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Thread: GFI required for an EWC?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    GFI required for an EWC?

    Are EWC's (electric water coolers) in commercial buildings required to be on a GFI outlet or circuit breaker? It is my understanding that a regular commercial grade outlet is all that is reuqired. I have been challenged on this by a seasoned installer, who says that I need to design it on a GFCI circuit, or provide a GFI outlet. Please offer any feedback you may have .... thanks! jcd

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    Re: GFI required for an EWC?

    This is new to the 05 it may be the grounds that caused the discussion. I don't believe a water cooler is a vending machine.

    Water fountains are not required to be GFCI per the NEC, not that a cooler is one.


    422.51 Cord-and-Plug-Connected Vending Machines.
    Cord-and-plug-connected vending machines manufactured or re-manufactured on or after January 1, 2005, shall include a ground-fault circuit-interrupter as an integral part of the attachment plug or located in the power supply cord within 300 mm (12 in.) of the attachment plug. Cord-and-plug-connected vending machines not incorporating integral GFCI protection shall be connected to a GFCI protected outlet.

    It never hurts to install a GFCI on equipment that is accessible to the public where there is a chance of standing in a puddle.

    But I don't thinks so


    Charlie
    Charlie

  3. #3

    Re: GFI required for an EWC?

    I always install one, even though I don't believe it's required in the code. It's just a safety thing....water is always a warning sign of a GFI needed, at least I try to use that rule of thumb!


    Lady
    Engineer by trade, Lady by choice
    New Jersey Gal

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    743

    Re: GFI required for an EWC?

    Manufacturer inherent design of a "wall-hung watercoolers",are infact provided with a dedicated space in-side of cooler housing.Being either top left,or right of drain,internal in unit.This design of the wall-hung unit are that device unit plugs into, will be dedicated and not exposed to the general public..The intent is engineered so if installed in schools,office the device powering watercooler will not be exposed to children/public.

    Not being a Plumbing Contractor,maybe free- standing watercoolers are still manufactured,but I can't remeber the last time in seeing one of these dinasaurs in a "new comercial" application,being cheaper in hanging on the wall.To install a GFCI receptacle device,the need to pull the front cover,insert hand up to elbow and reset,would infact be a nuisance.If installing a GFCI breaker,the general public in office building would need to "implement search" a for breaker.

    If NEC is observed in way of proper wiring and protection,and manufacturer suggested guidelines in the "placement of initial device within",in my opinion GFCI would be more of headache,than the intention of protection served in the maintaining wall-hung watercoolers.

    I can agree, GFCI for vending machines for public protection.Outlet is not internal to equipment.Not the case of a wall-hung watercooler.

  5. #5
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    Re: GFI required for an EWC?

    Lady,you make our job easier if you spec a gfci.That way all that bid include it.Therefor we can afford to install and have a safer job.
    Tampa Florida

  6. #6
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    Jun 2003
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    5,560

    Re: GFI required for an EWC?

    in my opinion GFCI would be more of headache,than the intention of protection served
    In most cases, I thinking it would probably be months before anyone noticed the water wasn't cold. After all, you still get water even if the cooler doesn't have power. (And you could probably double that time in the winter). If they do discover warm tap water, I would expect them to look for the plug first. And I have never heard of a water fountain causing false tripping of a GFCI.

    There must be a building code that requires these. Does anyone ever actually use them? Most people would rather fork over a dollar fifty for a bottle of "Evian".

    So I'm with Lady. I spec GFCI's for water coolers.

  7. #7
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    Re: GFI required for an EWC?

    Would it not be better to get warm water than risk a kid getting hurt ? I think schools would require them,but could be wrong
    Tampa Florida

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    743

    Re: GFI required for an EWC?

    [QUOTE]Originally posted by steve66:
    [QB] [QUOTE] If they do discover warm tap water, I would expect them to look for the plug first.]----->Steve, If wired as manufacture suggest,you don't see the plug.<---- [And I have never heard of a water fountain causing false tripping of a GFCI.]<-------Might be because,not required in the installation.All thats needed is following correct information,and install in dedicated space provided per instructions.It's not roughing in a wall,"under the machine" but infact behind cover.

    Form is based for opinion,..my two pennies.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    420

    Re: GFI required for an EWC?

    a wall hung water cooler with the receptacle roughed in behind where the cooler sits, (so you can plug it in and then cover it up) doesnt require a GFCI

    and what about compressors on refrigerators and deep-freezes tripping gfi(s) ? it happens all the time... thats why we are allowed to plug the deep freeze in the garage into a NON GFCI protected outlet, provided it is Behind the Freezer...

    Is the compressor in the water cooler really any different?

  10. #10
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    Re: GFI required for an EWC?

    Originally posted by izak:
    and what about compressors on refrigerators and deep-freezes tripping gfi(s) ? it happens all the time... thats why we are allowed to plug the deep freeze in the garage into a NON GFCI protected outlet, provided it is Behind the Freezer...

    Is the compressor in the water cooler really any different?
    izak, no probably not, that said, starting in 2002 all commercial kitchen 15 & 20 amp 120 volt receptacles where required to have GFCI protection, there are no exceptions for refrigeration.

    Starting in the 2005 NEC all vending machine outlets must be GFCI protected again no exceptions for refrigerated vending machines.

    I have read that the cause of these false trips in the past with refrigerators and freezers had to with the electric defrost heating elements contained in them not the compressors.

    The electric elements had enough leakage current to trip the GFCI when the defrost cycle started.

    A wall hung water cooler will not have defrost elements.

    Bob

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