pluggin in power outlet

Why did my new appliance “trip” my power outlet?

So you went out and bought a new state of the art refrigerator with all the bells and whistles?

Your feeling proud keeping of with “the Joneses”.  You plug it up and this marvel of modern technology trips your GFCI (AFCI) outlet.  You decide to plug it in to another outlet on the other side of the room and it works.  What in the work is going on?  Why did it work?  Is it safe since your GFCI outlet tripped?  I will explain.

Lets look at the three most common types of electrical outlets in the U.S. (120 volts).

  1.  Standard outlet: Electricity goes into the appliance through the hot wire.  Electricity leaves the appliance through the neutral wire.  The ground wire is there “bacon” if things go wrong.
    power outlet
  2. GFCI Outlet: This circuit protects human life from electrocution by making sure that the power going to the appliance is the same amount that leaves the appliance.
    gfci outlet
  3. AFCI Outlet: This outlet is a whole different animal.  This style does the same as the above but can also sense a short that can start a fire.
    afci outlet

So what does all this mumbo jumbo have to do with your new appliance not working?  For example. your old refrigerator’s compressor ran on single-phase 120 volts and 50/60 Hz of power.  Newer refrigerator compressors run on 3 phase power supplied by an inverter that runs at a fraction of the hertz duty cycle.  Your AFCI senses that the power coming out of the appliance is less that what was going in and it “trips”, shutting off the power.

Federal code says that you have to use a GFCI outlet in certain locations but local code will say that you need an AFCI outlet.

If you have any concerns, speak with a licensed electrician to correct your issues, be up to code and protect your family and home.