Are you in the process of installing a garbage disposal but confusing if you need a GFCI outlet?
Electrical safety is a critical concern that you should pay attention to in any household appliance, and ensuring that your garbage disposal is up to code is essential.
In short, the answer to the question of whether or not garbage disposal needs a GFCI is yes. Garbage disposal needs a GFCI. But not mandatory. What is this complication?
Keep reading this informative article to let go of your uncertainties, find out the reasons behind this requirement, and learn more about how to ensure the safety of your home’s electrical system.
Does Garbage Disposal Need GFCI?
According to the National Electric Code (NEC), garbage disposal does not require a GFCI outlet. But if someone wants to, then they can definitely go for it. However, it is not mandatory but optional.
However, even though it is not mandatory to wire the garbage disposal with GFCI protection, most people usually plug it into a 120-volt GFCI outlet which is generally located under the kitchen sink, to avoid extra hassle.
If there is no outlet under your kitchen sink, in that case, you can call an electrician to set up an outlet for your garbage disposal, which does not necessarily have to be GFCI protected.
What is a GFCI Outlet?
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. They are designed to resist people from getting into contact with an electric shock.
GFCI outlets are not expensive and are very easy to install. Moreover, NEC encourages most of the pre-installed electrical outlets of the houses to be GFCI protected.
Because they are essential for the safety of the people living in that house, especially if there are children.
While all other regular electrical outlets are designed to protect the house’s electrical system, GFCI is a type of outlet that protects people against electric shock.
Also, the GFCI outlet minimizes the risk of electrical fire with the help of monitoring power and tripping, that is, automatic shutdown of the system when the current flow excessively from an unintended path or if there is an imbalance in the distribution of current.
GFCI outlets are easily recognizable by the two visible buttons on the outlet’s face, one for resetting and the other for the test.
Should I Use a GFCI for My Garbage Disposal?
Even though NEC reported that a GFCI outlet is unnecessary for garbage disposal, there is no harm in setting up the garbage disposal in one if you have an option.
Like most other houses and condos in America, if your house’s kitchen also has a 120-volt GFCI outlet under the kitchen sink, it is not required to wire another non-GFCI outlet only for the garbage disposal.
You can use the GFCI outlet under the kitchen sink. There will not be any harm to you unless your local government has any objection to it.
Therefore, it is better to determine the rules or obligations for electrical outlets of garbage disposals set up by your local government first before setting up the garbage disposal to the GFCI outlet.
You can also discuss this with a local electrician as he might have good knowledge about such rules.
However, if you do not have a GFCI outlet already wired under or near your kitchen sink, there is no need to go for one.
Advantages of Using a GFCI Outlet
One of the most significant advantages of using a GFCI outlet is that it provides the utmost safety and protection that no other outlets bear.
GFCI outlets are specially manufactured and designed to prevent the risk of electrical shock and reduce the threatening death toll due to electrical outlet and circuit accidents.
GFCI outlets contain sensors that recognize the electricity while passing from an unexpected path.
And when such a phenomenon takes place, they automatically cut off the electrical power from passing through the outlet to prevent electrical shock.
That is why suppose one of your children accidentally puts their finger inside the hoses of the electrical outlet; there will be the slightest chance of receiving an electrical shock in case of GFCI.
Rather than that, the GFCI outlet also prevents the risk of an electrical fire. Especially in old homes where the electrical wires might get worn out, causing electrical leakage and further dreadful accidents like fire in the walls, GFCI can be a vast protector.
As said before, GFCI detects immediately when the electricity passes through an unexpected path and turns off the electric supply.
Hence, in case of electrical leakage as well, mishaps are prevented. Moreover, the modern interior is getting more acceptable to GFCI outlets.
That is why many modern technologies are designed to match the ports of the GFCI outlets, which the other electrical outlets might not have.
What Kind of Outlet do I Need for Garbage Disposal?
There are two types of outlets ideal for setting up garbage disposal.
One of them is hardwiring them to a dedicated circuit. The other is plugging them into a wall outlet under the sink base cabinet with a cord of any other kitchen appliance, such as a dishwasher or water filter.
Hardwiring the garbage disposal is an expensive and complicated process. But through this process, your garbage disposal will be directly connected to the power source of electricity, the power box or junction box.
This is the perfect option for you if you do not have any plans to change or renovate your house shortly.
Because this system is permanent and requires an electrician to install it.
If you ever need to move your setup from one location to another, it will be quite troublesome for you if you install your garbage disposal by hardwiring.
In the case of plug-in configuration, you assemble a plug and wire separately from any electrical item store as they do not usually come with the garbage disposal.
It is easier when you already have another appliance plugged into the outlet. All you need to do in this regard is wire the garbage disposal with the cord of that kitchen appliance.
However, the only obstacle you might face is that the length of the garbage disposal plug from the electrical outlet might not be enough to reach appropriately to connect.
Moreover, it would help if you were extra careful not to bend the plug while removing it.
Ensure you are correctly checking the voltage and amperage ratings of the plug and the wire matching the requirement of the garbage disposal before purchasing it.
Why Does My Garbage Disposal Trip to the GFCI Outlet?
Is your garbage disposal tripping the GFCI outlet?
The possible reason for that can be that the receptacle your garbage disposal is plugged into is fed from the side of the load of the GFCI receptacle.
And hence, it provides ground fault protection to the receptacle. There might be a ground fault that has taken place anywhere between the garbage disposal and the GFCI.
That is why the GFCI is tripping to protect from further accidents that might take place due to the ground fault.
Hardwired vs. Plug-in Configuration for Garbage Disposal
Until now, you have already known that two types of outlets are most appropriate for garbage disposal. But now, the question you might have is which of these two types is better than the other.
In my opinion, the plug-in configuration is a much better option than hardwiring. Even if you live in a permanent house, it is better to have flexibility with the appliances.
Hardwiring is a callous and troublesome process. Moreover, if the garbage disposal is not hardwired correctly, it might lead to severe accidents.
Besides, hardwiring is comparatively more expensive and difficult to set up than plug-in. You can easily install the plug-in configuration by yourself.
But for hardwiring, it is necessary to contact a professional electrician to do it properly.
The advantage of hardwiring is that it provides an organized and clean look to the house, like hotels and offices, because it requires fewer visible wires.
On the other hand, the plug-in arrangement will provide a comparatively messier look, but it will be easier to install.
However, even though you can install your plug-in configuration yourself, you must buy some extra required tools.
One of the mentionable advantages of plug-in configuration is that it does not require a dedicated circuit. So, if there is enough capacity, you can use more than one appliance with one plug-in outlet.
I hope now you have a clear idea of which option is best for you. Make sure you select an alternative that matches your house. Choose wisely!
James is an organic fertilizer professional who owns a successful organic fertilizer company in new jersey. He is an expert in waste management in both houses and community cases. In his free time, he loves to write about his experiences in the field.