What Is A GFCI Circuit Breaker and Why Do I Need One?

Circuit breakers are electrical safety devices that protect your electrical circuit by cutting off or breaking the flow of electricity when there are any unusual current surges that may be caused by a short circuit or any damage in the electrical circuit. One of the types of circuit breakers is the ground fault circuit interrupter or the GFCI.

The GFCI is a circuit breaker that is used in the home or establishments where there may be water near the electricity. This is usually used in areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, garage, laundry or basements. They are also used in areas near the swimming pool boathouses or in boats. Higher capacity GFCI with capacities of 500 amperes and above is used for buildings or processing plants that use a lot of water and similar set-ups.

Water is known to be a very good conductor of electricity. In the event that a short circuit or overload happens and there are people standing in stagnant, flowing, spilled or leaked water without shoes on, there is sure to be electrocution and possible severe injuries. This is always a possibility not only in the home but also in the workplace. A lot of people have lost their lives from electrocutions of such nature. Such disaster could be prevented with the use of a ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI. You would be more comfortable knowing that you have put in a first line of defense by installing a GFCI.

The main feature of a GFCI is that it is extra sensitive and can detect the smallest leakage of current that is beyond normal. It is designed to detect a leakage as small as 5 to 30 milliamperes. The GFCI also has one of the shortest response times in circuit breakers. It would take about 1/40th of a second for the GFCI to cut off or interrupt the flow of electricity. THE GFCI has a component called a differential current transformer that studies the balance between two conductors and determines when there is an imbalance, cutting the current immediately.

Because it is a specialized type of circuit breaker, the GFCI circuit breaker is a little more expensive than the normal circuit breaker. However, installing a GFCI will guarantee efficient ground fault detection which prevents electrical fires and electrocution, protecting you, your family or your associates from possible injuries that may be fatal. It is one investment that you should never scrimp on.

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