Is a refrigerator receptacle outlet required to be GFCI-protected?
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Although the National Electrical Code (NEC) does not require that a receptacle outlet serving a refrigerator must be GFCI-protected, it specifies certain areas where any receptacle—including for a refrigerator—must be GFCI:
1) Within 6 feet of the edge of any sink - For example, if the refrigerator receptacle is within 6 feet of the kitchen sink, even if it is a dedicated circuit, it must be GFCI. But this applies if a refrigerator happens to be within 6 feet of any sink, anywhere in the house.
2) In a garage, bathroom or laundry - Because all receptacle outlets in these rooms must be GFCI-protected.
The “6 feet from the edge of any sink” requirement started with the 2014 edition of the NEC. Previously, only receptacles within 6 feet of a laundry, utility, or wet bar sink were required to be GFCI.
As the NEC has updated with a new edition every three years, the locations required have been expanded or tweaked with almost every cycle since then. For a complete listing of each currently required location for GFCI-protection and when it was instituted, see our blog post When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?
But, while the year that the NEC added a new location requirement is easy to define, each local juridiction’s building codes don’t necessarily adopt the latest edition of the NEC immediately. The state of Florida, for example, did not make the 2011 NEC effective until mid-2015. Other jurisdictions have sometimes waited even longer to adopt a newer NEC edition and, to complicate things further, they might make amendments that exclude parts of the newest requirements. So the year when the NEC first required GFCI-protection for a new receptacle location can be several years before your local building department adopted that edition of the code and began enforcing it.
One last note: GFCI-protection can be provided by a GFCI receptacle (one receptacle will protect others downstream in the circuit, which should be marked as GFCI protected), a GFCI circuit breaker in the electric panel, or a GFCI dead front (often used for indoor spa tubs, essentially a GFCI receptacle without the slots to plug in a cord, usually located in bathroom or next to electric panel).
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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about AFCI and GFCI RECEPTACLES AND CIRCUIT BREAKERS:
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