Use a GFCI breaker as a regular circuit breaker

Mr fixit

Member
Location
Portland Or.
Occupation
maintenance electrician
Hi,

I have a situation where I have a new installation 60A 4 wire GFCI feeder to a RV pad with a multi use (Temp power) panel, with a 50A,30A, 20A breakers with outlets. The RV was parked and plugged into the 50A receptacle and it trips the feeder breaker. The RV has it's own GFI protection inside the vehicle I find out later.

The question is, Can I use the GFCI breaker as a regular CB by disconnecting the neutral pigtail and let it be a regular CB only? Will it function as a over current, ground fault CB still. This is in a CH tan handle 200A main service panel with a 4 wire feeder to the panel. I have a GEC, established at the RV pad per local code.

I have to order a non GFCI breaker and the customer wants to use the pad for the Holiday weekend coming up.

Any and all suggestions will be a help.

TX
Mr fixit
Chris :)
 

tom baker

First Chief Moderator
Staff member
GFCI protection is not required for 50A and 30A receptacles for RVs, due to nuisance tripping (2020 NEC, didn't check the 2017). I would check your Oregon Code to make sure they haven't changed the NEC,
Was a permit pulled and approved? If so the AHJ should of known about no GFCIs required...
I am not sure about using the GFCI breaker as a regular breaker.
 

Jraef

Moderator
Staff member
Location
San Francisco Bay Area, CA, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
Not connecting the Neutral wire on a 2 pole GFCI breaker would not serve to eliminate the breaker's ability to detect a GF downstream. A GFCI breaker looks at all current going through it and the gozinta and gozouta values must equal each other to avoid tripping. If there are 120V loads downstream of the 240V breaker, i.e. Line to Neutral, the load current flows through both. That's why you have the Neutral wire on the breaker, so that it does NOT trip from normal 120V loads downstream. Not connecting the Neutral pigtail will make it tip MORE often.
 

Mr fixit

Member
Location
Portland Or.
Occupation
maintenance electrician
Hi Tom,

Yes a permit was pulled and the AHJ said what a good idea to use a GFCI for safety. I'm looking for a short term fix until I can get a non GFCI breaker to solve the situation permanently. I'll brush up on my code to see what it says, Oregon usually follows the NEC with few exceptions and I will look into that too.

Hi Jraef,

I understand what your saying about neutral use for a 120v circuit which this does have, but a separate 20A was pulled so the feeder GFCI didn't see 2 devices on 1 neutral. So, you feel the breaker would not work as a fault condition only (conventional breaker) breaker if the pigtail was removed and capped to allow the circuit to function?

I appreciate the comments.

TX
Mr fixit
Chris :)
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Not connecting the Neutral wire on a 2 pole GFCI breaker would not serve to eliminate the breaker's ability to detect a GF downstream. A GFCI breaker looks at all current going through it and the gozinta and gozouta values must equal each other to avoid tripping. If there are 120V loads downstream of the 240V breaker, i.e. Line to Neutral, the load current flows through both. That's why you have the Neutral wire on the breaker, so that it does NOT trip from normal 120V loads downstream. Not connecting the Neutral pigtail will make it tip MORE often.
I can't tell you what CH does, but I have experimented with Square D 2 pole GFCI's a little to see what happens in different situations of loss of one line and/or the neutral. Seem to recall no neutral (line side pigtail), and you can not trip with either the test button or with connecting a load from either ungrounded load side conductor to a grounded point. This tells me the neutral is supplying the GFCI logic components. The breaker will "reset" with any conductor open or even no power at all and let power through. I am presuming thermal-magnetic function still works as it is likely the same components as in a non GFCI breaker.

I think OP's idea here is to unhook neutral and basically disable GFCI logic components - this would basically leave it operating just like a non GFCI breaker.

Whether that is a good idea or not is a kind of a different discussion - most recent versions of NEC basically require GFCI protection for each of the receptacles 20, 30 and 50 amp in this RV pedestal or box he has - someone must have figured a GFCI in the feeder maybe was the way to catch them all, may or may not be good design decision either but would be code compliant.

I don't know details of CH 60 amp GFCI, I do know QO 60 amp GFCI does not have 120/240 output (no load side neutral), if the CH is same thing then there is a problem if you supply any line to neutral loads as the neutral will not return to the GFCI and will trip every time there is neutral load.
 

Mr fixit

Member
Location
Portland Or.
Occupation
maintenance electrician
Hi kwired,

You are correct I'm trying to use the breaker as a thermal-magnetic function breaker as a temporary fix to the situation until a new (no GFCI) breaker is purchased.

The idea of a feeder GFCI for the nonGFCI breakers with outlets for the 50A,30A, branch circuits, wouldn't this serve all of them the same since the panel is protected by the feeder, which feeds the 2 individual circuits that are not GFCI protected? Is this bad thinking?
Yes this is a no load side neutral breaker, that is why the 20A circuit was done separately because the panel did have a GFCI receptacle for the 20A 120v circuit. Not enough room in the service to allow for each branch circuit to have it's own GFCI breaker so I went with the 1 feeder idea.

I'm learning as we go here. This is my home property with a RV spot for family to come visit, just a FYI.

TX
Mr fixit
Chris :)
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Hi kwired,

You are correct I'm trying to use the breaker as a thermal-magnetic function breaker as a temporary fix to the situation until a new (no GFCI) breaker is purchased.

The idea of a feeder GFCI for the nonGFCI breakers with outlets for the 50A,30A, branch circuits, wouldn't this serve all of them the same since the panel is protected by the feeder, which feeds the 2 individual circuits that are not GFCI protected? Is this bad thinking?
Yes this is a no load side neutral breaker, that is why the 20A circuit was done separately because the panel did have a GFCI receptacle for the 20A 120v circuit. Not enough room in the service to allow for each branch circuit to have it's own GFCI breaker so I went with the 1 feeder idea.

I'm learning as we go here. This is my home property with a RV spot for family to come visit, just a FYI.

TX
Mr fixit
Chris :)
That is why it is tripping, anytime you have load utilizing the neutral the GFCI sees it as leakage and trips.

There would be nothing wrong with the idea of protecting the entire feeder with a GFCI instead of using three individual GFCI's on each receptacle other than the GFCI would need to be a design that also protects the neutral conductor.

I myself would use a 50 amp GFCI and I'd bet there is little chance it ever is loaded to the point that it trips on overload. Downside is a ground fault on one receptacle takes out the entire feeder, plus the combination of all three outlets presents more potential for capacitive leakage to cause tripping.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
I’m betting there is a neutral bond installed from the factory, or unintentionally at the pedestal. A more likely possibility is the RV is incorrectly wired, and the neutral and ground is bonded in it. Does it trip as soon as the rv is plugged in? Does it trip when the 120 volt receptacle is used.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I’m betting there is a neutral bond installed from the factory, or unintentionally at the pedestal. A more likely possibility is the RV is incorrectly wired, and the neutral and ground is bonded in it. Does it trip as soon as the rv is plugged in? Does it trip when the 120 volt receptacle is used.
He says there is no load side neutral on the GFCI. Because of this design it can not supply any line to neutral loads, it will trip every time there is line to neutral load if the neutral is not part of what is being monitored.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
He says there is no load side neutral on the GFCI. Because of this design it can not supply any line to neutral loads, it will trip every time there is line to neutral load if the neutral is not part of what is being monitored.
Didn’t notice that, yep, that could be the problem!
 

Mr fixit

Member
Location
Portland Or.
Occupation
maintenance electrician
Hi Guys,

Away from the computer had to be at work today. kwired, your comments make perfect sense. It does trip as soon as the RV is plugged in. Not having a return path for the GFCI causes it to trip as it was designed to do.
The panel is separated at the neutral with ground bar, a GEC and rod at the pedestal. No neutral bonding at all. The 120v circit is on it's own branch circuit breaker and does not trip.

So My OP question still is, can I use the breaker without the pigtail connected at all and have over-current and ground fault protection for the long weekend? I will then get the proper GFCI breakers at the panel and the correct non-GFCI for the feeder ASAP.

Thanks for all the input, it is great to have this forum to ask the smarter than me kind of questions.

TX
Mr fixit
Chris :)
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Hi Guys,

Away from the computer had to be at work today. kwired, your comments make perfect sense. It does trip as soon as the RV is plugged in. Not having a return path for the GFCI causes it to trip as it was designed to do.
The panel is separated at the neutral with ground bar, a GEC and rod at the pedestal. No neutral bonding at all. The 120v circit is on it's own branch circuit breaker and does not trip.

So My OP question still is, can I use the breaker without the pigtail connected at all and have over-current and ground fault protection for the long weekend? I will then get the proper GFCI breakers at the panel and the correct non-GFCI for the feeder ASAP.

Thanks for all the input, it is great to have this forum to ask the smarter than me kind of questions.

TX
Mr fixit
Chris :)
Fairly certain it will do what you want. Shouldn't take long to find out.
 

Mr fixit

Member
Location
Portland Or.
Occupation
maintenance electrician
How true that is ! I just didn't want to have the RV cause a problem and not be able to open the circuit because the GFCI had to be an input to trip the breaker if a fault occurred. I felt it was OK but I'm not as knowledgeable on the theory side of this stuff, mechanical I get. 😉

TX
Mr fixit
Chris :)
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
How true that is ! I just didn't want to have the RV cause a problem and not be able to open the circuit because the GFCI had to be an input to trip the breaker if a fault occurred. I felt it was OK but I'm not as knowledgeable on the theory side of this stuff, mechanical I get. 😉

TX
Mr fixit
Chris :)
The ocp is independent of the ground fault circuitry, so it will still trip under a fault. Being a CH panel, should be able to get it off the shelf at any Home Depot or Lowes. Supply houses are getting really bad on relying on their DC's and not stocking anything. "Need 1/2" EMT? We can have that for you tomorrow from the DC"
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
How true that is ! I just didn't want to have the RV cause a problem and not be able to open the circuit because the GFCI had to be an input to trip the breaker if a fault occurred. I felt it was OK but I'm not as knowledgeable on the theory side of this stuff, mechanical I get. 😉

TX
Mr fixit
Chris :)
Thermal-magnetic function should still be same thing as in a standard breaker, or at least same concept if not the exact identical components, which is all mechanical functions.
 
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