Nuisance tripping is a valid concern from a convenience perspective. For the most part, however, the greater majority of unwarranted trips are behind us. When GFCIs first hit the market in the early 1970’s, appliances inherently had leakage currents that flowed over the equipment grounding conductors, causing false trips. The development of appliances and their standards have come a long way as standards now place a cap on how much leakage current any single appliance is permitted to have. It would be bullish to say homeowners will never experience a false trip with a GFCI, especially if there’s an un-listed product that generates nuisance currents on the circuit. But when we compare the small number of nuisance trips against markedly increased safety, there’s simply no way to justify leaving the residential code as is.
Installing more residential GFCIs can help the industry
I understand how the wheels of progress spin; affecting change takes time. While I’m hopeful we can collectively approve GFCI changes for the whole home, realistically I’d be pleased with any positive strides. Something as simple as including 30-amp GFCI receptacles on clothes dryer circuits, for instance, would greatly enhance safety since dryers are often within proximity of a water source. If we demonstrate to homeowners how installing the additional GFCI on this circuit makes for a safer home, the hope is the industry will acclimate to slight cost increases and, over time, routinely install GFCIs throughout entire households.
The challenge ahead of us is to generate more dialogue during the 2020 code-review cycle, and we need new data to spawn conversation. Collecting data starts with one small step, one change in the way we do business. I ask that we as an industry consider going above and beyond NEC 210.8 guidelines and install additional GFCI protection in homes to increase safety and acquire the information needed to make change possible.