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My kitchen counter has 11 GFCI power receptacles. I don't know why the builder didn't just use 1 GFCI receptacle and daisy-chained the rest of them (they did in the garage). I read each GFCI receptacle uses like 2 Watts, so that's 22 Watts, which means almost $4/month in electricity (at $0.25/kWh).

These outlets are all connected to a single 20A circuit breaker. Can I just replace that with a GFCI+AFCI circuit breaker, and replace all 11 GFCI receptacles with regular non-GFCI receptacles? That way, I save on electricity and also add AFCI protection, which I don't currently have. Thanks!

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  • Are\ the GFCI's daisy chained? If one trips then does a separate receptacle lose power?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jul 15 at 14:28
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The 11 GFCI receptacles is rather peculiar. Indeed, fewer GFCI receptacles could have been used. The extras can be eliminated as I describe in this Q&A.

However, your claim that "all your kitchen receptacles are on one circuit" is rather unlikely. For decades, NEC has required at least two circuits for kitchen counter receptacles.

So don't be surprised if you find you are dealing with 2 or even 3 breakers. (Perhaps you have a double breaker controlling the two "half-circuits" of a multi-wire branch circuit. Adding breaker-level AFCI to them is particularly tricky).

Honestly, my best recommendation is for an AFCI breaker with a GFCI receptacle at the first receptacle site. That way when you are trying to troubleshoot whether a trip is from overcurrent, GFCI or AFCI, you will have an easier time of it. Not all breakers have a particularly good indication of the trip cause.

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  • Thank you. You are absolutely right -- now that I check again, there are in fact two circuit breakers for kitchen counter outlets. Unfortunately, one of them is using a multiwire branch circuit with my office outlets. They might be sharing a neutral so I'm not sure if I can use a GFCI circuit breaker for half of kitchen counter outlets. Does an AFCI breaker in a multiwire branch circuit require two separate neutrals, too? Thank you.
    – K. Don
    Jul 15 at 6:42
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This is the first time I have heard of someone complaining because they had too many GFCI Receptacles on one circuit.

This method is actually an upgrade. This way if one appliance has a fault only the receptacle being used trips, but the rest of the circuit stays on. If you daisy chain it as most do, if an appliance faults the entire circuit goes out.

Most GFCI circuits are daisy chained during construction just as a matter of cost. It might be that the contractor was experiencing a nuisance trip and decided to apply this method rather than try and trouble shoot the circuits.

Regardless it's an easy fix to have some one go in and daisy chain them if it makes you feel more comfortable.

Stay safe and good luck

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This may help you understand how the GFCI protects. The GFCI must have the same neutral downstream for all the duplex outlets it protects. However any upstream connections to the neutral are irrelevant. Why? The GFCI has both the hot and Neutral go through an internal current transformer. With both both sides of the circuit the magnet flux will cancel and no current is introduced into the current transformer. However if either the hot or neutral has current flowing through it but not the other side the current transformer will pick this up. Once this current gets to a specified level it causes it to trip opening the circuit.

The life of a GFCI is around 10 years. Note that some older units may fail "closed," meaning they'll still conduct electricity, obviously a dangerous situation that defeats the whole purpose of CFGIs. The newer styles fail "open," meaning they'll no longer work, your circuit will be off but you will be safe.

On a final note, note that GFCI outlets will wear out, so you should test them about once per month. To test the outlet plug in a simple night light or other electrical device. The device should turn on, if not press the reset button it may have tripped. Then press the Test button. If the GFCI is working, the power will immediately be cut (your light will go off). Press Reset, and your device should turn on again. If so, the outlet is working as it should. If the light doesn't turn off when you press Test, you have a problem. The GFCI might be improperly installed or malfunctioning, and it won't protect you from shocks. You'll need to replace it or call a professional electrician for help.

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  • Is there a reason you aren't incorporating this into your previous answer? Jul 16 at 0:30
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The easiest solution and one you will like if they trip is to use one GFCI where the breaker first feeds them, then use the second set of terminals and feed to all of the subsequent ones replacing them with a standard duplex. I did my kitchen with 20A duplexes but the standard 15 amp are ok. I have a feeling they took the feeder wire from box to box then pigtailed the feed and connected it to the GFCI.

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  • Thank you. I didn't think about the possibility that they went from box to box using pigtails. If that's the case, I just need to re-wire the very first outlet on the circuit using the Load terminal on the GFCI, and the downstream outlets will be protected even after replacing those with non-GFCI outlets, right? What's the best way to find that first outlet? Thank you.
    – K. Don
    Jul 15 at 6:46
  • Understanding of this solution was implied in the opening sentence of the question post.
    – isherwood
    Jul 15 at 12:56

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