There is a wide variety of electrical safety devices available in the market today like fuses, breakers, and GFCI. People are likely to know about the first two but many are still unfamiliar with the last one. One of the most highly recommended electrical safety devices in the Philippines is the GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.
No device works better than the GFCI when it comes to protecting people from electrical hazards. Unfortunately, not a lot of people make use of the device, perhaps due to lack of awareness of its importance. In order to spread knowledge about this incredible safety device, we made this quick and easy guide to GFCI in the Philippines.
The GFCI first appeared in the US households and back then, it caused a lot of confusion and aggravation during the first stages of its implementation. People were wary of the device and weren’t open to the idea of integrating them into their homes – at least not until after they were made better and safer. Now, they are used in countries all over the world in order to protect people from common electrical hazards.
It isn’t hard to understand how the GFCI reduces the risk of these hazards. Basically, it has the ability to detect the currents in your electrical circuit as well as to cut off the power supply whenever necessary. Electrical leaks and abnormalities in the currents are what prompts the GFCI to disconnect the power. An example of this is when a plugged-in device gets soaked in liquid or when there is a leak within an appliance. When it detects these unusual and dangerous changes it cuts off electricity at 1/40th of a second – a speed that is fast enough to save your body from any injuries.
And these are just the basics! There’s a lot more to know about the GFCI in the Philippines and we’ve got them all laid out here, so just continue reading to find out more!
GFCI Breaker vs. GFCI Receptacle
The GFCI in the Philippines comes in two different forms that have basically the same functions and only differ in installation location and requirements.
The GFCI circuit breaker or simply GFCI breaker is installed in the breaker box or electrical panel. Once installed, it manages the entire electrical circuit of the infrastructure, whether it’s a residential or commercial building, and adds a layer of GFCI protection to all outlets.
A GFCI receptacle or outlet, on the other hand, is a replacement for the regular outlet and offers GFCI protection only to that specific circuit, although you can find some receptacle types that can be used to protect outlets that are downstream that particular circuit.
What this means, in simpler terms, is that a GFCI breaker circuit grants GFCI capabilities to all your outlets without having to replace them, while a GFCI receptacle only works with the circuit or outlet you replaced. Naturally, the GFCI breaker is the more expensive option since it covers a wider area. However, GFCI receptacles are more commonly used, especially in households.
The reason behind this is the fact that it takes a lot more time and effort to install the latter. In order to properly fit your home with a GFCI breaker circuit, you need to find one that is a perfect match for the main electrical panel. There are also instances when installation of a GFCI breaker is impossible and this usually happens in old homes that utilize fuses.
On the contrary, GFCI receptacles are easy to install and can go in any and all kinds of homes – old or new. Moreover, not all outlets need to be GFCI protected – although that would be ideal. For these reasons, people opt to use GFCI receptacles.
Circuit breaker suppliers and other experts agree that not all outlets need to be protected by GFCI and this is completely true. There are only certain areas and rooms in the home that require GFCI outlets. The areas included in this list include the bathroom, garage, storage area, work area, crawl space, kitchen, laundry room, boathouse, rooftop, unfinished basement, outdoor area, and indoor wet locations.
The list is definitely long but keep in mind that not all homes have these rooms and not all of these rooms have outlets in them. If yours does, however, then it’s definitely better to go for a GFCI breaker. The reason these areas are required to have GFCI receptacles is that the outlets here are more prone to water damage, especially the ones in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, rooftop, and outdoor areas near the pool.
There might be other rooms in your home that are near water sources and it would greatly benefit you to equip them with GFCI receptacles even if they aren’t included in the list. One thing you have to remember is that these receptacles must be placed at least 6 feet or 72 inches away from any plumbing fixtures. Additionally, they must never be installed behind any furniture or appliance because you need to have quick access to them whenever.
The installation of GFCI receptacles is actually included in the Philippine Electrical Code. It specifically states in there that, in the Philippines, GFCI receptacles must be installed in the same areas we listed above.
There are absolutely no downsides in switching to GFCI receptacles. Even their high cost is justified by the amazing benefits that you can get from a single receptacle. This safety device offers three main benefits, and though it may not seem like it’s a lot, you’d be greatly surprised at their significance once you find out what they are.
Reduces Risk of Electrical Shock
Shock prevention is perhaps the most obvious benefit you can get from installing GFCI receptacles. Panel board suppliers and other professionals in the industry recommend these safety devices because they have the ability to detect any unusual and potentially dangerous changes in the electrical circuit and cut off the power supply accordingly.
What most people don’t know is that a single (1) ampere is enough to cause heart irregularities and other kinds of injuries, and most homes have 100 to 200 amps running through them!
A single mistake can cost a life, so it’s best to eliminate or at least reduce the risks by installing GFCI receptacles. This way, when you or anyone in your family accidentally comes in contact with a damaged outlet, circuit or appliance, physical injuries and damage can be suppressed.
Helps Avoid Electrical Fires
Aside from detecting abnormalities in the electrical circuit to prevent electrocution, GFCI receptacles also have the ability to detect leaks. What we mean by leaks is when the current travels using a different path and leaves the circuit.
In the electrical industry, these instances are called ground faults and they are primarily responsible for electrical fires that are sometimes enough to burn a house to the ground. Ground faults can happen due to a number of reasons including damaged wiring and old or faulty appliances and they’re not easily detected or fixed.
While you can argue that fuses and circuit breakers are capable of preventing things such as ground faults and short circuits, they aren’t completely foolproof. In order to achieve complete protection, it is necessary to install GFCI receptacles in certain areas of your home.
Protects Appliances from Electrical Damage
Aside from leaving the circuit and traveling to other, unintended paths, the current can also leak into your appliances, causing severe and often irreparable damage. In fact, electrical leaks are one of the leading causes of electrical appliance and equipment failure. Unfortunately, most homeowners aren’t aware when this happens because they’re as difficult to detect as ground faults.
When you feel a slight electric shock once you touch the metallic surface of an appliance, you can safely assume that a leak is present. It’s a surefire way to identify and stop a leak, but what if your appliances are made from other materials? In those cases, it is impossible to figure out whether or not there’s a leak until the device starts to break down and malfunction.
With a GFCI receptacle, however, you won’t have to worry about such things. The moment it detects an unusual amount of current flowing into your appliances, it will immediately cut off the power supply. Through this, it protects your expensive appliances and equipment from any kind of electrical damage, ultimately extending their service life.
Put simply, GFCI receptacles – as well as GFCI breakers, of course, have the ability to either reduce or eliminate the risk of common electrical hazards. These hazards are always present at home as long as you’re using electrical devices and the only way to prevent them is through the installation of GFCI devices.
Although they can cost a significant amount (at least 10 times that of regular receptacles) it’s worth the investment because if you look at the bigger picture, these hazards can cost you a lot more! Hospital bills, home renovations, and appliance repair or replacement are sure to empty your wallets more than replacing your regular receptacles with GFCI ones.
In actuality, you’re saving more money by using GFCI in the Philippines, so you can add that to the list of benefits you can get from these safety devices.
Although GFCI receptacles are amazing devices and can even be called lifesavers, they aren’t immune to wear and tear. Like most things, they can malfunction and fail to perform their main purpose, which is why it is important to be on top of their maintenance. Performing maintenance on these receptacles is a great way to ensure that they’re properly working and that you aren’t wasting your money on broken pieces of equipment.
GFCI maintenance is simple, and you only need to keep these three things in mind:
- Never paint the outlets. Doing so ruins the device and creates hazardous conditions. You may think that this should be obvious but you’d be surprised at the number of interior designers and homeowners that do this in order to increase the home’s aesthetics.
- Avoid spilling any liquid on the device. Yet another maintenance tip that should go without saying but accidents happen and it’s difficult to avoid them especially when you have kids and pet around – or you’re just clumsy by nature. These seemingly harmless accidents can permanently damage the device, so try to keep your liquids far from the receptacles.
- Don’t insert things other than plugs. Unless you intend to ruin the device or experience how it’s like to get electrocuted, don’t attempt to insert other things into the receptacles.
Aside from these things, testing is also an important part of GFCI maintenance and should be done on a monthly basis. There are two ways to do so and we have them both written below:
- Testing Method 1: Lamp
Testing method number one involves the use of a small, working lamp. Once you have that on hand, plug it into your GFCI receptacle and let it light up the room. After that, press the ‘test’ button on your receptacle. Pushing this button should cut the power and turn off the lamp. It is also possible for the ‘reset’ button on the receptacle to pop out once you do this, but this doesn’t happen for all models. After you depress the ‘test’ button, the ‘reset’ button should return to its original position and/or you should immediately hear a distinct click.
If the lamp stays on after pressing the ‘test’ button, it is possible that the GFCI receptacle is damaged or improperly wired. If that’s the case, refrain from using the outlet and immediately call a licensed electrician to get it fixed.
- Method 2: GFCI Tester
Method number two will require you to spend a little bit because you’re going to have to buy a GFCI tester. These things are more than worth it because they can help identify what the problem is (if there is one). What’s more, they only cost as much as a single GFCI receptacle, so they don’t really break the bank!
With a GFCI tester, all you have to do is insert it into your receptacle, view the indicators, and compare them with the chart that should be attached to tester’s body. A quick check should inform you if the power is on and the receptacle is wired properly. If so, the next thing you have to do is push the ‘test’ button on the tester and wait for its lights to turn off.
If the GFCI tester indicators say that there is a problem or pushing the ‘GFCI test’ button fails to trip the outlet, then you have a damaged GFCI receptacle that immediately needs professional attention.
Maintenance and testing are extremely crucial to your safety so make sure you do them on a monthly basis and immediately seek professional help when a problem arises – no matter how small it may seem.
Meiji Philippines: The Number One Supplier of GFCI in the Philippines
Hopefully, by now, you’ve realized just how important it is to equip your home in the Philippines with GFCI devices. Whether you decide to go big and use GFCI breakers or are satisfied with using GFCI receptacles, what’s important is that you get them from a reliable source.
In the Philippines, there is no better and trustworthy supplier than Meiji Philippines! We’ve been in the industry for more than 30 years and have been continuously providing people with high-quality electrical equipment and safety devices. Not only are our products reliable, they are also more efficient and energy saving compared to others that are available on the market.
We supply a range of electrical products from panel boards, transfer switches, switch gears, and GFCI receptacles. If you’re interested in fitting your home with these electrical safety devices, then don’t hesitate to head to this page for you to get your hands on them!