Another Issue with the 2020 Electrical Code: Ranges Tripping on GFCIs

Codes and Standards

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has released new recommendations for home builders and electrical contractors aimed at reducing nuisance tripping due to the use of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for electric ranges in new construction and major remodeling projects per the current electrical code.

AHAM issued the recommendations in response to a 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) requirement that 240-volt outlets located within six feet of a sink must be connected to a GFCI device in new construction and significant remodels. These NEC changes were not submitted for consideration to the safety standard for electric ranges, UL 858. As a result of this misalignment, nuisance tripping with electric ranges has become more common.

The move by a major trade association to address the GFCI requirement in the 2020 NEC is the latest red flag sent up by the housing industry that portions of the code were not written with real-world feasibility in mind. Last month, Texas had to take emergency action on the 2020 NEC over tripping concerns with HVAC systems.

AHAM, in a recent white paper, recommends that builders take proactive steps to reduce the frequency of nuisance tripping of electric ranges that may be placed within six feet of a sink:

  • Relocate the outlet greater than six feet from a kitchen sink.
  • Consider asking the appropriate local authorities to invoke section 90.4 of the NEC, which allows the code to roll back to the 2017 edition, eliminating the need for a GFCI breaker.

AHAM and electric range manufacturers have formally submitted a technical update to UL 858 that aims to improve compatibility with GFCI devices in household ranges going forward.

NAHB recommends home builders work their local HBAs to contact local code bodies and encourage them to either roll back the relevant sections of the 2020 NEC or to reconsider adopting the 2020 code. Many states are in the adoption process currently, and changes can still be made to avoid the tripping issues GFCIs are causing with common home appliances.

For questions about the electrical code, please contact Dan Buuck.

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