A GFCI outlet has become a necessity these days. If you want to keep your electrical devices and connection safe, you need a GFCI outlet.
Moreover, NEC has mandated GFCI outlets in most places of your home for a long time.
The question is when GFCI outlets were invented?
Once you know the answer to this question, you will know the timeline since they were mandated in various parts of your home.
Today, I will answer the former question for you.
When were gfci outlets invented?
Charles Dalziel invested GFCI outlet in 1961. He was an electrical engineering professor at the University of California.
When you look at the simplicity of the GFCI outlet, you will realize why it has become so famous.
In most cases, the GFCI outlet just monitors the current at the input and output of the load or the appliance.
In case the difference is more than 5mA, it concludes that there is a ground fault. In that case, it shuts off the GFCI outlet and breaks the circuit.
When the circuit is broken, the current flow also stops. That is why electrocution will not occur in that case.
Over the years, NEC mandated GFCI outlets in different parts of our homes. The reasons each time were different.
Today, I will also share with you why are GFCI outlets required.
Why were gfci outlets required?
There are numerous reasons why it has mandated to use of GFCI outlets. I will go into all these reasons below.
1. To avoid ground fault:
According to some estimates, 200 people lose their lives each year in the United States because of the ground fault. Whenever a ground fault occurs, electrocution is pretty likely.
It is difficult to detect the ground fault in the absence of a GFCI outlet in most cases.
If the ground fault persists, the surface at joining the outlet can pass the current as well. Whenever someone comes in contact with that surface, electrocution can occur.
One of the best ways to avoid electrocution due to the ground fault is to use a GFCI outlet.
2. To detect faulty load:
As I have highlighted above, the GFCI outlet will consistently monitor the current at the input and output of the appliance or the load.
In many cases, a ground fault does not occur. The difference in the current level is due to the faulty load.
The faulty load can lead to electrocution or current leakage.
The reduction in current might be due to high resistance as well.
Many times, the problem is not due to the circuit per se but due to the load.
Even when the problem is with the load, the GFCI outlet will trip the circuit. The circuit will be broken, and no current will flow.
When that happens, the GFCI outlet can help you detect a faulty load.
It is another reason why GFCI outlets are required.
3. To protect against surge:
Many times, voltage fluctuates when there is a current surge as well.
In that case, there is, of course, a difference in the input as well as output of the load.
If such a surge current is consistently supplied to the load, the load can get damaged as well.
While certain loads like bulbs have a built-in mechanism but not all loads do.
The load saving circuit might be too expensive as well. In case they are replaced, you will have to shell out a lot of money as well.
On the other hand, when these loads are connected to the GFCI outlet, the imbalance in the current will trip the circuit. Once the circuit’s trip, the loadwill not experience the higher search current.
Thus, another reason why GFCI outlets are required is to protect the load.
4. To protect against humidity:
When the problem is not due to the load or the ground fault, the problem is the humidity.
When there is excessive humidity, once again, the current might start flowing in the wrong direction.
If the current comes in contact with the surface, it can lead to electrocution as well.
The problem is that when you’re installing the outlet outdoors, this problem is quite common.
Similarly, if you’re installing the outlet in places like bathrooms and kitchens, this problem is common.
Also, many times the pipes that run through the walls on which the outlets are installed might leak. In that case, as well humidity can occur.
In any of these conditions, humidity can cause leakage current.
If you have installed a GFCI outlet, it will trip the entire circuit. Once the entire circuit trips, the current will not flow. There is no risk of electrocution as well.
Thus, to protect the outlet in the load against humidity, a GFCI outlet is required.
5. To prevent shorting:
If the outlets or the wiring you are using in your home are old, shorting can occur. The problem with shorting is that it can damage the load.
Once again, you will have to shell out a lot of money to replace the load.
In case the wiring is fried, you might have to change the wiring as well.
To change the wiring, you will have to shell out a lot of money, especially if the wiring is inside the walls.
To prevent all of this, a GFCI outlet is certainly required. A GFCI outlet will ensure that the moment shorting occurs, it trips the circuit. In that case, the load, as well as the wires, will not fly.
6. To avoid accidents:
Any fault like shorting or break down can lead to fire as well. Electrical fires are very difficult to extinguish.
Electric fires can also cause electrocution, which is another issue.
You can avoid all of these problems by going with GFCI outlets.
Whenever there is any problem with the current, the GFCI outlet will trip itself. When that happens, there will be no risk of accident as well.
As you can see, there are quite a few reasons why GFCI outlets are required.
So, the GFCI outlet was invented in 1961. Ever since then, it is required in different parts of our homes for different reasons. Once you go through my guide above, it is easy to understand why the GFCI outlet was invented and why it is required.
In case you want to buy a light with a GFCI outlet, I’ve covered such lights in my post outdoor light with a GFCI outlet here. Similarly, I have covered other electrical accessories like an outdoor solar chandelier in my post here and farm lights in my post here. You can go through these posts to buy these electrical accessories and products.