I just got a new fridge and put the old one in the garage. It's connected to a GFCI outlet which it's tripping intermittently. It's not the breaker that's tripping, it's the outlet itself. The fridge is connected to an extension. When I press reset the fridge works again. I know there are issues with using GFCI outlets and fridges, my question is, can I just replace this outlet with a non-GFCI outlet? Would that work? Is the wiring any different? Would it still trip for some other reason? The breaker is 15amp compared with 20amp previously. It's not tripping the breaker so I'm guessing that's not the issue.

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    Outlets in garages are supposed to be gfci protected. But I believe code allows for replacement of gfci outlets/gfci breakers with standard outlets and breakers if someone is experiencing "nuisance trips". Would it be possible to run a dedicated circuit for the fridge fed by a standard breaker? That would be at least close to code compliant. I divide electrical work into 3 categories: 1) Not safe and not code compliant, 2) Safe, but not code compliant, and 3) Safe and code compliant. Up to you. Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 1:50
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    Does this answer your question? Why would a GFCI trip on refrigerator circuit?
    – Doug Deden
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 3:04
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    @statueuphemism , Nope , garage, basement etc. they have not released the 2020 exceptions yet but should soon as the code is scheduled to be adopted in April. Part of my job is dependent on knowing these exceptions and using them. A refrigerator or freezer are both allowed to be exempt per table 1E (a 26 page document on NEC exceptions for Oregon and there are others not in that listed as state wide alternative methods).
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 18:27
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    When this GFCI trips, do any other outlets lose power? Go ahead and trip it with the "Test" button and go around with a test light etc. Very important question. Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 19:07
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    I have removed the power extension cord and plugged it in directly, so far no issues in 4 hours with tripping. Never lasted that long with the extension cords. Not sure about the other outlets, will test it to check.
    – mxcolin
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 19:16

4 Answers 4


Same old deal I have seen for the past 35 years as a service technician. Not one person referenced the owners manual. Any appliance you purchase that has a compressor will tell you in the owners manual to not plug it into a GFCI receptacle. And this goes beyond compressors to include just about anything with an AC motor. While it is true a lot of refrigerators will run for a while on a GFCI receptacle, it is inevitable that at some point the internal lubricant will collect enough metal from friction wear that it will charge the lubricant itself and create a natural current leakage to ground, which, surprise, surprise trips the GFCI. The most common response when you tell someone to read their manual is "I didn't get one" Uh huh. P.S. all compressors are vapor compressors. If there's no vapor there nothing to compress

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    – Michael Karas
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 16:20

This can even happen with new fridges. A garage can have high humidity levels by huge temperature changes that effects the electric resistance of the surface between hot terminals and the metal parts that are grounded.

Besides the suggestion to get a new fridge as replacement for an older one, what can yield a ROI in a few months in some places, a good compromise between an electric circuit with an oversensitive 5mA- GFCI and a circuit with none at all is a 30mA- GFCI, which is standard for the big majority of buildings on this planet, even with 230V household voltage.

  • I had no idea you could get GFCIs with different threshold amperages. How do I tell what the threshold is for something I already have, or for something I'm buying? I don't see any mA values on HomeDepot product pages, for example.
    – Paul Price
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 1:29
  • @Paul Price A Google search "GFCI 30mA" yields many devices under the shopping tab, among them adapters which can be plugged into the socket - no installation necessary, e.g. ebay.de/itm/…. At least in Europe every GFCI seems to have the threshold value shown on the device.
    – xeeka
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 2:21
  • Thanks, @xeeka, but I've looked at HomeDepot, Lowes and Amazon, and I can't find any of them stating the threshold amperage for the product. Maybe it's just not done in America, or there's a standard threshold and you can't get anything different?
    – Paul Price
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 2:53
  • I don't think you can buy a 30mA GFCI American receptacle to use in place of a regular one. There are GFCI circuit breakers with various behaviors and maybe you could put one in feeding a dedicated garage outlet for a fridge and maybe if code allows no exemptions for garage fridges maybe such an arrangement with a GFCI breaker would satisfy code. Maybe maybe maybe. If I was a homeowner with this problem I'd double and triple check there's nothing wrong with the fridge, then swap in a regular outlet for it.
    – jay613
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 13:19

Since this question did not get closed as duplicate of Why would a GFCI trip on refrigerator circuit?, here is the most upvoted answer from that question that is very much on point in answering this question:


Bottom line: If the adopted codes in your area do not provide an exception for running fridges without a GFCI in your garage, the best you can do is add get someone to add a snubber if you want a legal installation.

Sure the fridge works great for you now without a GFCI in your garage, but will you remember to change out that circuit before you move? How about if the unfortunate/unexpected happens and you don't get that chance? Will the next homeowner think this is a general purpose GFCI protected circuit as it should be in a garage?

  • Yes, there seems to be a huge safety problem in any local electric code with a "5mA or nothing"- policy. Many users would simply de-install the GFCI even in garages like in this case. Another user, gardener etc. could use that socket for hedge or grass cutting which would be very dangerous without GFCI. It is not difficult to predict that this severe counter-intentional software bug will be eliminated in the future.
    – xeeka
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 8:44

Old GFCI outlets can trip unnecessarily; if it's very old, I'd try replacing it. It's preferable to use GFCI outlets anywhere there could be water, such as a kitchen.

  • It's less than 3 years old.
    – mxcolin
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 20:04

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