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I had a Nespresso Vertuo Next machine. It stopped working properly and during the troubleshooting video call, the Nespresso support agent said that the machines should not be connected to a GFCI outlet because they can potentially damage the machine. As part of our home inspection when we purchased the house, it was recommended to install such outlets anywhere that water is common, including the kitchen. As such, all the outlets in our kitchen are GFCI outlets.

This call with Nespresso was the first time I'd ever seen someone claim that GFCI outlets can potentially damage coffee machines.

Can they damage Nespresso machines? If so, can they damage other coffee machines (I also have a Baratza grinder and a Bonavita drip machine I usually hook into the same outlet)? They sent us a replacement and now I am questioning where to put it.

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    The only thing a GFCI outlet would do is turn/shut off the power if there is a ground fault. It could be bad if your PC/nespresso was updating at the time.
    – crip659
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:30
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    In addition to @crip659's comment, if there was some sort of cooldown cycle for internal heating elements, the machine might be damaged if the power was interrupted before the cooldown could finish. But in general, unless it trips, the machine would never know (or care) if it were on a GFCI or not.
    – Milwrdfan
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:54
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    Also most or all of the outlets in a kitchen have needed to be GFCI for decades at this point, so anything that can't work properly with one is defective by design.
    – KMJ
    Oct 19, 2022 at 21:39
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    That's a pretty nonsensical requirement. That would mean the machine couldn't be used in a modern kitchen.
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 19, 2022 at 21:39
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    @crip659 but it's pretty sad if an interrupted update bricks the device. There oughta to be a bootstrap loader in hard non-alterable ROM that knows how to connect to a PC and install the OS even if the firmware was blank. They had that figured out at least 20 years ago, it's one of the first things they worked out when they started letting devices update firmware over a wire. Oct 20, 2022 at 2:43

1 Answer 1

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the Nespresso support agent said that the machines should not be connected to a GFCI outlet

Where do they think Nespresso machines are used? Bedrooms? No, they're kitchen appliances and GFCIs are widely used in kitchens. GFCIs are code requirements and have been for ~20 years. If they are unable to make a GFCI-compatible machine, then their machine is unfit for purpose, and they have breached their implied warranty. Also, the things use water, for Pete's sake.

That said, machines do break. On a modern "mass produced, not expected to be repaired" machine, that means it is "at end-of-life".

This call with Nespresso was the first time I'd ever seen someone claim that GFCI outlets can potentially damage coffee machines.

LOL no. Such a claim is both nonsensical and inexcusable, and is certainly not coming from their technical department, nor has it been reviewed by their legal team, nor will you ever get them to put that in writing. Most likely it is because companies put tremendous pressure on customer service agents to have a high rate of good ratings, "close it in 1 call" and "avoid shipping replacement units". A GFCI-trip call is a worst-case scenario for an agent, and so they're going to say whatever they need to to get a satisfactory 1-call close. That is about their only option.

In a rare case, the GFCI might be end-of-life and not be working properly, but that is easily tested by plugging it into the next outlet over that is on a different GFCI, since kitchens generally have 2 independent circuits.


Now, other things can damage a coffee maker. Notably a "Lost Neutral", where the neutral lead from the power company breaks, causing neutral in the house to wander - the two 120V "halves of the service" still add up to 240V but they are lopsided, with one side higher than 120V. That is particularly hard on resistive heat appliances, since their heat increases by the square of voltage increase. Lost neutrals can be pernicious and difficult to detect, so it can go weeks or months without being noticed. It's not like service panels have voltmeters on them.

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    Coming in to this after the edit, but there is a continuum of methods used by help desk people to "close the ticket", and manipulating the customer into believing that some innocuous or irrelevant circumstance is both the cause of product failure and inherently or obviously stupid, is gaslighting. Telling a customer that a water-handling kitchen-countertop appliance must not be used with "harmful" GFCI outlets, if the customer is not knowledgeable enough to call BS on it, is gaslighting. It's vanilla gaslighting, not pumpkin spice!
    – jay613
    Oct 20, 2022 at 19:58
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    @jay613 Don't discount that they may just be wrong not-on-purpose. The support team generally doesn't have direct technical knowledge of whatever-it-is or necessarily any technical knowledge of anything-at-all. They are just relaying their understanding of what someone else told them or documented. The level 2 support for my team used to sit in the same room as us and there are still a lot of technical details that they would get wrong (definitely not on purpose). Oct 20, 2022 at 20:01
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    "Blame the customer" needs to be validated by product management or engineering, not based on rumors created and circulated by triage staff. I will grant you that the individual agent may be doing what they were taught and/or following corporate culture, so the gaslighting may be more systemic. And it may not be intentional, just triage team reaction to the pressure on them and the lack of escalation resources. But that doesn't make it not gaslighting. It makes it institutional.
    – jay613
    Oct 20, 2022 at 20:08
  • Just to clarify, the agent did not suggest the gfci was definitively the cause of the issue nor was that the end of the troubleshooting call. It was actually at the very beginning and the call went on for 30 minutes. The unit was out of warranty so there was no potential for them to claim misuse and deny me repair anyway in my particular case. I do think the advice is an institutional issue, along with suggesting that only the Nespresso descaling solution should be used (she said that as well)
    – Steve V
    Oct 20, 2022 at 20:10
  • ~30 years, btw. My 1992 home and that of my parents has the ubiquitous requisite bathroom/garage combo and also in the kitchen.
    – isherwood
    Oct 20, 2022 at 20:30

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