No it’s not the name of an insurance company or a European sports car, GCFI is an abbreviation for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or G-F-C-I. They’ve been required in many localities for electrical outlets located near sinks or the outside of your house for the last 10 years or more.
Archive for September 2010
In Part I of this No~Shock~Zone Stage series you learned what voltage is and a bit on how it’s measured. In this article we’ll cover how to use a basic digital voltmeter to measure any power outlet or extension cord for proper voltage. The reason this procedure is so important is that sometimes venues do crazy things with power outlets.
If you’ve been reading along this far in the series you already know about voltage (electrical pressure) and amperage (current flow). You also know how to measure voltage using a DMM (Digital Multi Meter) and how to size extension cords for sufficient amperage (current) capacity. But in the end it all comes down to wattage.
We’ve all heard about how hooking up an RV on too long or too skinny of an extension cord can force its appliances to run on 100 volts instead of the regular 120 volts, thereby burning out the motors or other components. But before we get into the reality of what happens to gear running on 100 volts rather then a full 120 volts, let’s figure out why this voltage drop thing happens in the first place.
For those of you unfamiliar with extension cord and wire specifications, the lower the number of the gauge, the thicker the wire and the more current that can flow through it without overheating. For example, a 14-gauge extension cord might be rated for only 15 amperes of current flow, while a 10-gauge extension cord could be rated for 30 amperes of current, depending on total length of the cable and type of insulation.