AC condenser GFCI Protection

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) announces its success in achieving the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) exemption of all outdoor HVAC equipment from the 2020 and 2023 National Electrical Code (NEC) Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection. The exemption is in place until September 2026.

This achievement stems from a two-year-long campaign of proposals and appeals submitted to the NFPA Standards Council by ACCA, Leading Builders of America (LBA), and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).


The exception would be added to 210.8 (A) (3) Outdoors.

This was one of the worst code changes in recent memory. Based on a single death due to a faulty EGC in the branch circuit they decided to require GFCI protection for all AC units as part of the 2020 NEC. Not one of the CMP members was smart enough to ask if the current standard for AC units would actually allow them to operate on a GFCI protected circuit (most cannot).


But it was probably more valid than other changes where no lives were lost or are simply design issues.

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To some extent yes because the intention was good but when no one makes an AC unit that can comply with the minimum amount of leakage required to work on a GFCI protected circuit then there is a problem.

I won’t go off on a rant of the direction the NEC is heading other than to say that it is not good.