Why are GFCI systems typically in the receptacle instead of in the breaker


Since the breaker box contains all the other electrical safety equipment it would make sense to put GFCI systems here; and GFCI circuit breakers are available which do this. But GFCIs inside receptacles are much more common. Is it just because they're older, because they are easier to reset, or something else?

Best Answer

The top few possible reasons are:

  1. Ease of access- it's easier to reset a tripped GFCI in the same room.
  2. Easier to retrofit- it's easier for a homeowner to install a receptacle than to dig around in the panel. Even if this type of panel work is trivial, most people just aren't comfortable with it.
  3. Cost- one GFCI receptacle is cheaper than a GFCI breaker. If multiple GFCI receptacles would be needed to properly protect a branch circuit, then this argument would diminish.
  4. Protection requirement(s)- some circuits do not require GFCI protection for the entire circuit, so installing a GFCI receptacle allows you to "target" the required areas (ie, if you don't want your lighting to trip in the case of a ground fault at a receptacle).