A GFCI outlet is necessary when electrical outlets are positioned close to water. In other words, GFCI outlets should be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, outdoors, etc. Apart from being an important preventive measure in your home, the installation of GFCI outlets is actually required by law. According to the National Electric Code (NEC), all homes must be equipped with GFCI protection. While earlier GFCI outlets were required only near water, recently the requirement has been extended to cover all single phase outlets of 125 volts. Perhaps, one reason for this is that more than 300 people get electrocuted in their homes every year.
The expanded form of GFCI is ground fault circuit interrupter, and a typical GFCI outlet has three holes. The one in the center is for the ground wire, while the other two are for the neutral and hot wires. A GFCI monitors the current flow in the two wires. If it experiences any change in the electrical flow, it immediately cuts the flow of electricity. Following are the three main advantages of installing a GFCI outlet.
Advantage #1 - Shock Prevention
The most obvious advantage of a GFCI outlet is that it prevents shocks and electrocution. A GFCI outlet has a built-in sensor that monitors the inflow and outflow of electricity from an appliance. For example, if a live wire inside an appliance is in contact with the metallic surface of the appliance, then, you will receive a shock if you touch this appliance. However, if the appliance is plugged into a GFCI outlet, then the GFCI will notice the change in electrical flow occurring as result of the loose wire, and it will immediately shut down the power. Thus, GFCI outlets are necessary for shock prevention. Although they are slightly more expensive than regular power outlets, this massive advantage makes them well worth the additional cost.
Advantage #2 - Fire Prevention
The primary function of a GFCI outlet is to detect ground faults. Since ground faults, which occur when the flow of the electrical current leaves a circuit, can cause electrical fires, it is safe to say that one of the advantages of installing a GFCI outlet is the prevention of fires. Although electrical fuses do offer basic protection against electrical fires, when they are combined with a GFCI outlet, you never have to worry about an electrical fire harming your home or workplace.
Advantage #3 - Prevention of Damage of Appliances
Sometimes, over a period of time, as insulation breaks down, a certain amount of electric current begins to leak into household appliances or other electronic items. If the outer body of the equipment is not made of metal, you may not get a shock, but this constant leakage of current will damage the equipment. In fact, this leakage of electricity is one of the most common reasons why computer hard disk drives fail. With a GFCI outlet, you do not need to worry about this happening. This is because the instant the GFCI circuit detects a leak, it will shut down the circuit. This can help prevent expensive equipment and appliances from getting damaged due to electrical leaks.