays badly with GFCIs, as you might imagine.

This is the classic "safety system versus safety system" scenario, like a low-oil-level trip on a fire pump: saves the $50,000 engine and lets the $50,000,000 warehouse burn down. The well-meaning GFCI poisons all your food. If the trip isn't noticed by the right people, someone might just reset it and no one's the wiser.

This is a big problem that is well known to the industry.

GFCI does not belong here. The Fridge should be removed from GFCIs entirely. In many common freezer locations, this isn't quite legal because of a general Code requirement to have GFCI on receptacles in those rooms. So this will require a nudge and a wink from the local inspector; or; he doesn't need to know about it.

So change the duplex GFCI receptacle for a simplex plain receptacle, and label it "Dedicated for freezer". That is making a fair effort to assure the receptacle isn't used for anything else, and that will satisfy many inspectors, who perfectly well know the problem of refrigerator GFCI trips.

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You should now have a surplus GFCI receptacle and breaker. What to do with those? Find another circuit that does not currently have GFCI protection, but could use it.

By the way, do the same thing in your kitchen. De-GFCI your fridge.

  • One clarification: Based on 210.21(B)(1) Single Receptacle on an Individual Branch Circuit. A single receptacle installed on an individual branch circuit shall have an ampere rating not less than that of the branch circuit. (quoted recently in another answer), if you switch a circuit from multiple receptacles to a single receptacle then if it is a 15A circuit then you can use a 15A or 20A receptacle, but if it is a 20A circuit (which could easily be the case - i.e., everything run 12 AWG/20A for simplicity) then you must use a 20A receptacle, even if it was a duplex 15A before. – manassehkatz Jul 17 at 14:46

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