MichaelWisniewski

220v GFCI

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Hi!

I've seen a few threads elsewhere about this, and from what I can gather, you don't need a GFCI for a 220v outlet; GFCI is only for 120v 15/20amp circuits.

I'm thinking about installing a subpanel in the attached garage and using 220 for some of my equipment. Before starting this, I was hoping somebody can confirm the above, and if so, why? Why is the GFCI requirement only for 110? Do they even have an outlet for this, or do you have to use a breaker? Do they have a breaker? :)

Thanks!

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I would say no, GFCI is not required for anything 220V. All of the 220V circuits in my garage dont have GFCI. I cant tell you why, but if I had to guess, it is because the 220V that we use on typical woodworking machines doesn't require a neutral. Hot tubs apparently do require the neutral. Plus with it proximity to water that might be another reason.. This is just my best guess..

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GFCI application is specific to several scenarios, usually involving the possibility of water contact. I wouldn't worry, unless you have water in shop. I have GFCI outlets in the bathroom of my shop and would use a GFCI if I was installing 110 or 220 near the deep sink.

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GFCI protection is not required for 240V receptacles, it is however optional. The code only requires GFCI protection for 120V 15A and 20A receptacles in the shop, garage, basement, kitchen, bath or similar area. The reason for the difference is that GFCI protection is generally intended to prevent shocks that result from electrical equipment getting wet although it does protect you in other scenarios too. Most 240V machines are of a size and construction that it would be very unlikely to accidentally drop your table saw into the washtub. There is also the issue of cost in that GFCI protection for 240V circuits requires a double-pole GFCI breaker which run about $100, compared to a 120V GFCI receptacle at about $10; and the code is written with some balance of cost and safety.

If you feel the added cost is worth the extra safety in your shop, you certainly can use a double-pole GFCI breaker for your 240V tools if you want.

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GFCI requirements are unrelated to voltage. Your state and local codes will tell you where they are required, but the traditional locations generally boil down to 'anywhere near water'. Kitchens, Pools, Hot Tubs, Bathrooms, Garages, Exterior, etc are all common targets. Around where I am, it is inspected as 'within 6 feet of a plumbing fixture'.

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As alluded to by others its not 110v or 220v that matters. It is the location. In a garage the code will tell you a certain height from the floor. Also if there is a wash sink or bathroom out there that will change the requirements.

Mark

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Further to the proximity to water standard (1 meter or 3 feet I beleive is the code here), I believe a GFCI has to be an independent circuit as well.

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National Electrical Code - Article 210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interupter Protection for Personnel.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in (1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

...

(2) Garages, and also accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade level not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use.

...

(5) Unfinished basements

...

Based on the NEC, 15A or 20A 125V receptacles in the shop or shop-like area must be GFCI protected without regard for distance to water. There is no requirement that a 250V circuit or a 125V circuit greater than 20A ever have GFCI protection except in the case of a pool or spa which is covered in NEC art. 680. You could of course have local codes that override the national code, but most places follow the NEC with little modification.

The 24" height requirement for receptacles in a garage is specified in the code only for commercial garages, however some areas do also enforce this for residential garages.

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Based on the NEC, 15A or 20A 125V receptacles in the shop or shop-like area must be GFCI protected without regard for distance to water.

Unless the room is above grade level?

Hmmm, I wonder if I could put a big honking GFCI on the feed to my shop sub-panel. Then I wouldn't have to worry about separate GFCI for each circuit. My shop is in my basement - definitely below grade level.

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Unless the room is above grade level?

Correct.

Hmmm, I wonder if I could put a big honking GFCI on the feed to my shop sub-panel. Then I wouldn't have to worry about separate GFCI for each circuit.

Yes you can, but you will be more likely to have false trips on the GFCI, and if you have a trip it will take out your lights which may not be a great idea if a tool is still spinning.

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