I've lived in the USA for a little over 4 years now and aside from the obvious differences in residential electrical systems compared to where I'm from (120V vs 240V, 60Hz vs 50Hz, etc.) one thing in particular still puzzles me.
Why are GFCI's so finicky - to the point where some appliance manufacturers recommend not plugging their products into GFCI outlets and users trying to avoid installing and sometimes remove existing GFCI outlets?
The situation I'm used to is for every single outlet (and optionally even lighting circuits) to be protected by a single central 'Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker' (aka GFCI) in the main electrical panel.
There are no 'nuisance trips' - if the ELCB trips it's either for a good reason (the appliance is broken to the point of being unsafe to use), or the ELCB itself is broken and needs to be replaced.

  • 1
    I wouldn't place the blame on GFCI devices, at least not most modern devices. Older GFCIs may have been a bit finicky, but that was decades ago. Most (or at least some) of the blame should be put on the equipment manufacturers, who refuse to change their designs to work with GFCI protection.
    – Tester101
    Sep 7, 2016 at 15:53
  • Detection threshold? A whole house unit probably has a higher threshold and thus provides less protection, When I've discussed EU type units with a Thailand homeowner, the whole-house units had disturbingly high thresholds, plenty high enough to kill the weak and knock anyone out cold (causing secondary damage as you fall or drown). Also keep in mind these things trip on current, and US/NA appliances draw twice the current since our voltage is half. Sep 7, 2016 at 16:11
  • I mean my impression is that EU use of ground fault detection is for a different purpose, protecting house fires by shutting down faulting appliances moreso than human protection. Ours is strictly about human protection. We don't want everything protected, especially not with common trip, because in the US we use refrigerators to store food. A LOT. Sep 7, 2016 at 16:18
  • You want to nuisance trip an ELCB? Get a few EMC labs in your building going on conducted emissions tests. 15mA of GND current per LISN adds up fast. Sep 7, 2016 at 23:05


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