ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)


A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), similar to a residual current circuit breaker (RCCB), is an electrical wiring device that disconnects a circuit whenever it detects that the electric current is not balanced between the energized conductor and the return neutral conductor. Such an imbalance is sometimes caused by current leakage through the body of a person who is grounded and accidentally touching the energized part of the circuit. A lethal shock can result from these conditions. GFCIs are designed to disconnect quickly enough to mitigate the harm caused by such shocks although they are not intended to provide protection against overload or short-circuit conditions.

In the United States, the National Electrical Code requires GFCI devices intended to protect people to interrupt the circuit if the leakage current exceeds a range of 6 mA of current [1] (the trip setting is typically 5 mA) within 25 milliseconds. GFCI devices which protect equipment (not people) are allowed to trip as high as 30 mA of current. In Europe, the commonly used RCDs have trip currents of 10-300 mA.


  1. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 99. "Standards for HealthCare Facilities". 2005 Ed.


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