GFCI breaker in service panel

Would someone please give a short primer on GFCI breakers in the main service panel. Function, test, protection of labeled circuit in place of GFCI receptacles.
Thank you.


A GFCI circuit breaker will protect the entire branch circuit. It should have a dedicated neutral (follow manufacturer’s instructions) and have a neutral pig tail to the neutral buss.

Test by pushing the button on the breaker.

Make sure to check all the things plugged into that circuit though. You might de-energize a clock radio or TV or something and have to re-set it.

Hope this helps.

Feel free to call or e-mail me if you have ant other questions

Underwriter’s Laboratories provide the following information

Thanks Will,

In other words, one must go to the GFCI protected circuit(I.E. kitchen,etc.), and confirm power off to that circuit. Then return and reset the GFCI breaker. Is this correct?
Happy Easter, HE is risen.

also keep in mind that if you have a gfci breaker, you should NOT have any other gfci outlets on that cercuit. if you do, than it’s in need of correction. i did an inspection once were the breaker was gfci, and then there was a gfci outlet in the kitchen counter. the sellers told me that the HI who inspected it when they bought it 3 years ago, told them that they needed it. one will cancell out the other, and be a neucance to reset both. especialy when resetting one sometimes trips the other.

I would disagree with that based simply on logic. I don’t see how they could possibly cancel out each other. If a GFCI outlet is wired properly and working properly, and let’s say that there are no downstream outlets, then it seems to me that a problem at that GFCI outlet would only trip that GFCI outlet and not the GFCI breaker in the electrical panel. To me it looks like two-layer protection, which might be overkill, but I don’t see any harm with it.

I look forward to some electricians weighing in here. Paul? Joe?

I have seen it, and they still operate. Life safety is never a nuisance.


I too agree that there is no problem with the two devices that control the function of the GFCI receptacle and CB operation.

It is not a usual practice, and may be a nuisance to some once in a while when the device is called upon to do its job.

If you want to get an expert opinion about any Listed or Labeled product call UL at 1-800-595-9844

JT Member of Committee:

UL Standard for Safety for Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters, UL 943

I’ve run into the situation a number of times…that is GFCIs being fed by other GFCIs. **Ground fault protection itself is not an issue. **In fact, you could look at it as “back-up” protection for that part of the circuit.

However, a ground fault (or a tester) on a downstream GFCI (or a receptacle further downstream) wlll sometimes trip the downstream GFCI, sometimes the upstream, and sometimes it will trip both. The test button will always trip that GFCI, but can also trip an upstream device. With modern “lock-out” GFCIs you have to reset them in the right order…upstream first. So…yes it’s a slight nuisance and can be a little confusing for the homeowner. The only “safety” issue I see is that it may result in the homeowner being less likely to test the GFCIs on a regular basis (like any actually do that!).

The added “back-up” safety may outweigh the nuisance factor(?). Personally, I don’t feel it’s a “repair” situation and I’ve taken the approach of informing the client of what feeds what, what can happen, the locations that might need to be reset, and that they have the option of removing all but the upstream device…and leaving it at that.

RR, Ben, Richard, and Joe T. thanx for the input and education, but my point was that the HI befor me told them that they had to put gfci outlets on the counter tops, but then he opened the panel and tested the breaker (it was good) and still told them they needed more. i was meerly saying that if the breaker is gfci protected, then you don’t need more gfci downstream. Thanx.

Must be an ASHI guy.

My thinking too.:cool: