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Community and Q&A

GFCIs that hold up over time

artisanfarms | Posted in General Questions on

I will need a bunch of GFCIs for the whole house renovation I am doing and would like to find some, both 15 and 20 amp, that will hold up over time.  Every one I’ve ever purchased, mainly from Big Box stores, but some from electrical supply stores, has crapped out relatively quickly despite being rarely if ever tripped.  Are there any brands/models that actually hold up over time, or do I need to accept that they are wear items?


  1. Expert Member
    Akos | | #1

    Reliability on these depend a lot on local power quality. At home in the city they last, up north in the cottage I get a couple of years out of one at best. Sometimes a surge suppressor on the power main helps.

    As for brands, check what your local electrical supply place stocks, usually the best bet.

  2. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #2

    It's been my expierience that the GFCI circuit breakers that go in the panel are MUCH more reliable than the ones that are in receptacles. In my own home, all GFCI protected circuits are protected by GFCIs in the panel except for the bathroom outlets, because those circuits are tapped off of nearby rooms so they're harder to protect with breakers. Note that you have to get GFCI circuit breakers the same brand as your panel to keep the UL listing valid, unless you can find a GFCI listed to work in your panel that was made by someone else. Just because it phyiscally fits the panel doesn't mean it's listed.

    If you have to use GFCI receptacles, get Spec Grade (commerical) units, which tend to be higher quality than the cheaper residential devices.

    I agree with Akos that a whole-house TVSS (surge protector) mounted on the panel will help keep all your sensitive gizmos working. I like the little Ditek units that are around $50 or so. These are cheap insurance.

    BTW, NEVER use GFCI receptacles outdoors, ALWAYS use GFCI breakers to protect those outlets. I've found the GFCI receptacles mounted outdoors usually only last one or two seasons before failing, and I think it's due to condensation and corrosion inside the units.


    1. charlie_sullivan | | #3

      I agree with the advice to use a breaker instead of a receptacle when you have the choice. Nonetheless, I have two outdoor GFCI receptacles, which are about 5 years old, have seen a lot of use, and are doing fine. I suspect that the combination of big overhangs and carefully installed in-use covers has kept them from suffering too much, but I will plan to be ready with a breaker or replacement receptacle for when they do fail.

      1. Expert Member
        BILL WICHERS | | #4

        I've had the worst luck with GFCI receptacles mounted out away from the main structure, so you may be right about big overhands.

        BTW, they now make "weather resistant" receptacles that are made with materials more resistant to corrosion. Using those outdoors and supplied by GFCI breakers is probably about the best you can do in terms of overall longevity.


        1. gusfhb | | #5

          The only ones that I have had die that I can recall are outside

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