GFI vs. GFCI Outlets: Everything You Need to Know

GFCI Docking Drawer Outlet

Looking for a GFI or GFCI outlet? You’re in luck! We offer the Docking Drawer Blade (1514-150) outlet with GFCI, but if your home’s electrical plan already has GFCI properties, you may not need this particular outlet. 

Understanding ground faults and how they work can cause serious harm is key to appreciating the importance of GFCI devices. Tripping ground faults can occur unexpectedly and are often invisible to the naked eye until you’re inconvenienced by a non-functioning outlet, but these circuit interrupters offer critical safety benefits.

Read on for everything you need to know to select the most suitable outlet for your project.

What’s the difference between GFI and GFCI?

Ground fault interrupters (GFI) and ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are two terms that refer to the same type of circuit breaker. The difference between GFI and GFCI outlets is primarily terminological; GFI is just an older term for the same technology. Since the terms are interchangeable, we'll stick with using "GFCI" for the purpose of this explainer.

Where is GFCI needed, and why?

A GFCI circuit breaker is essential in bathrooms due to the presence of water. Water can conduct electricity, posing a significant risk if it comes into contact with an electrical current. In such instances, the circuit breaker will trip, automatically shutting off power to the outlet and preventing potential electric shocks.

Beyond bathrooms, GFCI outlets are crucial in areas where electricity and water may intersect, such as kitchens, garages, and outdoor spaces. The ground fault protection they offer is vital in these environments. A ground fault interrupter works by monitoring the flow of electricity in a circuit. When a ground fault occurs – that is, when electricity takes an unintended path to the ground – the GFCI device quickly cuts off the power supply.

The National Electric Code (NEC) mandates the use of GFCI breakers in specific areas to ensure safety against electrical hazards. This code, which is regularly updated to reflect the latest safety standards, requires GFCI protection in all wet or damp locations. 

Adherence to the NEC is crucial not only for compliance but also for ensuring safety. In line with these requirements, GFCI circuit breakers are essential in various areas, including unfinished basements, certain outdoor spaces, and any other locations where there is a high risk of water contact.

GFI Outlet for drawer

Will my Docking Drawer already have GFCI properties?

There are 3 ways that GFCI properties may carry to your in-drawer outlet, without requiring you to purchase a GFCI configured Docking Drawer outlet. (Always verify with your electrician or by self-testing)


  1. GFCI From the Breaker Panel: Your home may have a GFCI breaker in the main panel that serves the Docking Drawer outlet (and most likely other outlets in the room, as well).
  2. GFCI In Series: The Docking Drawer outlet plugs into a standard outlet that is daisy chained from another GFCI outlet mounted somewhere else in the room. 
  3. GFCI Direct Connection: Your Docking Drawer can plug directly into a GFCI outlet in the cabinet. Note: Reaching behind the drawers to press the GFI button if the outlet trips can be tricky. And if you're installing the outlet for a customer, it's possible that they won't know the outlet behind the drawer is a GFCI and could be left searching for the reset.

Which outlet will be best for my project?

If you’ve determined you do not need a ground fault circuit interrupter (which is typically the case), check out the wide variety of outlet configurations available with our top-selling 15 amp Blade Series in-drawer outlets. We also have a 20 amp Docking Drawer Blade outlet for instances where 20 amps are required. In addition to AC ports, you’ll have the option to select configurations that feature USB-A and USB-C (PD) ports, which are growing in popularity in bathroom settings for their ability to directly connect toothbrushes, trimmers, and more.

If you’ve determined you do need GFCI outlets, the 15 amp Docking Drawer Blade outlet with GFCI (1514-150) is probably the best choice. We also have a 20 amp Docking Drawer Blade outlet for instances where 20 amps are required.

If you're unsure about which outlet will be best for your project and are concerned about ground faults and the need for ground fault protection, it's advisable to consult with a qualified electrician or technician. They can assess your electrical needs and safety requirements, ensuring that you select the most suitable outlet configuration, whether it involves a GFCI circuit breaker or other ground fault protection measures.

Still have questions? Contact our team directly by phone, email, live chat, or text message.

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