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:

 Does a septic pump or sump pump require a GFCI-receptacle?

 • What is the difference between what trips a GFCI (ground fault) receptacle and a circuit breaker?

 Are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) really necessary and worth the trouble? 

 What is the code requirement for GFCI protection for receptacles near a wet bar sink?

 When was GFCI-protection for kitchen dishwasher receptacle outlet first required? 

 When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

 Does a washing machine receptacle outlet require GFCI protection?

 My spa tub stopped working. What's wrong?  

 How do I identify a combination AFCI (CAFCI) circuit breaker? 

 What does "listed and labeled" mean for an electrical component? 

 What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) NOT protect against?  

 What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

 Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?

 When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?

 What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

 What is the difference between the electric service to a mobile home and a site built home? 

 Why is there a wall switch next to the furnace or indoor unit of the air conditioner in the garage?

 What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

 How I can tell if a receptacle outlet is tamper resistant?

 What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?  

 What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors? 

 What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?

 Why is there a GFCI breaker in the electric panel for the bathroom shower light and exhaust fan?

 What is the switch on the wall with two pushbuttons? 

 How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be spaced?  

 How far above a kitchen countertop do electrical outlets have to be? 

 How is it possible to provide both GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) and CAFCI (Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection for kitchen and laundry circuits?

 My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead and there are no tripped breakers in the electric panel. What's wrong?  

 My GFCI reset button is hard to push and won't reset. What's wrong?

 Why do some breakers in my electric panel have a "TEST" button on them?

    Visit our AFCI AND GFCI page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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