Does A Microwave Need GFCI? (Must Know This)

Most kitchen electrical appliances need GFCI protection, especially countertop appliances, which may be near water sources.

Of course, we have GFCI technologies to thank for the reduced cases of death caused by electric shock. 

Aside from the protection GFCI offers, it also improves the performance of some electrical appliances with minimal risks. But does a Microwave need GFCI? 

Yes, a Microwave needs GFCI. However, the great need for GFCI protection primarily depends on the standpoint of the Microwave. GFCI reduces the risk of electrocution concerning most kitchen countertop electrical appliances. Therefore, Microwaves do need GFCI for safety.

In this article, you’ll learn how a GFCI works and the benefits of connecting your microwave to a GFCI outlet.

Do You Need A GFCI For A Microwave?

Does A Microwave Need GFCI

Yes, it would be best if you had a GFCI outlet for a Microwave, especially when the location of your Microwave is near a water source.

In most cases, Microwaves are on the kitchen countertop. However, countertops are likely to be wet, which poses the risk of electrocution.

If countertop appliances are not installed properly, have exposed cables, or have insulation failure, their interaction with wet surfaces could be dangerous. 

That said, it is important to take caution while using water in the kitchen, especially when it has to do with electrical appliances.

Sadly, it is difficult to reduce spillage in the kitchen, even though we risk electrocution.

People subscribe to a series of prevention steps to reduce electric shock hazards.

Nevertheless, GFCI protection is one of the best-known steps to prevent electric shock. The GFCI is basically for protecting people from electric shock.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) mandates that all kitchen appliances need a GFCI outlet.

Moreover, GFCI also improves the performance of certain electrical appliances like Microwave.

A Study shows that before the GFCI technologies came to the limelight, around 800 people helplessly died of electrocution every year.  

But with the help of the adoption of GFCI technologies, especially in areas that are damp or short feet from water sources.

According to the study, the death rate due to electric shock has now reduced to 200 deaths per year.

How Does A GFCI Work?

The ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a circuit breaker. Unlike a house fuse, a GFCI has the task of protecting lives from electric shock by breaking the circuit.

The protective circuit breaker is in an outlet. When you plug in your microwave oven, the GCFI studies the amount of power the Microwave receives.

While a house fuse prevents electrical fire by melting when the current is in excess, a GFCI gets tripped when the current is too much due to overload or a short circuit. 

If water spills on your Microwave, which has an electrical fault, or you drop your wet hands on the appliance, the GFCI detects the intermission.

The GFCI shuts off power to resist the current flow in a person’s body when making contact with the machine with an insulation failure.

An electric shock can be due to an electrical fault, equipment malfunctioning, or an insulation fault.

Hence, the GFCI cuts off the power supply to prevent further injuries or electric shock. 

Should You Use A GFCI For Over The Range Microwave?

Yes, it would help if you used a GFCI for an Over-the-range microwave. Powerful appliances such as a refrigerator also require a dedicated circuit. 

However, microwaves require a 120-volt circuit and a 15 – 20 amp circuit breaker. It is noteworthy that GFCI is not necessary for an Over-the-range microwave. 

Because the receptacles the microwave uses are usually located behind the appliance. That is to say that they are far from water sources. 

As the name implies, they install Over-the-range microwaves on top of a range. It saves the kitchen more counter space.

It might interest you that the Over-the-range does not only serve as a microwave but as a hood vent.

It offers venting in the kitchen and overhead lighting and circulates air. Recall that microwaves need GFCI for protection and improved performance.

So, the technology can still be helpful despite the Over-the-range remote location.

Although it has been far separated, GFCI can help the machine from electrical damage due to power overload.

Can A Microwave Trip A GFCI?

Yes, a microwave can trip a GFCI, and when it does, it indicates that the Microwave is overloading the circuit it’s plugged into.

Know that the electrical circuit has a limited capacity. It can only regulate a particular percentage of amps.

Therefore, if the Microwave causes the GFCI to trip, the logical explanation is that the Microwave has exceeded the required amount.

Similarly, if the GFCI keeps tripping, the electrical circuit may have developed some fault.

A GFCI should not keep tripping, so the circuit is to blame for the anomaly in the mode of operation of the GFCI.

You should try to reset the outlet to see what happens, but if the tripping persists, one of two things might be the cause.

Either the GFCI is faulty, or you have a faulty outlet, even though the former is rare.

Does A Microwave Need A Dedicated Circuit?

Of course, a Microwave needs a dedicated circuit, just like every other heavy-duty electrical appliance.

Many people wonder why the Over-the-range Microwave needs a dedicated circuit when it is smaller than a refrigerator.

However, they focus so much on the machine’s structure that they forget to open their minds to other ideas.

But what exactly makes Over-the-range require a dedicated circuit? Could it be due to its functions, size, or what?

Microwaves need a dedicated circuit for safety, which is not different from why other powerful appliances require it.

Reasons Why A Microwave Needs A Dedicated Circuit?

Microwave needs a dedicated circuit due to the level of power the device uses. Regardless, you can make any circuit in your home a dedicated one.

You can use any circuit where you want your Microwave to be within the kitchen. 

Some of the reasons for the need for a dedicated circuit include the following:

#1. It Is Electrically Required

Microwaves require a dedicated circuit; however, Spruce reveals there is a specification to the capacity of the dedicated circuit. 

It would be best if you put the Microwave on a 120/125 Volts circuit with an a12/2 NM wire. This requirement comes as a result of the power of the device.

While some Microwaves are smaller and do not use much power, larger Microwaves use a lot of electricity; thus, they depict danger.

The table below shows Microwave wattage, its need for a dedicated circuit, and specified circuit breaker size.

Microwave WattageDedicated CircuitCircuit Breaker Size
500 – 800WNo20A

#2. To Prevent Overheating Or Any Fire Hazard

Every circuit has a breaker that trips to fight to overload when there is a power spike or surge.

When a certain appliance draws more power than the circuit can handle, spikes and surges are likely to occur.

For example, a refrigerator, on the one hand, consumes more energy when it starts; what the fridge draws is no small power.

Microwaves alone, on the other hand, already consume a lot of energy.

Nevertheless, in a properly wired dwelling unit,  a dedicated circuit can bear the weight of the required energy.

Suppose you force a fridge on the same circuit as a Microwave; the circuit breaker will trip when both appliances start up.

The breaker will trip because you overloaded the circuit. However, it’s a relief that the breaker trips, or else there would be a fire hazard.

In a worse scenario, if the breaker does not react to the spike and surge, the wires will overheat and consequently burn.

Whether your Microwave is smaller or larger, I suggest you choose wisely.

Because it’s either you’re running to safety or in the opposite direction. But I can guarantee you will be running to safety if you make a dedicated circuit.

Final Thoughts

The ground fault secret interrupter is greatly beneficial as it protects both the machine and the operator. 

GFCI shuts off power during an intermission to save a person from being electrocuted.

So, not only microwaves but all electrical appliances need them. I recommend you set up a dedicated GFCI-equipped circuit for your Microwave.

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